"I'm an expat banker in Singapore; life here is amazing"
I'm a British expat in Singapore and I object to the one-sided article written about Singapore by someone who doesn't even seem to live here. I've been in Singapore for 12 years, and if you appreciate safety, diversity, cleanliness, security, people being nice to each other and society values in an extremely low tax environment, then this is the place to be.
I've always worked in cosmopolitan cities and before I moved to Singapore I spent time in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and New York. Singapore beats them all.
Unlike those other cities, Singapore has minimal physical and social disorder. This is an island that demonstrates the truth of the “broken window” theory that says even a single broken window brings down a neighbourhood - except in this case it applies to a whole country. There are no broken windows in Singapore, and this is an exceptional place to live. And contrary to what outsiders think, this is the result of good education rather than heavy regulation.
Let me share some personal examples on safety, diversity, police presence and cleanliness.
Singapore is truly diverse both from an ethnicity and religious point of view. There are no racial tensions and no microaggressions. This is the result of mutual respect rather than regulation. In London and New York racial related microaggression is part of daily life in the streets and the subway.
I live in Singapore with my wife and young son in an HDB flat (or public housing ). Our flat is part of a large estate, and we don’t feel the need to close our front door at night as it is completely safe. I would not do the same in any other country.
We never lock our bicycles, which is also unheard of in the other countries I've lived in. All parts of the estate are accessible and very safe day and night. I know many of my neighbours, and we are pleasant to each other. There is a strong sense of community and safety.
Unlike other cities, there is no petty theft or any other petty crime.
This is a huge contrast to London, where many public housing estates are no-go areas, even during daytime. Many are very unsafe, run down with lots of crime and vandalism related issues. When I lived in London, it was not atypical not to know or have any form of interaction with my next door neighbours. Every year I'd have my bike stolen and every time the police would do nothing about it.
In Singapore it's not just my bike that's safe. I often leave the key in the ignition of my scooter, with no concern. Here, you can leave your mobile, laptop, or unattended and it will not be stolen.
New York is completely different again. Whenever I arrive there, I am hit by two observations. The first is the huge police presence. The second is how rundown the buildings, airport and subway are. In Singapore infrastructure and property are well maintained; there is no graffiti anywhere, because Singaporean people are respectful.
Some outsiders claim that Singapore is a heavily-regulated police state, but this is absolutely incorrect. Law enforcement officers (police and immigrants) in Singapore are pleasant and polite. It's the opposite of London and New York where the starting point of any interaction is that you feel like a criminal.
Singaporean people are well-educated. They have high standards and expectations from their institutions and are not shy to providing direct feedback to them. When there are elections, they are involved and very opinionated.
Yes, housing here is expensive, but there is a reason for this. Because Singapore is small, expats have always considered it a transient place. Unlike me, an expat in Singapore will typically live in a very comfortable, high-end and new condo apartment with a nice view, balcony and with all the expensive amenities. Back home, they would more likely live in an ordinary flat with no amenities. This is why expat lifestyles here are usually expensive.
Filip Baker is a pseudonym
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