Singapore has 3.44 million native citizens. It also hosts a whopping 2.17 million foreigners. Half a million of these are permanent residents. What is it about Singapore culture that consistently attracts so many non-nationals? We have explored some first-hand accounts of people who have lived in Singapore and come up with a list of factors that make it a great country for foreigners.
An extensive traveler who spent time in 36 different countries stated that the only place in the world she felt safe on the streets and using public transport, regardless of the time of day or night, was Singapore. One husband noted that his wife could go out for supper with friends and leave at two o’clock in the morning dressed in a t-shirt and shorts without encountering any untoward attention. This would not be possible back home in the States.
Crime is low and the police response is excellent. As one ex-pat found out, it took less than seven minutes for, not one, but two police units to arrive on the scene during a burglary.
Apart from feeling free to come and go at all hours due to the total safety foreigners experienced in Singapore, there was a general feeling of unusual freedom that they did not enjoy in America. Everything the culture has to offer is readily available to anyone.
Foreigners felt that they could talk to any cluster of strangers and feel welcomed and part of the group. Although Singaporeans kept to themselves, they were warm and friendly when approached, but did not make outsiders feel intruded upon.
Multiple Nationalities and Cultures
It is possible to experience the Singaporean culture as well as several others. With a lot of Chinese, Indonesian, Philippine, and Indian residents in Singapore, there are always different cuisines to be tasted and tested.
Opportunities abound for interacting with a wide variety of people who have not lost what makes them unique. Companies hire people of different nationalities, which creates awesome diversity. Despite their differences, ethnic, racial, and religious harmony exists.
Most of the population knows and communicates in two languages, Chinese and English. Thus, it is easy to get assistance if you are lost, or simply to strike up a conversation.
Singapore Is Efficient and Cost-Effective
The cost of living in Singapore is reasonable, as can be seen by the number of foreigners who choose to make their homes there. You can buy a hawker meal for under five dollars and most people take advantage of the many food stalls. There is seldom a need to cook.
Citizens take pride in a green and clean environment, and this is strictly enforced with fines or community service for littering or smoking in non-designated areas. Infrastructure is built to last, and services are efficient. For example, the streetlights are always working.
Good Governance and Stability
Everything works like well-oiled machinery. Corruption is low to non-existent. Elections run smoothly and take under a month to conclude. Singapore has a transparent, stable government and is free from civil unrest and problems with its neighbors. Foreigners reporting on their experiences in Singapore rated its airport, Changi Airport, number one in the world for efficiency. Immigration is super-quick, as is recovering your luggage.
Public transport costs very little and is used for most journeys. There is no need to own a car or other vehicle as there are buses and trains to get you wherever you want to go. One foreigner noted that if he missed a train to work, there was no need for panic as another one came along every three minutes. Public transport services are punctual. Sometimes, a passenger may have to use a connecting bus or train to get to where they are going but the network reaches everywhere in Singapore. Stations are mostly connected to shopping malls.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Singapore first in education worldwide. America was ranked 28th, behind the UK in the 20th position. Singapore invests heavily in the primary education system.
Foreigners generally select either condos or HDBs to rent or purchase. The latter are apartments built by the government. PropertyGuru assists clients with renting or buying property in Singapore. Their site provides several calculators which prospective homeowners can use to calculate their affordability to purchase property in Singapore. One option is an hdb loan calculator.
Rental units are fully furnished. Thus, there is no need to spend money on kitchen appliances such as washing machines and ovens, aircon, beds, tables, chairs, and television.
One couple may get together with another to share a rental apartment and cut costs, something that doesn’t happen in the USA and was a huge surprise to Americans staying in Singapore.
The climate does not fluctuate due to its near-equatorial coordinates. Because there are no alternating seasons, less is spent on clothing. There are two variations to the humid climate, wet and dry. Rain tends to behave unpredictably, bringing showers on warm days. The humidity is not a problem when traveling as cabs, trains, buses, and malls have aircon.
With so many positive factors, it is easy to see why Singapore is such a popular destination for foreigners.