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Even SG expats are complaining about Singapore’s cost of living

A new report by expat community InterNations recently revealed that over half (52%) of expats in Singapore are dissatisfied with Singapore’s cost of living. In June this year, ECA International said that Singapore is among the 20 most expensive cities for expats around the world.

British trader Oriano Lizza told Singapore Business Review, “The packages of yesteryear were considerably more attractive.” For him, an ideal expat package stands at $100,000. He added, “This is the case of many developing expat environments. From what I hear they have certainly come down. I feel the current package is sufficient but as humans, we always want more.”

Despite the high cost of living in Singapore, InterNations noted that the majority of expats (88%) is extremely satisfied with their personal safety, compared to 48% globally.

Mr Lizza commented, “The cleanliness and safe nature of Singapore is also very reassuring and makes Singapore a fantastic place to raise a young family. Transport tends to be very efficient and not overly costly regardless of where you live on the island. Travel options are endless as well as its business opportunities both globally and in the SEA region.”

But he also said, “Singapore can be somewhat sterile and it often feels as though you are living in a bubble, in comparison to other major cities in the world. It is often to healthy to return home from time to time to obtain that sense of reality.”

Singapore 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.

Singapore expat packages shrunk by US$12,450 over a year

In another ECA International’s report, it has been calculated that the average cost of employing an expat in Singapore has shrunk by over US$12,450 (4%) compared to the year before, but still above US$200K.

According to its survey, the value of a typical annual compensation and benefits package for an expat middle manager in Singapore now is US$223,095, down from US235,545 in 2016. The expat package is composed of three main elements: the cash salary, benefits – such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars – and tax.

“However, Singapore remains one of the 20 most expensive countries in terms of the cost of employing expat staff, despite having very low personal tax rates,” ECA International said.

Former Singaporean GM driving taxi

Meanwhile, it was reported that a former Singaporean general manager Long Khin Keong has resorted to driving taxi to make a living after he was retrenched.

He used to draw $15,000 a month in salary. He said he would take eight months to earn that much as a taxi driver.

He was forced to drive a cab after struggling for years to find a suitable job.

“Hopefully somebody ‘up there’ reads this and improves the predicament of many like myself,” he told the reporter. “I’m not asking to become a GM again, I just want to be somewhere I can contribute with my experience.”

Certainly, expats working in Singapore like Mr Lizza should count themselves lucky for able to get a job in Singapore while more Singaporean PMETs are being forced to drive taxis to chauffeur them.