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Moving to Singapore, or staying in Hong Kong

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Posts
    89

    Moving to Singapore, or staying in Hong Kong

    As mentioned in another topic, I’m planning to move to Singapore. Company has been setup, and received my Employment Pass back in July. However I have doubts if relocating is the right move. Especially if HK will open up in the next coning weeks…

    I’ve lived in several European cities, Beijing (three years), Shanghai (one year), and Hong Kong since 2013. I was always excited moving to a new city, however now I have a double feeling. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and/or Hong Kong has been my ‘home’ for almost a decade.


    Pros Hong Kong:

    • After almost a decade in HK, I still don’t feel bored. Even when I’m alone at home, I don’t feel bored. The last 18 months were terrible, but hopefully this will change in the next coming weeks/months.
    • I’m familiar with the city, the good and the bad.
    • Overall lifestyle.
    • Hong Kong mentality, people want to become successful.
    • Ease of doing business, there is always an opportunity.



    Cons:


    • If HK doesn’t open up by the end of the year, I’m worried for its future. Maybe it’s already too little too late. Hong Kong has always been a strong ‘brand’, not sure if it still is.
    • Housing.
    • Less opportunities in my sector.
    • Politically unstable.



    Pros Singapore:

    • Housing. Although prices are almost on the same level as HK, seems flats/condos have a better layout, bigger, overall better infrastructure.
    • Healthier way of living, meaning less pollution.
    • More of a ‘normal’ lifestyle, maybe that’s what I need.
    • More opportunities in my sector.



    Cons Singapore:

    • It’s a boring place. Was there for a 10 days back in August, and god damn, I was bored after day 4. I’ve been to Singapore a few dozen times, never really thought it was boring, till I considered living there.
    • Discrimination: according to some friends who live there, they are basically second class citizens. For example, during SG’s vaccination program SG Citizens were prioritized, then PRs, than all the rest (expats with Employment Pass, domestic helpers, etc.).
    • Racism: We all know that SG has a racists side. Some of my friends experienced it first handed a few months ago. When they arrived in SG, Immigration took them aside for an interrogation. Why? Because they have Arabic names. They are Ivy League educated, work for First Tier IBs and Hedge Funds. Just because of their name they were taken aside for 45min and aggressively asked what they were doing in SG. After Immigration did a background check, they released them, no apology.
    • Rent is getting out of control.
    • Jealous culture: in Singapore when you are successful, people envy you. In Hong Kong people are happy for you.
    • Higher taxes.
    • PR almost impossible.
    • Expensive. Daily expenses are higher than in HK.



    Are there any members who recently made the move, did you regret it? How’s overall life? Do you miss HK?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    1,063

    Didn't move but have been working on a project that saw me spending two three-week stints over there. By the third weekend in the first stint I was really struggling for things to do. The second block I spent the weekends working if I wasn't exercising or watching TV. It couldn't have been more different vs when I spent my first two months on a temporary assignment in Hong Kong in early 2018.

    Normally you visit a city for a few days, see the main sights, but know you've only scratched the surface and missed all the cool spots. In Singapore there's a lot of glitz but very little beneath the surface.

    I don't think it's more racist than Hong Kong overall. I agree that immigration are more overtly difficult, but that's all I ever noticed. Clearly it is far more multicultural with all the challenges and benefits that brings.

    And the climate is worse on balance.

    alexdown likes this.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Faroe Islands
    Posts
    1,947

    Usually if someone is used to working in HK, they won't like working in SG

    And vice versa


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,195

    I lived about a decade in HK now as well. Done extensive business trips to Singapore over the years, love it as a business trip destination, once lived there for 3 weeks straight. The only upside as I see it, is if your life circles only around work and hanging out with your small children, it does seem like a better deal than HK then.

    Mostly agree with your list and I think your list answers your question, stay in HK buddy!


  5. #5

    The pros/cons on your list seem to favour staying in Hong Kong by a considerable margin.

    Quote frankly, the thought of making a multi-year commitment to a place that left you feeling bored after only 4 days would be unpalatable to me. But, as you say, a lot depends on when Hong Kong opens up - the economy is falling apart and it will take fully open borders to even begin to turn that around.

    aw451, NTCP88 and Anahan like this.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    843

    I was in a similar position earlier this year. A coin toss that came down on the side of HK, for many of the reasons you name above. I also lived there in 2007 so had that bad experience at the back of my mind "Surely it's gotten better since then, but what if it hasn't"

    The kicker was the huge rise in apartment prices. I saw no value in making the move. I also like getting out into the hills and that's not possible in SG. Plus HK's nasty summer climate all year round. I chose the lesser of two not ideal options

    muzzdang likes this.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    14

    I made the move in the other direction from SG to HK a few years back and do miss aspects of life in Singapore. I firmly believe that it has gained an unfair reputation from people who do not know it well.

    Foreigners visit on business a few times and feel able to judge an entire country. Staying in a business hotel in Raffles Place and then going for drinks in Boat Quay with your boss is pretty boring!HK expats who go on about Singapore lacking a soul and culture are hardly immersing themselves in Cantonese opera and eating at the Cha Chaan Teng every day, so I’m not sure what their angle is.

    I think that Singapore has plenty going for it, include a cultural diversity and richness that Hong Kong lacks. You can eat awesome south Indian, Peranakan, Malay and Indonesian food in addition to basically all of the main Chinese cuisines. Exploring China Town, Kampong Glam, Katong or Little India is in my opinion just as interesting than strolling through the back streets of Mongkok. For what its worth, I think there is a lot of cultural, art and museum stuff going on as well in SG.

    When I was there, I found living expenses to be considerably cheaper than Hong Kong. Though I do appreciate that rents have gone through the roof in the last 18 months or so. I was on a relatively low salary and was still very comfortable. Rent was literally half the price of Hong Kong and double the space and quality. The place is extremely efficient – everything works. If you can handle the climate in Hong Kong, Singapore really shouldn’t be a problem. The climate in HK is basically the same as SG for 6+ month of the year.

    The one thing that Singapore indisputably lacks is the scenery and nature of Hong Kong. It doesn’t have a mountainous hinterland or beautiful beaches. But these are all within easy reach of Changi airport. Is Singapore perfect? Nope. But can it be an excellent place to live, have fun, explore South-East Asia – yep!

    Mrs. Jones, shri, NTCP88 and 3 others like this.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    4,134

    We decided that if we moved to Singapore and then HK opened up within six months of the move, we’d deeply regret it.

    With primary school kids also realized that our travel schedule is dictated by the school year. The era of quick long weekends is over for awhile simply due to cost, until the airline industry gets more back to normal over the next few years.

    Biggest worry about HK is political risk. I think opening up will happen but I worry about China.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    782

    [QUOTE=JP89;3885874]I made the move in the other direction from SG to HK a few years back and do miss aspects of life in Singapore. I firmly believe that it has gained an unfair reputation from people who do not know it well.

    Foreigners visit on business a few times and feel able to judge an entire country. Staying in a business hotel in Raffles Place and then going for drinks in Boat Quay with your boss is pretty boring!HK expats who go on about Singapore lacking a soul and culture are hardly immersing themselves in Cantonese opera and eating at the Cha Chaan Teng every day, so I’m not sure what their angle is.

    I think that Singapore has plenty going for it, include a cultural diversity and richness that Hong Kong lacks. You can eat awesome south Indian, Peranakan, Malay and Indonesian food in addition to basically all of the main Chinese cuisines. Exploring China Town, Kampong Glam, Katong or Little India is in my opinion just as interesting than strolling through the back streets of Mongkok. For what its worth, I think there is a lot of cultural, art and museum stuff going on as well in SG.

    When I was there, I found living expenses to be considerably cheaper than Hong Kong. Though I do appreciate that rents have gone through the roof in the last 18 months or so. I was on a relatively low salary and was still very comfortable. Rent was literally half the price of Hong Kong and double the space and quality. The place is extremely efficient – everything works. If you can handle the climate in Hong Kong, Singapore really shouldn’t be a problem. The climate in HK is basically the same as SG for 6+ month of the year.

    The one thing that Singapore indisputably lacks is the scenery and nature of Hong Kong. It doesn’t have a mountainous hinterland or beautiful beaches. But these are all within easy reach of Changi airport. Is Singapore perfect? Nope. But can it be an excellent place to live, have fun, explore South-East Asia – yep![/QUOTE

    wrong topic


  10. #10

    We were in the exact same position, and decided against going to SG and remain in HK. Was not an easy decision as SG does have it's positives like stability, more food options and no air pollution etc, but with HK taking steps towards opening up it would have been too much to give up while enduring the stress of a family relocation.

    The rationale was also that the right time to move to SG (if at all), would have been a year or two ago - not now, as the expat surge there has driven the cost of living up dramatically.

    Some factors that worked against the move:

    - Crazy rental prices in SG, and the horror stories of mercenary (and racist) landlords reneging on rental offers and asking for up to 40-50% more rent overnight
    - School fees rising rapidly
    - No salary raise offered for the move, but cost of living in SG now higher than HK is many aspects
    - Local attitudes of resentment towards foreigners
    - Higher tax
    - Besides eating out and shopping, not much else to do


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