High Cost Of Living: How to Save Money in Asia’s Most Expensive City

High Cost Of Living: How to Save Money in Asia’s Most Expensive City

How Expensive Is Singapore For The Singaporean?

People exercise at Singapore waterfront

Singapore is indeed a first-world country. However, it is one that has its own problems that even its citizens need to handle. Singaporeans have an excellent quality of life when you compare their status with other Asian countries. However, many citizens in lower-income households suffer from many issues similar to their counterparts daily.

For the average Singaporean family, food, school, and electricity and utility bills always take up the first and most significant percentages of monthly expenses. In fact, many Singaporeans contend with tax problems and healthcare expenses they might encounter in the future once they decide to retire.

If Singapore is expensive to the average citizen, is it worth living in Singapore as an expatriate? Indeed, it is. But, you’ll have to make wise financial decisions to live within your means and have a smooth, life in the country.

Value-Efficiency: Singapore’s High Cost of Living

Calculating Bill

As a first-world country, despite its limited resources and small land size, Singapore is one of the best countries to live in because of the excellent quality of life. In fact, it is one of the world’s hottest melting pots of culture most likely next to America’s New York City; you can find a significant number of foreign chefs opening their businesses in Singapore.

In addition to excellent cultural diversity, Singapore’s population sees empowerment by many foreign nationals living and working in the country. However, many of them find comfort in their employment. Furthermore, Singapore’s transportation system and living conditions are parallel — if not, better — than its Western counterparts.

Lastly, Singapore’s healthcare system might be expensive in the country. However, its quality is genuinely parallel to Japan and the United States — while being relatively more affordable than the latter two. In fact, the efficiency of the healthcare system in the country makes it one of the prime retirement destinations of many Western retirees.

However, the primary problem for many Singaporeans will exist for expats as well. Private ownership and premium service are at the same price as that of Western countries. While the government guarantees the top-quality of goods, facilities, and transportation, it decreases or puts a premium on privately-owned vehicles and properties.

Here are a few things that Singapore expats might find quite expensive in the country.

Vehicle Ownership

If you plan to purchase a new vehicle in Singapore, you’ll need to go through some hoops. A brand-new car can cost from S$90,000-S$110,000, which is a hefty sum. Singapore’s government has made it challenging to own new vehicles in the country to prevent massive transportation consumption, which will cause immense traffic. This limiting approach encourages all Singaporeans and expatriates to prioritize using the MTRs and buses — which are of the highest standard — at all times.

However, if you direly need a vehicle to get to work, Singapore’s Certificate of Entitlement (COE) helps you get a car with an estimated 5-10 year mileage and sold at a lower price. The government requires COEs from all Singaporeans and expatriates who wish to own a new or used vehicle.

COEs only require one thing for a successful registration: Singapore’s Land Transportation Authority will announce the vehicle quota available and if there are any available. Then, aspiring car owners will bid for the COE.

Once drivers have their respective COE, they can own a vehicle for 10 years. They can continue to possess their vehicles further by renewing their certification, paying a Prevailing Quota Premium for the vehicle category — which is quite pricey. Alternatively, car owners can de-register their cars even before the 10-year period ends and allow the government to purchase their vehicle at a reasonable price.

Adding on top of your COE, vehicle ownership, and purchase expenses will inflate both gas prices and car maintenance costs. Furthermore, if you’re living in HDB flats or condominiums, car parking space rental fees, which can send your car costs ballooning as high as possible.

HDB Flats, Condominiums, and Traditional Homes

Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB) offers government-built flats, which are of high quality, only to Singaporeans. If you’re an expat making calculations because of the affordability of HDB flats, reconsider your calculations: SG’s government strictly offers the apartments to Singaporeans only.

However, expats can opt to work with an HDB flat owner and rent the space, especially if the former flat owner has purchased a condominium or other property (that is not government-built). HDB flats are affordable, but this is only advisable for expats who can live with Singaporean culture. Many amenities, such as recreational facilities, laundry rooms, and others, are standard for everyone living within the HDB flat community.

On the other hand, foreigners can own condominiums and traditional homes in Singapore if they can afford it. In fact, they can buy as much as they want if they can afford it. However, owning private apartments and condominiums have common areas similar to HDB flats. Furthermore, they cost more than a million Singapore dollars on average. Private traditional homes are costlier than executive condos too.

If you’re an expat looking to work in Singapore, renting an HDB flat is the most affordable way. However, if you plan to retire in Singapore, you’ll need to pay HDB flat rent throughout or save a considerable amount to buy a dependable condominium in Singapore.

Dining

Dining Decoration

If you’re new to Singapore, you’ve noticed that cafe food is somewhat more expensive than street food. In fact, it’s the same price as cafe food in Western countries. One reason for this is the premium ingredients cafes use to create their coffee — and most likely, their suppliers are from Western countries. Those costs are on top of their daily overhead costs as well.

In Singapore, dining is genuinely world-class that any expat will feel right at home if they’re looking for their country’s dishes. However, if you’re an expat who is into fine dining, you’ll find that the cost is double or sometimes more than the price cloud kitchens and local hawkers sell. That’s a considerable budget chunk right off your budget. This means you can avoid if you choose to seek out more affordable dining.

Fortunately, Singapore has an enormous variety of international dishes being one of the world’s most diverse populations. However, if you’d really like to save, local Singaporean food is often lower in price and tasty. And, you might just love it for your entire duration in the country — which will help you save more from your budgets

Natural Inflation

Singapore has a competitive currency and a stable market. However, the Singapore dollar isn’t immune to market changes and sudden devaluation. Therefore, natural inflation affects the prices of goods in every country. The increase is inevitable, but the best way to combat it is to have foresight on the currency’s possible movement in the next 1-5 years.

Expatriates aren’t economists. However, reading up on inflation speculations for a specific amount of time may make your budgets more accurate and dependable. Political decisions, new trade laws on import and exportation, market movements, and other factors all affect Singapore’s currency prices.

When reading the latest news about the country, expats can speculate the possible movement of the currency based on economic performance alone. Often, local news outlets report these in full detail for investors, and it doesn’t hurt to be a bit knowledgeable about them through research.

Does Living in Singapore Always Have to Be Expensive?

Singapore seems like a place that is quite expensive because of its first-world tag. We’ve even listed the primary reasons the country has a high cost of living Singapore, and that also excludes the taxes. However, Singapore isn’t all about the costly comforts and luxuries every Singaporean and expatriates need to work hard to attain. Expats can actually live a good life in Singapore by adopting the following practices.

Change Your Lifestyle

New Life Old Life Signages

Having a goal with your monthly income and money, in general, helps you maintain focus on your spending and ensure you have enough for your everyday needs, contingencies, and emergencies.

Changing your lifestyle makes life in Singapore affordable. If you’d decide not to own a car, you’d save S$90,000-S$100,000 for your budget — money you can spend on essentials and recreational things that you actually enjoy. It’s easy to achieve this because Singapore has an excellent public transportation system.

If you’d spend less on dining by finding alternatives or cooking your own dinner daily, you can save a lot too. Just make sure you use healthy food and dishes. Singapore’s markets have great produce daily, and taking the time to research them will help you learn new money-saving and life-adding skills.

Lastly, some Singaporeans save money by using cashback benefits on applications, credit cards benefits, and other transactions.

Just a minor change in your lifestyle can result in huge savings.

Find Living Spaces Affordable For Your Income

If you’d like to own your own condominium because it leaves you within walking distance of your work but takes about 50% of your income, it isn’t the wisest lifestyle decision. Expats with this budget will not be saving anything but will have enough for their daily needs and utilities. But, it leaves them no room for money to enjoy what Singapore has to offer.

Being content with an HDB rental from a trustworthy Singaporean landlord helps you save money and learn more about Singapore’s culture. The common areas will urge you to interact and work with your neighbors. In doing so, you won’t be alone in a foreign country, especially when you have your neighbors as friends.

If you feel that the three months and one-month deposit most landlords ask for is quite expensive, you can use rental guarantee services in Singapore. Or, you can use Loan Advisor’s personal loan Singapore service to secure your temporary residence in the country without hiccups.

You Can Invest in Singapore’s Market With a Few Caveats

Expatriates can supplement their income by joining Singapore’s stock market. In fact, it’s encouraging because it is of low tax and spending policies. Foreigners can enter Singapore’s stock market by opening an account with a broker. However, keep in mind that brokers have commission fees and other costs in addition, which might make your venture more expensive than it should.

Alternatively, online trading platforms are quite affordable and cut out about 30% of the total cost when you use brokers. Many Singaporeans use online trading platforms for both stock and forex too.

Budget Everything

Calculator, Pen and Notes

The oldest trick in the book to survive anywhere that is expensive is learning the right way to budget money. Truth be told, living on a budget and comfortably in Singapore isn’t tricky. The transportation system is always on time and hugely dependable. You can find food anywhere, and you can save up on utilities because you’re likely using air-conditioning and other appliances only when you get home from work.

Many money saving tips exist. For example, you can take note of your net income after taxes. Then, deduct your average utility, food, rental, and other miscellaneous but necessary bills. Next, consider 20% of the remaining amount and put it in your savings. Take another 20% and put it into your contingency and emergency fund. Lastly, the remaining amount you can use it for your leisure or recreation.

Take Out Small Loans if You Really Need Them

Loan application

Sometimes, the worst situations just hit you when you don’t expect them to all of a sudden. Luckily, Loan Advisor can help you with all your finance needs. Expats can use moneylenders and take out a Foreigner Loan, which can be a lifesaver if your income falls short during the month due to an unprecedented event that has wholly drained both your contingency and emergency fund.

Living in Singapore Isn’t As Expensive As You Think It To Be

Singapore is truly a world-class country with a first-world quality of life. The country might be overwhelming. However, the high cost of living in Singapore is surmountable for any expatriate willing to embrace its culture, public systems, and due diligence. Through research needed to live below one’s means as they start their new life in one of Asia’s most expensive cities, their enjoyable employed life — far from thinking about survival — they can guarantee.

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