Originally from India, asset manager Shankar Athreya moved to Singapore in 2005 before relocating to London in 2015. Continuing our expat advice series, here he compares expat life in each location.
Singapore is a great city with a modern outlook — a really easy and safe city to move to. However, westerners should be prepared for a consistently mild climate — if your job does not require frequent travel to the west, you can leave your winter clothes behind.
The city is well connected to Australia and New Zealand, and other parts of south-east Asia. We managed to see Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Singapore Airlines is probably the best carrier — though it is expensive — for its service and access to the region.
I lived in Tanjong Rhu on the southeast coast. It was a good residential area; I liked the fact that it was close to the city centre and the airport, as well as my office.
Singapore’s low rate of personal income tax - progressive resident rates range from zero to 22 per cent with generous tax free allowances - gives you something of a false sense of security as most household consumables are quite expensive. To encourage spending, the government allows you to pay tax in arrears and instalments. Whether this is a good thing depends on your perspective: it allows you to manage cash flow but at the same time provides you with a higher level of disposable cash, possibly leading to unnecessary spending.
People moving from Singapore to London should not expect things to run as smoothly as they did back in Asia. Do not expect shops to be open late on Sundays and be prepared to manage without full-time maids.
I now live in Wimbledon in southwest London. The city’s location allows my family and me to reach different parts of Europe quickly. It is a great opportunity to soak up the continent’s rich history and diverse cultures — and the weather allows us to celebrate the four seasons.
What I wish I’d known before moving
Singapore: When I lived there, getting a taxi could be challenging, especially when you needed one most. With Uber and other services, however, things are improving.
London: Getting an appointment with an NHS doctor can be interesting at times.
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