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Salaries for expats in Singapore

Updated 12 Sep 2020

While the Lion City has a reputation for offering some of the world's best expat packages, salaries in Singapore are not quite as lucrative as they once were.

However, despite the slight drop, the expat salaries currently being offered are still more than enough to live comfortably in one of the world's most popular expat destinations.

Salary trends in Singapore

There are a number of things that have contributed to the relative decline in expat salaries in Singapore. For one, efforts to localise the city-state's workforce have resulted in fewer positions being available for expats. The jobs that are available tend to have salaries similar to the amount a local employee would earn in the same position.

Ironically, another aspect that's lowered expat salaries in Singapore is its excellent reputation as an expat destination. The famously high quality of life in the Little Red Dot is more than enough to lure employees to Singapore without employers having to entice them with inflated salary packages.

Nevertheless, expats who are high-flying professionals with in-demand skills should still find it relatively easy to secure a more-than-comfortable salary – it is the younger expats with less work experience that are likely to have a harder time with this, though.

Top industries in Singapore

For high wage earners, Singapore presents one of the most attractive expat destinations in the world. Key industries for expats in Singapore include finance, construction, IT and manufacturing.

Saving money in Singapore

The issue of whether someone will be able to save money in Singapore depends on three considerations: firstly, whether they qualify as a potential high earner; secondly, on the kind of lifestyle they wish to lead; and thirdly, whether their company provides any housing/transport/schooling allowances in their contract.

The cost of living in Singapore is high. For expats relocating to Singapore with children, unless they're high earners, public schools will be the only affordable option.

It's therefore important when an expat discusses their salary expectations with a prospective employer to try and negotiate some kind of housing/transport/schooling allowance into their salary package. Many Singaporean employers instead choose to offer higher wages and let their employees manage their own household budgets. Whichever way it works, expats should be sure to do plenty of research and only accept an offer that will support the kind of lifestyle they wish to lead in Singapore.

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