If you’re the type of person who prefers the city life, you’ll love the wealthy island-nation of Singapore. It’s an impeccably clean country, full of fine shopping, superb dining and more than enough diversions to keep you busy. Getting around is a breeze, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems.A walk down central Singapore’s main boulevard, Orchard Road, will take you past one glittering shopping centre after another. When you reach the end, you’ll be at the Singapore Botanic Gardens—a perfect place to unwind after all that glamour. The gardens, which are the pride of Singapore, were established in 1859 during the British colonial occupation. They host a vast array of rare plants, unique trees, artistically shaped bonsai and exotic orchids. The gardens are internationally renowned, meticulously maintained and free.
Singapore’s Sentosa Island is devoted almost entirely to recreation. This is where locals and visitors alike come to play. Singapore’s best beaches are here, as well as Universal Studios and several other theme parks, a fancy aquarium, a casino, a water park, a dolphin lagoon and two championship golf courses. Bicycle paths, jogging tracks, playgrounds and other outdoor amenities are found not only on Sentosa, but in almost every park in the country.Singapore has a world famous award-winning zoo, several internationally renowned museums, and the Esplanade, one of the premier art and performance venues in Southeast Asia. The Esplanade hosts the Singapore Philharmonic Orchestra; art shows and free concerts are often held along the Esplanade’s waterfront.
Ultra-modern Singapore embraces its past, too. There are still many neighbourhoods with beautifully restored 19th-century shop-houses, where life goes on today much as it did over a century ago. The bustling neighbourhoods of Chinatown and Little India are teaming with life, full of temples, specialty shops and cafes where expert chefs prepare dishes created from recipes passed down to them by their ancestors.
Due to the ethnic diversity of the country—the Chinese comprise 78% of the population, Malays make up 14%, and Indians and expats make up the remaining 8%—Singapore cuisine has a uniquely international flair. Singapore chilli crab, fragrant chicken rice, special Singapore noodles and delicious kaya (a custardy coconut and egg jam) are just a few of the mouth-watering treats found here. From working-class hawker centres to elite gourmet venues headed by internationally renowned chefs, you’ll find that Singapore has one of the world’s best food scenes.
Singapore is located just 137 kilometres north of the equator. The weather is warm and humid year-round; it’s never too cold and rarely too hot. The average high temperature is 31 C, and average low is 24 C.
Singapore has an extremely high population density, but through aggressive city planning they have managed to incorporate an impressive number of parks and green areas into the space they do have. Nearly 10% of the island has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. Singapore’s population of 5.5 million is roughly 1.5 million more than the populations of Melbourne or Sydney, but sits in an area of just 697 square kilometres—the same as Adelaide—making Singapore the world’s third most densely populated country.
Although Singapore may be small in size, it has a mighty stature. In 2015, it ranked as the world’s third wealthiest country, as measured by GDP. Their trade-oriented market economy is considered to be the most open in the world, and according to the World Bank, Singapore also takes first place as the best country in which to do business, due to its low tax rates. It has one of the world’s busiest ports and is a global leader in offshore banking.
Government-subsidised housing has all but eliminated homelessness in Singapore and poverty is also almost non-existent here. This stable democracy means it’s also virtually corruption free.
Singapore offers foreigners a high quality of life, but it does come at a cost. However, if your budget allows it, Singapore is an attractive place to live, either short or long-term. It’s a highly developed nation that offers a first-class luxury lifestyle and enough desirable diversions to ensure you never run out of things to do.