Hong Kong vs Singapore

We have been looking to move to HK and now have the choice between Hong Kong vs Singapore. Does anyone have any feedback about life in Singapore (pros, cons etc)? I'm married with a small child. I have done a lot of research on HK, but know little on Singapore aside from that it is "very clean"!  Many thanks to all for your feedback.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Just to elaborate a little further, our main concerns about Honk Kong is the crowded aspect, pollution and that it's so money driven, and our main concern about Singapore is that is it perhaps boring without a whole  lot to do? Plus the lack of seasons, year round humidity, and so called "sterile" atmosphere.

Re: Lack of Seasons

Hi there,

If seasons is concerned, Hong Kong isn't any good either.  We began to have extended Summer slightly less than two decades ago and virtually there is no winter in town.  Average day count for outdoor temperature of 10C or below is just about two weeks to around 20 days a year in the past few years.

I had been wearing short sleeves in the past six or seven Christmas.

Best Regards,



parts of HK are very crowded, Kowloon and parts of the HK Island are very much so, but move away from those areas and the crowding disppears and makes way for the countryside and New Towns which aren't quite as compact. You really need to see it to apprciate it - lots of mountains and valleys and in some places some good sea views.

But yeah, pollution can be a bummer. Can't disagree with that.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Like another poster has pointed out: Hong Kong has sections which aren't that crowded.  (It's just a case of where you'll be working and how far away you'd be prepared to commute from home and back.)

Re pollution: Yes, alas, it's quite an issue.  In fact, it is my -- and many others' -- number one gripe about Hong Kong.  But remember: Singapore has "the haze" which may not be year round but -- as someone who has experienced in Malaysia, will hazard to state that it's worst the worst air pollution I've experienced in more than two years living in Hong Kong (in that with the haze, you can smell burning and, also, I've found that when I sweat, the haze and my sweat combine to make my skin itch).

Re money driven: Perhaps I've been extra-ordinarily lucky but I've actually not found my colleagues and the friends I've made in Hong Kong to be that money-minded.  But I think it also depends on what profession you're in and what kind of extra-curricular pursuits you have.  As someone has pointed out,  it probably helps a lot that I've made a lot of friends through such as hiking -- in that people who are okay to be sweaty in public, etc. probably aren't going to be that fixated on appearances and having brand-name goods about them all the time! :D

Hong Kong vs Singapore


I find both places are crowded, but in different ways. Hong Kong follows the obvious definition - lot's of people crammed into a small place. The streets in Mong Kok or Causeway Bay are the worst offenders. Buildings are tall, so in the city it feels quite closed in. In Singapore, buildings are generally lower and spaced further apart, and pavements are wider, so it feels less crowded.

But the tall, squeezed-together buildings in Hong Kong mean they take up less space, so it's easy to get to the countryside, and feel like you're out of the city. In Singapore it feels more like a big suburban sprawl, where you never quite get away from the city. Take a look at the Google Maps satellite views of HK and Singapore to compare.


I'll disagree with T that 'If seasons is concerned, Hong Kong isn't any good either.'. Maybe we don't get as many sub-10C days, but we still get a lot more variety than Singapore. Roughly from October to March in HK you can step outside without it being guaranteed you'll break into a sweat. Singapore weather is hot, full stop. More on HK's 'seasons' here.


There's certainly plenty of that about. But as Gweipo writes today, you don't have to follow that route - there are plenty of other types of people about, you might just need a little time to find the types you like. (I think that's true of moving anywhere though)

Unfortunately we haven't had any comments from people who live / have lived in Singapore to hear their side of the argument. If you've found any good discussions about this point (or asked a similar question on some Singapore sites), please could you leave the links in a comment below? I'd be interested to read them.

Regards, MrB

HK vs Singapore

I couldn't agree more with MrB about HK being just big and wild enough to be able to 'get away from it all' into the countryside. Singapore's topography is far less varied and interesting as well, in addition to its overall physical territory being significantly smaller.

As for the weather, yes, HK's winters may not be a cold as in years gone by (the urban areas must have one of the world's most pronounced heat island effects, given the incredible density of buildings) but there certainly is noticeable variation throughout the year. I look forward tremendously to cooler weather in the autumn (I'm having that feeling even as I write this, in August . . . !); if I knew that December would be not much different from July, there's no question it would get on my nerves after a year or two. But mileage of course varies on this question; if you're someone who really likes tropical warmth, Singapore might be just the ticket.

One way both cities are good is in terms of food. Singapore has lots of good restaurants, many featuring spicy Malasian-Chinese cuisine, which I'm extremely fond of. But HK is perhaps the world capital of Chinese food, and the range here means you'll never get bored.

HK vs Singapore - variety vs affordability

I have lived in both places and my observation comes down to Variety vs Affordability.

HK Pros - Variety in landscape offers numerous possibilities in hiking, climbing, sailing and island hopping. Change in season - from November to February, the weather is glorious and a beautiful dry fall day in HK redeems all its sins.  The gentler weather here permits variety in gardening.  It offers cheaper shopping since competition is fierce (not for English books).  Cultural activities in HK are adequate.

HK Cons - High cost of housing and Air Pollution, the latter can be mitigated by living away from the center of town.

Singapore Pros - "Suburban" easy living. Cohesive, centralized government gets things done fast and well.

Singapore Cons - Small island fever, one must get away often. Nanny state.

HK is a Tier I city and it comes with the associated ills such as high population density and disparity between the rich and poor...yet it is safe, relatively clean and the transport infrastructure is superb. I choose HK living over NYC and London any time. HK is sophisticated and cosmopolitan but remains very Chinese. Years ago, the British chose this site for good reasons - its geographical setting is truly breathtaking.

Singapore is one well-manicured garden and offers clean easy living, some even puts it as "Disneyland run by the Mormons". It is more insular but multi-cultural.  While I have very much enjoyed my stay in Singapore, I would choose to live in HK if I can afford it. Singapore is predictable while HK, like a French woman, has a "je ne sais quoi" mystique to it - with surprises around every street corner.

HK vs SG - Education and others

Since most of the issues have been covered above, I'll just touch a bit on education since Anon has a small kid.

Many expats in Singapore let their children attend local schools. Expats in HK will choose International schools over local schools 99.99% of the time (Syllabus mostly in Chinese <- Not very sure of this). If you are paying the tuition fees out of your own pocket then perhaps the cost will be an issue here (But I won't know how much you will be earning in both cities...).

School load of local schools in HK and Singapore = Crazily overloaded. Heard rumors that the Singapore International School in HK is not much better.

Drugs - even though SG have a reputation of drug-free city, I believe kids these days will still have ways of finding them. The only difference between the 2 cities : In HK they will be let off. In SG they will be punished by the Gov.

Health of children : As for the haze, its the result of forest fires from Indonesia. They have been using the slash-and-burn cultivation method for generations. Happens in Mar and Sep each year and depending on the monsoon winds, will or will not affect Singapore.

What Singov have done is sponsor a few monitoring stations and education for the Indonesian farmers on less polluted and more productive cultivation methods. I read from the news that the 1st group of 3 monitoring stations started operation recently. Not sure how long it will take before they eradicate the problem (if ever).

I will seriously consider staying in or around Discovery Bay if I have the kids in HK. Unfortunately the kids are not here and It's too inconvenient without a car. Pollution comes and goes. I'm not sure if anyone can guesstimate when we will have polluted days again.

Not sure about the others but I'm so used to polluted days I don't get so upset over seeing hazy skyline anymore. Some days I can see IFC @ Central from my place near Olympic City. Some days I will be lucky to see ICC @ Kowloon Station. Consultations, surveys and waste-of-taxpayers'-money initiatives but no actions.

Singapore vs. HK with small child

Since you say you have a small child, your number 1 consideration should be air pollution which is already at dangerous levels in HK and getting worse.  Part of the air pollution problem in HK comes from factories over the border in China which the HK government has little power to do anything about.  But, more than half of it comes from traffic congestion and coal-fired power plants in HK which the government has shown great reluctance to do anything about.  Singapore is clean and green.  Yes, you can avoid the pollution in HK to some extent by living in outlying areas away from the urban core, but the pollution is going to catch up with you eventually. especially as it's getting progressively worse.  For the sake of your child's health, Singapore wins hands down.

The downsides of Singapore are pretty much those mentioned by other posters on this blog -- less vibrant and cosmopolitan than HK, feels more like a suburb or Disneyland than a major city, government that molds social behavior through propaganda campaigns and heavy fines ($500 fine for jaywalking). less varried geography and scenery.  Another downside is likely to be a lower salary.  Additional upsides are lower costs of living, lower education expenses and more education options.  For someone in your position with a small child, the advantages in lower costs, better education and cleaner air outweigh the drawbacks of diminished big city excitement.  The only major advantage HK has over Singapore is hiking trails.  If you are a hardcore hiker, you will probably not be very happy in Singapore.

i'd choose to live in singapore and visit HK once in a while


singapore and HK are similar, but dont think HK is more developed, SG is definitely more established. Singapoer is a banking hub, with local and international banks operating here. it is also a hub for eletronics, fine chemicals and petroleum, a center for biomedicine. in HK, you dont get to have such high-tech industries, they are more of textiles and stuff. but one of my friends as a banker find HK more vibrant, though i have another mate working in singapore as an investment banker earning more than his HK counterparts. since you didn't mention job factor as a major concern, i would assume that is not a problem. but properties in HK are overwhelmingly over-priced, you dont wanna live in a small appartment paying the price of a house.

Singapore is dull, but HK can't keep you refreshed forever

you dont get to have much to do in singapore that is a truth. but HK suprises you often. but i still prefer singpore, cuz when you live longer, even HK gets incredibly dull.
however, it is more fun to live in HK i guess, i'm a big fan of hiking.

easier to live in signapore if you dont understand Chinese

it is definitely fine if you dont understand english in SG, but i seriously doubt that in HK. dont appreciate the singapore piqeon english though, no offense to anyone, but singapore is probably the only asian country with no problem speaking and understadning english.

people are more polite, in singapore

both hongkongese and singaporeans are friednly, but personally like saingpore better. you wont find a stinky bathroom in singapore, but you are bound to run into several toilets with flies over your head in HK.


cant tell who is better, but i wouldnt wanna go to school in HK. they dont seem to have much confidence in their own culture. i once had a college professer from HK university telling me that they speak english instead of chinese. they dont even have confidence in their own language. not a very healthy mind set there.


singapore is definitely clean, and you get nice beach as well with casino which they recently established. HK is heavily polluted, i would visit for business or personal reasons, but not a place to live in. HK is more crowded than singapore, with people everwhere and skyscrappers. singapore has tall buildings as well, but it is a policy taht no building should go beyond a certain limit, as they are afraid the aircrafts may hit them...

well, i've lived in both singapore and HK. thats just what i think.

I entirely agree with

I entirely agree with anonymous. I have lived in HK as an expat and am currently living in Singapore. Also, I visit HK frequently, at least twice a year.

My take is to be based in Singapore, but travel to HK for leisure.

The lifestyle now- that is, year 2010 for Singapore has so much to offer holistically, as compared to HK which has been rather the same over the past few years.

From a young single person to a family man, I think Singapore would be a better place to be based in, in terms of safety, vibrancy, cleanliness and education standards.

But of course, the extreme pace of city life in HK is incomparable- the sheer mass of people and traffic through HK Island is testament to that fact. 


It's interesting to note that there has been some talk by the Singapore Govt of making its Permanent Residents accept Singapore Citizenship. It looks like a reaction to complaints about there being too many expats in SGP.

So what would happen if Singapore decides to force citizenship on its multitude of PRs?

I have a friend who lives there (he used to live in HK and has used many of the arguments above to explain his decision to move to SGP) who believes it will lead to a mass exodus of PR. I'm inclined to agree.

What are peoples' thoughts on this? Will it happen?

re: Citizenship

Phil, I hadn't heard of that. Are there any other countries which force a PR to take citizenship after a certain number of years? Seems unusual if they're trying to attract talent from overseas.

Here's a link


I haven't heard of any other countries that do this but then again my experience in this is very limited. I guess Singapore's experience is special because of its relatively small size and the quicker time it gets to become PR (is Singapore 3 years? I can't remember).