Survey reveals expats in Singapore spend too much

Published:  31 Jul at 6 PM
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A combination of low tax rates, higher salaries, great weather and an exotic environment is encouraging expat workers in Singapore and other similar countries to spend, not save.

The survey, undertaken by Standard Life, found that disposable incomes in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore were higher than in most other popular destinations for working expats. However, with rising costs of living across the board plus the temptations of luxury living, the average spend was high, leaving little for savings.

One of the most popular ways to spend was to explore nearby countries, with expat workers in Hong Kong and Singapore heading for South East Asian holiday hotspots in Thailand, Vietnam and Bali. The lure of paradise islands just a short flight away is seems too strong to resist.

According to the survey, some 85 per cent of respondents admitted they were taking home far higher salaries than they were used to in the UK, but the average annual spend of travel and holidays took up more than 20 per cent of the annual salary. Just under 25 per cent also admitted that they were making no provision for their eventual retirement needs.

Most respondents said they were saving a percentage of their salaries, but were planning to spend the amounts on lifestyle and leisure activities. Singapore expats were well aware that the state has one of the world’s highest costs of living, but seemed unwilling to commit to regular savings for their future needs.

According to Neal Armstrong, CEO of the Singapore branch of Standard Life, short-term lifestyles and resort and spa beach holidays are an enjoyable trap for the majority of expat workers. The commitment of a regular return visits home to see families takes up the rest of the disposable income, he added.
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