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Cost of Living in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide

cost of living in singapore
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Singapore has one of the highest costs of living in the world. If you are considering moving here or you are a potential expat considering taking up a job offer to Singapore, you must be wondering how much you will spend and if it is worth your time. So how expensive is Singapore?

The amount of money you need to get through a month in Singapore varies based on your values and lifestyle. Here is a comprehensive rundown of the average cost of living in Singapore and the monthly costs of different utilities. Expats may face financial difficulties and need access to extra funds. Thankfully, banks and licensed moneylenders in Singapore offer personal loans to foreigners.

What Is the Average Salary in Singapore?

The average salary in Singapore was 4,680 Singapore dollars in 2021. It is much higher than it was pre-pandemic. The average salary has grown by 3.7% per annum in the past decade from S$3,249. Please note that these figures include the CPF contributions made by employers.

You will not earn the average salary the first time you start working. Your monthly income will increase as you gain experience and continue to climb the cooperate ladders. You should expect higher pay as you age, but your earnings will reduce as employers look for younger employees.

Here is how much you should expect to earn according to the Labor Force in Singapore 2020 report.

Age Group 2021 Average Monthly Salary  2020 Average Monthly Salary  Change (%)

15 – 19

S$1,170

S$1,170

20 – 24

S$2,691

S$2,793

-3.7%

25 – 29

S$4,095

S$4,056

1.0%

30 – 34

S$5,222

S$5,265

-0.8%

35 – 39

S$6,102

S$6,143

-0.7%

40 – 44

S$6,825

S$6,435

6.1%

45 – 49

S$5,958

S$5,850

1.8%

50 – 54

S$5,070

S$4,719

7.4%

55 – 59

S$3,729

S$3,500

6.5%

60 & Over

S$2,543

S$2,330

9.1%

From the table above, you will realize that an average person’s salary rises as they age, but it starts going down once you hit 44. Your salary will affect your cost of living in Singapore.

What Is the Difference Between Living in Singapore Vs. Other Countries?

While Singapore is the perfect expat destination, life doesn’t come cheap, especially compared with some of the major cities in the world. Here is a comparison of Singapore with major cities across the globe in terms of accommodation, cost of food from restaurants, and transportation

City/ Country One bedroom flat in the city Centre (monthly rent prices) Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid-range restaurant) Transportation (monthly pass)

Singapore

S$2,820

S$80

S$120 

London, UK

S$3,148

S$111

S$297 

New York City, USA

S$4,173

S$135

S$175 

Berlin, Germany

S$1,513

S$78

S$130 

Sydney, Australia

S$2,712

S$100

S$218 

From the table above, you can see Singapore is more expensive than some of the most expensive cities in the world. So, if you plan to settle or work here, be ready to spend your buck.

 It is also important to note that as a foreigner or an expat, one of the main things that add to your expenses is when converting your home currency to SGD. You can, however, get the best market exchange rates when you get reliable exchange services.

Guy taking out money from his wallet

What Are the Living Expenses in Singapore?

Your living expenses will primarily be get determined by your lifestyle. Here is a rough overview of how much you can expect to spend depending on your lifestyle.

1. Accommodation

The rental prices in Singapore depends on different factors, including the property’s age, proximity to the city, quality of furnishings, and the availability of recreational facilities such as gyms and pools.

Take your time to decide the type of housing you want after considering your personal preferences and rental cost. Some housing options in Singapore include:

2. Condominiums

Condominiums have recreational facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools, and children’s playgrounds. They are more popular with expats since they also allow them to socialize with other expats. They are also cheaper than renting property.

Condos ranged from S$8,300 to S$13,000 per month, depending on the number of bedrooms and location. The closer it is to the city, the more expensive it is.

3. Private Apartments

Private apartments are similar to condominiums but lack recreational facilities. They are often older construction buildings since most real estate owners are now being built in the form of condos. Private apartments around the city range from S$5,000 to $7,000, while those outside the CBD cost around S$4,000 per month.

4. HBD Flats

HBD flats are government housing flats. These are reasonably priced, and more than 80% of the Singapore population lives in them. HBD flats are near basic facilities, including markets, schools, banks, shopping malls, and libraries.

HBD rent depends on its size and location. A 3-bedroom flat close to the CBD goes for S$3,000, while those in suburban areas range from S$2,200 to S$2,700.

5. Serviced Apartments

Some expats prefer serviced apartments since they will get anything they need there. Most do not intend to live in Singapore for long and offer flexible leases. Serviced apartments are fully furnished with a great gym and a house pool.

The lease is flexible and can be negotiated per day, week or month. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranges from S$7,000 to S$14,000 based on the apartment’s luxurious location.

6. Landed Property

These include semi-detached houses, terraced houses, bungalows, or detached houses. However, landed property is not common in Singapore since the country is tiny and has a large population. The average rent of a bungalow in Singapore is S$18,000 per month. A luxurious landed property with 4 bedrooms and a large garden can cost S$35,000 per month.

7. Paying Guest

You can rent a room in a private apartment in prime districts such as River Valley, East Coast, and China Town from S$800 to S$1,800.

8. Cost of Food

Food is not expensive in Singapore. Your food budget will depend on your budget on your lifestyle. If you love to eat at home, you will save a lot. If you love eating, your monthly food budget will come to S$200 per person in your household. These include vegetables and meat.

Singapore has a lot of hawker centers and food courts where expats can enjoy a variety of dishes. An average meal from the hawker center goes for S$4, while the average cost of a meal at the food court is around S$5 to S$6.If you eat most of your meals outside, you can spend around S$600 to S$1000.

9. Transportation Costs

Here are the transport options you have in Singapore:

  • Public Transport
  • Singapore boasts of the world’s cheapest and most comprehensive public transport systems. An average Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) bus ride costs S$1.60. Combining MRT and bus commute, you will probably spend about S$150 per month.

  • Taxi Service
  • Singapore also has the most efficient taxi services. Taxi drivers here are willing to cover the shortest distances, unlike the western countries, where taxis can be costly. Fares can start from S$3 to S$3.40 for the first mile and S$0.22 every 400 m to 10km. Their fare is often metered, but you will find some taxis, such as the London cab, and Mercedes might charge higher.

  • Private Car
  • Owning a private car in Singapore is very expensive compared to other countries. Singapore charges heavy taxes for private cars to help ease road congestion and air pollution. The government encourages people to use public transport instead.

    10. Healthcare

    Singapore’s healthcare system is ranked the best in Asia and the sixth best in the world by WHO. It offers state-of-the-art treatment and is cost-effective. However, its government does not mandate its employers to provide health insurance benefits for workers.

    Whether you have insurance or not shouldn’t be a problem since healthcare costs are reasonable. You can set aside a monthly healthcare budget of S$100 to S$200. In case of hospitalization, you can choose from the wide range of wards available. Their prices range from S$30 to S$3,000, depending on the facilities.

    11. Utility Expenses

    Your electricity, gas, and water bill may range from S$200 to S$600 monthly, depending on your usage. Mobile subscriptions may range from S$35 to S$100 per month based on your preferred package. If you want a broadband connection, it might cost around S$50.

    12. Education

    Singapore has both government and private schools. The local schools follow the curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education, while their Private international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) system. Local schools are affordable, while international schools cost around S$1,000 to S$3,000 per month.

    Here is an overview of how much you should expect to pay for school in Singapore:

    School Tuition fees

    Preschool/kindergarten (per month)

    S$160-320

    Independent schools (per month)

    S$300-2,500

    National University of Singapore tuition (new international students, undergraduate, business, one year)

    S$20,550-32,250

    Singapore Management University tuition (new international students, bachelor program, one year)

    S$24,500-47,320

    13.Taxes

    Singapore has the lowest personal income tax rates in the world. The system allows sizable tax savings, making it a great place for expats. Singapore has a territorial basis for taxation, meaning they only tax the income earned in Singapore.

    14. Childcare

    Singapore has a wide variety of child care centers catering to babies to 7-year-old kids. Fees vary from one center to another based on the services offered. They offer full-day care, half-day care, and extended-day care. A half-day package typically ranges from S$400 to S$1,200, and a full-day care package ranges from S$500 to S$1,500.

    15. Miscellaneous

    Your cost of living can quickly skyrocket in Singapore if you consider some luxury expenses the country has to offer. Here are some luxuries that can easily inflate your monthly expenses:

    • Dining at expensive restaurants: Singapore has many fancy restaurants where you can easily buy a meal for S$50 for one person.
    • Gym memberships: Memberships go for $150 to $350 per month and can quickly go up depending on the type of gym and classes you take. Additionally, you can only register for a long time, say one or two years. So, if you are not a gym rat, stay away from these subscriptions.

    See Also: Does Singapore Allow Foreigners to Buy Property?

    Total Expenses: Cheap, Mid, High

    Here is how much you are expected to spend based on your lifestyle:

      Cheapskate Mid-range High-end

    Accommodation (rental)

    S$700 (HDB flat) 

    S$1,200 (condo unit)

    S$5,000 (apartment)

    Food

    S$250 (cook at home or eat at hawker centers)

    S$500 (hawker and midrange restaurants)

    S$2,000 (nice restaurants)

    Transportation

    S$130 (public transport)

    S$400 (public transport and Grab or taxis)

    S$1,500 (car or Grab)

    Mobile data

    S$20 (SIM-only plan)

    S$30 (more data)

    S$60 (data plan with frills)

    Exercise

    S$0 (running, hiking, or working out at home)

    S$100 (cheap gym)

    S$300 (classy gym)

    Recreation

    S$100 (Netflix, movies, occasional drinking)

    S$300 (moderate drinking)

    S$1,500 (going to expensive clubs, dating, traveling)

    Total

    S$1,200

    S$2,530

    S$10,360

    Related Questions (FAQs)

    1. What Is the Average Rent in Singapore?

    Singapore has an excellent housing system where 80% of the population are homeowners. If you are planning to stay for a while in the country, here are the options for where you can live and the average rent.

    Renting in Singapore Average monthly cost

    One bedroom flat/apartment (city center)

    S$ 2,861

    One bedroom flat/apartment (outside of city center)

    S$ 1,913

    Three-bedroom apartment (city center)

    S$ 5,466

    Three-bedroom apartment (outside of city center)

    S$ 3,178

    2. Is It Cheaper to Live in USA or Singapore?

    Yes. Singapore is more expensive than the United States by 20.7%

    3. Is Living in Singapore a Good Idea?

    Singapore is great for expats because of its good infrastructure, healthcare system, and schools. It also has an excellent taxation system compared to most countries worldwide.

    4. What Are the Disadvantages of Living in Singapore?

    Singapore has one of the highest costs of living. Additionally, the weather is not suitable for everyone, and the roads are not safe for cyclists and pedestrians. Singapore also has very manly strict laws that are not in other countries.

    Girl alone calculating cost of living

    Closing

    Singapore is a great place to move permanently or for a short period. While it is rated as one of the places with the highest cost of living globally, you can control how much you spend by keenly looking at your option. You will soon notice that your lifestyle will determine how much money you will need in a month.

    Key Takeaways

    • Singapore has the lowest rate of personal income tax.
    • Singapore’s healthcare is the rate the best in Asia and sixth best across the world.
    • Your lifestyle and values will determine your cost of living in Singapore.

    If you are looking for a loan to fund your goals, Loan Advisor got your back! Contact us now, and we will respond promptly with different quotes from top money lenders in Singapore that match your needs.

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