Chapter 4: ‘The world needs a second Switzerland’: onshoring Singapore as the liveable city for the super-rich
In a master-planned community off the southern coast of Singapore, wealthy foreigners comprise the majority of the homeowners. Drawn ostensibly by the high quality of life in the city-state and its liberal immigration policy directed at attracting the global super-rich to reside in country, the residents of the 117-hectare Sentosa Cove planned community have each invested millions of dollars to own a piece of prime waterfront property on the land-scarce island. In the contemporary world characterized by the rampant offshoring of economic functions from ‘first-world’ to ‘third-world’ cities, developments such as Sentosa Cove may be considered a way of ‘onshoring’ for cities such as Singapore that aspire to be a lifestyle hub and investment destination for the global super-rich. The term ‘onshoring’ is used here in two related senses: first, it refers to the relocation of business functions, in particular economic activities related to private wealth management, into Singapore (as opposed to traditional offshore wealth centres such as Switzerland, London and New York); and second, the attempt by the Singapore government to attract high net worth individuals (HNWIs) to ‘live and bank’ quite literally ‘onshore’ in the country. The two processes are of course not distinct and as this chapter will illustrate, strategies to onshore Singapore as a fledging global wealth hub draw, in part, on creating a highly liveable urban environment for the super-rich.
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