According to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group, Singapore has the greatest proportion of millionaire households in the world. A first blush, that may sound surprising for the "no gum chewing allowed" country. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that not only has Singapore's economy been resilient during times of economic trouble, but the country has also taken significant steps to become a great place to work -- and live.
Perhaps that's one reason why Singapore is attracting ultrawealthy people such as Jim Rogers, the legendary hedge fund manager and investor who founded the Quantum Fund along with George Soros. Rogers once said: "If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you were smart in 2007, you move to Asia." So that's what Rogers did, relocating to Singapore in 2007.
Looks like it was a smart decision. The Singaporean government has been taking steps to attract families to the island country, partly by helping businesses become more family-friendly. In April, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports set aside $2 million (on top of previous funds) for the Businesses for Families Grant. This grant was originally introduced in to help Singaporean businesses create a pro-family environment by defraying the costs involved in doing so.
More Competitive Than the U.S.
Another reason for Singapore's success: It's a fiercely competitive market. In May, the 2010 edition of the World Competitiveness Yearbook, which ranks how industrialized and emerging nations are managing their governments, businesses and infrastructure, ranked Singapore as the world's most competitive nation. Hong Kong came in second. This was the first time in decades that both countries surpassed the U.S., which used to hold the top spot. Now, the U.S. comes in third.
Not surprisingly, as Singapore becomes more competitive, it's getting more resilient and growing more quickly. While the recession hit Asia as well as North America, Asian countries are emerging more quickly: Singapore's economy rose 13.1% in the first quarter of 2010. Compare that to the U.S., with just 1% growth.
Something else has just come to Singapore: gambling. While that may not seem family-friendly, it does help boost tourism and business. This year, Singapore opened casinos, spending $10 billion on two big developments. While the price tag is hefty even by U.S. standards, the lavish casinos should draw more people to Singapore and help loosen up its straight-laced image.
A recent report from the Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey seems to indicate Singapore's efforts are succeeding. When it comes to the best quality of life, the report placed Singapore at 28th in the world, and the No. 1 city in Asia. Tokyo came in 40th, and Hong Kong ranked 71st.
Why Singapore Is a Millionaire Magnet