My impression of Singapore has been quite positive, with some caveats. The supposed negatives I was told about I viewed as distinct positives. Then again, according to my girlfriend my attitudes are, in some regards, “more Chinese than the Chinese’s”. True, in some regards I out-Asian the Asians. I felt proud to walk the earth in a country that prohibits socially undesirable behavior such as smoking in public, fines dipshits for not flushing a public toilet, canes vandals, and kills drug dealers. I furthermore was highly appreciative of the culture of trust. I genuinely felt at ease, not having to have my guard up all the time like in the West.
One genuine downside I would see for myself, in the long run, is the mild risk of the public healthcare system, which is not as affordable as Western healthcare. Then again, my tax rate in the West is above 50%, and I have gotten very little in return for it. In Singapore, my tax rate would be a few per cent, and this would make it easily possible to sock away money for medical emergencies. Also, health care only starts to get really expensive if you’re getting very old and end up being propped up by machines, or if you need long-term treatment. In that case, your quality of life is severely affected anyway, so I would probably prefer just ending it, instead of prolonging my suffering. Another issue for the long run is that owning an apartment in Singapore would be cheaper than renting it. Yet, as a non-citizen you could not legally own subsidized property, only private luxury apartments, which would be out of reach for me. One condition for acquiring Singaporean citizenship is to renounce any other citizenship you may hold, which is a bitter pill to swallow.
Comparing my current life to what my life in Singapore would be like would be quite unfair as my current setup is due to lucky circumstances. I could much more easily have ended up with a commute that is many times longer than a typical commute in Singapore would be. This leaves the question of the work environment. In that regard, I would say that you can have bad bosses everywhere. While I haven’t had a really bad boss for a while, I have had more than my fair share of unpleasant superiors in the West, including women hired due to diversity quotas who were managing technical specialists of whose work they had absolutely no clue, or incompetent men who happened to be the nephew of someone way up in the hierarchy, and of course there are also the occasional psychopaths floating around who want to take credit for your work and put blame for their mistakes on you. That being said, overall you are probably worse off working under an Asian boss.
A major motivation to move would be the education of my children. I have my doubts about the Western world in general, but just like there are white enclaves in the West in which you are shielded from the negative effect of mass immigration from the third world, so are there schools that give you the impression that the oft-reported degradation of standards and attitudes has not really happened. I’d say that a very good Western school may offer a more pleasant environment for your kids than a typical Singaporean school and you most certainly get a comparable education, particularly if you follow an international curriculum like the IB. Also, I’m not entirely sold on the superiority of the elite Singaporean schools. While Raffles Institution is the top feeder school for Oxford University, it is also the case that the numbers of Singaporeans who apply to elite universities are disproportionally high as they seem to expect a prestige-based payoff that may exist in their society but not necessarily in Continental Europe. For instance, a Bachelor’s in a humanities subject from Cambridge can be helpful in the UK, but it will open a lot fewer doors in Germany. On the other hand, in Singapore a degree in any subject from a top university can put you on an excellent career trajectory in the public sector.
A big motivation for spending three weeks in Singapore was to explore whether I could imagine living there. Now I think that I most certainly could. If I were to emigrate, Singapore would be my preferred destination. I am still skeptical about health care and housing. Those issues would be more relevant for retirement, but that is a different question altogether. On the other hand, living in Singapore for a few years seems like a very attractive option.
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