Two years ago, Jim Rogers sold his New York home, packed his bags, and left for Singapore. If you spend no more than three minutes on the ground here, you will see why.
For the internationalist, Singapore is as close to ‘perfect’ as could possibly be imagined:
1) It’s clean. And I mean eat-off-the-streets clean. Most big cities (Buenos Aires, New York, even Paris) feel like they need a good pressure wash… not Singapore. The air quality is clear, the bay water is blue, and the buildings almost glisten in the sunlight.
2) Everything just works. One of the problems you frequently encounter when you move overseas is that normal, everyday things aren’t up to the same standards that you are used to… internet service goes down, the hot water heater breaks frequently, the gas stations arbitrarily shut down, etc.
In Singapore, you can expect exactly the same standard of service and excellence as you would in London or San Francisco.
3) What crime? It doesn’t exist. Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, right up there with Dubai and Vatican City. Ironically, visible police presence is minimal, contrary to western opinion that cops are walking around caning people for spitting on the street.
4) Great amenities. Healthcare in Singapore is second-to-none; in fact, it is promoting itself heavily as a medical tourism destination. Check out the Parkway Health center for more information.
The nightlife in Singapore is also pretty good… it’s not as wild as, say, Manila or Bangkok (darts, anyone?), but I would say it’s just as nice as London– plenty of restaurant choices, nightclubs, go-go bars, shopping, etc.
5) Last but not least, Singapore is open for business. It seems as if a bunch of really sharp entrepreneurs sat together in a back room somewhere several decades ago and devised plans for their own version of Galt’s Gulch.
Everything in Singapore is designed for business, and entrepreneurs in particular– from the residency program to investment incentives, I’m hard-pressed to think of a government that is more supportive of commerce than Singapore.
They are doing everything they can to attract the brightest minds and the best business people, all of whom make the city-state a better place.
I’m most impressed with the financial infrastructure, which I will be discussing in more detail tomorrow. Banking and corporate structures in Singapore are so clean and transparent, I would be shocked if it weren’t THE dominant world financial center in 20-years, and likely 10-years.
So is there any downside? Sure.
For starters, the cost of living can be ridiculous– Housing is by far the biggest expense, with average sales price for residential property in the neighborhood of 1,000 Singapore dollars per square foot, roughly $700 (US)… so a little 2-bedroom apartment will set you back about a half-million. Not cheap.
Fortunately, other things aren’t too bad. Food at the grocery store is actually quite reasonable, and the quality is excellent… so if you are into organic living, you won’t have any problems in Singapore.
Gas prices are also reasonable– diesel fuel runs about $3.30 / gallon, and a taxi ride just about anywhere in town will only set you back a couple of bucks.
And as for that dinner out on the town? Expect to pay Chicago prices, plates ranging from $15 to $50 depending on the quality of the restaurant. A Big Mac will set you back about $2.90 (US).
Now… considering that I spent all day meeting with bankers and lawyers, you can expect to hear great things tomorrow about the financial structures of Singapore. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you have any specific questions about Singapore or your own stories, please comment.