If you are reading this, chances are you are thinking of relocating to Singapore, at least temporarily.
Probably you're a graduate student looking to complete your studies in a discipline related to Southeast Asia.
Maybe as a financial services worker, your employer sent you on a short-term assignment to this part of the world. Whatever your situation may be, living in Singapore is a once in a lifetime experience.
Not only do you get to enjoy the fantastic cosmopolitan first-world living standards of the Singapore city proper, but you are within throwing distance, so to speak, of some of the very best attractions in Southeast Asia.
You are going to find yourself in a strategically located part of the world. If you hop on a plane, you're only a few hours away from Australia, Southeast Asia, and China.
If you are willing to ride on that plane for a few more hours, you'll find yourself in Japan, Korea, India, and even the Middle East. That's how strategically located Singapore is. Also, Singapore is one of the cleanest, major cities in the world.
This is quite an accomplishment because Singapore has millions of residents. With that said, before you dive in, it's probably a good idea to wrap your head around some critical statistics about Singapore living.
As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." This is the case with relocating to any place in the world, much less Singapore. You don't want to invest all that time, effort, and money going from where you are to a place you don't know.
You're going to be rolling the dice. You don't know what you're up against or if you're going to have a good time there. Most importantly, you don't have an idea of the cost profile of living there.
By getting some necessary information on what it's like to live in Singapore, you can at least give yourself some data that you could use to make a truly informed decision. Besides this post, you can always find the latest households statistics here.
Most of Singapore's housing is government-subsidized
The funny thing about Singapore is that it operates on two levels. On the surface, and this is the part that most of the world knows, Singapore seems to be the hub of freewheeling capitalism.
In other words, people from all over the world find themselves here to work in the finance industry or some other high-powered industry trying to make their fortunes. The foreign direct investment in Singapore is in the billions on a year to year basis.
Its finance industry is one of the hottest on the planet. People make millions of dollars, indeed. High net worth people from all over the world take out a second or third home in Singapore precisely because of its low tax rates.
Singapore, at this level, seems to want to attract people who are serious about making money, but the other reality to Singapore is that it is actually government subsidized. The government funds almost 80% of people who live in flats.
The agency is involved in the housing development board, which makes up for the bulk of "native" Singapore residents. Without these government subsidies or price support, Singapore, house-ownership would practically be non-existent.
That's how expensive the local real estate market is. The good news is if you are Singaporean by birth, or if you are a permanent resident, you can take advantage of this subsidy program.
For the longest time, you can only get one unit and have the government-subsidized it. If you want to sell that and move into another, you're going to be on your own.
13% of the population of Singapore live in apartments and condominiums
Roughly 13% to 13.9% live in condominiums and apartments, which is mostly the expatriate community and wealthier Singaporeans or upper-middle-class Singaporeans. Most of this property type is not government-subsidized basically.
If you buy a condominium, you're sending a message to people around you that you have the means and the money to do so. Even better you can get a subsidy from the government if you want to purchase an executive condominium, e.g., Parc Central Residences is one of them to be launched in H2 2020.
Less than 6% live in landed properties
The general concept for real estate properties such as house and lot or land is that you live in a separate residence that doesn't touch other properties, and you own the land underneath it. It has a title called the freehold domain or freehold title.
Given Singapore's minimal footprint, it is not a shock that less than 6% of Singapore's people live in the typical type of real estate holding, which is you own a house and then the land underneath it.
Only 6% of people get to enjoy this. As you can well imagine, the price of such properties is quite high. Well you can have a good reading on the difference between freehold and leasehold properties here.
The Singapore government encourages house-ownership
While Singapore does dabble in socialism by subsidizing 80% of the housing of its people, it does so with an exciting twist. Early on, Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, wanted to foster an ownership mentality among the Singaporean population.
He understood that when people don't own the property that they're living in, they tend to let it fall apart. There are many examples of this. You only need to look at the United Kingdom, where there are a lot of council houses and public housing.
He wanted a different model for Singapore, so the focus is more on subsidy, but with house-ownership. It has paid off quite a bit because Singapore is one of the few heavily urbanized areas in the world that doesn't show signs of matching urban decay.
When you compare Singapore to places like Chicago, where there's a lot of public housing, the contrast could not be starker. There are lots of housing projects in Chicago that have just completely gone into disrepair.
Some have even been burned out. Not so in Singapore, and you can thank house-ownership for that fact. Keep these essential statistics in mind as you plan to move to Singapore and buy or rent your place.