Moving abroad (to Singapore) from Switzerland

Hi everyone,

I’m 33, married and father of a 1-year-old daughter. My wife will be finishing her part-time Bachelor’s summer next year to become a primary school teacher.

Given that the little one has another 5 years before “real” school starts, we wanted to get out of our comfort zone the last time before settling in. Since my employee is quite international, there is a good chance to either move to the US or Asia (Hong Kong or Singapore) next year.

We have a strong preference for Singapore although we have’nt seen much in Asia except our honey moon in Bali 5 years ago :slight_smile:

Did anyone make a similar move to Singapore and can share his experience? What package does the employee usually offer to expats and how is the quality of life in direct comparison?

Thanks!

Singapore is a great place to live.

Top-notch infrastructure, very convenient transportation, cheap/good food, tropical weather and everyday life much easier than in Switzerland.

Expect cost of living almost in line with Switzerland (especially housing) save for a few things (eg food).

Taxes are lower than Switzerland, and interest income/capital gains are not taxable.

Currently the country is not welcoming expats and you will face admin hurdles if you want to travel around or leave the country temporarily.

There are less and less “expat-package” like in the past, the majority of companies hire you on a standard local contract in line with local salaries, along with a relocation allowance/temp housing (called local +). At a higher level (eg director/VP) you may be entitled to a specific package with (taxable) housing allowance but that’s not standard.

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Hi @Falke5000, I’ve been to Singapore 2006 - 2009 and later had a distance relationship CH-SIN 2011 - 2013 and a close Swiss friend who lived there with a family 2017-2020, so I have kept in touch with the situation.

I’ve had a great time in Singapore, as I was single and as the Ang Moos (white-faced European people) were still appreciated back then. Going there as a young family will have its challenges for the non-working spouse. As there are lots of like-minded expats, your wife might find a social life there while you will be busy at work. I separated and later divorced from my wife as a result of going to Singapore on the short-term contract, so be aware of your personal motivation to go there :wink:

I was there first on a short-term contract, then on an expat contract. STC was a sweet deal with Swiss salary, paid accommodation and a per-diem that paid for all weekend trips to neighboring countries. The expat contract kept me within the Swiss social security system and paid a generous housing allowance while deducting hypothetical Swiss tax and Swiss housing from my salary. I never went abroad for financial reasons but when comparing hypothetical Swiss tax as calculated by HR with the taxes I had paid in canton Zurich, I felt that staying in Switzerland would have been more beneficial financially. But with a non-working spouse and a kid, Singapore taxes should be relatively mild.

These days, the local++ package is the most frequent offer. You get paid a local salary but pension fund and social security contributions continue in the swiss system. Sometimes a housing allowance is part of the deal. If you are offered a local salary only, then use your knowledge about high rental prices and lack of pension fund contributions in Singapore to negotiate a better salary to make up for the difference.

If you are a person who likes liberty and self-reliance, Singapore might not be for you as it is a country run like a company. Civil rights are less than in Switzerland, free speech is not allowed, fines are everywhere and in your face.

I found the quality of live okay, but I love hiking and the outdoors. I could not really appreciate local culture of spending weekends in malls, living in fear of traveling to a neighboring country and relying on underpaid maids for everything. What I really appreciated was the food culture, the easy access to exotic holiday destinations, the comparably high salary, the direct flights to Switzerland. Wine and cheese were expensive, which is my standard staple in Switzerland. Singapore is ofter referred to as “Asia 101”, so easily accessible from a cultural and living standards point of view.

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Thank you for your feedback and all the valuable information on expat packages offered. We would either way plan to not stay longer than 2 or 3 years. My wife could work as a teacher there and I consider it as a new adventure as a family.

With regards to taxes, there are no taxes on capital gains which is great. The income tax is up to 22% - not bad. But I assume the ultimate tax rate in Zurich is lower, given the number of deductibles on your income you can apply in Switzerland?

Are you sure about the practicalities of your wife working there? there are restrictions in employing foreigners and companies have a quota limit (% of the workforce) for non-Singaporean/PR employees. Being a trailing spouse also does not grant you a right to work in the country.

As for taxes, this is way lower than Switzerland. 22% is only for the top bracket.
If you were to earn S$200,000 in Singapore you would pay $21,250 in taxes which makes around 10%. Take into account that there are NO deductions for social charges/etc (no 1st/2nd pillar or unemployment insurance).

Singapore is fantastic. I’d change job in a heartbeat for an offer there as expat.

Correct. I owned 2 homes with my ex and could deduct a ton of renovation costs. As well as other deductibles that were almost non-existing for Singapore.

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