REFLECTIONS ON MOVING FROM SINGAPORE TO ZUG
After two and a half years in Singapore, in April I made the move to Zug. Out was the hotness, humidity and high rises of Singapore and in was the temperate climate, clean air and countryside of Canton Zug. While very different in many regards, Switzerland like Singapore has a similar population, is very wealthy, has low taxes, and is extremely safe- attracting a high proportion of expatriate workers. In this article, I’ll try to highlight some of the less obvious similarities and differences.
Arranging a B Permit in Switzerland is thankfully a lot quicker process than the equivalent process in Singapore for attaining an Employment Pass. Whilst in Switzerland, a B permit can be processed in days and is valid for five years, my permit in Singapore took over a month and was only valid for a year, leaving me in limbo and questioning whether I ought to be applying for other jobs as a backup plan.
Setting up in both countries has been fairly similar. Getting my place kitted out in either country involved a couple of trips to a well known Swedish home retail store. Meeting new people in both places has been made easier by joining sports teams; and going to events held by MeetUp Groups. I have noticed a greater sense of community than I experienced in Singapore. In Walchwil, the village where I am staying, there have been events every fortnight, from flea markets and brunches, to the summer party this weekend. Travelling around Switzerland, the national flag is a common sight, reflecting the strong sense of national pride in the country despite its four official languages. Singapore is similar, even though it is only 50 years old and very multicultural. The flag is a less common sight in the UK outside of occasions like the Queen’s birthday and summer sporting events.
Singapore and Switzerland are both ideally located for travel to the rest of Asia and Europe respectively. While in my first year in Singapore, I enjoyed trips to Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. This year I am planning trips to Barcelona, Rome and anywhere else the budget airlines will take me to. Due to the high cost of living in Singapore and Switzerland, a week away can end up costing less than staying at home! Property and general living costs in both countries are high. Unlike Singapore though, in Switzerland I have the prospect of being able to own a car should I wish to buy one. This was unaffordable in Singapore, understandable as it is a tiny densely populated island hence car ownership is taxed extremely heavily.
In Singapore, malls are everywhere and shopping is something of a national hobby for locals. Being a typical male with regard to shopping, I get bored very quickly and try and get it over with as quickly as possible! Whereas in Singapore, shops stay open until 10pm, it has been quite a change here, finishing work to find most places already closed for the day- meaning planning ahead has been a necessity.
Having been here a couple of months, I am now more settled in my new role and developing my skills and knowledge. At 26, most people are not thinking about their retirement, however working for Summit Wealth AG; a financial planning firm, it is something of which I am very conscious of. In Singapore, most employers of expatriates have no or a very limited workplace pension in place, compared to Switzerland’s compulsory first and second pillars. Despite this, in both countries it is necessary to make your own additional arrangements in order to have sufficient savings to have the lifestyle desired in retirement, especially if one wants to retire early.
Moving to Switzerland appealed as with a different language, it seems like the next level up in working overseas. It means I am able to be closer to home and visit family every few months rather than once a year. I hope the next couple of years will be as enjoyable as the first few months here.