Expat Market In Singapore – All You Need To Know About Expats Before Targeting Them
Singapore’s ease of doing business, coupled with her standard of living, makes her an attractive destination for expats to move to for work or to set up their own businesses. According to Singapore’s National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), there are almost 200,000 expats in the country as of 2020. This large number presents valuable opportunities for businesses. Read on to learn more about expats!
What Is An Expat?
Expatriates or expats for short, is a person who temporarily lives outside of their native country mostly for work reasons. The term ‘expats’ is often mistaken with the term ‘immigrant’. Immigrants are those who permanently shift to another country whereas expats do not necessarily relocate permanently as mentioned above. According to an HSBC survey in 2018, Singapore topped the ranking as the overall best country for expatriates to live and work for a fourth straight year, beating New Zealand, Germany, and Canada.
Expats in Singapore behave differently from locals and businesses will need to know the various behaviours of expats before being able to reach and engage with them successfully. The behaviours are detailed below.
Choice of Housing
Expats in Singapore tend to stay in condominiums, co-living spaces, or landed properties. Given that expats may not stay in Singapore permanently, they opt for rental accommodations.
Expats who move to Singapore with their families, especially with young children, will most likely send their children to international schools. Popular international schools include Canadian International School, Global Indian International School, and Stamford American International School. The key reasons for this are the social network that children and parents can build with other like-minded expats and the diverse ethnicities of teachers and students which can help to open the child’s mind to the different cultures, something that may not be as prevalent in mainstream schools.
Expats highly value their leisure time. They will hang out with their friends, be it fellow expats or local friends that they have made. Food and drinks, especially alcohol in pubs are favourites. Apart from food and drinks, expats like to head to parks, cycle, and explore Singapore.
Travelling is one of the most enjoyed activities of expats in Singapore. Given Singapore’s location and proximity to other countries in the region coupled with affordable budget flights, many expats will take a quick trip around Asia, especially South-East Asia (SEA).
A sizable number of expats in Singapore are in managerial positions which means they are earning a relatively high income. According to ECA International’s MyExpatriate Market Pay survey, the average expat salary is about USD 90,000. This means that the purchasing power of expats is very high.
The busy lives of expats mean that they may not have the time to take care of their homes and children’s daily activities such as school. This is why many hire domestic helpers to take care of their homes and children.
What Do Expats Do
Expats in Singapore tend to be white-collar workers holding managerial positions in MNCs. Some expats venture out on their own, becoming entrepreneurs. Others are academics in universities or teachers in international or private schools (Source: magichoth).
Channels Used By Expats
Expats can be found on social media apps such as Facebook. Since many expats are far from home, family, and friends, Facebook is an ideal platform for them to stay connected with their loved ones. As of May 2021, almost 50% of Facebook users are below the age of 35, 23% between the ages of 35-44, and 14% between 45-54 years of age (Source: NapoleonCat). Facebook has many expat groups such as Singapore Expats, British Expats in Singapore and All About Singapore – Expats providing advice and support to fellow expats for at least a decade.
Instagram is also widely used by expats. As of May 2021, 41% of Instagram users in Singapore are between the ages of 25-34, 20% between 35-44 years, and 10% between the ages of 45- 54 (Source: NapoleonCat). This shows that Instagram is used more by those who are younger than those who are in the older age groups. One major reason for this is that the younger generation feels more connected to their friends and the community when they use Instagram, as identified by a study by Facebook and Crowd DNA.
Whatsapp is one of the main communication apps used in Singapore, both by individuals and businesses. Expats use Whatsapp to communicate with loved ones back home and also with fellow expats in Singapore.
Apart from social media and apps, expats forums such as Singapore Expats Forum and expat.com are frequented by many expats to ask questions about working or living in Singapore or to help each other out.
There are some expats who have even started their own blogs such as Changmoh, Me In Blogland to give those who want to know about what life is like as an expat in Singapore more information about it. Others have created youtube channels, (e.g. Georgia Caney, Simon Says and Ghib Ojisan) for the same reasons mentioned above.
There are expat-focused media sites and magazines such as The Finder which provides subscribers and readers with important information about Singapore to help them navigate life in Singapore as an expat.
Expat Communities In Singapore
The environment plays a big role in helping expats adapt to a new place with accommodation being one of the most important factors to consider when moving. Living near like-minded people increases the opportunity for interactions. Here are a few neighbourhoods in Singapore that are popular with the Expat communities.
A neighbourhood with a mixture of landed properties, condominiums, and apartment blocks surrounded by greenery. Situated close to the Botanical Gardens and minutes away from Orchard Road and conveniently connected by the Circle Line. In addition, many condominiums offer private shuttles to get you to work and your family to school. Usually, expats with family would opt for this area, having threal neighborhood feel and a good balance of different activities.
A beautiful neighbourhood with unique buildings with many different residential options, especially the shophouses. Tanjong Pagar is a short commute to the main Central Business District with many amenities. Usually expats in Singapore with high-income, single professionals and couples would opt for this area.
An exclusive neighbourhood with Singapore’s skyline and luxury living. A popular place to hold special events such as Formula One Singapore and art shows amongst others. There are many modern apartments and penthouse suites located in the area. Popular among high-income expats who wish to indulge in luxury living.
A warm neighbourhood away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with a wide range of accommodations. The area is well-connected to East Coast Park that connects to the city, offers an urban getaway with an exciting diversity of sporting, dining, and recreational activities. The East Coast is preferred by expats in Singapore who want a quieter neighborhood with more natural surroundings.
Marketing to Expats in Singapore
Long gone are the days where expats only got to know each other after meeting face to face. Social media has increased connectivity among people. Digital profiles are available online where expats can get to know each other before meeting. Furthermore, the current COVID-19 pandemic, it propels the adoption of connecting over social media. Therefore, social media channels are a good way to reach and engage expats.
It is important to produce content with a personal touch and voice, as it increases connectivity and is deemed less promotional. Expats enjoy exchanging stories and experiences, so content surrounding personal experiences will do well in this market. Sharing insights, experiences, tips and tricks to make life easier for expats in Singapore is another way to connect with the expat community.
Expats also consume massive amounts of information and knowledge from various media platforms.
Click here to find out more about the top 10 media platforms for expats community in Singapore.
Expats tend to surround themselves with like-minded people, therefore, the neighbourhood itself can be an area to reach out to expats. Events such as networking sessions, games, promotional activities, and interest-group activities are great forms of engagement for the expats in their neighbourhood
It is the little things that count. Using their native language can quicken the process of them opening up and feel appreciated. Thus, tailoring simple conversational words or phrases in their language during conversation or creating content, can build rapport with the expats better.
Food is often the conversation starter, more so in Singapore. Utilizing the concept of food in events or content creation. Having expats look at their national dishes, allows them to instantly connect with their roots, spark emotions and connectivity. Hence, more popular overseas restaurants are opening here in Singapore.
In conclusion, with the growing opportunities in the expatriate market, enhancing your customer experience and target your clients accurately is more important than ever. Moovaz is an end-to-end relocation platform that serves expats around the world, to promote your business to the expat community.