Expats love Singapore for quality of life, but less so for work-life balance and the locals: survey

Expats love Singapore for quality of life, but less so for work-life balance and the locals: survey

Michelle Zhu
06/09/18, 03:45 pm

SINGAPORE (Sept 6): Global expatriates (expats) continue to wax lyrical over Singapore’s political stability and great transportation infrastructure, although the city state is not without its flaws.

According to the InterNations Expat Insider 2018 Survey, which surveyed over 18,000 expatriate respondents across 187 countries or territories, Singapore placed fifth out of 68 countries in the main league table this year, receiving its best rating for quality of life at fourth place.

Notably, it gained nine ranks for working abroad, moving up to 14th place in 2018 from No. 23 last year.

In particular, the city state ranked first for travel and transportation, with 96% of expats saying they were happy with the travel opportunities (versus 82% globally) and 95% being satisfied with the transportation infrastructure (versus 68% worldwide).

Singapore has also proven to rank consistently higher across other areas such as political stability (91%), peacefulness (92%) and personal safety (98%) in comparison to the global averages of 63%, 78% and 82%, respectively.

The study found that over nine in 10 (93%) of Singapore expats surveyed were satisfied with the availability of government, which significantly exceeded the global average of 55%. An even larger proportion of 95% appreciated the availability of high-speed Internet access, which is 20 percentage points above the worldwide average of 75%.

A majority of respondents said they were satisfied with the state of Singapore’s economy as well as their job at 92% and 75%, versus global averages of 64% and 65%, respectively.

Despite the overwhelming satisfaction with the majority of aspects that expat life in Singapore has to offer, work-life balance seemed to be the only exception.

Just 62% of Singapore expats rated this factor positively, which is about in line with the worldwide average of 61% and puts the city state on a low 42nd place out of 68 in terms of work-life balance.

InterNations also highlights that expats continue finding it difficult to make local friends in Singapore, with only 7% of respondents saying their friends were mostly local residents versus 19% globally.

“Sometimes I feel that [Singaporeans] are friendly because they have to be, not because they want to be, and that makes it not genuine to me,” a Swedish respondent was quoted saying to the global community & information site.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan placed second out of 68 destinations worldwide by ranking first for quality of life and second for working abroad.

On the other end of the spectrum is Hong Kong, which received its worst result ever by coming in 56th place out of 68 in the survey. There, expats indicated dissatisfaction with everything from quality of life (32nd out of 68) to the affordability of healthcare (49% positive) and work-life balance, where it ranked a very low 65th out of 68 destinations worldwide.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is hailed as “the only Asian Tiger with a good work-life balance”, coming in at No. 8 out of 68 destinations worldwide with 73% of the country’s expats saying they are happy in this aspect. InterNations suggests this could be related to the fact that working hours in Taiwan average at 39.9 hours per week, which is much lower than the global average of 44 hours.

Unlike in Singapore, 92% of expats surveyed in Taiwan regard the attitude of the local population towards foreign residents as friendly, with 63% finding it easy to make local friends.

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