International Business & Economy Why Living In The World’s Most Expensive City Can Be An Advantage

Why Living In The World’s Most Expensive City Can Be An Advantage




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With our recent article on Singapore being ranked as the World’s Most Expensive City, is it really all doom and gloom for our city state? Our guest blogger, Lionel Yeo, doesn’t think so. Read on to find out how you can actually benefit from Singapore being an expensive place to live in:

A lot of people are complaining about how hard it is to get by in Singapore these days.

Maybe it’s because of that EIU report claiming that Singapore is the most expensive city to live in. Maybe it’s the huge surge of unhappiness over the recent transport fare hikes and Whatsapp charges.

My Facebook feed is flooded with articles on issues like these, each one filled with dozens of frustrated comments like “ohmygawd it’s getting so expensive to live here, it’s impossible to be rich if you’re not an expat, life is so unfair, etc etc.

Isn’t it interesting how people get so worked up over stuff that they have absolutely no control over?

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On one hand, you’ve got people who whine about the cost of living and blame the government. And on the other hand, you’ve got someone like Richard Turner.

The World’s Greatest Card Mechanic

Richard Turner is a “card mechanic”. He was featured in a book I just read entitled Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks and the Hidden Powers of the Mind. (Highly recommended if you’re interested in the psychology of magic and are a huge geek like me).

The author, an accomplished magician himself, called Turner “the greatest living card cheat and quite possibly the sharpest card handler of all time.”

You see, Turner can intricately shuffle a deck of cards with one hand, and then spread them out to reveal them in pristine numerical order. He can control the outcome of a card game and determine whether you win or lose. Give him a pile of cards, and he can tell you exactly how many there are by running his index finger along the edges.

And the most amazing part? Richard Turner is legally blind.

Check out this interview he did with CBS News:

“No matter what hand you’re dealt, let no one tell you that it can’t be done.”

We can learn a lot from Richard Turner, especially when it comes to living a rich life.

Turner discovered that he had a rare disease which rendered him blind from the age of 9. Most other people with this disease would have given up hope of becoming a world-class card manipulator, but Turner kept at it. In fact, he made up for his lack of sight by developing enhanced nonvisual senses, letting him “see” differences in card textures that would be imperceptible to most people.

(There are some fascinating studies showing that blind people can develop astounding tactile activities. For example, some can feel the difference between a single groove and a pair of parallel grooves, even when the two grooves are separated by a fraction of a millimeter.)

Being blind is a way bigger obstacle than what most of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. But there’s a lesson to be learnt here: You can always turn an apparent setback into an advantage.

Invest To Turn The Tables

Let’s take this back to Singapore. Instead of whining about how expensive our country is, why not see it as an opportunity?

Yes, even though higher prices might suck, they also lead to bigger profits for our companies. Why not PARTICIPATE in the improved performance of our corporations by owning their stocks?

Notice that rents are increasing? That means Capitaland is making more money. MRT fares are higher? Maybe that’ll help to boost your dividends. In fact, Capitaland and SMRT are just two of thethirty companies you can own by buying something as simple as a Straits Times Index ETF.

If you have faith that the Singaporean economy is going to be better 30 years from today, then investing in our entire stock market is a no-brainer. Instead of complaining about how our evil corporations are screwing us over, try turning the tables around and see how you can benefit from them instead.

What’s more, anyone can do this. By simply setting aside $250-$300 a month, you can accumulate enough to buy 1,000 shares of the STI in a year.

If you’re like most people, that $250 probably slipped through your fingers and got spent on random, trivial things like bubble tea and McDonald’s. But by having an automated savings plan, you can effortlessly accumulate enough to buy the STI by the end of the year.

Start Taking Action

Of course, I’m not saying that investing is the only way to take advantage of the prosperity of our expensive city. It’s just the easiest and most accessible way.

But if you’re creative, the possibilities are endless. With more wealth, more jobs are going to be created. Could you learn a skill that would position you well for those jobs? Could you create a product or service that wealthy people would pay for? (Heck, even being a nanny works these days.)

“No matter what hand you’re dealt, let no one tell you that it can’t be done.”

Stop listening to the whiners and start taking action. If you don’t know where to start, start by investing in a low-cost, index-based ETF.

There’s a piece of that pie for everyone. Now go get your piece.

Lionel writes at, which aims to help people hatch a rich life. As a special download for MoneySmart readers, click here to download his free ebook Small Tweaks – that’ll show you how to boost your savings by $300 every month.

What are your thoughts on Singapore’s recent ranking? Do you agree with Lionel’s method of taking advantage of a “bad” situation? Weigh in with your thoughts here!

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