(An expats look at why moving / relocating to Singapore is a good idea)
What do you look for while moving to a new country?
Imagine entering into a Disney Fairy Tale. So colorful, magical and brilliant. That is Singapore. A small slice in the vast world which tries to combine the modern and the traditional and comes up with an eclectic mix that is both charming as well as breathtaking. Singapore emerged as the ‘Happiest country in Asia’ in a study reported by ABC News. 95% of Singapore residents appreciate the clean, safe and efficient society. The study also showed that in Singapore, family is the most important unit and despite materialistic goals, the family and community always take precedence. This is turn helps build a content and happy society. Singapore’s most attractive features are: safety; cleanliness; efficiency. All in all, Singapore is one of the best cities to work, live and play.
This place is an absolute visual delight. The architecture, both old world and ultra-modern have its place in the unique landscape. Though Singapore has the image of a sleek and modern metropolis, there are old world structures that blend in seamlessly. Fort Canning, the oldest structure in Singapore, Stamford house built in 1904, Fullerton building 1919, the Old hill police station with the vibrant colorful windows which is now houses the Ministry of Information.
The modern roads and buildings are beautifully interspersed with green spaces.
Singapore continues to be well-regarded as a triple-A rated economy with strong growth potential, a sound and stable location for business expansion as well as for investments. The economy of Singapore is a major Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outflow financier in the world. Singapore has also benefited from the inward flow of FDI from global investors and institutions due to her highly attractive investment climate and a stable political environment.
Singapore boasts of a competitive, corruption-free, open business environment. The Port of Singapore is one of the busiest in the world as the country focuses on electronics and chemical exports to richer industrialized nations. The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) is the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as a global business center. EDB dreams, designs and delivers solutions that create value for investors and companies in Singapore. Singapore became a global center for rubber export EDB’s ‘Home’ strategy articulates how we are positioning Singapore for the future. It is about extending Singapore’s value proposition to businesses not just to help them improve their bottom line, but also to help them grow their top line through establishing and deepening strategic activities in Singapore to drive their business, innovation and talent objectives in Asia and globally.
Travelling was made easy and inexpensive in 2013 largely due to the availability of low cost carriers with the majority of the regional destinations included in their network. New and longer routes, more flight frequencies as well as user-friendly and value-added online booking systems played a key role in securing more air travel sales for Singapore. Passenger movement remained healthy with 5% growth in 2013, well supported by Singapore’s open skies agreement in Asia Pacific and increased frequencies to Indonesia and China.
Dining and shopping are the two most popular activities in Singapore. Most expatriates feel the lack of adequate recreational options and resort to exploring nearby places in Malaysia (Langkawi, Tioman, Genting etc.) and Indonesia (Bintan, Batam, Bali etc.) over the weekend.
Hyper-marts like Carrefour and Giants are a one stop shop where everything is available under one roof. Super markets like Cold Storage (popular with the expats), NTUC Fair Price (co-operative supermarket chain), and Shop & Save have several outlets that dot the island. Most of these supermarkets offer promotions and discounts and also stock basic Mexican, Australian and Indian products. This apart, there are convenient stores like 7-Eleven and small local grocery shops near the housing estates.
According to the 1990 national census ‘window shopping’ was the number one leisure activity. Both Fast Moving Consumer Goods (packaged food, cosmetics, toiletries, household products etc.), and luxury brands are easily available. Many consumer durables have become basic necessities in Singapore. By the year 2003, most households had a television (98%), refrigerator (99%), hand-phone (89%), air-conditioner (72%), and a computer (70%). Time saving household appliances like washing machines (93%), microwaves and vacuum cleaners has also become common. Even for higher priced durables like a piano, organ or a car, ownership is fairly prevalent.
Food: You would also find specialty supermarkets like Media-Yak (Japanese products and sea food), Tangling Market Place (American products), Tierney’s (Scandinavian, Swiss and German products) and Mustafa (Indian products). Heat-and-serve meals, semi prepared food, frozen food, western-type convenience foods are gaining importance. Low fat foods, diet beverages, yogurt, fruits and other health foods are also becoming popular. Since Singapore imports every possible item from every corner of the globe, the choice is wide and prices are competitive.
Dress: Singapore’s tropical weather makes light summer clothing (preferably of natural fabrics) most practical, especially for outdoor activities like sightseeing. Most restaurants and nightspots are not restrictive on the dress code, polo shirts, t-shirts, jeans, slacks, blouses and skirts, sun dresses and sneakers are acceptable at most places.
Religion: Most Singaporeans celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions. The variety of religions is a direct reflection of the diversity of races living there. The Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism, Taoism, Shenism, Christians, Catholics and some considered as ‘free-thinkers’ (Those who do not belong to any religion).
Culture: Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races is commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.
Behind the facade of a modern city, these ethnic races are still evident. The areas for the different races, which were designated to them by Sir Stamford Raffles, still remain although the bulk of Singaporeans do think of themselves as Singaporeans, regardless of race or culture. Each still bears its own unique character.
The most attractive features of Singapore that draws tourists to travel thousands of miles, is likely the warm tropical and sunny climate. They get to bask in tropical heat while visiting the many tourist attractions Singapore has to offer.
Both visitors and tourists will definitely be awed by Singapore’s clean and green image, with glossy shops, restaurants and food centers, all of which epitomize the fusion of the Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures. These experiences will make for an educational yet truly enjoyable trip!
Nightlife: As night falls, Singapore takes on another persona to offer a vibrant array of nightlife and entertainment choices. There are nightclubs for the party hedonists to revel the night away; bars and lounges for the thirsty hippos and chill cats; and live entertainment venues for the livewire revellers.
Cinemas: Singapore Film and Music Festival has much to offer. From fusion music to award-winning movies, the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore celebrates the artistic bond the two countries share through cultural expression.
Alcohol: But beer drinkers who live in or visit the wealthy city-state are likely to fixate on another data point: Singapore has Asia’s most expensive beer.
Healthcare: Singapore’s population enjoys one of the highest levels of health and nutrition in Asia. The country is also renowned for its world-class health infrastructure, technological advancements in the health-care industry, expert doctors and specialists. The health-care environment is clean, efficient and safe. Singapore has adopted a public-private partnership in health-care financing. Central to this system is the ‘Medisave’, where every working individual has to make a mandatory monthly contribution to the Medisave portion of his Central Provident Fund account. This can then be used for payment of medical expenses. The government on its part provides good, affordable health-care and subsidized medical services to the needy, at public hospitals and clinics. Apart from registered pharmacies, pharmaceuticals are easily available in super-markets, shopping centers and departmental stores. Drugs are safe for consumption and have a high standard of quality. All medical practitioners are registered with relevant bodies.
Since Singapore is a knowledge based economy, great emphasis is placed on education. The education system arms individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to survive in a globally competitive environment. Singapore’s public schools have high standards of teaching and learning, with many of its students winning International competitions. Apart from the 3 internationally renowned local Universities – National University of Singapore, Nan yang Technological University and Singapore Management University – Singapore houses several internationally renowned world-class institutions like INSEAD, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and United World College to name a few. The country has taken cognizance of a growing expat community and set up many International or Foreign System schools.
There are several reasons for Singapore’s success in education. An updated syllabus relevant to the changing times, a highly competitive environment, streaming students according to academic ability, a system based on meritocracy and esteemed teachers are some of the factors behind its success story. Most educational institutions provide scholarships and financial assistance to students from lower income households.
Quality of life is often used as a shorthand for measuring how good one feels about one’s life. There are formal procedures for calculating this measure that includes factors such as economic, social, physical, political and spiritual well-being. Singapore may be the smallest country in Southeast Asia but it has emerged as one of the best places to live in Asia with a very high quality of life measurement. ENJOY IT!