Singapore tops the ranks in Asia as the city with the best quality of living, well ahead of Tokyo and Hong Kong because of its efficient infrastructure. The multiculturalism of Singapore is felt through a lack of overly obvious religious symbols for all religions and ensuring that celebrations are truly joyous affairs. Rina explores her relationship with the city-state, in the weekly column. A Different Truths exclusive.
Often, we desire to live in countries that are completely different to everywhere else we’ve lived in – just to experience change (in a positive sense) and learn from another way of life. The mention of Singapore vividly provides images of a safe, clean, well structured, and well-to-do nation; every bit the archetype of the modern day city. Don’t forget the fact that it is an expensive city!
Singapore is typified by its approach to providing world-class facilities for citizens and an excellence in efficient mobility, living, and working. Singapore Airlines is consistently among the world’s best airlines, Singapore International Airport is – almost always – the world’s best airport, and Singapore’s crime rate is not a deterrent in any city or category. The workforce is educated, motivated, and well informed on global matters – very typical of a city-state that is linked to global fortunes very closely.
Life in Singapore as a resident is very different to that of a tourist. Outside of the glamour of lights and efficient ways of business, Singapore offers its people the chance to socialise and co-exist with people of multiple nationalities. It is among the most diverse countries globally, on par with New York, London, and Dubai to name three.
Yes, living in Singapore entails major changes emotionally and materially. After years and over two decades of owning and driving a car every day, it takes immense fortitude to adjust with public transport. As highly efficient as it may be and as well structured as it may be, the thought of actually having to walk to the connecting trains to the main metro stations and/or the bus and/or taking the expensive taxi is a deterrent. This isn’t taking anything away from the sheer brilliance of the planning. Feeder stations are never more than half a km from any place of residence and run to the main metro stations frequently. Of course, there are many that stay closer to the main metro stations themselves and save themselves this problem.
That doesn’t take away the fact that the public transport systems are running at capacity and more, and are packed through the day! It’s not meant to be demeaning but takes immense emotional flexibility to absorb the change. The humidity of the city makes an individual susceptible to being drenched – in either of sweat or in the rains! It’s a blessing to have the rains but makes the umbrella an absolutely mandatory accessory in the city.
Not many recognise the fact that this makes them far healthier and keeps the body and the mind agile contributing to greater productivity and wellness. I’m still learning.
Housing in Singapore is also dictated by how close you’re likely to be to your workplace or to your favourite social hotspots. What’s striking is to see the high-quality public housing coming through the HDB options and the more expensive lifestyle offered by condominiums. Villas / independent townhouses are a premium in the large country of Singapore! The community areas for some recreation, including fitness centres in more developed/populated areas, offer residents excellent value for money.
Within the region, Singapore’s efforts to draw the best of talent and provide them with a definitive path to being permanent residents or even citizens is one that makes Singapore a truly immense nation. This has created problems in terms of providing for enough jobs for citizens firstly followed by the permanent residents, and then the employment permit holders, but the growth and evolution of the city give enough room for an optimistic future.
Discipline is deeply enforced with a combination of deterrent fines, and crucially, supporting social measures. Consider that Singapore prohibits the sale of chewing gum to prevent people from spitting the gum onto streets or pathways – accidentally or otherwise. Likewise for betel nut paste and that prevents the country from having sticky sidewalks or red-stained walls painting a gory pictu!
For families with children that have to make a decision on achieving the dream Singaporean citizenship comes an important factor to consider – that of their children completing the mandatory national service before pursuing higher education programmes. It is a noble goal to serve the nation but one that costs the young ones, a few years of their academic and young adult lives. This mandatory action, however, drives home a very simple message – the future of Singapore can only be entrusted to those willing to make nominal sacrifices and those that put the national interest first. It promotes a feeling of ownership for a nation that is dominantly home to expatriates.
In all this, Singapore doesn’t lose sight of the fact that safety cannot be compromised with. The city provides one of the safest metros of the world and women (often the barometer of the safety of any city) can walk into the metro stations and on the streets late in the night knowing they are mostly safe and only terrible luck can cast disaster upon them. Singapore is a safe, corruption free, and economically liberal country. The government has invested significant resources in health, education, and infrastructure to make the city-state a very attractive place to live and do business.
Singapore also provides for enjoying the rich cuisines of South East Asia through its hawker centres and mobile food centres spread across the city providing food for multiple budgets.
This standard of living in the city comes at a cost, however. It is expensive and often encourages long-term residents to look at other nations with some degree of disdain.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Singapore is a city-state: a country within a city, or maybe a city within the country.
Photos from the Internet, sourced from the author
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