Migrating Out Of Singapore: Occupations, Salary and Cost of Living
 
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Migrating Out Of Singapore: Occupations, Salary and Cost of Living

Faith Ira
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Singapore is a beautiful country to live in and we are extremely lucky that we are well protected but many of us have a secret wish that if we could migrate, we would (especially somewhere colder!). Some of us may not completely agree with this and are happy with staying in Singapore but for those of us out there who think “what if?”, now is your chance to see if you might just be one step closer to migrating.

Comparison Between Salary/Wages And Cost Of Living

migration out of singapore, comparison of average salary and cost of living

As stated by Dr Leong to Straits Times, the population statistics of Singaporeans living abroad has increased to 213,000 which is a 24% increase from 10 years ago! We’ll take a look at the most common countries that Singaporeans are moving to as well as the cost breakdown!

Read also: How Poor Are Singaporeans?

Australia – Average salary: S$77,000

Let’s start with the most popular country Singaporeans aim to move to… With 67,000 Singaporeans as of 2015, it’s no surprise that it’s… Australia.

Many Singaporeans aim to move here because of its great opportunities to study but also because of how it is somewhat similar to Singapore, with it being a multi-cultural society!

One of the best ways to secure a job (apart from being the lucky few that get sent there by your company), is to look out for skill shortages that the country is experiencing. Here are the occupational shortages that Australia is experiencing:

  • Accountants
  • Agriculture and Horticulture
  • Automotive Trades
  • Architects and Building Technicians
  • Childcare
  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Food and Beverages
  • Health and Social Assistance
  • Information Technology
  • Teachers

The average full-time salary in Australia based on the second quarter of 2018 stood at $82,436 AUD. With the current exchange rate of S$1 = 1.07 AUD, you’ll approximately be earning S$77,000 annually.

Income tax for the average individual is approximately

  • 32.5% for taxable income between $0 to $90,000
  • $29,250 plus 37% for amount over $90,000
  • $62,550 plus 45% for amount above $180,000

So after taxation, your take-home salary would be $55,644 AUD or $52,000 per year.

On top of that, the GST/VAT for Australia is at 10%.

ExpensesCost of living (%)
Food+3%
Housing-17%
Clothes+0%
Transportation-23%
Personal Care-0%
Entertainment+5%
Total -13%

Data by Expatistan shows the cost of living in Australia is 13% cheaper than Singapore. I suppose the handy tip to keep your expenses low hold true regardless of where you are at, is to cook at home since the cost of food in Australia is slightly higher!

new zealand flag

New Zealand – Average salary: S$46,000

Australia’s neighbour that is starting to rope in Singaporeans due to our language and educational similarities. Those of you who have seen the campaigns posted by the New Zealand government, we know why some of the reasons to consider this country would be the wide open spaces where there are more sheep than people as well as the wonderful climate.

New Zealand has a few skill shortages which they classified as long-term shortages, immediate shortages, and Construction and Infrastructure shortages.

Here is the list of occupational shortages New Zealand is experiencing :

  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Finance/Business
  • Health and Social Services
  • ICT and Electronics
  • Oil and Gas
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Science
  • Trades
  • Transport

Based on their statistics on their weekly salary, the median salary in New Zealand currently sits at $52,832 NZD. With the current exchange rate of S$1 = 1.15 NZD, you can expect an annual salary of approximately S$46,000.

Personal income tax rates for individuals are as follows:

  • 10.5% for amount between $0 to $14,000
  • 17.5% for amount between $14,001 to $48,000
  • 30% for amount between $48,001 to $70,000
  • 33% for amount above $70,000

With a median salary of $52,832 NZD, you’ll be bringing home $36,982 NZD or S$32,000 annually.

While the GST for New Zealand is way higher at 15% on most goods and services, the cost of living still remain relatively low.

ExpensesCost of Living
Food-5%
Housing-19%
Clothes-5%
Transportation-16%
Personal Care-13%
Entertainment-19%
Total-15%

Although it is Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand’s cost of living is definitely lower than Australia’s at 15%. What’s really good news is that housing is 19% cheaper than Singapore!

united kingdom flag

United Kingdom – Average salary: S$53,000

Another multi-cultural society that is also known for having densely populated cities, moving there would be no problem especially with there being no language barriers as well as our academic certification following theirs, finding a job will be made slightly easier.

Here is the list of occupational shortages in the United Kingdom:

  • Architects
  • Scientists
  • Engineers (Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Electronic, Design and Process)
  • IT (Specialist managers, business analysts, architects and systems designers)
  • Programmers and software developers
  • Environmental
  • Health and Social Sciences

Based on their full-time employees’ weekly earnings, the median earnings are projected to be £30,420 annually. With the current exchange rate of S$1 = $0.57 pounds, you should be earning approximately $53,000 annually. 

One interesting fact is that the United Kingdom provides a tax-free personal allowance of £12,500 which means, instead of having to pay tax for the full £30,420, you will only have to pay tax for £17,920.

Individuals are subjected to the following income tax rates:

  • 0% for amount up to £12,500 (Personal Allowance)
  • 20% for amount between £12,501 to £50,000
  • 40% for amount between £50,001 to £150,000
  • 45% for amount above £150,000

Therefore, with the tax-free personal allowance, your take-home salary will be £26,836 or S$46,000. 

Looking good so far? One thing to take note of though, the equivalent of GST in the United Kingdom, VAT is currently at 20%.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food-9%
Housing-8%
Clothes-12%
Transportation-9%
Personal Care+15%
Entertainment-21%
Total-10%

Thankfully, the cost of living in the United Kingdom is slightly lower than in Singapore by 10%. Personal care in the United Kingdom is 15% higher than in Singapore though, so please take care of yourself while you are there!

canada flag

Canada – Average salary: S$37,000

The second largest nation in the world with more lenient regulations, Canada would give Singaporeans chance to full citizenship easily due to their low population growth rate. This gives you and your family access to healthcare and public education which will allow adjustment into Canada easier.

Canada has a pretty long list of occupational shortages you can take a look at:

  • Auditors and Accountants
  • Human Resource
  • Property Administrators
  • Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations
  • Engineers – Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, Chemical
  • Manufacturing
  • IT, Web Designers and Developers
  • Construction
  • Skilled Trades
  • Transportation
  • Health and Social Sciences

The median total income for Canadians in 2017 was $35,680 CAD, and with the current exchange rate of S$1 = 0.96 CAD, giving you an annual income of approximately S$37,000.

Now, good luck with calculating your federal tax rates since there are different tiers:

  • 15% on the first $47,630 plus
  • 20.5% on the amount between $47,630 to $95,259 plus
  • 26% on the amount between $95,259 to $147,667 plus 
  • 29% on the amount between $147,667 to $210,371 plus
  • 33% on the amount above $210,371

But since the median income belongs to the lowest tier of 15%, your take-home income will be about $31,450 CAD, or S$32,800.

While the base GST in Canada is considerably lower at 5%, some provinces are subjected to regional provincial sales taxes, bringing the total sales tax (HST) to 13%.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food+1%
Housing-25%
Clothes-18%
Transportation-32%
Personal Care+16%
Entertainment-17%
Total-20%

Good news is, the cost of living in Canda is 20% cheaper! While personal care can be more expensive, major expenses like housing and transportation are significantly lower.

united states of america flag
united states of america flag

United States – Average salary: S$65,000

Canada’s neighbour as well as the country where many people move to live the ‘American Dream’. This dream may or may not be achievable especially with the tightening of immigration policies. It doesn’t hurt to try though!

Here are the occupational shortages the United States is experiencing:

  • Health and Social Sciences
  • Front End Developers
  • Backend Developers
  • UX Designers
  • Business Development
  • Product Management
  • Account Management
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Projecting with the weekly median earnings as of the third quarter of 2019, a good gauge for your yearly income will be approximately $47,788. With the current exchange rate of S$1 = $0.73 USD, you’re likely to draw an annual income of S$65,000.

Assuming you are an individual taxpayer, your income tax rates are broken down into different brackets:

  • 10% on the amount from $0 to $9,525
  • 12% on the amount from $9,526 to $38,700
  • 22% on the amount from $38,701 to $82,500
  • 24% on the amount from $82,501 to $157,500
  • 32% on the amount from $157,501 to $200,000
  • 35% on the amount from $200,001 to $500,000
  • 37% on the amount above $500,001

Upon paying your taxes of $6,452 USD, your annual take-home income will be $41,335 USD, or S$56,300.

The United States does not have a standard sales tax and Americans generally pay between 2.9% to 7.5% across different states, individual governments can also charge their own sales tax of 1% – 5%.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food +9%
Housing-4%
Clothes-16%
Transportation-33%
Personal Care+43%
Entertainment-17%
Total-12%

Thankfully, the cost of living in the United States is still lower in general as compared to Singapore, the largest bulk of your expense may be going to your personal care.

thailand flag

Thailand – Minimum salary: S$24,300

Thailand is easily one of the most popular travel destinations amongst Singaporeans since it’s nearby and affordable.

However, while we are happily enjoying the street food and culture in Thailand, we don’t notice the big problem that they face: labour shortage.

Similarly, Thailand faces a low birth rate and an ageing population, but another factor explaining the labour shortage is the large proportion of the unskilled workforce in Thailand.

Amongst other occupations, here are some of the top occupational shortages that Thailand is facing:

  • Sales
  • IT and Engineering
  • Business Administration
  • Accounting
  • Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and mining

Based on their median monthly salary, you are likely to make approximately $1,207,440 THB annually. With the current exchange rate of S$1 = $22.20 THB, that brings you to an annual income of S$54,000.

As an individual taxpayer in Thailand, you will also be subjected to various tax rates:

  • 0% on amount from $0 to $150,000
  • 5% on amount from $150,001 to $300,000
  • 10% on amount from $300,001 to $500,000
  • 15% on amount from $500,001 to $750,000
  • 20% on amount from $750,001 to $1,000,000
  • 25% on amount from $1,000,001 to $2,000,000
  • 30% on amount from $2,000,001 to $4,000,000
  • 35% on amount above $4,000,000

After paying $166,860 for personal taxes, that leaves you with an annual take-home income of $1,040,580 THB or S$46,900.

Thailand currently has the same sales tax rate as Singapore, at 7%.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food -36%
Housing-60%
Clothes-38%
Transportation-60%
Personal Care+48%
Entertainment-55%
Total-54%

Thailand has the lowest cost of living compared to Singapore in this list, so even if you aren’t able to earn the median salary, you should still be okay.

taiwan flag

Taiwan – Average salary: S$21,000

Known for its street foods and night market, it’s no wonder why Taiwan is one of the most popular travel destinations for Singaporeans.

With a rather worrying labour shortage, Taiwan has also opened up more to attract foreign talents to help meet the demands of the economy.

Some of the occupational shortages in Taiwan include:

  • Sales
  • Agriculture
  • Health care
  • Engineers
  • IT technicians
  • Manufacturing

With the current exchange rate of S$1 = $22.3 TWD and a median annual salary of $470,000 NTD, you can expect an annual salary of S$21,000.

Individuals are also expected to pay income taxes through a progressive tax rate system:

  • 5% on amount from $0 to $540,000
  • 12% on amount from $540,001 to $1,210,000
  • 20% on amount from $1,210,001 to $2,420,000
  • 30% on amount from $2,420,001 to $4,530,000
  • 40% on amount above $4,530,001

So, with a median annual salary of $470,000 NTD, you’ll be taking home $446,500 annually after paying your taxes, or S$19,900. 

The sales tax in Taiwan is slightly lower as well, at 5% on most goods and services.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food +4%
Housing-43%
Clothes+2%
Transportation-44%
Personal Care+36%
Entertainment-5%
Total-24%

While the cost of living is lower in Taiwan overall, do be mindful of your daily expenses on food as it is slightly higher compared to Singapore and small amounts add up over time.

What Do I Do Now?

The most commonly sought after occupational sectors that the countries above are looking for are in Finance, Engineering and IT. If you have found an ideal country that suits your occupation, here are a few things you will need to consider before packing everything and moving out of the country:

  • Job security
  • Visa Eligibility
  • Housing
  • Mode of Transport

Also, be sure you have enough money saved up (at least 6 months) to tide you over bad times.

Keep track of your expenses and join a community that will not only help integrate you into the country but also join a community that shares tips and experiences on personal finance!

Have a burning question but not sure who to ask? We have an open community for you to hear from different perspectives as well.

Whether you love or hate our content... WE WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK!

About Faith Ira
A fresh perspective on personal finance, learning along the way!
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