Singapore is one of the best countries in the world to live and work in. For one, it is one of the safest countries in the world. Also, as a first world country, you will surely experience an excellent lifestyle and have a high paying salary.
Also Read: How to Become an OFW and Work Abroad
Living in a high-class society comes with a price though. To learn more about the pros and cons of living in Singapore, it helps to know more about the first-hand experience of an OFW who was lived there for a few years, and that’s exactly what this article is about.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
This article features an OFW who used to live and work in Singapore for two years, named Angela Bautista. She was an admin manager for a real estate company through direct hire, meaning she applied directly to the company and no agency was involved. To learn more about the pros and cons of living and working in Singapore through her perspective, click on the link below:
Pros of Living in Singapore
According to the vlogger, the following are some of the pros of living in Singapore:
- Work ethic
- Health and wellness
- Support system
- Excellent public transportation
- PWD Friendly
- High salary
Living in Singapore, and outside the Philippines in general, is a fantastic self-development tool. Due to the following reasons:
- It widens your perspective in life
- You learn more values other than those from your own culture
- Shows you another way of living
- Exposes you to different cultures that may help you become a better person
- Change your lifestyle for the better
- A chance to learn and grow more.
The vlogger said that while living in Singapore, she had to do the following:
- Adjust and adapt to the new rules
- Respect other people’s faith and religion, age, race
- Get used to the general attitude and demeanor of the locals.
In Singapore, people tend to be more straightforward. They tend do be blunt, unlike in the Philippines where most people are often trying to be positive and polite. Singaporeans are efficient even in the way they talk; if you want to say something, say it right away.
Moreover, people mind their own business in Singapore. In fact, the vlogger said chances are you won’t even know who your neighbor is. You don’t talk to your co-workers during work hours. Indeed, the vlogger’s experience in Singapore widened her perspective to various attitudes and cultures as a resident and an employee.
A lot of old people are still working in Singapore. That’s because they believe that once you stop working, your mind and body stops and you weaken. They always want to be active for as long as they can still work. In fact, a lot of senior citizens get up early to start their day with exercise.
Health and Wellness
The example above also shows that Singaporeans are really into health and fitness. In fact, therea re many places you can go to that allow you to exercise, including various swimming complexes, jogging and running places. There are places to play badminton and other sports and they are quite cheap and for public use.
When you’re new in Singapore, you will have a bit of difficulty adjusting to the new environment. However, you can always count on a strong support system to help you, including your co-Filipinos working in the country.
What are some of the habits that you might need to get used to or avoid once you’re already in Singapore? Well, according to the vlogger, here are some very specific examples:
- They need you to say “yes” or “no,” not maybe.
- You get the exact change during a purchase. Unlike in the Philippines, sometimes the vendor just gives you candy. This exact change policy applies everywhere, including malls, Grab, and whatnot.
- In general, there are some locals who have a bad impression when it comes to Filipinos, and in many cases, you need to be able to prove them wrong.
When you work in Singapore alone, like the vlogger, you will definitely learn to become more independent. She learned how to cook her own food. That was an opportunity she didn’t have back in the Philippines because there was no kitchen where she lived.
Moreover, you can’t rely on your parents to cook for you. Also, eventually you’ll get tired of ordering the same kind of food every day, so you will be forced to learn how to cook Filipino food. Aside from the food, in general, you will learn how to stand on your own. You will be forced to learn important habits.
You also get independent in terms of managing your income. In Singapore, you only get your salary once a month during the end of the month. That’s why you really need to know how to setup your budget for the entire month.
This is an important skill that you will develop while living in Singapore, especially since the cost for most products and services is quite high.
According to the vlogger, this is the one thing that she truly misses about living in Singapore. Life is easier there due to the efficiency of public transportation in the country. Even if you don’t have a car, all places in Singapore are accessible through transportation. A typical bus or train ride is so convenient, safe and clean.
Here are a few reasons why commute is great in Singapore:
- You don’t get sweaty in the bus or train, and in fact the aircon is so cold sometimes you need to wear a jacket.
- There are no pickpockets; you can sleep in the commute and not lose your phone.
- There are specific bus stops and enough signs that you won’t get lost
- Software apps help you determine which bus you need to take and where you need to be dropped off.
- Since there are specific bus stops, you don’t have to hail a bus like we do in many places in the Philippines. That’s okay, since these locations are very walkable.
- PWD friendly; for example, there are embossed paths on the ground for the blind.
- No rush hour, no traffic. The only time your bus stops is at the traffic light.
As a woman, the vlogger said that Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world. In fact, she is not afraid to walk alone especially at night. Moreover, she can wear whatever she wants and not get catcalled.
She can also use her phone anywhere, even while walking. In the Philippines, she often constantly checks her bag in public places, but in Singapore, she never felt the need to do so. That’s because the rules are quite strict and the punishments for violations severe.
Indeed, here confidence to wear anything in Singapore comes from the fact that cat calls are strictly prohibited in Singapore.
Singapore is an expensive country, but the vlogger says that she has saved a lot in the two years she worked there. That’s because the salary is quite high.
Even if your expenses are high, the salary more than makes up for it. In fact, she said that her first salary is so high she can’t get that same amount even if she worked 24 7 in the Philippines.
If you know how to save money, Singapore is a nice place to live. In fact, the vlogger claims she became a millionaire in less than 2 years in Singapore. The moral lesson: don’t be afraid to live in an expensive country.
Cons of Living in Singapore
Here are some of the cons:
- Missing family
- High cost of living
- Fewer leaves
- Fewer holidays
- Limited work contract
While working abroad, you will definitely sacrifice time that you could’ve spent with your family. Because of the pandemic, the vlogger said she was unable to go home for two years, and she missed a lot of special occasions, including birthdays, holiday celebrations, anniversaries, etc.
You will definitely miss special moments and bondings when you live abroad, and although you can still video call them, that’s obviously nothing compared being present in the moment.
High cost of living
Living in a first world in general usually equals high cost of living. You have to go through the usual expenses like grocery items, food, transportation and bills, but a big chunk of your salary goes to your rent.
According to the vlogger, her monthly rent is around 17,000 pesos. While that may be comparable to some rates in the Philippines, this one is actually a price for sharing a small condo unit with four other people.
A typical date usually costs around 2000 pesos, while in the Philippines sometimes you can be full with a budget of 100 pesos only. Her every day lunch is around 5 dollars of 300 pesos, and for probably for the same kind of food you can spend just 50 pesos in the Philippines.
A few other minor concerns
Here are some other cons mentioned in the video:
- Fewer leaves – there are only 10 to 12 annual leaves depending on the company
- Fewer public holidays
- Limited contract in terms of duration of stay in Singapore
Your contract in Singapore typically lasta for 2 to 3 years, depending on the company. You can always try to renew the contract but often this is a difficult endeavor.
In fact, this is the reason why the vlogger had to go back home to the Philippines. There are essentially two important documents you need to have to work in Singapore:
- Work Pass – issued by the government of Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. They have the ability to approve or deny your contract
- Work Contract – provided by your employer or the company you’re working for.
If your company wants to extend your work contract, but the government doesn’t want to extend your work pass, then you have no choice but to go home. Both must be approved.
Her work contract is valid for 3 years, but her work pass, spass, only for 2 years. She started work last August 2019 and her work pass ended on August 2021. Her boss actually liked for her to stay in the company, so they applied for her renewal. Unfortunately, it got denied.
The reason for this is stricter rules are being implemented by MOM. A certain ratio between local and foreigner employees for each company need to be adhered too. If they rehired her, that ratio will be broken.
In particular, the company must only have 10 percent foreign employees. The only solution was to either let her go or hire more locals, and the company opted for the former.
The government is prioritizing and asking employers to hire more locals first. Especially due to the pandemic. It was understandable for the government to do this, but of course it hurts for her to find a new job in the middle of the crisis. This was a stressful moment for her.
It was hard for her to find a new job as well, since a lot of people lost their jobs during the pandemic and are looking for work themselves.
She decided to look for companies, focusing on large companies that can accommodate more foreign employees. She also tried applying through agencies.
She had to pay 500 dollars agency fee. She finally got a job offer through direct hire. What’s more, the salary is higher. However she got pregnant and so she decided to just go home and not work, prioritizing the health of their baby. To have a stress-free and comfortable pregnancy.
Singapore Work Passes
All foreigners who intend to work in Singapore must have a work pass before they can start working. The employers will be the one to process this application to the government. Nothing to worry, just prepare the following:
There are different kinds of work passes.
- ePass – candidates must earn at least 4,500 SGD per month and have acceptable qualifications. This is perfect for professionals, managers, executives, etc.
- sPass – for mid-skilled migrant workers. This is for those with a minimum salary of 2,500 SGD per month.
It’s really more difficult to apply in Singapore now, because the government increased the qualifying salary and the percentage quota. In fact, during job interviews, you might be asked, why would they hire you if they can get two or more locals with your salary.
Living and working in Singapore definitely has its pros and cons. It does seem though, at least according to the vlogger, that the pros vastly outweigh the negatives. If you are a professional in the Philippines, such as an engineer, nurse or whatever, you should definitely consider starting a career path in Singapore.