Have you ever considered retiring in another country, perhaps on the sunny shores of Singapore? Many cities all over the world are host to those who have planned for overseas retirement, and Singapore is no exception. Singapore is ranked as one of the world’s best economies and safest nations and is a very desirable destination for expatriates looking to retire abroad in a Southeast Asian country. Here are some reasons and why you can consider Singapore for retirement.
1. Climate and Environment
Many Southeast Asian countries like Singapore have a particularly attractive climate that is perfect for a comfortable retirement. Southeast Asia’s tropical climate makes its temperatures fairly consistent, without the extreme cold or extreme heat found in many temperate climates. The pleasant, warm weather and lack of natural disasters makes Singapore an especially friendly and stress-free location to live in. Many foreigners have visited Singapore and fallen in love with the beautiful weather and the country’s extensive greenery.
Singapore is also a very clean country with a robust sewage and waste disposal system, and there is a very high level of public hygiene. Public amenities are well-maintained and regularly upgraded, whether in busy hawker centres or the more remote nature parks. The transport system is speedy and efficient, with multiple alternative transport options such as carsharing, private hire, and even bike-sharing. In Singapore, purchasing a car may be expensive, but with Singapore’s extensive MRT and public bus system, you can go almost anywhere via public transport.
2. Culture and Lifestyle
Another attractive point about Singapore is its culture and way of life. While Singapore is less laid-back compared to many other cities, the nation has a “work hard, play hard” culture and is full of exciting entertainment and lifestyle choices. For the young at heart, Singapore is the perfect city to live in, with its bustling nightlife and many trendy, Instagrammable locations to spend the day. Singapore also has a high quality of life and first-world amenities throughout the city, being a high-tech city that emphasises on innovation. It is one of the top destinations in Asia for tourists and boasts a plethora of activities easily available to both foreigners and residents.
English is Singapore’s primary language of communication. For international travellers and those looking to emigrate, life in Singapore is easy to adjust to without the need to learn a completely foreign language to be understood. Finding a job will be easier and more convenient due to the lack of a language barrier, as will be enrolling your children in educational institutes. Singapore is also a very international city with a large foreign population, so most foreigners will be able to find a small community here, no matter where they may originate from.
3. Safety and Healthcare
Singapore has a reputation for being the country that banned bubble gum, and is indeed strict with its laws and punishments. Despite its lack of bubble gum, Singapore is still one of the top choices for retirement, as the nation is known for being one of the safest in the world. Based on the 2020 Gallup Law and Order Index, Singapore is ranked first in the world as the city where people feel the safest walking alone. Personal crime in Singapore is very low, as expected of one of the world’s safest cities. Singaporean society also has a very strong public conscience, and the majority of citizens are courteous and law-abiding, making Singapore a very pleasant place to live in.
Singapore has the best healthcare in Asia and according to Knoem’s healthcare efficiency index, Singapore is rated second in the world for its healthcare system. There is both public and private healthcare in Singapore, but public healthcare is considered on par with the private sector and does not fall short in any way. Residents are eligible to use public healthcare facilities like clinics and hospitals, and there are subsidies and schemes in place to make healthcare affordable for Singapore residents. Free or subsidised healthcare is not provided to expatriates, however, so those without Permanent Resident or Citizenship status will require private healthcare insurance. The healthcare in Singapore is so advanced, foreign travellers even come to Singapore for medical tourism.
4. Cost of Living
For expats, the cost of living in Singapore will depend on your lifestyle. It is possible for a single person to budget around SGD $1,500 a month and live a comfortable life. However, if you want a fancier lifestyle, with more shopping, living in a condo, eating in restaurants rather than local food, etc., you will need a bigger budget. As with all international cities, Singapore can be an expensive place to live in if you want to enjoy the full extent of the luxuries that it offers.
While Singapore may be more expensive compared to most Southeast Asian cities, the quality of life and its high level of public safety more than make up for the cost. Across Southeast Asia, one will have to sacrifice safety and political stability for a lower cost of living. The monthly rent for a studio apartment across Southeast Asia ranges from SGD 1300 in Jakarta to SGD 500 in Manila, with Singapore’s average being at about SGD 1800 per month. Depending on region, security level, apartment ae and size, prices will vary even within Southeast Asia’s major cities. However, while rental costs are lower elsewhere, Singapore has a much more stable socio-political environment, and fewer worries in terms of healthcare and safety. Compared to international cities in Europe and the US, Singapore is relatively cheaper due to the exchange rate, as the Pound, Euro and US Dollar are stronger currencies. According to Numbeo, Singapore is 18.68% less expensive than New York. Compared to cities in Europe the cost of eating out is much lower in Singapore due to the affordable hawker food
Tax is also an important consideration. In Singapore, all citizens and residents who work in the country make compulsory contributions to the Central Provident Fund. However, foreigners who do not work in Singapore do not have to pay this, even if they are residents. Those who work are also subject to regular income tax based on their tax bracket. Singapore imposes a progressive tax system that ensures fair taxation for people at all levels of income. There may also be a tax on pension income depending on how much you receive.
Though many nations want to promote foreign retirees in their country by offering perks-based retirement visas, Singapore does not offer a specific retirement visa. However, it is not impossible to retire in Singapore. You might need to take a longer or more expensive route but it’s worth the effort. First, you need to obtain your residence permit. If you worked in Singapore before the age of 50, you might have an option to continue your visa into retirement. However, if you want to move to Singapore after age 50, you can apply for the Singapore Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) instead.
You can apply for citizenship two years after you have obtained EntrePass and permanent residence. However, in order to be approved by the government, it's necessary to show significant “financial merit” and a close relationship with Singaporean citizens. Other ways of attaining Singapore’s Permanent Resident visa are through marriage to a Singaporean citizen, acquiring an employment pass, or major investment in a Singaporean entity.
So, have you chosen Singapore to be the place where you retire? If you have, you might want to start on your pathway to residing in Singapore. You can apply for a work pass, entrepreneur pass, or even have a Singaporean partner. If you want to know more, you can also visit www.xignam.com and find out more about their services and move to Singapore!
- Written by: Patricia Shareleen, Cayman Management Consultants
- Edited by: Asahi Yip, Cayman Management Consultants
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