10 Good & 10 Bad things about Singapore

Yes, no place on earth is perfect. You surely know it already from experience.

Since many people ask, here are some pros and cons about Singapore.

The Good Things

1 – Shopping anytime. 

Impressive iOn mall on Orchard Road

Not talking about buying a LV bag at 2AM (also can), but the fact that you can get food or do groceries anytime of the day makes for a great convenience.

Ok for many people on this planet, being able to shop 24/7 might sound natural but for me as a “latin” person, it makes a big difference… 7-Eleven are everywhere, and food is available all the time (even Mc Donalds offer a 24/7 delivery service…) but not everywhere, some residential areas really do not have much to offer.

2 – World Food

A corner of a “Hawker center”, a street cantine, each stall sells different kinds of food

It is all here, and for very cheap money in hawkers’ centres, as far as regional cuisine is concerned.

Singapore now holds the highest concentration of millionnaire households in the world, but also the highest Gini ratio (meaning the salary inequalities are also high), which means that you can world-class 3* Michelin chefs, but that luckily, you can still eat out for cheap.

At hawker centers, you can eat a complete meal for as little as 3 to 10$, and enjoy local food delicacies such as the traditional kaya set, chicken rice, satay, mee rebus, mee goreng, laksa…

On the drinks side, you will always get at least one drink stall per food court, offering all traditional canned drinks and coffees, teas versions. If you are lucky, you will also find a stall selling delicious fresh sugar cane juice and fresh fruit juices or cut fruits (go local, go tropical: mangoes, pineapple, dragonfruit, starfruit, or a mix of all these!). Funny thing is that you will pay more if you want your drink less fresh (less/no ice)… But it makes sense that if there is less/no ice in your drink, that means there is more product…
If the food choices were not enough, you can still sample some of the weird foods available here too…

3 – Cleanliness & Comfort
Unless you like to throw your wastes in the street or slide on greasy newspapers, to walk in clean streets makes it an everyday pleasure. As a symbol of the rising standards of living in the region, Singapore is not much different to Europe or the US for the comfort of living. Even public toilets are clean (i’ve noticed that there is even a dedicated committee for clean toilets, giving out awards every year. Their tool for geo-spotting “happy toilets” is quite impressive…). Roads are wide. Forks and Knifes can be delivered at restaurants. People speak english. Easy. Singapore.

4 – Serious Hub for seriously cool backpacking

 Vietnam hangout just a couple of hours away

With Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, China, India, Australia as reachable neighbours, there is always somewhere you can go for a discovery. Many low cost airline carriers actually use Singapore as a hub. Result? Return trips to many of these destinations can be purchased for less than US$ 100 (especially if you travel outside friday to sunday weekend schemes and national holidays).
I have had the chance to make several trips in the region since late 2010, and i have put up some diaries and pictures of my trips in South East Asia.

5 –  Warm Weather

It could actually also fit the “Bad” things about Singapore but apart from sweating in your suit at 8am, do you know so many places on earth where you can wear shorts all year round?

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6 – Dynamism / Connectivity

With 15% growth in 2010, streetworks everywhere and new real estate builds all the way throughout the city, it’s really revitalising to feel part of a place that is really alive. There are numerous wi-fi hot spots throughout the country.
Wanna check out what’s happening in the city? Here is a list of the 10 Must-Know Websites for Singapore

7 – Transportation works
Good bus and underground coverage, taxis everywhere for a low fare, no strikes… What else?
To know how to get around and a few tips on travelling in the city, check our post Singapore for Dummies: A starter guide

8 – Mixed cultures
As many people come from all around the world to take advantage of SG’s enormous growth, you can experience living with people from various communities. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Philippino, American, English, German, French, nearly every country is represented here. It feels global. It actually is.

9 – Nightlife
Singapore’s governers have finally understood than a real cultural life was needed to compete as a truly global city. In the last year’s many places have opened for night owls, from beachfront location clubs, city Ktv, or skyscrapers’ rooftop bars…

10 – Seduction potential
You might actually lack of a lot of holidays to be able to host all the friends that want to come visit you. Always a good point when you are an exaptriate. Even your best friends won’t specifically rush to visit you if you live in an isolated place in Lituania or Northern England. Singapore can be a far spot to reach, but it still remains attractive…

The Bad Things

1 – Surprise factor
There is very little chance that you will be blown away by some improvised street event, impromptu encounters or live street music. Forget it, unless on specific national days…

2 – Accomodation prices
1000 to 1500 SGD (600 to 800€) for a common room in a shared flat.
It might not be NYC, but it is still darn expansive.

3 – Alcohol price, especially wine…

These are the absolute cheapest bottles available. My exquisite french taste prevents me for trying.

Not a chance to buy a good wine bottle under 40 SGD (25€). Beer is not cheap either, not to mention hards.

4 – Denunciation / Public liberties

Apart from the smoking ban in public that is reminded everywhere (people who tell you that it is forbidden to smoke in the streets are wrong), and pricey fines for basically everything that is uncommon, there is a special rule for denunciation, and it is taught in public places (how to denunciate a bad driver, a strange person, somebody littering…), i find specially disgusting. I might make a full article about that in the future.

5 – Weather
28 to 33 degrees all-year round…While it could sound appealing if you are currently freezing in your apartment, wearing a sweater and gloves, please consider that too hot is also hard to cope with. Do you remember these nights when you couldn’t sleep because it was too warm in your room and had no chance of cooling it? It is what can happen if you don’t have or can’t stand aircon at night. If you have to walk more than 300 meters in daytime, then you will also start sweating. Well, at least if you belong like me to this cast of martyrs that sweat way-too-easily. Honestly, sometime i dream of a natural cool air…

6 – Malls
If there were a kingdom of shopping malls, Singapore would be the capital. They are everywhere, in every street. Street shops are most of the time just a mall’s gate… I find it so boring, like many people, but it has Aircon, so i you consider point 5, maybe it is an explanation…
Nope. In fact, Singaporeans are so much in a quest for world recognition than looking good and showing off has become paramount. Western luxury brands have understood it well and a simple walk on Orchard Road would make for a perfect proof…

7 – Superficiality / Where is the fun? (logical sequel to number 6)
People here are so serious. They always want to be first, and much worse, they are acting serious about it. Like in many places in the world, money is everything that matters and as time is money, you may witness some very ridiculous behaviours such as fighting informally to get into the bus first even where the bus is obviously empty. Sometimes you would just feel like screaming out : “Chill out, for %*£^@” sake !!!” This all “success” (called here Kiasu) mindset, can become very stressful at times…

8 – Expats everywhere…

If you are looking for that “i’m the only adventurer in this town” feeling, go away…The expat community is just huge in Singapore, and considering everything the government does to attract foreign investments and citizens, it’s not gonna change any time soon.

9 – Lack of space, noise

It is hard not to feel oppressed in this city, where the density is one of the highest of the world. But at least it’s not too messy “Saïgon” style… Buildings everywhere, 4×4 lanes roads, sometimes you just wish to be in the desert, drowned in the silence.

10 – Last but not least, “Oldness”
Yes, everything here seems brand new. Even the oldest 100+ years building. So it kind of feels like a continuous walk into Disneyland. I guess Singaporeans like to maintain a high standard of cleanliness in everything, but maybe cleaning all buildings every year might be a little excessiveBring Temasek back (oldest name recorded fo Singapore)

As a conclusion, i could say that quality of life is just BIG here, however it would benefit from a more relaxed attitude…

You might want to check out 10 (more) good & bad things about Singapore

New to Singapore? Check our Singapore for Dummies Starter Guide

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  1. Hi, nice blog!! I'm from singapore and I just wanna say that Singapore is acutally a small country with no resources so thay have to rely on their manpower to help the economic growth, that's why there's many expats, erm personally, these expats took alot of our work as they're more cheaper than local workers 😦 And the place is noisy because it's a busy country and the Govenment try to make new flats for every unused land for the growing population, so it's a bit cramp~ and lastly S'pore seems brand new so that tourist like you would come!! Check my blogs too!! Thanks


  2. Hi ISpeakLogic. Actually, I am not a tourist in Singapore. Expats are not all cheaper than locals and to say that they took a lot of your work is a way too simplistic… If there were no indians, there would be not as many new buildings; and if there were no philipino girls, many singaporeans would have to leave earlier or come back later or sleep less so they can shop for groceries, cook, clean the flat or else. Therefore singaporeans would somehow work less and not grow their economy as much as they do now.


  3. hello! je suis singapourienne, mais j'habitais à paris pendant quelques années. j'aime beaucoup ce poste, je le trouve assez juste et perspicace, et puis étrangement peu politique… j'attendais de voir quelque chose sur la censure / la manque de partis politiques divers etc. en tout cas, c'était une lecture intéressante et ça m'a fait plaisir…


  4. If you go by the strict definition “expatriates”, all foreign workers are expatriates by nature, so there is no difference. But in practice indeed, the difference is made between 'expat', westerners sent by their companies to Singapore with a good salary, and foreign workers from ASEAN countries (+ India)…


  5. Bonjour ink julep, Merci pour ton commentaire 🙂 Je n'ai pas inclus la censure / manque de partis politiques divers car c'est vrai qu'en temps qu'etranger ici sans le droit de vote, je ne suis pas tres concerne. Ou alors peut-etre que je l'ai ecris et que l'on a fait disparaitre le paragraphe? Bravo pour ton francais en tout cas, tres belle maitrise de la langue!


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