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Answer to Cost of Living in Singapore 2014 for Expats

The Cost of Living in Singapore in 2014

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.

cost of living in singapore expat

Rental costs make living in Singapore expensive, but there are ways to save.

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 Move and Stay, offer more affordable short term accommodation options.

cost of living in singapore expats

Places like Lantern overlooking Marina Bay will set you back $20-$30 per drink

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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35 Responses to The Cost of Living in Singapore in 2014

  1. Tim May 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Very helpful article! I have been wanting to get a better idea of what the general cost would be in Singapore. Cheers – Tim

  2. ExBanker May 20, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Judging by the article it seems that life in Singapore is on par with the cost of living in New York or London. Expensive, but I suppose that is the norm in big international cities. At least now I will arrive in Singapore with a better idea and a budget to match. Thanks!

  3. Jasmine June 6, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    I had no idea driving was so expensive in Singapore, looks like we will have to find another option when we arrive. From what I have heard the public transport is good and very efficient in Singapore, is that so?
    Thanks for your help! Jasmine

    • Iqbal June 28, 2013 at 12:57 am #

      Yes, Singapore has the best transport system after HongKong. You will hardly need your own car, unless you stay in wilderness ;)

      • lagalag72 August 16, 2013 at 6:02 am #

        yes… MRT transport system can take you in any place that you want to go, just buy EZ Link Cards and you can use it as fare for the train & bus… just got back form my short visit @ SG, to all who want to visit SG this month you can still catch the bargain sale because Singapore is celebrating its birthday the whole August i think.

      • Raja Matin August 20, 2013 at 10:22 am #

        Dear i want some more information from u kindly mail me at my gmail id i will b thankful to you …. Thnx

      • Roger Lim August 22, 2013 at 8:31 am #

        Iqbal, i think Singapore has a better transport system compared to hong kong.

        Our transport system comes on time and is reliable. And you can check the timing of the next bus of train via phone apps.

        But i agree, you dont really need a car. It would be best to find a centrally located area to stay (like chinatown or bugis), everything is just minutes away!

      • hello November 7, 2013 at 3:48 am #

        singapore rail system has way better coverage round the island.
        those rundown bus stop and terminals in hk are nowhere near what sg have.
        not to mention those old toyota crown taxis that are more than 10 yrs.
        transport fee in hk are much higher in comparison.

      • Adnan December 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

        Salam Iqbal, Adnan here from Pakistan, i got an offer from singapore of salary 5800. I am worried that is this a good amount for me and i can save if i have 2 school going children. any idea if u can give me I be able to save some from this or it will be very difficult to live there. are there halal food hotels of pakistani dishes and how much it costs. please reply and i will be very thankful for your time.

  4. Niya July 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    I’m very thankful for this article :) I was in Singapore before five and half months and I can’t stop thinking about this fantastic city-cuntry :) I’m thinking about going to college in Singapore, but it looks like there the education is too expensive… :| Anyways, thanks for the helpful information :)

  5. Soboro July 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Go to neighboring Malaysia, it costs less than half the price for everything but your life might be at stake anytime. Decisions, decisions…

  6. Sally July 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Thanks. Really useful, practical information for people considering moving our young family to Singapore.



  7. Xing August 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Another article with average pay per job in various industries would be helpful to see what type of jobs are good for students to live better life in Singapore.

  8. Amit August 13, 2013 at 11:15 am #


    Very useful article…but bit confused on the pricings in $ an few places in S$. Please clarify to get it right …whether US$ or S$.

    thanks & warm regards,

  9. current singexpat August 16, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    Another aspect of significance is the cost of house help which includes a compulsory monthly govt. fee and significant one off hiring costs .. but most of them are quite efficient and integrate very well into the families they serve

  10. Mark in Singapore September 9, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    the modern apartment / condo may be cutting edge with plenty of marble, steel and glass, but they are making the size of the rooms smaller and smaller and forcing the rental costs up and up. The major problem is that the house/condo rental prices fluctuate with the market, or with the perceived market. This can mean that you are asked for a 600% increase when you go to renew your contract (yes six hundred percent). Space is at a premium and will become more so as the government plan is to increase the population by an extra 1.5 million (it is already 1.5 million more than when I arrived in the late 1990’s). Public transport is indeed good, however the MRT system (tube/metro/subway) appears to have no spare capacity, and I read daily of friends/colleagues that have had to let 6 to 8 trains pass before they were able to squeeze themselves on, and others that find that the MRT trains are full even in the middle of the day. Don’t get me wrong, Singapore is a lovely and lively place – but not quite as has been described.

    • Roger Lim September 16, 2013 at 7:27 am #

      Mark, so true that trains get packed during peak hours but I think to let 6-8 trains pass is unheard of. At most, only 2-3 trains packed.

      I would like to say that it all boils down to the people. Those who takes the train from far away destinations loves to take the last possible train to get to work on time. That being said, trains that reaches the city core by 8.40 to 8.55 is sure to be packed by mid-way.

      It is the same every country, who would sacrifice their own time for the comfort of others to allow more space on the peak hour train? In fact, Singapore is the only country to provide free train (100% cost-free) for trips made before 7.45. But would you take them that early? Try working in New York or other major cities and see if you face the same problem. The government is doing what they can for the people, constantly pushing such initiatives. At least, Singapore takes actions to solve congestion.

      My advice? Stay in Yishun or Clementi, you might even get a seat every morning and also the cheap accommodation is a plus. Why would you want to stay in posh areas and pay thousands?

      Source: (free MRT rides)

  11. Shubham Mukhopadhyay September 15, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    Dear Team,

    Looks fine for a starter…but need to have a much more info. in terms of Monthly Rent, location wise & house configuration wise. & some info. on leading Job Consultants for good careers.



    • Addison Kwek September 16, 2013 at 7:57 am #

      Hi Shubham,

      Those numbers varies greatly, it is hard to pin down the prices as they fluctuate over the years. Prices go up and down, and good deals can occasionally spring up anywhere. But if you want a general idea for a budget set up, you can try staying in places near Yishun or Woodlands MRT. As your accommodation moves further from the MRT, your prices goes down substantially. Depending on furnishing, location and area size, rents for a single room in these areas can start as low as 400.

      As for a comfortable set-up, you can look at the places mentioned in our article:

      To get you started, GatewayGlobalCareers provides you with some job options as well. Do check them out.


  12. Steve October 15, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    The rental market has softened . I wanted to be in the CBD 2 min walk from work so was willing to pay the added premium. Picked up CBD condo larger 1 bedroom) for 4 K in one of the premium locations. Similar but fully serviced units were going 7 K . So there are some deals to be had in the CBD I’ve found shopping at Chinatown wet market on Saturday to be a huge savings fresh produce and poultry/fish are very cheap. But you may opt for a local hawker outlet and eat for < 10-15 .day . I totally agree about the price of beer and spirits at local bars but more like $ 18.00 per pint .!! Look for the happy hours and abide by them . It's very easy to get carried away with all the entertainment spots and I would be lying if I did not admit to falling into that trap. Paying for it now :0

  13. Marcus October 19, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Need to know the exchange rate for the Pound Sterling
    Thank you.

    • Addison Kwek October 21, 2013 at 3:51 am #

      The rate is 2 SG dollar for 1 pound.

  14. Sethi October 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you .

  15. newbie November 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm #


    If I get monthly salary of S$12K/month, with no outside Singapore commitment, approx. what would be my overall monthly expenses including rent, utilities, grocery, MRT commute etc…

    My friends suggest to come and live and experience the expenses. I agree everyone that savings and spending structure are not similar, but I am concerned about the cost of living and my long term savings potential.

    As far as my research: Please correct me if I am over budget / under budget

    TAX 15% of total salary – S$1800

    Rent – S$4,000/month (2 bedroom approx. 1000 Sq ft, 3kms – 5kms from DPS school, close to MRT and walkable to groceries, kids activities, library park, etc…)

    School + school bus – for 2 kids @ DPS (approx. S$2500/month)

    MRT commute monthly pass to work – (S$200) – 5kms in and around DPS to Raffles Place -monthly pass – do they exist?

    monthly commute for entire family – approx.S$ 300

    kid 1 activities – S$300

    Kid 2 activities – S$300

    our activities – S$300

    Monthly Groceries – S$800

    Monthly eating out + cafe – S$300

    Utilities – S$200

    Cell phones + home phone + cable TV – S$200

    Total cost – Approx. S$11,200

    My monthly savings potential – Approx. S$800

    Do I need to expect any other expenses or am I over-budgeting. Please shed some light.

    Appreciate you guys for sharing your valuable inputs, moving is quite stressful. So many are moving outside country solely relying on internet research, word of mouth and forums like this. The blog and the comments are truly helpful guys. Thanks

    • Addison Kwek November 7, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Hi Rejeevi,

      I think you got the numbers roughly right. Numbers here can vary like for example, utilities. The way you consume energy can cost you quite a sum. If assuming you do not have air conditioning, $200 a month is doable. Cell phones + home +cable TV can be acquired using a SingTel or Starhub Bundle, $200 is quite a generous allowance for misc. international calls and in case you exceed your data plan.

      Activity-wise only you can be the judge of that, $300 is reasonable. There are plenty of activities in Singapore that will cost you almost nothing to visit. If should you save on fine dining, you can increase your monthly savings.

    • oldbie November 15, 2013 at 4:59 am #

      Newbie, you got the calculations right.
      Quick note on the salary. Please check if your company is going to divide your annual salary in 13 months (instead of 12 months). This means in the 12th month i.e. December you get the salary for 2 months. The flip side is an annual salary of $144K yields $12K per month. But if divided over 13 months, you would get $ 11077 per month for the first 11 months. The monthly tax installment on this would be roughly around $700.

  16. Vijay November 4, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Great…informative article…

    Good article for new comers short staying brats…

    • Addison Kwek November 7, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      I am glad you liked the article.

      There are many theatres around with movies costing around 10-11 dollars on weekends. Popcorn costs around 8 dollars for a combo.

      A hair cut for guys will cost you $10 at budget salons at the mall but you can get it much cheaper with neighbour barbers some offering them at $4. Prices can go up to even $80+ for professional stylists.

      Night life will vary again from places to places, check out our nightlife section for more information.

      Well Laundry services again vary from places to places, but usually cost you as low as $5 for 10kg of laundry.

  17. Evelyn December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    As a Singaporean (now living in the UK), I’d say the price guide is pretty accurate, although I am not sure I agree with grocery prices…like everything, it depends on where you shop (I liken it to the choice of shopping at Waitrose or your cheap weekend farmer’s market) – it really depends on your lifestyle, I get my haircut for S$14 in a ‘heartland’ suburb (about £7, and I don’t have to tip), or I can choose to go to a Orchard Road salon for a $80 haircut. It’s all relative.

    I have to admit I am not sure if expats can go to any clinic to visit a doctor, which costs about S$20-30 INCLUDING medicine dispensed at the counter. You will be charged an arm and leg in consultation fees if you go to posh clinics like Raffles Medical. Try going to your neighbourhood doctor to compare the difference. Singapore has strict medical laws/codes so a general practitioner will be more than competent for minor aches and pains.

    If you are adventurous and like local food, there is no shortage of good choices in every corner of your neighbourhood. I can get a big yummy bowl of noodles for £2 and I guarantee it will be ten times better than Wagamama!

    Overall, if you have a decent package and are not planning to live a luxurious/extravagant lifestyle, life will be very comfortable in Singapore – that’s why I am going home after two years in the UK (where I became poorer…;-)

    • Jim December 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      Evelyn – you are so right. In 4 years in UK, I consumed 6 years of my Singapore saving so as to keep the same lifestyle. SG prices are high, but high salary and low taxes meant i still saved a lot. Now in UK, with half the salary and twice the taxes for the same job, I fly economy, drive a cheap car, and yet count pennies while waiting for the next salary. Leaving SG for the UK was an incredibly bad decision.

  18. Rachel January 8, 2014 at 1:39 am #

    If sending kids to international schools the article costs are way too low. It’s a minimum of $30,000 pa per child, plus costs of uniforms, camps, extras. There is also enrolment fees, maintenance fees etc. Your first year at the Singapore American School will cost you >60K, that’s the most expensive but I am unaware of any international school now with costs lower that 30k per year

  19. Injustice Gods Among Us January 10, 2014 at 12:59 am #

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  20. business electricity supply prices January 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Very energetic article, I loved that a lot.
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  21. Rachael February 9, 2014 at 4:55 am #

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