Singapore city view with flowers

Why I Love Living in Singapore: Expat Life In The Lion City

Singapore has been home for the past many months and what a great time it’s been. From the endless food options, great weather, safety/cleanliness, great career prospects, and proximity to some of my favorite places in the world, Singapore is an absolutely great place to live. While I would swap out life in Singapore for life in Bali in a heartbeat, Singapore is in fact a great place to grow your career and save a lot of money.

cloud forest Singapore Gardens by the Bay

This list will go into detail about all the reasons I love calling the Lion City home. These are entirely my opinions from my own observations and I’m sure many would disagree so feel free to leave your opinion in the comments! If you’re planning to move to Singapore or just want to visit Singapore for a few days, hopefully this guide will give you a better idea of what to expect!

This list will shortly be complemented by a what I dislike about living in Singapore post in the future! You can’t have a post singing Singapore’s praises without also complaining about the downsides (like Singapore’s cost of living going out of control!)

Read my other Singapore related posts!

Supertree Forest Singapore Gardens by the Bay
Table Of Contents show

What I Dislike About Living In Singapore

Singapore is super clean

Singapore is renowned for its cleanliness and is often regarded as one of the cleanest cities in the world. The city-state has achieved this reputation through a combination of strict laws and regulations, comprehensive waste management practices, and regular cleaning and maintenance efforts.

Firstly, Singapore has implemented stringent laws and regulations to maintain cleanliness. Littering, spitting, and even chewing gum in public places are strictly prohibited and can result in significant fines. These strict rules serve as a deterrent and ensure that public spaces remain free of litter and debris.

cloud forest Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Secondly, Singapore has developed a comprehensive waste management system. The government emphasizes waste segregation and recycling, making it mandatory for residents to separate their waste into recyclable and non-recyclable categories. The city-state also promotes recycling initiatives and educates citizens about the importance of waste reduction. Advanced waste treatment facilities further contribute to effective waste management practices.

Lastly, Singapore places a strong emphasis on regular cleaning and maintenance. Streets, parks, and public spaces are cleaned meticulously to ensure cleanliness and hygiene. The government invests in cleaning equipment and employs a dedicated workforce to carry out these tasks. Regular cleaning schedules and initiatives such as community clean-up drives also involve citizens in maintaining the cleanliness of their surroundings.

These concerted efforts by the government and the active participation of citizens have created a clean and pleasant environment throughout Singapore. The city’s cleanliness contributes to its overall attractiveness as a tourist destination and enhances the quality of life for its residents.

Singapore is even more safe

Singapore is widely regarded as one of the safest cities in the world. The city-state has implemented various measures and initiatives to maintain a high level of safety and security for its residents and visitors.

OCBC Skywalk Gardens by the Bay Singapore

It’s certainly one of the safest cities I’ve ever come across and it really shows. I hardly lock my bike on the streets anymore whereas this would have been a death sentence while living in Frankfurt for said bike. I don’t even lock the door to my apartment as there’s just so little crime to speak of. In fact, on the local Singaporean news, whenever crimes come up, it’s almost always involving some sort of financial scam and how some poor auntie was scammed via text message from her savings. Obviously this is not a good thing but if that is the highlight of your crime statistics, then we are doing ok.

Here are some key factors contributing to Singapore’s reputation for safety:

  1. Efficient and Strict Law Enforcement: Singapore has a well-respected and efficient law enforcement system. The police force is known for its professionalism, responsiveness, and vigilance in maintaining public order and safety. Strict enforcement of laws and regulations helps deter crime and ensures a secure environment.
  2. Low Crime Rates: Singapore consistently records low crime rates, including low rates of violent crime and theft. This is a testament to the effectiveness of law enforcement, strict penalties for criminal activities, and proactive crime prevention efforts. The visible presence of police officers and surveillance systems in public places further enhances the feeling of safety.
  3. Stringent Laws and Penalties: Singapore has a reputation for having strict laws and severe penalties for various offenses. This includes stringent punishments for crimes such as drug trafficking, vandalism, and corruption. The strict legal framework acts as a deterrent and contributes to a safer society.
  4. Efficient Judiciary System: Singapore’s judiciary system is known for its efficiency, integrity, and impartiality. The quick and fair resolution of legal cases ensures justice is served promptly. This contributes to maintaining social order and reinforces a sense of safety and security.
  5. Public Surveillance and Safety Measures: Singapore has an extensive network of surveillance cameras in public areas, which helps deter criminal activities and aids in investigations. Additionally, the government takes proactive measures to enhance safety, such as implementing strict building regulations, conducting regular safety inspections, and promoting fire safety awareness.
  6. Emphasis on Community Engagement: The Singaporean government places great importance on community engagement in maintaining safety. Programs like the Community Policing System encourage citizens to work together with law enforcement agencies to prevent crime and promote a sense of collective responsibility.
  7. Focus on Social Cohesion and Stability: Singapore’s commitment to social cohesion and stability contributes to its overall safety. The government invests in education, healthcare, social welfare, and affordable housing, which helps create a harmonious society. The strong emphasis on racial and religious harmony fosters a sense of unity and reduces the likelihood of social unrest.
  8. Effective Disaster Preparedness: Singapore has robust disaster preparedness plans in place, ensuring readiness to respond to emergencies and natural disasters. Well-trained emergency response teams, public education campaigns, and early warning systems help mitigate the impact of potential hazards.

I love the weather of Singapore

I’ll be the first to admit that this might raise some eyebrows, especially from local Singaporeans. Nevertheless, I can’t hide the fact that I love warm weather. I grew up with cold weather but realized later on in life that I merely tolerated it, never really fully liking it. By cold I mean anything below 5 degrees!

Lavo Brunch Singapore Marina Bay Sands

Singapore enjoys a year round tropical climate with a rainy and dry season. During the rainy season months, the temperature ranges from 25 and 32 with periods of rain where temperatures can drop further (albeit not much). Night times are usually breezy and cooler which I enjoy. Dry season months are noticeably hotter with the real feel reaching 40 degrees at times. At night, the temperature never really gets below 30 which makes it particularly unpleasant if you don’t like the heat. AC is a way of life in Singapore so expect to run this all day every day.

OCBC Skywalk Gardens by the Bay Singapore

If you are not comfortable in hot tropical weather, Singapore will be tough on you after awhile. The humidity is unforgiving and if you come from a northern hemisphere climate, you might not thrive. I grew up with heavy winters all my life and while I don’t miss it, I know plenty of people that miss the seasons and temperature changes.

Thankfully, Singaporeans also complain about the weather which is why the country has an incredible amount of shaded areas. When you’re walking, you can always find a building, or trees to hide under. I’m pretty much sweating throughout the day when I’m not in an A/C office but for me, I’d rather go through that then have to wear multiple layers and have my face frozen.

Singapore also has an abundance of sun so you’ll never go through extended periods of time without Vitamin D which I think really helps with one’s mental state. Because it’s always warm, it’s unlikely you’ll check the weather much when making plans with people for the weekend. It’s just assumed the weather will be warm and that you might get rained on sometimes!

High Salaries and Low taxes is a great win for living in Singapore

Singapore is a great place to live and work. It is not however, a great place to just live and I would not recommend it if you’ve already achieved financial independence. There are just so many better places in the region where you don’t have to pay $6,000 SGD a month for rent!

However, if you are career focused and want a stint in Asia, Singapore (and Hong Kong) is definitely the spot for you. One of the main reasons for this is the high salaries and low taxes. Singapore has one of the lowest tax rates in the world with income tax brackets being less than half of what they would be in places like Europe, US, or Australia.

cash money finance us dollar bills

Singapore has a progressive income tax rate like any other countries with the highest level being 23% starting from $1m SGD and above. As an example, if you make $200,000 SGD a year, you are paying an effective tax rate of roughly 10.5%. That is incredibly low meaning you’ll have high disposable incomes. Depending on the health insurance provided by your company, you might need to pay extra for better coverage but many of the foreign companies provide solid health care.

Furthermore, tax is not withheld from your paychecks so you get your full paycheck every month with only a tax bill due at the beginning of the following year. This is essentially an interest free loan from the Government that you can then invest into treasuries for free money that you’d otherwise not have in other countries.

If you’re American however, you are screwed if you earn above a certain amount of money. You’ll need to pay taxes on the amount above the FEIE limit. Nevertheless, there are some secret tips to pay less taxes as an American abroad.

Singapore is the hub to travel Southeast Asia

Singapore is without a doubt one of the best travel hubs in South East Asia. Changi airport has been rated #1 in the world for 12 years in a row and it’s not hard to see why. The airport is an absolute thing of beauty and an absolute joy to travel in and out of.

padar island komodo national park
Padar Island in the Komodo National Park

Whenever you’re feeling bored of Singapore or just need a break from the small island city, you’re a quick taxi drive away from the airport (literally it’s like 20 minutes by taxi) where you have hundreds of destinations to choose from.

Borobudur temple buddhist indonesia

I’ve already taken multiple trips to places like the following list and the list will keep growing.

Singapore is home to numerous discount airlines that service the region including Scoot, AirAsia, Jetstar, Vietjetair (for Vietnam), and more. While airfares won’t be as cheap as discount airlines in Europe like Ryanair or Easyjet, it’s still very affordable especially given the high salaries and low taxes in Singapore.

drone shot surf board tanjang aan beach lombok, indonesia

Speaking of high salaries, Singapore is definitely a little bubble within SE Asia. The salaries in Singapore are magnitudes higher than the surrounding countries which means you’ll be a king the moment you step outside of Singapore and into one of its neighbors.

Angkor Wat sunrise temple walk

There is plenty of green space in Singapore

Singapore was designed with its people in mind. The Government had a meticulous plan to make Singapore a green city and to preserve its natural setting can really be seen when you walk around Singapore. The city is well-maintained, with strict regulations to keep the environment clean and green. The government actively promotes sustainability and green initiatives, creating a pleasant living environment for its residents.

Supertree Grove Singapore gardens by the Bay

There is green space everywhere. From the countless parks within the city to the skyscrapers with indoor rainforests, there is always a way for you to feel relaxed and away from it all. For starters, everyone should see Gardens by the Bay which is a true testament to what can be done with green urban planning. If this place doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.

Singapore offers a multitude of public parks and recreational areas where residents can enjoy nature and engage in various outdoor activities. The city-state boasts well-designed parks, such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens, East Coast Park, and MacRitchie Reservoir Park, providing spaces for jogging, cycling, picnicking, and more. These green spaces contribute to the overall well-being of residents and promote an active and healthy lifestyle.

Finally, even if you’re working in the CBD, you can always unwind with beautiful public green spaces like the CapitaSpring tower and its garden oasis built into the building.

capita spring gardens green space singapore

Amazing food in Singapore

This one is a given and probably something most people already know. Singapore has an amazing culinary scene with incredibly tasty local food all over the city. Singapore is famous for its hawker centers which are located all around the city.

singapore chicken rice hawker market

These hawker centers are large buildings with individual “hawker” stalls located right next to each other serving delicious food. Each stall specializes in a different local delicacy with some stalls being home to multiple generations of cooking experience. This is Singapore’s version of street food and it is absolutely one of my favorite things about the city.

Local food in Singapore is very cheap

You can have incredible local food for $4-6 SGD which is without a doubt even cheaper than cooking at home. Some of my favorite hawker centers include Maxwell hawker center, Chinatown Complex, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, Old Airport Road, Tiong Bahru, and more.

chicken rice singapore healthy

If you want something with more atmosphere, don’t worry as Singapore is a cosmopolitan city with every type of cuisine your heart desire. Just be prepared to pay (a lot) more for these types of restaurants!

Singapore is a cashless society

Singapore is a true cashless society and I absolutely love everything about that. In Singapore, you can pay for everything with credit card which is great for earning all my credit card points.

This is especially welcome after living in Germany for many years where cash was still somehow a way of life as if they were living in the 1980s. In Singapore, you can pay everything with a physical credit card or mobile pay.

The only exception to this is at hawker centers and more local budget type of restaurants where they do not take any cards. However, at these places, you can use PayNow which is the Singaporean bank to bank transfer system. You can simply scan a QR code or enter someone’s phone number which opens up your banking app and then choose how much money to send them. There are a handfull of hawker stalls that I’ve visited that do not accept PayNow or credit cards so you might need cash once in a blue moon.

In reality, Singapore is so convenient when it comes to finances that I don’t even carry a wallet anymore. Suddenly, your dress pants will look better since you’ll never have that unattractive bulge on your behind anymore! 

Singapore is a multi cultural state

Singapore’s origin story is a fascinating one that I never tire of explaining. Before Singapore became a country, it was home to Chinese, Malay, and Indians that called this country home. While Malays were the native population, Chinese and Indians settled in the region over the past few centuries for trade and commerce.

After the British granted independence to Singapore, the country had three racial groups that had to work together to make things work. Singapore’s leader famously forced the population to learn English first so everyone could communicate with each other. The Government also famously fostered policies to promote racial harmony and reduce the formation of ghettos by implementing racial quotas in all the housing blocks. Nowadays, Singaporeans embrace multi-culturalism proudly, as well as religions freedoms. Christian, Chinese, Malay, and Indian holidays are all observed within the borders of Singapore.

If you have kids, I think this is a great place to raise kids exposing them to different cultures and race from a young age in a society that values multi-culturalism. It’s unique versus Western countries that also have high immigration because the genesis of Singapore was based on multi-culturalism; it wasn’t something that occurred recently.

Great Public Transportation options in Singapore

Singapore has a highly efficient and reliable transportation system. The city-state has an extensive network of buses, trains, and taxis, making commuting convenient. Public transportation is also quite cheap with respect to local salaries especially if you’re coming from a place like London.

In addition to mass transportation, the cost of taxis in Singapore are very cheap given the cost of living. A taxi from the CBD to the airport can be had for $20 SGD which is by far the lowest fare I’ve seen in such a developed city. It almost feels as if the Government is subsidizing the Grab drivers in Singapore.

This is also because Singapore’s Government limits the amount of cars on the road by enforcing a monstrous tax on car ownership. This disincentivizes people to own cars and thereby reducing traffic in the city as well as air pollution. In fact, it’s rare that you’ll ever see traffic in Singapore; even the rush hour traffic is barely noticeable when you come from any other major city. The estimated time you see on Google Maps is almost always the actual time you’ll get there!

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I'm a dual Canadian-American from NYC that moved to South Africa for work and ended up traveling all through the continent. I'm currently living the expat life in Frankfurt, Germany and traveling the world as much as I can. I'm a bit obsessed with scuba diving, churning credit cards so I never pay to fly, and eating the most questionable of foods in the most peculiar of places. My bucket list is the world, and some day I might make it there.