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61% of Singaporeans polled want to live abroad, Australia & Malaysia most ideal countries to migrate to

Poll conducted on more than 7,000 Singaporeans shows majority desire to live overseas

As the cost of living continues to climb in Singapore, many have at least considered moving to a country where finances are more manageable. 

Considerations such as public housing prices have proven to be a push factor driving citizens to search for more affordable housing across the straits

In a poll by Answers.sg, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they would rather live in countries other than the Little Red Dot. 

Besides finances, respondents listed reasons such as pace of life and work-life balance as factors that influence their decision to migrate overseas. 

Conversely, those who wish to remain in Singapore cited family, food, and the inaccessibility to work overseas as a non-citizen as their main reasons for staying.

Majority of poll respondents would rather live outside of Singapore

An Answers.sg poll MS News conducted found that only 39% out of a total of 7,744 respondents wish to remain in Singapore.

On the other hand, the survey revealed that 61% of respondents would rather live somewhere else, with the breakdown of countries they want to migrate to as follows:

  • Australia (20%)
  • Malaysia (19%)
  • Japan (15%)
  • United Kingdom (4%)
  • United States of America (4%)

24-year-old who chose to migrate to Switzerland says family was among top reasons he moved

24-year-old student and freelance music professional Iann Keller finalised his move to Switzerland in the beginning of April.

Born and raised Singaporean, Mr Keller had a childhood that, for the most part, was typical for most low-middle income Singaporeans. He spent most of his time in a Malay household, with his maternal grandmother, and attended neighbourhood primary and secondary schools. 

He tells MS News that a big part of his move was because of his mother — she had permanently moved to the European country when he was a tween to pursue further studies and work opportunities. 

While he already had the desire to join his mother when he was in secondary school, concrete plans to do so only firmed up after completing his mandatory National Service (NS) duties as a paramedic with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). 

These days, he is attending language preparation classes while awaiting the commencement of his further education in Paramedicine at a medical education centre in Switzerland. He is also in the process of transitioning to Swiss citizenship. 

Better work-life ratio & lower cost-of-living in Switzerland were pull factors

When he first made the decision to migrate, the first consideration that stuck out to him was the differences in the work-life ratio in Singapore and Switzerland, Mr Keller shared. 

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Source: Britannica, for illustration purposes only.

He acknowledged that while he is able to live comfortably as a full-time worker in Singapore, living in Switzerland can get him the same lifestyle for less.

“In Switzerland, I have flexibility — they work on a percentage basis, so a day’s work is about 20%. My mum is continuing her studies, so she ‘works’ 100%, which is a five-day work week. However, the average workload is about 60% to 80%, roughly three or four days a week,” he explained.

So, assuming I’m not studying, and I work full-time three days a week in Switzerland, I make about the same amount I would earn in Singapore in a five-day work week model.

He pointed out that the cost-of-living in Switzerland is lower in proportion to the people’s salaries as well, as cars and housing are more affordable there on an average paycheck.

“I have noticed some houses in the area going on sale for roughly 180,000 Swiss franc (S$268,125). Mind you, this is a three-storey apartment with an attached garage and balcony that you get to own for life.” 

Mr Keller continued: “Compare that with renting a place in Singapore. Previously, I had a great deal — I paid about S$650 a month for a decent common room in Tampines — it was probably the cheapest you can find in that area.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons, for illustration purposes only.

“But if you compare a yearly rent of S$7,800 in Singapore to a S$268,125 home purchase in Switzerland that I can pay off in a few years and own it forever, it makes a world of difference.”

Certain foods are more affordable overseas, says Singaporean who wants to migrate to Vietnam

Another Singaporean that MS News spoke to, 29-year-old ceramic artist Diana Rashid, echoed similar sentiments. She, too, thinks that the lower cost-of-living overseas makes living elsewhere more attractive. 

Ms Diana, who wishes to live and find work in Vietnam someday, said that Singapore is simply “getting too expensive for the lifestyle [she] wants to live”. 

“I love enjoying nice places with friends, mainly bars, restaurants, and cafes. Singapore’s F&B scene is thriving now and there are so many places I want to try but have to ‘wait’ until my budget allows for it,” she said. 

“A nice meal in Singapore can set you back at least S$30 for brunch, and even more for dinner with drinks included.”

As a result, Ms Diana can presently only afford to dine out in Singapore about once a month or at most once every two weeks, and the latter only happens when she wants to “treat [herself]”. 

“I want to move somewhere where I don’t have to second-guess my spending decisions and if I feel like having a good dinner I can just do it,” she said. 

She added that she also has a desire to experience what it is like to work overseas, possibly as a digital nomad. 

As to why she chose Vietnam as her destination of choice, the biggest draw would be the local cuisine.

A self-proclaimed Vietnamese food lover, Ms Diana said she has a soft spot for simple food such as Pho, a rice noodle soup dish. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“In Vietnam, these foods are so easy to get and so affordable. Whereas in Singapore, a bowl of Pho can set you back around S$12,” she explained.

“Because things are more affordable, it seems easier to live the life I want in Vietnam.”

Slower pace of life in Vietnam is attractive to Singaporean who wishes to migrate there

Ms Diana highlighted the slower pace of life in Vietnam as another pull factor. 

She pointed out that while Vietnam is developed and has all the markings of a modern city, such as cafés, bars, and parks, it is not comparable to Singapore with its skyscrapers and groomed roads. 

Simply put, Vietnam retains the rustic charm of its original form, even though it has modernised. 

Despite her desire to move overseas, she stated that she still intends to keep her Singapore citizenship. 

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Source: Shutterstock, for illustration purposes only.

She cited practical reasons for her decision, such as Singapore’s strong passport and currency. 

“It’ll be a bit foolish to give it up,” she quipped. 

Also, I still love Singapore and will very proudly call it my home even if I want to go abroad for a while.

Singaporean who studied in Australia & moved back with family wants to stay in Singapore

Then there’s a 23-year-old creative agency intern who wishes to go by Dani. She shares the sentiment of 39% of respondents, who said they would rather stay in Singapore.

Dani shared with MS News that she attended high school and university in Perth before returning to Singapore. 

Her mother initially decided to move the family there as Dani and her brother fared better in the more “artistic” subjects such as English and Literature when they were in primary and secondary school in Singapore. 

“As more ‘creative’ people, my mum felt Australia would be a better place to explore opportunities — and honestly, looking back, I completely agree. I feel that options as a creative are limited in Singapore, as we’re very STEM-focused.”

Responding to what she missed the most about Singapore, Dani said: “Not even going to hide this, the food. Paying A$15 for a plate of below-par chicken rice in Australia really hurt my heart and wallet.”

Source: Shopee, for illustration purposes only.

After spending seven years in Perth, Dani chose to come back to Singapore, with family being the biggest factor affecting her decision. 

She elaborated: “My grandparents aren’t getting any younger, and after my mother moved back to Singapore for work and my brother moved back for NS, I felt really lonely. Yes, I had my friends in Australia, but nothing beats being home.”

“I’m a pretty family-oriented person and I’m really close to my mother and brother, so coming home and being with them after graduating just felt right.”

Disadvantages as a Singaporean living in Australia added to her decision to come back

Dani brought up Singaporeans’ access to Government services and job opportunities as secondary reasons on why she decided to come back. 

She shared that in Australia, she was simply not getting the opportunities that her Australian peers have. 

“I actually applied for a job in a well-known news outlet in Perth and almost got it, but complications with my visa meant the organisation couldn’t hire me,” she explained. 

As a Singapore citizen living in Singapore, your opportunities and access to Government services are just so vast. As stressful and hectic as Singapore is, it’s home.

She acknowledged that while she is not opposed to staying in Singapore long-term, she recognises that the road ahead is still long and life can take her anywhere. 

“I’m also an extremely restless person, and I know the thought of moving will pop into my head sooner or later. Who knows where life will take me, but for now, I’m happy being back home.”

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Featured image by MS News. 

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