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Singapore or Dubai Which is best for migration

Singapore or Dubai: Which is best for migration?

In global destinations, a few cities like Singapore and Dubai capture attention. But which is the superior choice? 

What sets these metropolises apart? 

Singapore offers excellent public transportation, a moderate climate, and a cosmopolitan yet multicultural vibe.

On the other hand, Dubai’s transport system is expansive and efficient but not as extensive as Singapore’s MRT system. It also has a primarily desert climate and luxurious lifestyle, with very little focus on culture. 

That said, let’s get into the differences and similarities between these two iconic destinations. Yes, we know, as Singaporeans, we’re a bit prejudiced, but we promise to be objective with this post!

Cost of Living in Singapore vs Dubai

Cost of Living in Singapore vs Dubai
Singapore’s cost of living is 34% higher than Dubai’s. 

Someone living in Dubai would pay 4.6% less for restaurants compared to someone living in Singapore. They would also pay 35.5% less for groceries and 32.2% less for transportation.

Childcare is also cheaper in Dubai, as parents and guardians pay 49.2% less than that in Singapore. (Date from MyLifeElsewhere)

To further calculate their cost of living, let’s compare some common expenses between the two cities using 2024 data (in USD) from

Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment (city centre): $108.13Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment (city centre): $383.64
Average monthly net salary: S$6,057.63Average monthly net salary: S$5,555.50
VAT: 7%VAT: 5%
Fuel price (1 litre): $1.81Fuel price (1 litre): $0.68
Average price of milk (1 litre): $2.64Average price of milk (1 litre): $1.62
Average price of beer: $3.79Average price of beer: $3.73
Maximum income tax: 22%Maximum income tax: 1%

Singapore’s average monthly net salary after tax is S$6,057.63, while Dubai’s is S$5,555.50 (14,988.43 AED).

A young to middle-aged single person would need around S$7,840.7 (21,283.5 AED) monthly in Dubai compared to S$10,000 in Singapore. 

Real Estate Prices in Singapore and Dubai

Real Estate Prices in Singapore and Dubai
If you live in Singapore, expect to pay 20.0% more for housing compared to Dubai. (Data from

Differences in real estate prices between these two places are influenced by factors such as Singapore’s limited land supply, high standard of living, and strong economy. 

Monthly rent, 1-bedroom apartmentS$3,769.12 (10,148.41 AED)8,016.62 AED(S$2,977.37) 
Monthly rent, 3-bedroom apartmentS$7,189.53(19,357.93 AED)15,367.45 AED(S$5,707.46)
Average price per square foot$1147.95 (S$1,575)$466.92 (1,715 AED)
What you can buy with $1 million34 square metres (around 366 square feet) of prime property 105 square metres (around 1130 square feet) of prime property

Diversity and Demographics in Singapore vs Dubai

Diversity and Demographics in Singapore vs Dubai
Despite being one of the smallest countries globally, Singapore has a population exceeding 5.3 million with over a quarter born outside the country. 

About 74.3% of the Singaporean population are Chinese, 13.5% Malay, 9% Indian, and 3.2% belong to other ethnic groups. 

On the other hand, Dubai has a diverse population with residents from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (Tamil), and a multitude of expatriates from around the globe. 

In Dubai, the population is predominantly composed of expatriates from various countries around the world, with a significant proportion originating from India.

In contrast, Singapore has a more balanced racial composition, with the main ethnic groups being Chinese, Malay, Indian, and others, as can be gleaned in the table below. 

Chinese74.3%Less than 1%
Malays13.5%Less than 1%

In Dubai, with a majority of the population being expats, it’s common to encounter people from various backgrounds and hear around eight different languages spoken in the city. 

In Singapore, the major languages spoken include Mandarin Chinese, English, Tamil, and Malay.

Moreover, Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries globally, with a high population density of around 7,804 inhabitants per square kilometre. 

Dubai’s population is more spread out, with 400 inhabitants per square kilometre, as illustrated in the following 2024 data from

Population5.45 million2.26 million
Population density7,804 people/km²400 people/km²
Annual population growth rate2.1%8%
Median age population37 years27 years

Dubai’s median age of 27 reflects its youthful population, promising dynamic and creative perspectives with better development prospects.

Dubai’s 8% annual population growth rate also surpasses Singapore’s 2.1%, indicating the pace of population change. Higher growth rates contribute to a more dynamic society.

Career and Business Opportunities in Singapore vs Dubai

Career and Business Opportunities in Singapore vs Dubai
Low unemployment rates signal robust career prospects and economic growth in both cities, with Dubai at 0.4% and Singapore at 1.9%

If you’re after streamlined business registration, intellectual property protection, and investor-friendly policies, you’ll be glad to know that Singapore’s efficient regulatory environment ranks 2nd on the Ease of Doing Business Index

Meanwhile, those seeking MENA expansion could find the UAE’s infrastructure and technology investments, plus its position as a gateway between East and West, attractive. 

If you’re looking to expand your business in either Singapore or Dubai, here’s a table listing their pros.

✔ Regulatory Predictability: Singapore’s established legal framework offers stability for business operations, ensuring transparency and reliability.✔ Lower Taxation: With a flat federal corporate tax rate of 9% and no personal income tax, the UAE, including Dubai, offers tax advantages for businesses.
✔ Global Connectivity: Positioned at the centre of Asia, Singapore provides access to diverse markets in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.✔ Business Setup Flexibility: The UAE offers diverse business setup options, including Free Zones and mainland setups, catering to various corporate governance frameworks and profit repatriation needs.
✔ Efficient Business Processes: With streamlined registration, minimal capital requirements, and efficient contract enforcement, Singapore is known for hassle-free business setup and operations.✔ MENA Region Access: As a gateway to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the UAE provides strategic access to a vast market landscape.

With transparency and flexibility, including 100% foreign ownership, Singapore’s legal framework, rooted in English Common Law, provides a reliable foundation for businesses.

In Dubai, Free Zone businesses (100% foreign ownership) enjoy tailored corporate governance and streamlined processes, though navigating diverse legal systems may require adaptation.

While obtaining citizenship in the United Arab Emirates is challenging for foreigners, acquiring a work permit and living in Dubai temporarily is relatively straightforward.

In Singapore, citizenship is attainable through birth, descent, or naturalisation, with stringent criteria for naturalisation, including residency, English proficiency, and good character. 

Employment Passes (EP) or S Passes are available for foreign professionals, managers, executives, and skilled workers sponsored by employers and subject to government eligibility criteria.

Crime and Safety: Singapore vs Dubai

Crime and Safety Singapore vs Dubai
As far as safety goes, both Singapore and Dubai have low crime rates and high safety indexes compared to other developed countries. 

They also experienced mostly non-violent crimes from 2021 to the present.

Singapore is renowned for its low crime rate and high safety levels. The city-state has strict laws and effective law enforcement, resulting in a safe environment for residents and visitors alike. 

Similarly, Dubai also boasts a relatively low crime rate and is considered safe for residents and tourists. The city has stringent laws and a visible police presence, contributing to its reputation as a safe destination.

Crime rate (2024):1719.52
Safety index: 8380.48
Most common type of crime: Commercial scams and cybercrimes (Data from Statista)Scams and petty crimes (Data from Emiratiguard)
Safety global ranking (2024):#4 (Data from gfmag)#2 (Data from gfmag)

Educational System in Singapore vs Dubai

Educational System in Singapore vs Dubai
A daycare or preschool for one month in Dubai will cost $720 compared to Singapore’s $1,175. One year of international primary school costs $14,799 in Dubai and $26,424 in Singapore. (Data from LivingCost)

Below, we compare the prices of international schools per year between Singapore and Dubai. The figures are from the International Schools database.


As the table illustrates, Singapore’s educational expenses are costlier compared to Dubai’s.

Singapore offers exceptional standards of education and healthcare with top-ranking universities and medical facilities. 

Coupled with its low crime rate, this makes Singapore highly appealing to families and professionals seeking a safe and nurturing environment for growth.

Meanwhile, Dubai boasts a large number of international schools catering to the expatriate population. These schools offer globally recognised curricula and often provide a multicultural learning environment.

Lifestyle in Singapore vs Dubai

Lifestyle in Singapore vs Dubai
Singapore and Dubai are cosmopolitan, affluent cities with stunning skylines, upscale shopping and dining options, and vibrant nightlife, making them attractive options for migrants who love a city lifestyle.

Singapore offers lush nature, modern architecture, and a rich cultural heritage. In contrast, Dubai is known for its glittering skyscrapers and opulent lifestyle. 

To further discuss the difference between the lifestyles of the two, let’s compare their weather, transportation, and attractions in the following sections.

Weather Differences Between Singapore and Dubai

Weather Differences Between Singapore and Dubai

To see how much humidity there is by month in Dubai and Singapore, we used these figures from Weather and Climate.


Singapore enjoys a tropical climate near the equator, characterised by consistent hot, humid, and rainy weather throughout the year with no distinct rainy season. 

In contrast, Dubai’s desert climate offers year-round beach weather with minimal rainfall, making it an ideal destination for those seeking sunshine. 

Singapore receives an annual average rainfall of about 2,340 mm (92 inches), while Dubai’s is much lower at around 100 mm (4 inches).

Dubai experiences its coldest month in January, averaging 20°C, while August is the hottest month with temperatures reaching an average of 37°C. 

In Singapore, the coldest months typically occur between November and January (23°C to 31°C), while the hottest months typically occur between April and May. (25°C to 33°C) 

Transportation in Singapore and Dubai

Transportation in Singapore and Dubai

Dubai boasts a modern and convenient public transportation system, offering various options such as buses, trams, subways, monorails, taxis, water taxis, and ferries. 

Well-maintained roadways connect every corner of the city, ensuring easy access without significant time or money.

Meanwhile, Singapore ranks second globally for its exceptional public transportation system. 

The MRT (Mass Transit Railway) is the backbone of Singapore’s railway system, known for its affordability, efficiency, comfort, and infrastructure. Additionally, the city offers extensive and reasonably priced bus services.

Things to Do in Singapore vs Dubai

Things to Do in Singapore vs Dubai

In Singapore, some unique things to do include exploring the Gardens by the Bay, marvelling at the futuristic Supertree Grove, visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories, and enjoying the nightly light and sound show at the OCBC Skyway.

You can also experience the vibrant street food culture by heading to hawker centres like Maxwell Food Centre or Newton Food Centre to sample a wide variety of local dishes, from chicken rice to laksa.

Meanwhile, in Dubai, some unique things to do include visiting the Burj Khalifa and riding to the top of the world’s tallest building for panoramic views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf.

You can also experience desert activities: take a desert safari to enjoy dune bashing, camel riding, sandboarding, and traditional Bedouin-style entertainment under the stars.

Taxes in Singapore vs Dubai

Taxes in Singapore vs Dubai
Singapore imposes tax rates of below 28% on foreigners, while the United Arab Emirates imposes no income tax on foreigners at all. 

This significant difference in take-home pay can alleviate budget concerns for those choosing between the two.

The table below compares tax rates in Singapore and Dubai with figures from Corporate Services.

Corporate income taxUp to 17%0% (from January 1, 2023 – 9%)
Personal income tax0-22%0%
GST (VAT)7%5%
Capital gains tax0%0%
Dividend tax0%0%
Interest tax15%0%
Royalty tax10%0%

Dubai has no business income taxes, seemingly making it the preferable option. However, Dubai’s government imposes various other fees, such as tolls, airport taxes, and visa fees, which must be considered before you move to the city. 

Singapore vs Dubai: Which is better?

Now that we’ve come to the tail-end of our Dubai and Singapore comparisons, let’s summarise everything in the table below.

Cost of LivingDubaiSingapore’s cost of living is 34% higher than Dubai’s. 
Real EstateDubaiDubai has cheaper rent for a one-bedroom apartment. 
Diversity and DemographicsSingaporeSG has a more diverse ethnic makeup that influences everything from food to expressions.
Career/Business OpportunitiesTiedDubai’s unemployment rate is 1.5% lower (0.4% vs. 1.9%).
Singapore has a $755.99 higher average salary. 
Crime and SafetySingapore (but not by much)Singapore leads in the safety index at 83 while Dubai has 80.48
EducationTiedSingapore consistently ranks among the top-performing countries in global education assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Dubai’s education system is more diverse and internationalised, with a significant expatriate population attending schools that offer international curricula tailored to their home country’s educational standards.
LifestyleSingaporeSingapore has one more landmark from the UNESCO World Heritage list (1 vs. 0).
It also allows drinking alcohol in public places.
TaxesDubaiDubai’s VAT is 2% lower (5% vs. 7%)

Ultimately, each country has its pros and cons, and the choice depends on individual preferences. Whether you’re visiting for business, leisure, or to settle down and start a new life, your decision will be based on what suits you best.

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