45% Expats Make More Than $265k


Expatriates working in Singapore are doing well economically. 45% of them are earning an income of more than S$265,000, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2010.

Note: S$265k = US$200k.

According to the survey report, Singapore is ranked 1st by the proportion of expats who make more $200k USD a year. Bermuda is 2nd with 40% of its expats in the same income bracket. Hong Kong is 3rd with 36%, and Saudi Arabia a close 4th with 35%.

However, if we rank by the proportion of expats with a monthly disposable income of more than US$3,000, Russia is ranked 1st, with Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in joint 2nd, Bermuda 5th, UAE 6th and Singapore 7th. China is 8th and Hong Kong 9th.

I guess this means either Singapore’s cost of living is higher, or there are more ways to spend money (and enjoy life) in Singapore.

The HSBC report also mentions that 29% of the expats in Singapore are working in Finance industry. This is more than twice that in the next industry category “Construction/Manufacturing/Utilities”, which has 12%.

So, finance is the way to go, mate.

If you are a foreigner reading this, come to Singapore to work. You have a nearly 50% chance to make US$200k or more!

See also Citizens A Minority in MNCs.


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  1. Inflation at 3.9% on

    Who can be categorized as expats? And how many of them are there in Singapore? 45% of 1000(0) is 450(0) which is nothing, that’s like saying 1 percent of the population is rich.

    Also what’s included in the number? From the disposable income number, I think the Singapore number must have included housing allowances.

  2. dear expat-wannabe, you can renounce your citizenship and migrate to Australia (Perth is good), collecting all your CPF in the process, and one day return to Singapore as a “talent” if you still desire so. you may even be featured in straits times as a singapore-born foreign talent returning to serve! i think quitters-turned-expats are even more highly regarded than expats. so citizens are ranked 6th in singapore, after quitter-expats, expats, PRs, foreign workers and maids.

  3. disposable income on

    why is their disposable income so little? i make much less than 265k but easily have more than the equivalent of 3k usd disposable every single month.

  4. @disposable income, perhaps it’s because a large component of annual salaries comes from bonuses, and not the monthly salary. This is why only the discussion of annual income is meaningful. It seems that nowadays everyone is getting 6 months bonus. From my friends in Magic Circle firms to ex schoolmates in the civil service’s elite service.

  5. what is the definition of expat in singapore? As far as know there are so many maids, low-end construction workers from other countries, curious to know the expat definition

  6. Don’t be fooled by these numbers… the top echelon in finance earns >500K USD/yr. This drives up the average income for all other expats who earn considerably less, even American ones.

    It would be nice to see the % of expats broken down by salary range which would uncover the real spread of income for expats.

    Many expats here are earning what locals earn, even in professional industries.

  7. A little clarification about the nomenclature used:

    Magic Circle = top UK law firms (Links, CC, A&O, etc)
    Bulge Bracket = top Wall Street investment banks

    As far as I know, the terms aren’t used interchangeably, because they each have some historical significance in their respective industries. If you do so, you’re obviously not either a legal or finance insider.

  8. anon@Feb15 7.03am is right and Kevin doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Bulge bracket has nothing to do with law and refers exclusively to top investment banks.

    The two terms are not used interchangably.

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