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"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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AUTHORFilip Baker Insider Comment
  • Ha
    Happy Expat
    7 May 2023

    Well, I don't agree to all as Singapore has some cons too as any country but overall a lovely country to live and work. I have lived in other countries and I find Singapore best place to live and work with mix of pros and cons. If Indians talk about Racism in SG then I would ask if India is not the biggest Racist country in world based on castes and religions. Yes Caucasians get preferences in Expats but I think this is not exception country to to do so. High rental cost is pinching our pocket but it is our choice to stay here or leave for another country. We are not forced to live here, if we are happy then we should stop compalining else we are free to leave.

  • Jo
    6 May 2023

    This article is just one side of the story. Yes yes I love Singapore for the comfortable and safe life it provided me during my 12 years there.

    safety and low crime rate - is one of the selling points. you’d never be scared if you see a police officer in sg. Never heard of police shooting etc as you would in the UK or US. (Don’t even get me started on the gun policies in the US, where I live now).

    but racism - Singapore is one of the many racist countries I have lived. Being a south Asian (Indian) I experienced micro aggressions /racist comments behaviours in mrt / at food courts / even at work place. Of course expats (btw is a term reserved only for Caucasians /whites from Europe, Australia, and US…) live an extravagant life - because for any white expat, they receive a “expat compensation package), the owners want to rent out condos to whites ….. but if you look at rent ads, it will clearly say “no Indians” “no mainland Chinese”

    it is not true that you don’t have to lock your bikes in sg - everyone locks their bike tires there.

    HDB living is not ideal - the most crowded apartment complexes I have seen - it’s packed. MRTs are packed - you often have to miss a or two trains before you are able to get in on one during the rush hours (look up Singapore MRT rush hours on youtube)

    it is definitely clean - because you have $1000 fine for littering - such strict law enforcements is something I appreciate there. People don’t break the law because of the strict enforcement - you will rarely get away with breaking the law, because it a small country there is no way you can hide - all borders are well secured.

    point being - it’s a different world and experience for white expats in Singapore compared to Indian, Malay, and chinese immigrants (for some reason we are not expats)

  • Br
    5 May 2023

    Some very valid points but as a long term Singapore expat myself I think the government is taking expats for granted and has taken its eye off the ball. Singapore is great at topping league tables but the government makes know effort to understand or help expats. The reality is expats were thrown under the bus during Covid and despite foreign workers (PRs, EP holders and dependents, SPass holders) making up 20% of the population the local media and government behave like we don't exist. School fees are nuts, rents are going through the roof and frankly it doesn't make financial sense to live here for many people. We're not appreciated, not wanted and frankly not paid enough to make it worth our while.

  • Vi
    4 May 2023


  • Du
    3 May 2023

    It's true..where in shopping mall,if A child got lost..any 1 there will help .if thy happen to spot a lost child n bring it to e Customer service Counter.. .to locate E child Parent whereabout...

    Crimes is low here,if A major one The criminal will be caught within 24hrs..

    One can Walk save I. E night at 1230am to 3am..Safe .

    Cos our Streets n Neighbourhood lights is on till 7am jn e morning..

    Every where hv Cctv..

    N The Governmt made our Country a Safe place to live in..

    Eventhough e regulations n laws r strict..

    We r used to it..

    As A Singaporean I'm proud of my citizenship..i wont trade for another citizenship.....

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