The cost of living in Singapore is the highest of any city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. But this really depends a lot on the lifestyle you choose to adopt. Knowing what the big costs are, and how you can save, will make a significant difference and can leave you with significant savings at the end of the month.
What is the cost of renting?
Rental prices in Singapore for expats are as high as the world’s top global hubs. Before we discuss rental costs in Singapore it is important to note that the standard of accommodation for the average expat in Singapore is significantly higher than many other cities. Most expat accommodation comes with full condominium facilities, including a pool and a gym.
How do I save on rent costs?
- To save on rental costs it is common for expats to move slightly further out. Living in the likes of Clementi, Toa Payoh or Bedok (a couple of stops further out on the MRT: 20-25 minutes to the CBD) can be significantly cheaper – 20% – 30% cheaper. Remember that Singapore is incredibly safe, no matter where you decide to live.
- Living in HDB (Housing Development Board) flats will reduce costs significantly. HDB accommodation is almost always of a decent standard – just make sure you have a look before accepting the rental terms.
- Using a flatshare site like EasyRoomMate can save you a significant amount of time and money when looking for your first home in Singapore. This is also a great way to make new friends when moving to Singapore.
A condo within a 15-minute MRT ride to the CBD will cost around $4,000 in Singapore. If you move closer to the more novel expatriate hubs like around Orchard Road and River Valley, the price for a similar facility will climb 25% or more.
A landed property (with e.g. four bedrooms) will cost you $8,000+. For more on the various areas to live and costs, visit our accommodation guide.
Many expatriates begin their life in Singapore living in short term accommodation. The cost of this is significantly higher – expect to pay $6,000 to $8,000 for a studio apartment. Some providers, such as LMB Housing, offer more affordable short term accommodation options.
What is the cost of my social life in Singapore?
One of the great things about Singapore is the vibrant social life that you are likely to have.
Going out for a drink in Singapore can be very expensive. A reasonable bar will set you back $12 for a pint of lager or beer and $14 for a glass of wine. Watch out for ‘One for One’ offers: this actually means ‘Two for the price of One’! Knowing happy hours can save you a lot. Check out our nightlife section for more.
Dining in Singapore can be extremely good value, especially if you go for the local food. Check out our dining guide for eating ideas to suit all budgets.
How much does the transport cost?
The Singapore transportation infrastructure is great value, even with recent price increases. Buy an EZ links card at any MRT station and you’ll save hugely on bus and MRT travel. Five stops will cost around $1.50.
Taxis are also extremely good value- a 10 minute trip will set you back around $6. Getting to work has never been so straight-forward. For more on transport in Singapore please visit our guide.
The cost of driving in Singapore can be extremely expensive, costing as much as $100,000 for the license to put a car on the road. Many expats opt for car leasing as this can avoid the large lump sum payment. Visit Avis’ useful driving guide to learn more about driving in Singapore.
What’s the cost of healthcare?
Healthcare in Singapore can be prohibitively expensive for the expat so you need to make sure that you are well-covered insurance-wise when you arrive here. Check out our healthcare section for more.
How much will utilities cost me?
Electricity & Water costs are relatively expensive. For a two-bed apartment you should expect to pay around S$150-200 per month on electricity and water depending on usage of course. Don’t forget to switch off the air-con when you don’t need it- it’ll save you a lot. A good fan can have a similar effect. This option costs less and can avoid some of the physiological effects that air conditioning can have.
How much will my children’s education cost?
The cost of living in Singapore can be relatively high when it comes to your children’s education. International schools’ tuition fees can range from $6,000 to $20,000 per year. Visit our education section for more.
What is the cost of groceries in Singapore?
Grocery Shopping in Singapore is expensive as almost everything is imported. Here is a list of prices to give you an idea (estimated): Bag of Ground Coffee: $8 Minced meat (250g): $7 Butter (250g): S$4.70 Fresh Milk (1L): $2.50 Loaf of Sliced Bread: $2. Cold storage is more costly but has the widest selection of western goods for expats.
Remember – the tax is lower than almost anywhere
One thing to consider is that the tax rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world, so you will have a significantly larger monthly sum at your disposal than you might think. So remember to consider the cost of living in Singapore relative to your NET income each month of work. For a more detailed look, please visit our income tax page.
Learn more about how you can manage your money well in Singapore, in our online guide.
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