Top 7 reasons Malaysians should not work in Singapore because of higher salaries in 2019

There are many factors why one chooses to work at home country or a different country altogether. For the purpose of today’s discussion, we are only focusing on one factor: Money. We put so much emphasis on Money today that we lost track of what is really real. Money is not even real.

Malaysians and Singaporeans are really one or the other. We are twins of the same mother, culturally and physically. However, along the history, we are split into two nations that developed differently. Relevant to current time, there is a Malaysian diaspora to Singapore. A number to reckon with: 685,979 Malaysians in Singapore with its native 5.62 Million population. That’s 12% of the population!

Which begs the questions why there are so many Malaysians working in Singapore? For majority of them, it is the Money — SGD of 3x the value of MYR that made the decision for them.

Reason №1 Better Pay due to currency differences

Singapore Dollars is about 3.01 to one Malaysian Ringgit at the point of writing. By crossing the border or flight of an hour away, Malaysians can earn 3 times the salary of an average Malaysian working in Malaysia.

Well, that is the illusion. Let me explain.

Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive city to live in more than New York or Tokyo. eg. Very high cost of living. To survive in Singapore, you need a bare minimum of SGD 1200–1500 per month.

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You can forget about it if you think you can multiply your salary by three times, thinking that you are earning that much in a month in Malaysian Ringgit terms because most of us will only able to save roughly SGD 500–1000 per month which is a significant portion of a SGD 2500 fresh graduate salary in Singapore.

Why is it an illusion? The cost of living in Singapore plus the peer pressure of living alongside the materialistic and image-conscious society in Singapore means you will have to spend more to maintain yourself there. It is an illusion that you will earn RM 7500 (SGD 2500) and bring home that much. Most of your salary will end up paying for the condominium mortgage of Singaporean owners, eateries, public transports, utility bills and entertainment expenses while you are living there. You will be lucky to save SGD 500 (RM 1500), which I think you can save as much if not more in Malaysia. All these calculations are pretty basic and do not take into account of tax rate of 15% for foreigners who worked for less than 6 months.

Contrary to popular belief, Singapore actually earn the lowest wages among the high-income countries.

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Because of this, its purchasing power is greatly reduced as shown below.

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Malaysia is at a higher place (70.46) than Singapore (64.11)

Higher purchasing power index means you can buy the same things at lower prices.

Reason №2 Racism

Singaporeans do not treat foreign workers with dignity. Much can be unearthed if you just search on the internet. Cases of how home helpers have been bullied and even tortured continue to haunt the Singapore courts. It is the same when it comes to professional work. It is almost entwined in their DNA to think of someone who is not of Singaporean descendants to be inferior and worthless. It is a kind of xenophobic behaviour and will be part of Singapore main political issues to debate on in the coming years.

Even though Malaysians in general look the same and speak the same as Singaporeans, once a person as much as being identified as a Malaysian, the stereotyping and differential treatment will start. Such an example is the pay discrepancies between Malaysians and Singaporeans.

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I didn’t see $2,500 though; I saw around RM7,500 and that was a lot — as a fresh graduate in Malaysia. $1,011 difference — and both can get the same work done

The fact is fresh diploma graduates expect $2,500 and fresh university graduates expect $3,000-$3,500 for their first job. Non singaporeans are obviously underpaid, even with a year of working experience.

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Know that Singaporean employers prefer to hire malaysians for their hardworking-ness and their willingness to work on responsibilities outside their job scope. #nocomplaintswhenovertime

In general, Malaysians command lower salaries because of these factors: unfamiliarity with Singapore environment, English proficiency, willingness to take the low pay.

Does that still sound like a high salary to you?

Reason №3 Better Job Opportunity Myth

There are opportunities everywhere you go. The myth is when the perception is there are better opportunities abroad. eg. the grass is greener on the other side. There is something called opportunity cost that one will gain another while losing something. In this case, we lose our time with our family and friends.

In Singapore, for a non-PR, one can only rent and cannot buy any property to be called home. There are strict house ownership laws that discourage non-citizens to buy a home. Even when you become a PR, there are many requirements that you must meet before you can qualify to buy a HDB. The property you buy in Singapore is only valid for 60 years or 99 years leasehold option. Once the leasehold period ends, the owners have to vacate their property with no compensation. It is very weird law.

The difference between Malaysia and Singapore is that many more regional HQ are based in Singapore than Kuala Lumpur, making more jobs concentrated in the city. However, it does not mean that it will benefit any ordinary Malaysians. Here’s why: Singapore government only allows 1 foreigner : 7 employed Singaporean citizens.

Reason №4 Higher Cost of Living

Singapore is ranked as one of the most expensive city to live in. Most of your salary will go towards paying for your existence in the city. This is why in our first reason, we explore the savings from your salary.

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Buying a Corolla in Singapore compared to Malaysia

This index is similar to the Big Mac Index where a toyota car is used as a benchmark to rank against other countries. It showed how much the costs of living associated with that particular country to buy the essentially same thing there.

Listed below are the expenses you may encounter:

Public transport is pretty affordable, generally costing about $100 to $120 a month. Assuming you take a $15 Grab ride twice a week, you’ll need to budget an additional $120 a month on transport.

Groceries — This might be more expensive than in many countries due to lots of products being imported. Milk, non-tropical fruits and non-Asian products like cheese tend to be rather expensive. If you cook at home every day, you’ll probably spend at least $200 a month on groceries.

Coffee — A kopi at a local hawker centre can cost you a little more than $1, while a coffee at a Western-style cafe or a chain like Starbucks can set you back $5 or $6.

Food — On one end of the scale, a meal at a suburban hawker centre can cost as little as $3 to $4 (not including drink). When it comes to dining, budget about $20 to $30 for a meal at a midrange restaurant.

Mobile data — $20 a month for a very basic SIM-only plan with 2 to 3 GB of data. For 3 to 6 GB of data you’ll pay about $30.

Exercise — Gym and other sports/exercise classes tend to be quite expensive in Singapore, and what is considered a reasonable price-range for a gym membership or weekly class might be about $100 a month.

There are, of course, cheaper options such as the neighbourhood ActiveSG gyms ($2.50 per entry for citizens and PRs, otherwise $3.30 per entry) and community clubs.

Recreation — Movie tickets cost about $9 on weekdays and $13 on weekends. Alcohol is horribly expensive, with a pint of beer at a bar in the city centre going for about $10 to $15. And a karaoke session (sans alcohol) in a private room will set you back about $25 to $35 per person.

If you’re on a budget, make friends who don’t always need to be seen in fancy places, so you can BYOB and enjoy cheaper activities like picnics, cycling, hiking or Netflix ($10.98 a month for basic subscription).

Expensive gym memberships — These are typically $100 to $150 a month, but can get even more expensive if they specialise in MMA or something. Don’t sign up for one of these unless you’re already a gym rat, because you are usually forced to register for one or two years at a time.

Dining at nice restaurants — Singapore is filled with fancy restaurants, and a meal at one of these can easily set you back $50 or more per person if you order wine.

Dating — Easy tiger, you might want to swipe a little more slowly on Tinder. If you’re into the dinner-and-drinks date night combo, you can easily spend $50 or more per person in a single night, depending on how expensive your/their tastes are.

Travelling — Singapore is just a budget flight away from some of Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destinations. But bearing in mind that a single weekend trip to Phuket or Bangkok can cost you at least $200, indulge in moderation.

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Three classes of lifestyle in Singapore

Reason №5 Depression

In 2015, Singapore had the highest rate of depression in Asia, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study.

Singapore workers are the unhappiest in South East Asia. 72% of Singaporean firms are affected by employees’ mental stress. https://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/in-focus/72-singapore-firms-affected-workers-mental-stress This is why its workers are also one of the most unhappy and stressed in South East Asia region.

Most workers are being worked really hard. It is normal to leave work at 9pm, 10pm daily. You definitely do not leave work at 5.30pm as in some of the cases in Malaysia.

Reason №6 Kiasu Syndrome

Kiasuness and Kiasiness is legendary in Singapore. Kiasu is unofficial national character to try and outdo one another. It is a little bit similar to FOMO, Fear of Missing Out.

“Everything Also Must Grab”

“Everything Also Number One.”

Nowhere is that more obvious than in Singapore’s queuing culture. The fear of losing out has created a herd mentality when it comes to lines, especially at the city’s famous open-air food courts, known as hawker centers. Now, even registration at art schools need queuing. The pull to line up has even inspired a queuing business. Some says they are paid $110 to line up for half a day.

As we are most likely to be influenced by our surrounding environments, Malaysians who have lived before in Singapore will be “infected” by this herd mentality that they need to grab everything. It is definitely not something to be proud of!

Reason №7 Malaysia Vs Singapore

“Malaysia and Singapore are like twins. Except perhaps the elder twin is a little bit bigger than the younger twin, and a bit older”

Mahathir ever commented.

This sums up my reasons why Malaysians really should think differently about Singapore. If Singapore can achieve GDP per capita of 57,714.30 USD, Malaysia with her 9,944.90 USD can reach that too in the near future. Increase your productivity, your salary will increase too.

There is no reason why you cannot command high salaries working in Malaysia.

Written by

Sarawak Blogger

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