Many foreign expats are leaving Singapore because of soaring costs. Last year, average rental prices surged by 30%, the fastest in 15 years. For some individuals, rent increased by as much as 80%. An Australian expat who has been in Singapore for 16 years had no choice but to leave when his rent ballooned from $7,000 to $11,000.
Some resorted to downgrade from private landed properties to smaller condominiums or even HDBs. In order to save more, they eat out less, take public transport and turn off the air-conditioner when they do not need it. However, it is still difficult to sustain a livelihood in Singapore as they believe their salaries are not increasing in proportion.
In unfortunate instances, they get squeezed out of the rental market and face ridiculous demands by landlords.
“There are many horror stories on expat forums – along with the 40-80% increases, this includes not getting deposits back (we are talking 2 months rent which is a lot).”
A number of expats are also disappointed by the lack of government support for them. They said it has made the environment very unfriendly towards them. So, is it better to stay here without being able to save much or move to a country with a lower cost of living? Faced with this decision, many have chosen to leave.
The expat package that Singapore offers used to be very attractive but now, “it’s becoming hard to justify staying – yes new expats will come in but it will be a loss not only for the economy – we have grown to love SG, know the culture and are genuinely committed to building capacity in the workforce.”
“It was a really pretty package… before all this happened. In times like this, it makes us feel like we are so easily dispensable and just easily let go and nothing is being done to retain us.”