In the latest of our ’Postcard from…’ series, Hill Dickinson associate Andrew Lee shares his experiences of life in Singapore:
In the five years I worked as a shipping lawyer in London I barely saw a ship from one year to the next. Singapore, the world’s busiest port, is rather different. In the one nautical mile or so I can see from my 44th-floor office there must be more than 100 ships: 50 or so to the south and west of Sentosa, where I can identify the Universal Studios rollercoasters sitting on top of the new casino; there are 12 container ships directly below me at Tanjong Pagar container port; and another 40 or so vessels of all types - tankers, tugs, bulkers, heavy-lifts, rigs and barges - to the east.
Business in Singapore is not limited to shipping, it attracts investment from all over the globe. There are many incentives to locate here, possibly none more so than the low rate of personal income tax, which is capped at 20 per cent. Singapore is intent on expanding its economy and prosperity.
However, what Singapore gives with one hand it takes back with the other. The cost of accommodation makes much of London seem cheap, and the cost of owning a car is insane - not that this has limited the number of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
However, if you want real evidence of the cost of living here, take out a bank loan and go and buy some cheese from the supermarket. As it is a small island, roughly the size of the Isle of Wight, it naturally means almost everything is imported, making it expensive.
But what Singapore lacks in scale it makes up for in liveliness and diversity. There are people from a host of ethnicities and backgrounds here, each putting their own stamp on Singapore.