Cities That Are Not New York: Singapore, Cont’d!

Earlier today Mike concluded that “Singapore is not the answer” but I don’t know, Mike, are you sure? Yeah, it is authoritarian-socialist, not democratic-socialist, like the warmer and fuzzier Scandinavian countries. Artists and gum-chewers alike may find themselves feeling creatively stifled. Normal people can afford to live there, though, in part because housing is considered a right, not a privilege:

Singapore seems to have handled massive urbanization while keeping things relatively affordable. The country also is generally well regarded for its emphasis on urban design.

What does Singapore have going for it? Massive public investment in housing, at levels that are frankly unthinkable in North America. More than 80 percent of the population live in their version of public housing. Which, since it’s occupied by the large bulk of the middle class and not just the poor, doesn’t carry the same connotations as public housing does in North America.

Places I Have Lived: A Lady Hostel, a Live Show, and That Fireplace

We have all lived in some places. Where have you lived, Julie Bee?

What Should a City Do When the Rent Becomes Too High to Afford?

Yesterday Ester wrote about median one-bedroom rents reaching highs of more than $4,000 in NYC, and earlier this month I linked to a story from Southern California Public Radio discussing the high rents in Los Angeles. As cities become wealthier and price out low-income workers and the middle- and creative classes, what can be done? Shaila Dewan examines this question in the It’s the Economy section of the Times Magazine:

The rules of the market say that in this situation, people should simply opt to live someplace cheaper. But in today’s economy, that’s not so simple. Detroit has very cheap housing, but unfortunately, all of it is in Detroit. Alternately, more desirable cities could build more housing to satisfy demand, but new developments don’t tend to have that effect.

Luxury towers are sprouting up, adding density to unlikely places, from the Brooklyn waterfront to San Francisco’s Mid-Market district. But adding inventory to the high end does nothing to help the middle — one of the many irritating peculiarities of the 21st-century boomtown housing market. Building new apartments can actually push rents higher, and amenities for the masses, like transportation and parks, may have the effect of pricing them out. Everyone wants to live in these places, so no one can afford to. What’s a global city to do?

Eduardo’s Choice

EITHER pay the U.S. government taxes on the $3 billion he’ll have after Facebook’s IPO on Friday and continue to be allowed in the U.S. … OR pocket that money (which is tens-to-hundreds of millions of dollars), renounce his citizenship, move to Singapore, and be barred from the U.S. forever.

(Eduardo Saverin went with option two, which, okay. Hundreds of millions in taxes is a lot, yes. But you know what else is a lot? THREE BILLION DOLLARS. I personally like to retain flexibility, so I’d pay the taxes just to keep my options open. What if in twenty years I got sick of having posh apartments in every beautiful place ever and decided I really just wanted to settle down in a little house in Virginia? Exactly. Options. Mike Dang would obviously pay the taxes because of Ethics and Morals and Obligations. WWYD?)

How a 26-Year-Old Singaporean Does Money

Jillian Wong, is a 26-year-old Singaporean who works for a design website. Not too long ago, she visited New York and asked to meet with me so we could talk about the culture of money in Singapore.