HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Living costs pin Singapore down in second place of expat city rankings

Over half or 52% of expats are dissatisfied with the city's cost of living.

Singapore trailed Taipei as the best city for expats in 2018, InterNations revealed in its annual expat city ranking. The two joined Manama, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Aachen, Prague, Madrid, and Muscat in the top 10 of 72 cities for expat life.

The rankings are based on InterNations’ Expat Insider Survey, which collected 18,000 responses across the covered cities. The locations were ranked by factors such as quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, as well as finance & housing.

According to the report, the high cost of living pulled Singapore’s rank down as it took the 50th spot amongst cities. More than half (52%) are dissatisfied with that factor, compared to 37% globally.

The city also performed average to poor in terms of health and well-being (23rd), leisure, as well as climate and weather (36th).

However, the majority of expats in the city-state Singapore (88%) is extremely satisfied with their personal safety, compared to 48% globally. It cited an Indian expat living in Singapore that said, “It is easy for everyone to enjoy life here without worrying about safety.”

Expats also seem to get settled into life in Singapore easily, InterNations said, as the city ranked 10th in this category. “It might help that 83% find it easy to live in the city without speaking the local language (vs. 48% globally),” it added.

Singapore doesn’t always shine when looking at subcategories and individual factors, though. It was in the lower half of the rankings for the finding friends category (34th).

Meanwhile, Singapore ranked high at fourth in terms of quality of life thanks to its good performance in travel & passport. It also placed seventh at the rankings for female and male expats.

It clinched 14th place as the best city for working abroad, based on satisfactory career prospects & satisfaction, work & leisure, and economy & job security. Singapore’s top employment statuses also stand out compared to global and regional results: 31% of expats in Singapore are managers, whereas the most common occupations in the other Asian Tiger States (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) include teachers and employees.

A noteworthy number of expats in Singapore (9%) are also entrepreneurs or business owners. According to InterNations, these are occupations that do not make the top three list in any of the other Tiger States. 

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