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Cost of Living in Singapore – How Much Should You Budget for One of the World’s Costliest Cities

Cost of Living in Singapore
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Singapore is a modern, gleaming city offering among the best standards of living in the world. Indeed, it is a regular pick for World’s Most Expensive Cities list, so you might think living here must not come cheap. 

Well, while Singapore certainly lives up to being a playground for the well-heeled, leading a modest lifestyle here isn’t as expensive as you may think.

Let’s take a closer look at how much it really costs to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

 

Typical costs of living in Singapore

We’ve broken down the cost of living in Singapore into four broad categories. We’ll be examining each one in turn.  

1. Housing costs 

A. Single room – From $600 to $1,500 onwards

Single room Typical rental cost
Common room in HDB apartment $600 to $1,000 per month
Master room (with attached bathroom) in HDB apartment $1,100 to $1,500 per month
Common room in private condominium From $1,000 per month 
Master room (with attached bathroom) in private condominium From $1,500 per month 
Single room in co-living facilities From $800 per month
Single room, private landed property  From $1,000 per month

Monthly rental rates for a single bedroom from a HDB flat, condo apartment or private landed property costs anywhere from $600 to $1,500 onwards. The rate depends primarily on the district you’re renting in, as well as the amenities included or located nearby.

Generally speaking, rents are lowest in public HDB flats, while condo apartments and other private properties command higher prices. 

One advantage of renting a single room is that utilities are usually factored into the monthly rent, which helps you manage your costs.

B. Whole house – From $2,200 to $5,000 onwards

Entire house Typical rental cost
3-room HDB apartment $2,200 to $2,700 per month
Condo apartment with 2 bedrooms $3,000 to $6,000 per month
Terrace house, semi-D or other landed property From $5,000 onwards

Renting a whole house in Singapore will cost anywhere from a couple of thousands for a modest 3-room HDB apartment to tens of thousands of dollars for a swanky bungalow on the outskirts of town.

Obviously, the rental price will depend on how large the property is, as well as its location. 

Besides the monthly rental, you’ll need to provide a refundable deposit (typically two months), as well as pay for the utilities bills. Utilities can cost around $250 to $300 per month for a family of four.

Depending on how furnished the house is, you may also wish to purchase some furniture or carry out some minor renovation. This could range from a few hundred to a thousand bucks or so.

 

2. Food costs

Type of meal Per person per meal
Hawker centre or food court $5 to $10 
Casual dining $15 to $25
High-end dining From $40 onwards
Food delivery From S$10 onwards
Home cooking From S$5 onwards

Dining in Singapore is relatively affordable, with hawker centre and food court meals costing around S$5 per person per meal, These make up the bulk of meals consumed by office workers, students and families.

There are also plenty of cafes and eateries offering casual dining options for local and international cuisines, with typical meals costing around $20 per person per meal.

High-end dining at elaborate restaurants or specialised outlets are also available, with meals costing anywhere from S$40 per person to several hundred dollars.

It is not unusual for many Singaporeans to rely on hawker meals during the weekdays, then go out to restaurants for family meals on weekends or special occasions.

Food delivery platforms are hugely popular in Singapore, with FoodPanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood being the Big 3 in the sector. While they undoubtedly provide a high degree of convenience, the markups and service fees can be quite expensive. As such, food delivery can be an impractical choice for some.

Home cooking can be the most cost-effective dining option, but only if you’re feeding a family, and limit your use of pricey ingredients.

 

3. Transport costs

Transport method Cost per month (assuming 2 trips daily,  10km each)
Public bus or MRT $60 to $160
Taxis or ride hailing $600 to $720 
Driving your own car $1,200 onwards

When it comes to getting around, the most cost-effective option is public transport – buses or MRT rides – which costs between $60 to $160 per month, depending on whether you utilise express services or not. 

Taxis and ride-hailing (such as Grab, Ryde, GoJek, etc) services can cost you several hundred dollars if you use them everyday.  Occasional rides are usually affordable and reasonably priced, provided you avoid peak periods.

Buying a car for private use in Singapore is eye-wateringly expensive (although, you won’t know this just by looking at the number of private cars on the roads), and this option should only be considered if absolutely necessary. 

Besides, between Singapore’s public transportation system and ride hailing services, private driving is more a luxury than a necessity.

 

4. Leisure and entertainment costs

Popular entertainment and leisure activities Typical cost per person per trip
Shopping, cafe-hopping and dining out $30 to $50 (excluding shopping)
Going to the movies $15 to $20 (tickets, drinks and popcorn/snacks)
Going out drinking $50 onwards 
Visiting attractions $30 to $100 
Weekend hotel staycation $250 
Exercise and sports (public facilities) $5 to $30

Despite its small size, Singapore offers a surprisingly wide selection of leisure and entertainment options.

Most of such activities are generally easy on the pocket, but it’s definitely possible to overindulge and bust your budget. 

In particular, drinking and nightlife activities can get expensive pretty quickly, given Singapore’s high tax on alcohol (and tobacco, for that matter), and 50% surcharge on taxis once the clock nears midnight.  

Hotel staycations may make for a poor substitute for true travel, but they can strangely be pretty addictive. This is due to the current onslaught of discounts and bundle offers from COVID-19-ravaged hospitality players.  

 

Girl alone calculating cost of living

 

Average cost-of-living budget in Singapore

Item Monthly budget
Housing $1,000
Food $500
Transport $100
Leisure and entertainment $300

With a budget of around $2,000 a month, you will be able to afford a modest standard of living in Singapore. This budget nets you a single room in an average neighbourhood, covers your daily expenses like food and transport (mainly bus and MRT rides, with the occasional taxi or ride-hailing jaunt), while also allowing some funds for weekend sprees. 

However, this budget does not include other important expenses – such as insurance, children’s education, etc – or miscellaneous spending, so be sure to adjust your budget accordingly.

Read also High Cost of Living: How to Save Money in Asia’s Most Expensive City.

Need more funds to help you settle into your new life in Singapore? Check out Loan Advisor to quickly and easily find the best personal loan for your needs.

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