I am end of my PhD. I would like to do a postdoc. In UK the average postdoc salary is around 30K (per year). But in UK the tax is very high, after taxes I may get around 1800 pounds (per month). I heard in Singapore the salaries for postdoc are a bit high and the taxes are also very low.

I have my wife and two children, In that case I would like to know the advantages and disadvantages of doing a postdoc in UK or Singapore.

  • 3
    How old are your 2 children? This is a key factor for you to decide if you want to live in Singapore. If you kids are old enough to go to school. You will need to send them to International school. The tuition is very high. Also, the benifits your employer will be crucial factor for you.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 6:44
  • 3
    The problem is we know absolutly notthing about your situation. Are you British? Are you from Singapore? Do you have family in both countries? Do you like British weather? Do you like asian cuisine? Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:35
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    Btw. from a pure academic viewpoint (which would be inline with this forum) the UK is preferabel; more high rated universities, more collobartion posibilities etc etc Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:36
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    You seem to have calculated your income assuming that you will be taxed 40%. This is wrong. You would only be taxed 40% on any income you earn over £31K. You will be taxed 0% on the first £10K of your income, and then 20% on income from £10K to £31K. Hence you will receive around £26K. This is without deducting National Insurance, but certainly the amount due for this will not amount to £8K! It will only be around £2.5K.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 13:14
  • 3
    The internet says the take home on a £30,000 salary is about £23,000. However, generally you are correct that tax in Singapore is generally significantly lower. Personally, I would other considerations such as institution and family concerns would be much more significant than salary.
    – nivag
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:09

4 Answers 4


To put the following into context, I teach at a UK university and have delivered courses at a Singapore partner university for many years.

In support of many of the above comments, you need have no concerns about the academic establishment in Singapore, at any level, from primary through to university. Education is top of Singapore's agenda and this is apparent everywhere. Teaching is in english throughout. Singapore's universities are world-class.

The living and working environments are excellent. Cost of living (apart from housing) is lower than UK. The transport system is also excellent.

Cost of accommodation is the only negative. Apartment rental costs are high - comparable to London. However, if you are appointed on expat terms the University will provide an apartment and the rent will be subsidised; all large companies that employ expat staff take account of accommodation costs. But you should make sure that you know what type of apartment is on offer and that it meets your family needs. 'Landed properties' form a very small part of Singapore's accommodation, the large majority are high-rise apartments.

Income tax is much lower than UK levels - you can check this out on the government's IRAS web page.

  • The OP has 2 children. Do you think this would have some financial impact when they live in Signporer?
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:21
  • There are costs involved, but I haven't gone into this in any detail. This is something that should be discussed with a potential employer.
    – Chu
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:46
  • ...this web site may be useful: moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/international-students/…
    – Chu
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 12:15
  • I am not sure if postdocs in Singapore are qualified for a university accommodation.
    – adipro
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 5:44
  • Also remember, Singapore is a fine country. :D Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 5:24

My answer will focus on entirely non-academic aspects of a post-doc in UK as you seem to have those "sorted".

I think you have been slightly mislead:

  1. ~£30K will not result to ~£18K after taxes. I was taking ~£31K and ending up with ~£24K. Maybe you are in a different tax-category or something but from ~£30K to end up <£20K is quite unrealistic. Finally, ~£30K with 0 years of experience is pretty decent. One more point: spend an hour or two and check the HM Revenue & Customs. Do not rely on word of mouth on something so vital.
  2. You need to factor council taxes and these will dependent where you live. Council taxes can be quite hefty (£100+ per month in Cambridge for example).
  3. As @John mentioned, you need to base your decision on where are you going to live; ~£30K in central London, Oxford or Cambridge with 2 kids? No way. ~£30K in Manchester or (even cheaper) Coventry? Probably tight but doable.
  4. London allowance have not saved anyone. Sure you will get probably ~12% more than your equivalent post-doc outside London but that's about it. In some cases you can get the same salary outside London. Lesser known universities try to give more monetary incentives to candidates.

I recommend you do some very good research about where exactly you are going, what is the cost of living, what are schools/nurseries are there, etc. Also do maybe a quick online search for houses to see what is available. If the going rate of a two bedroom flat +£1100 well... you need to consider things seriously. And do the same search for Singapore too afterwards!

Post-doc is a stepping stone. Realistically you will not get a salary that will allow you to live a luxurious life. Also take into account that the chances of tenure in an institution after a post-doc while usually better than being a complete outsider are all but guaranteed. Therefore consider that relocation might be something you will have to re-examine. You do not tell us if your wife will be able to contribute to your family income. Even a part-time job might make a significant difference.

(Reading back my answer I think I sound a bit grim... I do not mean to dishearten you or anything, just I do not want to be mislead on taxation or living costs issues.)

  • If you are from outside the EU, the UK visa fees for the whole family are extremely expensive.
    – adipro
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 5:54

It is typical that you will disproportionately get speaking invitations from, and make connections with other researchers, who live near wherever you do your postdoc.

For these and related reasons (e.g., employers knowing and trusting the people who will write letters for you), one advantage of doing a postdoc in Singapore/UK, respectively, is that it makes it easier to get a permanent job in that respective part of the world. So I would recommend thinking about your long-term job (and family life) prospects in the UK and in Singapore respectively.


I don't know about Singapore. But for the UK, postdocs' salary can give you and your family a very comfortable life unless you are in so expensive city as London (in which case though you get London allowance on top of your salary). Health services are free in the UK, and if your university has an in-house doctor's office for the staff and students' use then you avoid delays to get appointments. Awesome public transportation, and things are fairly cheap due to competition - except rents in certain cities. However, probably Singapore may also have all these facilities. But in short, postdoc salaries in the UK are decent unless you want to rent central London apartments.

  • 3
    "Health services are free in the UK" Visa applicants from outside the EU are now being charged £200 a year on top of their visa to access the NHS.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 8:41
  • 4
    Please tell me where the awesome public transport is, I want to move there!
    – Chu
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:02

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