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Dubai or Singapore – The Best Choice for Expats (Revealed)

Where is Better to Live - Dubai or Singapore | The Vacation Builder

Dubai and Singapore are two cities full of huge career opportunities and a fantastic chance for a much improved lifestyle.

Today we are going to throw some light on these two global cities to conclude The Best Choice for Expats – Dubai or Singapore?

We compared Dubai and Singapore based on their Location, Topography, Weather, Cost of Living, Salaries, Career Opportunities, Things To Do & See, Crime Rate, Education, Population Density and Transportation Facility to reveal the best city to relocate to as an expat. Overall, we found Dubai to be the best choice, but it was a close encounter!

Take a deep dive below on all aspects to learn more and make your own decision based on personal preferences and life goals.

Which City is in the Best Location?

Dubai or Singapore - Where is the Best Location | The Vacation Builder

Location is the first thing that we choose to start this head-to-head.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates which belongs to the country of United Arab Emirates. So, Dubai is a cosmopolitan city. On the other hand, Singapore is a city and an island nation! Yes, this is the only place in the world that can claim this rare title.

Dubai is located on the eastern coast of the Persian Gulf from the Middle East region. The city sits in between Europe, various parts of Africa and Asia too. Travelling from Dubai to any major city in the world is possible thanks to regular international flights scheduled from the Dubai International Airport.

Singapore is located in Southeast Asia, about 137 kilometres north of the equator. This place comes under the Malaysia Peninsula and is surrounded by Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Singapore is not just one island but several others with one primary island and 62 other small islands.

Travelling to any part of Asia is short and fast from Singapore. If you’re planning to visit any city in Africa, Europe or America, then you’d have to take long flights from this city as the air distance is huge.

Overall, we’d say Dubai is in a more advantageous location, surrounded by all major continents, and not too far away from each. Singapore is primed for great access to Australasia, but is locked at a fair distance from Europe and The America’s. This is something important to consider when relocating away from your roots / family.




Dubai or Singapore - Singapore Birds Eye View | The Vacation Builder
Green Landscapes of Singapore’s Islands

Let’s now move to the topography of these cities.

From a topographic perspective, Dubai features more or less flat landscapes with rare presences of elevation. Not exactly a city with scenic mountain views; however, sitting on the banks of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is home to a number of scintillating beaches.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in exploring the rugged side of the UAE’s landscape, then you have the Hajar Mountains nestled just outside of the city limit. Even though Dubai is relatively flat, the UAE is actually famous for its rugged landscape and many Wadis.

When you take a look at the world map, you will instantly see that Singapore is an island city (and country too!). So, it’s pretty obvious that you will have many options to visit hundreds of beautiful beaches and pristine coastline.

Thanks to several smaller islands and a warm climate, Singapore is one of the most fascinating tropical holiday destinations in Asia. This city also boasts captivating wildlife carved out in the rainforests.

Singapore surely sits on the greener side of nature when you compare it with the fascinating yet artificial surroundings of Dubai.



Dubai vs Singapore – Weather

Dubai vs Singapore - Weather | The Vacation Builder

As soon as you leave your home country, you are leaving the climate conditions you were habituated with since your birth. So, it is wise to understand what weather reports have to say about the new place you are heading for.

Many people choose to shift their focus from their dream destination country because of extreme weather. Extreme heat is something that Dubai is going to hit you with during the summer months, so make sure you consider this thoroughly before making your decision.

Flanked by the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Desert, Dubai’s weather is not pleasant all year round. Frankly speaking, it showcases extremely hot and arid conditions most of the year. The most awaited season of the region is the winter months that start in November and run until March. These months see daily highs between 20°C & 30°C, in comparison with August which can see temperatures reach 50°C on the odd occasion!

On the other hand, the climate in Singapore is extremely stable by temperature, due to its geographical location and proximity to the sea. However, the island does experience tropical and heavy rainfall seasons as well as high humidity.

Unlike Dubai, Singapore doesn’t reflect much variation in temperature throughout the year. Average temperatures range between 25°C and 31°C. Thunderstorms are more frequent and happen on 40% of all days. No wonder why the city experiences Relative Humidity of as high as 70% – 80%. January is coolest month and April is the warmest while November is the wettest of them all.

Sitting just 1 degree north of the Line of the Equator, Singapore enjoys a tropical climate with lots of sunlight and lots of drizzles. This island city doesn’t have clear-cut seasonal variations like summer, winter or spring. Monsoon time expands all through the year.

Despite higher relative humidity and frequent thunderstorms, Singapore’s weather is more pleasant than the hot and arid Dubai climate.



For a full month by month breakdown of weather in Dubai

For a full month by month breakdown of weather in Singapore

Dubai or Singapore Cost of Living

Living your days either in Dubai or in Singapore can be really blissful only you can match the local cost of living. Both cities are determined to offer a peaceful and healthy life to each resident.

Both Dubai and Singapore promote an extravagant lifestyle. In fact Dubai has earned the fame of being one of the most luxurious travel destinations in the world with everything 5-star or more. But there’s a surprise for you. Even though Dubai looks more glamourous on the outside, the cost of living is cheaper than in Singapore!

Compared to many global giants like New York, Sydney and London, Dubai is way cheaper than all of these when it comes to everyday expenses to make a living here.

You will need on average, around AED 18,700 per month in Dubai to manage a household while you need to invest AED 40,500 per month to maintain a similar standard of life in Singapore. Both these costs include average rent and are in UAE native currency for comparison (UAE Dirham).

Consumer Prices and Rent Prices in Singapore are 26% and 50% higher than in Dubai respectively. However, when it comes to Local Purchasing Power, Singapore is 36% lower than in Dubai. Fine dining costs are also lower in Singapore than in Dubai.

We will also like to remind you that Dubai exempts expats from paying income tax, meaning if you are heading out there for a short time, you should be able to save plenty (should you not get sucked into the luxurious lifestyle!).

You can compare prices to determine a fair cost of living in Singapore and Dubai by visiting Numbeo.com.



Dubai vs Singapore Salaries

We can’t ignore the power money comes with. The road towards a comfortable life can be paved with money and there’s no denial to this fact. While looking for a new destination in a foreign land to earn a better living, both Dubai and Singapore can be your hot picks.

Dubai is a tax-free heaven, but on the contrary, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) considers non-Singaporeans and non-Singapore Permanent Residents liable to pay income tax depending on their tax-residency status.

Expats in Singapore are subjected to pay around 15% flat income tax.

We are listing here the average annual salaries against different sought-after professions in Dubai and Singapore. This will help you to set a realistic approach while looking for a job in any of these cities.

To make it easier for you to compare, we have deducted around 15% from the average annual salaries in Singapore towards income tax.

ProfessionAnnual Salary in DubaiAnnual Salary in Singapore
Accountant161,000 AED150,000 AED
Civil Engineer212,000 AED206,700 AED
Electrical Engineer242,000 AED224,000 AED
Business Development Manager371,000 AED339,000 AED
Teacher185,000 AED165,000 AED
Administrative Assistant121,000 AED118,000 AED
Graphic Designer148,000 AED147,000 AED
Air Traffic Controller249,000 AED247,000 AED
Mechanic83,000 AED86,000 AED
HR Manager372,000 AED355,000 AED
Petroleum Engineer235,000 AED234,000 AED
Nurse184,800 AED174,000 AED
Doctor630,000 AED558,000 AED
Dentist578,400 AED513,000 AED
Hair Stylist100,000 AED101,000 AED
Occupational Therapist298,000 AED292,000 AED
Bar Manager157,200 AED147,000 AED
Real Estate Agent213,600 AED207,000 AED
Web Developer214,800 AED186,000 AED

The above-mentioned salaries for respective professional fields in Dubai and Singapore are collected from SalaryExplorer.com.

One must understand that salary package can vary greatly from our list depending on the educational qualification, work experience and expertise skill of the candidate.

You will see from our comparison that Dubai’s salaries are slightly greater than those in Singapore. However, there isn’t too much difference.



Where Has The Best Career Opportunities?

What motivates people the most to shift their bases from native country to a foreign land is better career opportunities.

Having a prolific and diversified job market is essential for any country or city to catch the attention of potential job seekers across the globe. Be it Dubai or Singapore, if you are looking for a well-paid job then chances are high that you will land one there. While looking for jobs there, you must analyze your key skills first and then apply for respective sector(s).

When your primary goal is to flourish in terms of career, it is mandatory to understand what to expect from a foreign country. Is that place really good enough to move to explore a better job market?

If your destination is either Dubai or Singapore, then you are not going to be disappointed.

Both Dubai and Singapore are highly developed nations with strong economies. The real estate job sector in these cities is often considered as the most expensive and fastest growing in the world.

In order to measure the overall career opportunities in a country, unemployment rates can be your yardstick. Although calculation of unemployment rate involves too many factors and statistics beyond the understanding of a layman, the final outcome depicts a more realistic story of the current job market scenario.

Let’s take a look at the Unemployment Rate in Dubai and Singapore for the year 2019. We are deliberately skipping the 2020 data as COVID-19 had a disastrous effect all over the world and data from that year can never be a yardstick to gauge the normal job market conditions.

Unemployment Rate  

From this table, it’s evident that both the cities have impressively low Unemployment Rate but Singapore is a slightly better place to get a job more easily than Dubai.



Dubai or Singapore for Things to do?

Dubai vs Singapore for Things to do - Bluewaters Island, Dubai | The Vacation Builder
Bluewaters Island & JBR is home to a whole host of attractions

If Dubai is the star attraction of the Middle East, then Singapore can claim the same title for Southeast Asia region. These two cities are some of the best holiday destinations in the world. People love them and their countless tourist attractions.

Best Things to do in Dubai

Best Things to do in Singapore

Whichever destination you choose from Dubai and Singapore, you are definitely not going to get bored!


It’s a tie.

Crime Rates

It is important to do your research about how safe a place is when considering moving to a new country or city. Particularly when you are bringing your family with you. In fact, many expats choose their destination depending on the living conditions and crime rate of that place.

Low crime rates are certainly a good thing to encourage expats to move their base to any new place.

If you take a look at the crime-related data collected from any major cities like London, New York and Sydney, it may shock you. All these global cities feature higher crime rates. On the other hand, both Dubai and Singapore are much lower when it’s about crime-related data.

We are including a chart below so that you can decide your own which city would you pick up as your next destination.

Crime Index16.3527.59
Safety Index83.6572.41
Increase in Crime Rate over past 3 years40.80% (Moderate)56.91% (moderate)

To give you a comparison and an idea of other major cities, New York (47.42), London (53.22) and Sydney (33.54) all have a much higher crime index rating than both Dubai and Singapore.



Where Has Better Education?

Dubai vs Singapore - which has better education | University of Wollongong Dubai Campus | The Vacation Builder

As a responsible parent, you must be worried about your child’s education in a new city.

Be it Dubai or Singapore, there’s no dearth of good, updated and excellent educational institutes. In both these places, the education system is treated with great care and attention to prepare a future generation with a sound mind and profound knowledge.

Both Dubai and Singapore offer exceptionally good international schools and colleges where expats can admit their children. You will never face any problem keeping your kids updated with modernised and interactive education in both these cities.

Students never face any problem with quality of education they receive in Dubai and Singapore. Certificates offered by these institutes are well accepted worldwide by most international schools and universities.

The only downside to the education in both Dubai & Singapore is the cost. There is no FREE education for expats in these two cities. So although the quality is high, so is the cost.



Population Density

Dubai vs Singapore - Population Density | The Vacation Builder

Nobody really likes to settle down in a city which is overcrowded. Higher population density comes with loads of cons like low living conditions, poor civic facilities, reduced healthcare benefits, traffic on road and many more.

If you take the latest data, then Singapore’s population density is 7,429 per square kilometre while Dubai stands at just 2030 people per square kilometre. These numbers are enough to say that Singapore is much more populous than Dubai but surprisingly, despite massive crowds, Singapore always maintains an impeccably impressive urban system and medical facilities.



Where Has Better Transport Systems?

Dubai vs Singapore - Public Transport -- Dubai City Tram | The Vacation Builder
The Tram in Dubai is one of many mode of public transport

Now we are going to finish this classic head-to-head with the public transport facilities available in Dubai and Singapore.

An effective public transport system is essential in order to live a good life. This also helps daily commuters to cut down the time spent on their way to workplace or school.

Dubai features a modern and diversified public transport system that never gives you any trouble in getting around the city. There are several modes of transportation that you can choose according to your preference and budget. Some of the most prominent ones are bus, tram, metro, monorail, taxi, water taxi, and ferry. Thanks to well-maintained highways connecting every part of Dubai, you can also access any nook and corner of it without investing too much money and time too.

Singapore has the world’s second best public transportation system in the world. There’s only Hong Kong that beats Singapore in this segment.

Singapore’s railway network (The Mass Transit Railway) is the lifeline of the city and it comes with great infrastructure, excellent efficiency, amazing comfort and unmatched affordability. Apart from this, the city boasts regular bus services at a nominal price. Taxis are also easily available here.

The average cost of a single transportation ticket in both Singapore & Dubai are the same at just $1.34! Both of these cities offer the cheapest and fastest transport in the world.


Singapore just about edges it which takes some doing over the public transport available in Dubai!


After our analysis, we found Dubai is a better place for expats. But again, that depends on what your personal preferences are.

Singapore flaunts a more cosmopolitan and relaxed vibe than Dubai whilst offering great public transport and a more bearable climate. Dubai offers better salaries, a lower crime rate a lower cost of living.

Now, it’s you call to decide which city to move to as an expat.

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