Unless you’re rich, you would probably be among the people who are worried about the rising housing prices and the cost of everything else in Singapore. Retirement does not seem plausible at all, which is why most people struggle in jobs that they hate. It’s why even the Singapore media, the Straits Times, is covering the income gap issue. In their survey, most people are concerned about inflation and housing prices. According to their article this is the income gap situation:
The average incomes of the top 20 per cent of households rose by 53 per cent – from $12,091 to $18,472 – from 1997/98 to 2007/08.
By comparison, the average incomes of the poorest 20 per cent of households were kept down as a result of globalisation, competition from emerging economies and new technology.
They fell by 2.7 per cent over the same period – from $1,309 to $1,274.
Most Singaporeans can’t afford their own home. Aside from cultural reasons such as filial piety and strong bonds with our parents, most of us have no alternative but to live at home. The alternative for married couples, is to live with your parents or in-laws and that can be a stress on an already stressful new marriage. And they wonder why Singaporeans are not producing babies. Besides not being able to afford decent housing without being in debt your whole life, babies are an additional cost we just can’t afford, even with the current incentive schemes. It’s not that Singaporeans don’t love or want kids, they are just too tired from working insane hours to even think about babies.
The situation is even worse now with the rising housing prices. A friend told me that Singapore is becoming the Switzerland of the East and that is why all the money is flooding in.
Prices for cars have always been crazy, now even more so, which is why people with cars baby them so much. Cars in Singapore are polished till they sparkle. But without a car, the alternative for the office worker is jam packed trains during peak hours. Not an option if you can’t afford to get to work late.
From experience I know that taxi prices have also doubled in the past couple of years and I really wonder if it is cheaper to take taxis than own a car. Its no wonder that more people are hazarding riding bicycles in unforgiving Singapore traffic. Also how would you transport all your groceries on the MRT or bus. It will be quite a struggle.
I was taken by an article in The Huffington Post, which speaks the truth plainly. Here’s an extract of the article by Alex Kennedy where Singapore is portrayed as not quite the Disneyland everyone imagines. Well it may be Disneyland for a few, but not the rest of us.
ALEX KENNEDY | February 17, 2011 07:09 AM EST |
SINGAPORE — Singaporean Ramzi Mohamed is tired of sleeping in the living room of the two-bedroom apartment he shares with his mother and older brother.
His problem is that housing prices in the city-state are up almost 70 percent since 2006 while the 29-year-old gym administrator’s monthly salary of 1,200 Singapore dollars ($938) hasn’t budged in five years.
“When I was 20, I thought I’d have my own place by 30,” Ramzi said. “Now that I’m almost 30, I wonder if that will ever happen.”
Like tens of thousands of others living in the tiny island nation that boasts one of the world’s highest levels of GDP per person, Ramzi’s failure to realize his modest ambitions is no accident.
A flood of cheap immigrant labor – and stiff competition for manufacturing jobs from Asian neighbors like China and Vietnam – has kept wages stagnant for many and widened the gulf between a very wealthy minority and the island’s poorest. Housing prices have skyrocketed as rapid population growth outstrips supply.
At the same time, ostentatious signs of the wealth enjoyed by the elite have multiplied. That has put the government under pressure to loosen its tightfisted stance on welfare in the next national budget Friday as it tries to defuse criticism its policies have worsened the plight of ordinary Singaporeans.
I feel bad complaining, because I know there many who are worse off than I am. Truly, I am one of the lucky ones in comparison. Crystal from Expat Bostonians gives us some perspective as well as she shares that S$1200 is her grocery bill for the month and her rent is quadruple the amount.
I think not many know of the plight of the ordinary Singaporean and that we don’t really have a minimum wage in place.
I love how our most famous Singaporean blogger, Mr Brown, makes his social commentary by seeing the light side of things. It’s our sense of humour that keeps us going. But if our hawker food prices go the way of taxi prices, I don’t think jokes will sustain us.