What challenges are coming to Singapore in 2023?

I didn’t want to start of the year with a depressing post, and I assure you it isn’t going to be one, but I thought it would be useful to people to be informed on the changes that are coming to Singapore that will directly affect us this year.

  1. GST Increase

As everyone knows, GST has now increased from 7% to 8%, meaning that things are generally more expensive. Not only does this apply for small things like going out for drinks or doing the grocery shopping, but I think people, particularly expats, will feel the pinch when it comes to paying for their child’s education. International school is already incredibly expensive, and with it being very difficult to get into the state schools, it is pretty much the only option for most people with families over here.That one percent extra makes all the difference, actually. I have Heard of a few international schools allowing the parents to pay for their 2023 bills in December, meaning that they are still paying at the 7% rate, but of course of December is over and moving forward it will be 8% across-the-board.

2. Rental

I’ve been talking about this topic a lot because it directly affects me and is most expats in Singapore, because most of us do not own a property here. Unlike the UK, which I’m used to very good laws that protect the tenants, Singapore does not seem to have this. There seems to be no glass ceiling when it comes to rental prices over here, and actually, a lot of expats when considering relocating to Singapore, should take into consideration how much of their salary is going to go on paying for rent! I do wonder when the rental prices will stop increasing, and I’m hoping that in 2023 it will stop, but there is no way to be sure.

3. Means Testing For Medical

From the end of 2022, the Ministry of health have decided to implement a subsidy framework across healthcare. This of course is to help those from lower income households, who may find medical bills too expensive. This method calculates the subsidies that people will receive based on their household income, so that the government can give assistance to those that need it most. While this is great for those who really need it, there are some factors to consider that will affect all of us. The first is opting for government hospitals instead of private.

Generally, going to a government hospital means that it is a lot cheaper than going private, but of course, this is more appropriate and best saved for people who really need it, on lower income households who qualify for the mains testing. Expats in particular are rarely included in these kind of schemes, which means that generally our healthcare will still stay as expensive. And don’t forget, the Ministry of health have also implemented a drug list, which means that if you are on medication that is not on this list, you may not be able to claim it on your insurance!

4. Inflation

This seems like a really scary word now, last year Singapore reached an all-time high with its inflation rate. While the Monetary Authority of Singapore has tried to curb this, by appreciating the currency and tightening policies to try and curb the upward prices, I still think that inflation will affect us in 2023. We can already see that things such as groceries and Energy bills have increased, what will this be like in 2023? I do think that the government has done a very good job at plateauing the inflation rate, but it has plateaued at a very high point. I am looking forward to seeing it decrease in the future.

5. Recession

While the unemployment rate was very low last year in Singapore, there is something that us as expats must think about; retrenchment. Due to the recent recession, we’ve seen a lot of companies cutting people on Employment passes and S passes, and employing more locals who they don’t have to fork out large levees or salaries for. Of course, this is great for the locals, and I do think that it’s wonderful to see a country put so much effort into supporting its local citizens, but this could greatly affect expatriates living and working in Singapore. Reshuffling of large organisations could mean relocation or retrenchment.

Not only that, I have seen a real competition for S passes due to the quota system. An S pass has changed a lot over the years, with its salary for some even being comparable to those on an Employment pass, but there is strict criteria and quota that each company needs to be able to employ someone on an S pass. Leading to shortages in some companies. Not only that, as we get older and we gain more work experience, our work passes become more and more expensive to renew for the employer. This could spike the increase in unemployment rates in the expat community.

Despite all of this, of course, I still love living in Singapore and consider it my home.

I’m sure that these things are just challenges that we will have to overcome, and will not continue forever. There have been worse economic periods in the past, this is not the worst that could happen! I’m still incredibly grateful to live in such a wonderful country. Here’s to a wonderful 2023 ahead!

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