Expats live the high life in Singapore

August 19, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Investment International

Despite the high cost of living for expatriates in Singapore, and cutbacks in luxury spending due to the recession, most expats want to stay put, the latest international survey from HSBC has found.

HSBC’s Expat Economics survey, carried out from February to April this year, polled over 3,100 expats across 50 countries on their financial situation and lifestyle.

‘Expats in Singapore live the high life,’ says the report.

More than three-quarters of the 192 expats polled said they have more disposable income than they had back home.

Three-quarters also said they save more than they did at home. Among various wealth accumulation tools, the three most popular were savings accounts, managed funds and shares.

Sebastian Arcuri, head of personal financial services at HSBC Singapore, said: ‘Our expat clients have told us that reductions in rent over the past nine months have increased their disposable income. However, due to the uncertain economic times, most of them are opting not to spend this increase in their income.’

Two-thirds of the expats polled said they have cut back on spending on luxury items.

The cost of living for expatriates in Singapore remains high. Forty-four per cent of those polled stated they spend more on accommodation than expats in other countries, and entertainment and healthcare costs are also above the global average, the HSBC survey found.

However, 91% of those polled said they have not considered returning home amid the economic crisis – higher than the 85% global average.

Of those who have considered moving home, 28% cited shorter work contracts as a key factor, compared with the global average of 15%.

Overall, Singapore ranked sixth worldwide on the report’s league table of quality of life, as measured by expats’ annual income, disposable income, ability to save and possession of luxury items.

Hong Kong, another popular expat location in this region, ranked fourth. The Russian Federation, Qatar and Saudi Arabia took the top three spots.