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

4 min read

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

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$77,550

Let’s start with the most popular country Singaporeans aim to move to with 67,000 Singaporeans as of 2015. 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
  • Information Technology

The average salary in Australia would be $76,000 AUD. With the current exchange rate being S$1=0.98 AUD, you would be earning approximately S$77,550 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

This means that your take-home salary would be $51,300 AUD or S$50,274.

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

ExpensesCost of living (%)
Personal Care-1%
Total -3%

Data by Expatistan shows the cost of living in Australia is 3% cheaper than Singapore. However, take note that food is 14% higher so try to cook at home when you’re there!

New Zealand – Average salary: S$52,700

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 Canterbury shortages.  The Canterbury shortages are due to the earthquakes in the region that happened in 2010.

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

The average salary in 2016 was $48,800 NZ. With the exchange rate being S$1 =1.08 NZ, we can expect the salary to be S$52,700 annually. For New Zealand, income tax varies according to the salary. For income above $70,000 NZ, you will be taxed 33%. Therefore, for an annual salary of $48,800 you can expect to be taxed lower than 33%.

ExpensesCost of Living
Persona Care-25%

Although it is Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand’s cost of living is definitely lower than Australia’s at 11%. What’s really good news is that housing is 18% cheaper than Singapore! The GST/VAT for New Zealand is at 15%.

United Kingdom – Average salary: S$49,400

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:

  • Mining and Energy – Managers and Directors
  • 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

The average salary in the United Kingdom for a permanent staff would be £27,200. The current exchange rate would be S$1= 0.55 pounds, that will give us an annual salary of S$49,400. The tax for the United Kingdom would be 20% without any allowances which means the take-home salary is S$39,560. 

One interesting fact is that the United Kingdom provides a tax-free personal allowance of £11,500 which means, instead of having to pay tax for the full £27,200, you will only have to pay tax for £15,700. Therefore, with the tax-free personal allowance, your take home salary will be S$43,740.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Personal Care0

The United Kingdom’s cost of living would be the closest to Singapore’s because due to it being only 6% cheaper. Personal care is also approximately the same price as personal care products in Singapore. GST/VAT for United Kingdom is at 20%.

Canada – Average salary: S$52,630

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 hundreds of occupations listed few occupational shortages you can take a look at:

  • Auditors and Accountants
  • Human Resource
  • Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations
  • Property Administrators
  • Engineers – Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, Chemical
  • Architects
  • Web Designers and Developers
  • Health and Social Sciences

The average annual salary would be $50,000 CAD or just under $50,000 CAD. The exchange rate is S$1 = 0.95 CAD which gives us an annual salary of S$52,630! As for Canada, the tax can range from 10%-20%. Taking the average tax rate of 15%, the take-home salary would be S$44,730.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Personal Care+4%

In Canada, the cost of living is 22% cheaper! The biggest decrease in spending would be transportation, where a car would only cost S$24,000 there while the same car would cost S$116,000 here. GST/VAT for Canada is at 5%.

United States – Average salary: S$68,000

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 or 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

The average annual salary in the US would be $51,000 USD. With the exchange rate being 1 SGD = 0.75 USD, the annual salary will be S$68,000. Assuming you are an individual taxpayer, your tax due would be $5,226 + 25% of the amount over $37,059 USD.

This means you will have to pay $8,711 USD. Therefore, your take home salary will be $42,289 USD or S$56,385.

ExpensesCost of Living (%)
Food +8%
Personal Care+32%

Similar to Canada, transportation would be the biggest decrease in cost. However, cost of living in the US would be 8% more expensive than its neighbour at 14%. GST/VAT for USA stands at 7.5%.

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.

Check out our blog for more unbiased opinions on while you are on your personal finance journey.

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