Expat salaries in Singapore falling fast as prices soar

Published:  28 Jun at 6 PM
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Singapore is now one of the world’s costliest cities for expats, with salaries falling as the cost of living rises.

Even although expat wages in Singapore are still some of the most generous on the planet in spite of recent cuts, the city-state’s soaring cost of living is leaving over a million foreign workers struggling to make ends meet.

Since the beginning of the year, the total value of Singapore expat packages has slumped by six per cent to an average of $316,000 per annum, whilst its rival Hong Kong’s average packages have fallen by just two per cent to $356,000 per annum. The gap first began to widen five years ago, and is still continuing.

One unhappy expat professional decided to make the move to Singapore a year ago, quitting his job as an expert broadcast engineer and giving up his annual salary equivalent to $96,000. He now finds himself working as project manager at an audio-visual company, earning just $4,000 per month and living in a tiny apartment with just enough left after the rent to cover everyday needs. He’s rented out his UK home, a large three-bedroomed house with garden, for £1,000 a month, a sum which would only get a shared apartment bedroom in Singapore.

Recruitment agencies in the city-state believe the lure of a job in this unique environment is still enough to attract top talent. According to one agency, working in a regional location in Asia is a non-monetary attraction that’s hard to beat, with declining wages in the West being given as another reason to make the move. Low tax rates are also an attraction for international talent, and recruitment companies are claiming rental charges are actually falling.

Another expat professional who’d worked in Singapore as assistant manager at a restaurant in Marina Bay Sands feels that Singapore’s safe, clean environment is a major attraction for expatriate professionals. He left to work in Hong Kong, where he earned £3,000 a month and was less than happy with the city’s high rents and crowded conditions. He’s now employed as a director of restaurant operations in Taipei, and finds the city is trailing Singapore as regards modernisation but has far less expensive living costs. He believes a monthly salary of around $7,000 is needed to live comfortably in Singapore.
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