There is very little I consider bad about Singapore. I can only think of gun ownership. It would be great if that was allowed. On the other hand, low-life crime is essentially unheard of, i.e. mugging, stealing, breaking and entering. There is still the aspect that citizens should have the power to defend themselves against the tyranny of the state. Singapore is far from that point. I’m not even sure it’s realistic to conjure up such a scenario as the country is too globalized for the leadership to adopt a North Korean style oppressive regime.
In the long run, the only clear disadvantage I found was that healthcare costs can be staggeringly high. You pay for your own healthcare via enforced savings. I wrote about the “CPF” earlier. In short, while in the West your monthly contributions to socialized healthcare ensure that Rashad gets stitched together again after Ali rammed a knife into his body and that the underclass gets proper treatment for all their alcohol- and drug-induced ailments, in Singapore there is a system in place that puts a fraction of your monthly income into an account that you can only dip into at certain occasions. This includes healthcare. If you get really sick and don’t have millions in the bank, you’re probably screwed, though. Well, in the US medical bankruptcies are not uncommon, and in Sweden you can die waiting for an operation, so I’m not sure Singapore is any worse in that regard.
There are various governmental programs that are supposed to help lower-income families with healthcare related expenses, but those are not nearly as comprehensive as their Western counterparts. I don’t think there is any kind of financial assistance available for people who are better off. As a consequence, even a middle-class family can experience some financial discomfort if a family member requires expensive treatment. Medical bankruptcy is a known phenomenon in Singapore.
Other issues are that the cost of living can be very high if you just have to have Western food. For instance, cheese is obscenely expensive by Western standards, with a markup that even at the low end easily reaches 500% compared to Western prices. On the other hand, local food is incredibly cheap (and quite fantastic), so I won’t even bother addressing this objection any further.
A bit more serious may be the issue of car ownership. In Singapore, the number of cars on the road is limited. You need to have a so-called “certificate of entitlement” (in the West, every millennial got one of those for free, it seems). Those certificates are distributed via an auction system, and due to the rather large income disparity in the country and the limited number of certificates, you nowadays need to be a bona fide baller to afford having a car, which might explain why you see so many expensive cars on the road. Also, that certificate is only valid for ten years.
Housing isn’t cheap, but if you’re not a skilled foreigner, you won’t even get into the country, so it’s moot to discuss that issue. For all practical purposes, housing is affordable. As a single white guy with an in-demand skillset you can easily pay rent for a small luxury apartment. On that note, last year I received a job offer, which I eventually turned down. Considering that income taxes are minuscule in Singapore, my disposable income after paying for rent for a small luxury studio apartment in a good location would have been higher than my European net income, i.e. the income before paying for any of my expenses. (Yes, I was offered a local contract, without a fancy expat package.) So, if you’re a foreigner, don’t even try to pull that argument.
Did you enjoy this article? Excellent! If you want to support what I am doing, then please consider buying my excellent books, the latest of which is Meditation Without Bullshit or donating to the upkeep of this site. If you want tailored advice, I am available for one-on-one consultation sessions.