Singapore has long been a popular destination for Japanese expatriates, even well before the country’s independence in 1964. In recent years, however, the demographics of long-term visitors to and residents of the city-state have begun to change. Previously, Japanese expatriates were mostly either solitary men temporarily relocating to the country for business (a practice called tanshin funin) or families composed of older couples where the husband was the primary breadwinner. Today, Japanese families moving to Singapore are trending younger and are far more likely to have two full-time earners.
While Singapore is not the only popular destination for migrating Japanese families, the Lion City has several distinct qualities that make it particularly attractive to younger Japanese. Let’s explore nine reasons why younger Japanese families are making the tough—but also easy—decision to move to Singapore:
1) A Large Japanese Community
A Japanese community has existed in Singapore since at least the British colonial era, maintaining a consistent presence in the Straits to the present day. As a result, the country has, over the years, developed significant local support infrastructure for Japanese visitors and expatriates, composed of both formal organisations and informal linkages. The presence of such a well-established and highly organised community of compatriots makes moving to Singapore significantly more attractive to Japanese families than to alternative destinations.
2) Accredited International Schools
Younger expatriate couples may struggle to find suitable educational options for their children overseas, and this is especially true for Japanese families. This isn’t an issue in Singapore, as the country is teeming with international schools serving foreign students of all ages and nationalities.
There are a range of accredited educational options for younger Japanese children in Singapore, one of which is Kinderland, an international preschool known for its Japanese-English Bilingual Programme. For an idea of the type of education children experience in these international schools, check out Kinderland’s activities on YouTube.
3) Language Advantages
As mentioned earlier, the Kinderland network of schools offers bilingual Japanese-English education in Singapore. However, Japanese children and their parents both have a wealth of other language learning options in Singapore, including in other major international languages like Mandarin, English, and French. Thanks to Singapore’s highly internationalised character, it’s one of the best destinations for entire families to work or study while immersing themselves in useful foreign languages.
4) High Quality of Life
Unlike many other popular destinations, Japanese families can expect a quality of life in Singapore that is directly comparable—and maybe even better—to what they could expect back home. Like Japan, Singapore is renowned the world over for its high levels of public safety, efficient public transportation, and wealth of top-tier attractions and diversions. Collectively, these qualities make Singapore a much friendlier place for Japanese families with young children.
5) Great Job Opportunities
Japan is still feeling the after-effects of its economic bubble bursting in the early 1990s. Though there are certainly plenty of high-quality jobs in Japan, the economy and its accompanying opportunities have mostly stagnated over the past few decades. Singapore, on the other hand, has a thriving economy that is expected to keep growing through the current decade and beyond.
Notably, Singapore currently offers median salaries almost twice that of Japan in many areas, albeit with correspondingly high living costs. Nonetheless, the maths of moving to Singapore works favourably for many Japanese families, particularly those with two breadwinners.
6) Warm Climate
Though the hot and humid Singaporean climate is a chief complaint of many expatriates and natives alike, it’s sometimes considered to be a perk by Japanese who come from their country’s colder northern prefectures. Unlike many homegrown Singaporeans, Japanese families that are tired of dealing with the sometimes unforgiving Japanese winters often find themselves appreciating the city state’s year-round balmy tropical climes.
7) Easy Access to Japan
As highly advanced Asian economies, Japan and Singapore have developed highly beneficial ties over the past century. As a result, multiple airlines now connect Singapore to several major Japanese cities and vice-versa, with multiple flights each day. The high frequency of flights and direct connections to multiple parts of Japan make Singapore especially attractive to families that need to regularly visit their home country.
8) Tax Benefits
Japan’s personal and corporate tax rates are among the highest in Asia, serving to reduce the spending power of families that are concerned with accumulating funds for their children’s future. High-earning Japanese families may find Singapore’s favourable taxes highly attractive, particularly if they own a business.
9) Multicultural Environment
Lastly, a growing number of younger Japanese families want their children to experience multicultural environments, viewing early exposure as crucial for future competitiveness in global job markets. While Japan itself is growing more diverse, Singapore leaves it behind in this respect, thanks to its extremely large international community and its shared values of tolerance and multiculturalism.
Singapore’s combination of favourable economic factors and family-friendly environment makes it a uniquely appealing destination for Japanese families with younger children. More than ever, the city-state is shedding its reputation as just another place for tanshin funin. In the eyes of a new generation of Japanese, it’s fast transforming into a great place to raise a family.