Despite its tiny land area, Singapore is widely considered to be one of the most comfortable places in the world to live in. This Southeast Asian city-state boasts a robust economy, well-developed public infrastructure and socio-civic facilities, and a generally safe and secure environment. Furthermore, its innately diverse, multicultural population makes it an especially appealing destination for expatriates and their families. The aforementioned are just a few reasons why many residents will readily assert that quality of life in the country is truly world-class.
A comfortable life in Singapore does, however, come at a considerable price. Singapore has long been recognised as the most expensive city in Asia and also ranks consistently among the most expensive cities in the world overall. Cost of living in Singapore has historically been high across the board, with rent prices and schooling fees standing out among residents’ largest expenses.
That said, the lifestyles of Singapore residents will vary depending on where in the country they’re located and other life circumstances. Being smart about your monthly expenses in Singapore can help you live contentedly within your means. The following expenses, for example, are especially important to account for when drawing up your monthly budget:
Land is scarce in Singapore, which inevitably means that real estate is generally expensive. If you rent living space in Singapore or are planning to do so when you move to the country, rental costs are likely to be among your heftiest monthly expenses. However, you can reasonably expect rental prices to shift somewhat depending on which part of the country you choose to settle in.
Rent is most expensive around Singapore’s central region, where most of the country’s major shopping malls, schools and commercial businesses are located. You’ll find Singapore’s priciest neighbourhoods in and around the city’s Central Business District, which include the Orchard Road, Marina Bay and Holland Village areas. A studio apartment on Orchard Road, for example, will probably cost you as much as SGD4,000 a month to rent.
Singapore’s northern region, located close to the causeway that connects the country to Malaysia, is, by contrast, amongst its least expensive region. Mass Rapid Trains (MRT) lines throughout this region allow residents efficient access to the city centre, making it a decent choice for residents in need of lower-cost housing. Renting a studio apartment in Woodlands District can cost from just around SGD1,500 monthly.
Food will probably be another of your more significant expenses, as Singapore imports much of its supplies from overseas. Though prices are likely to be lower at smaller supermarkets and grocery stores, expect to spend around SGD 250 a month weekly if you intend to cook at home most of the time. Fruits and vegetables from outside Asia, as well as dairy products such as butter and cheese, are likely to be especially expensive. Consider substituting these with local alternatives if you’re trying to cut costs.
Dining out can be a solid, affordable alternative to cooking your own food if you know which establishments to patronise. A meal for two at a midrange restaurant, for example, will likely set you back around SGD60-80. Meanwhile, local hawker centres, street food stalls and food courts are famous for providing residents with cheap eats that don’t skimp on quality. You can enjoy a meal for two at one of these places from as low as just SGD10.
Due to Singapore’s limited resources, residents’ monthly utility bills are likely to be significantly higher than they would be in other countries. This often comes as a shock especially to expats experiencing their first Singapore summers, when running the air conditioning more frequently is likely to drive electricity bills even higher.
Depending on your air conditioning usage, you’ll probably spend between SGD200 and SGD600 for gas, water, and electricity. If you’re living on a property with an inbuilt gas supply, however, there’s a chance your utility bills may be considerably lower.
On the upside, mobile phone subscriptions and internet service plans are relatively affordable in Singapore. Postpaid phone plans can cost between SGD35 and SGD100 a month depending on the included services you choose. Residential internet connections, meanwhile, can cost an average of SGD50 and often provide superior speed and data capacity for their price. Most households enjoy speeds of at least 1 GBPS without download limits.
Owning a car is quite difficult in Singapore, in part because the government actively encourages residents to take advantage of the country’s highly efficient public transport system. On top of the cost of the car itself, owners have to pay a 10-year road tax, insurance fees, and a number of other additional expenses.
By contrast, one-way bus and MRT tickets in Singapore only cost an average of SGD1.60 per person. As most key locations in Singapore are located within easy walking distance of a bus or MRT station, residents have abundant incentive to take public transport whenever possible.
While living in Singapore can admittedly be costly, it’s a misconception that you have to be exorbitantly wealthy to enjoy life in the country. As long as you make the most of your resources and monitor your spending carefully, you’ll find that a comfortable day-to-day existence is well within your reach.