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Real Business : 2013 Issue 1
19 aT jusT 710 square kilometres, Singapore is the third most densely populated countr y in the world, with an estimated 7000 people per square kilometre. You can drive around the island in about 45 minutes, so no matter where you live it’s a short trip to the CBD. Most residents live in high-rise apartments and only one in 10 owns a car. Private car ownership is restricted to control congestion and pollution. Between the purchase price and associated taxes, the cost of buying a car can be prohibitive. However, the public train and bus network is extremely reliable. “Living here is very easy,” says Donald Tong, APAC regional financial reporting and planning manager for Diageo. “The infrastructure is great and reliable – if a train line is down it makes the front page. Taxis are relatively cheap and there is little crime. “Income tax is low compared with Australia, but the flipside is some things can be expensive, such as accommodation and car ownership.” According to a 2012 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey conducted by Mercer, Singapore is the sixth most expensive city for expatriates. “Singapore is also known as The Little Red Dot because of its size. I find it amazing that such a small dot can offer so many things,” says Voon Hoe Chen, a partner at PwC. “It has beautiful parks, long stretches of beach and almost round-the-clock entertainment.” It is also extremely diverse, with many ethnicities converging to create a melting pot of cultures and a place where racism is not tolerated. “ We need to respect the various cultures,” Chen says. “People here embrace the cultural diversity and it offers great food – Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Filipino – and many different festivals are celebrated.” Singapore is also known for its high-end retail outlets. Orchard Road, its main shopping strip, is lined with luxur y malls. And it takes just 90 minutes to fly to Thailand, three hours to Bali and about five hours to Shanghai and Mumbai. “ You are well connected by thousands of flights to exotic places in Asia and around the world,” Chen says. Studying in Singapore DARReN ONG, 22, has lived in Singapore all his life and is pursuing a double degree in accountancy and business at Singapore Management University. “Living in Singapore has its merits and disadvantages,” Ong says. “The merits include a clean and green environment, a very efficient public transport system and safe streets. On the other hand, the cost of living has steadily been increasing. Singapore is also a very fast-paced society. People may find it difficult to adapt to the hectic lifestyle.” Ong says study is challenging, but fulfilling. “Singapore’s education system is rigorous and prepares you well for the working environment. The quality of life here is very good, even though you can get quite stressed over studies and work at times.” Although English is the primary language spoken in business, Singlish – a combination of English, Cantonese, Malay, Tamil and other Asian languages – is spoken by locals. “Expats may find it hard to understand Singlish when they first interact with it,” Ong says. “But over time I believe they will get used to it.” Financial services dominate economy Singapore is a financial hub and one of the largest centres of offshore banking, making financial services the strongest of the professional services sector here. the fourth-largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world, it is home to companies that specialise in international banking, trade and maritime finance, and asset and wealth management. a large part of Singapore’s economy relies on the export of electronics, chemicals and services. high property prices and an increased cost of living have seen it drop from fifth to seventh place in the investment priority ranking in the latest annual asia Business outlook Survey conducted by the Economist Corporate network. however it has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. living in Singapore donald tong in front of Singapore’s marina Bay Sands resort. darren ong at resorts world Sentosa, Singapore.
Issue 3 2012