Cost of Living in Singapore

The world knows the value of Singapore and how good of a country and city it is. It’s known for its ease of doing business and it is the business capital of Asia. It attracts a lot of expats and talent from other countries and it has a multi cultural mix of Chinese, Indians and Malaysians. This is how Singapore is perceived worldwide. But can we delve in deeper and try to actually find out how Singapore is.

There have been a lot of conversations lately around the cost of living in Singapore. Singapore is a very expensive city. It’s probably more expensive than many of it’s European counterparts. But can it be helped? No. Singapore is one of the most crowded city in terms of density all over the world. Singapore attracts the best of talent from all over the world and because of this demand, there is an increase in cost of rental and other costs. This makes it hard for a lot of people who are trying to make it here.

One of the most sought after destinations from a tourism perspective and also for living in Singapore. Arguably one of the richest nations in the world, Singapore is the financial capital of Asia, with the majority of headquarters of American and Multi-National companies located here.

All this demand makes Singapore one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So what is the cost of living in Singapore?

singapore fine city

But why is Singapore expensive?

Let’s find out! 


Singapore Cost of Living

It’s tough to make a generic cost of living article because there are numerous types of people who live in different ways. Some people like to spend, whereas others like to save a lot. In this article, we will cover the basic expenses for each and every action and it’s up to you to figure out what is your style of living and put the expenses together to arrive at the final cost of living. 


Housing and Rental Cost in Singapore

Ask anybody in the big cities like London, New York, Mumbai or Tel Aviv and ask them what their biggest expense is and their answer will always remain the same. Rent! 

Rent is the biggest expense even in Singapore and it will set you back quite a bit. Most people new to the city, rent a home in Singapore. The costs vary of course, depending on the size of the home, amenities and facilities. 

Most single people share and this could set you back by $700 and this can go up to $2000. Singapore is not big, so if you are in the central part of town expect your rent to cost 2x to 3x the amount you will spend on rent in the outskirts of the city. 

So what do you get for $700? You can get a tiny room in an HDB with a shared bathroom. If you extend your budget a bit, then you can get a separate room with an attached bathroom that will set you back by $1500. 

If you don’t like living with others and want your own accommodation, then you will need to spend anywhere from $1500 to $4500 for a private one-bedroom unit. If you are in your early twenties, then it’s likely that this will be out of your budget. 


Travel Costs in Singapore

Singapore is super well connected with the MRT (Metros), buses and services like Grab and Uber. If you are looking to drive a car in Singapore, then you will have to think twice. Cars are super expensive in Singapore and it’s primarily due to the taxes. Buying a car in Singapore is probably 3x more than it would cost in other cities across the world. If you want to get a car, then you will need to spend at least a $1000 a month on petrol, parking and other fees. 

If you are looking to take public transport, then there are myriad options, with the best of them being the MRT. Constant use of the MRT will only add up to $120 to $200 per month if you have a pass. If you are keen on using Grab or Uber, then it would set you back $15 for a ride approximately. 10 of these rides will set you back by $150. 


Grocery Expenses in Singapore 

Food is famously cheap in Singapore, especially when you eat out. There is a consensus among a lot of Singaporeans that it is a lot more expensive to cook at home than to eat outside. For this reason, a lot of Singaporeans eat out during lunch hour. So what about groceries? 

Here is a table that will help you! 


Item Cost
1 Litre Carton of Milk $3
1 Kilogram of Tomatoes $3 
1 Dozen Eggs $4
1 Kilogram of Apples $4.57
1 Kilogram of Potatoes $4 


As you can see, Groceries don’t cost much compared to other cities and it’s almost the same as other smaller cities in the world. Groceries itself for a small family would come around $200 to $400 depending on the size of the family. 

Things are getting more expensive POST CORONAVIRUS according to The Straits Times article.


Eating out Expenses in Singapore 

Singapore is a land of extremes. You will find a Michelin star restaurant that serves an aperitif for $30 and you will also find a Michelin starred hawker stalls serving $2 noodles. If you walk into any hawker centre in and around Singapore, you will find them queued to the brink as most Singaporeans eat outside during the lunch hour. A good meal of noodle soup and some tiger prawns will only cost you $4 to $5.

If you want to visit a fancy restaurant with table service and the works, a meal can cost you anywhere from $25 to $100. One of the best parts of living in Singapore is its super affordable food options. 


Mobile Plans in Singapore 

Plans in Singapore for Mobile phone use is slightly expensive. Most people use Wifi at home and at the office. The only time you will need to use data is when you are outside the home and office. Mobile plans are a tad expensive, it will set you back $20 a month for 2 to 3GB of data. If you use your phone a lot, then you will need a data plan that will easily cost you $30 and above. This might not seem as expensive as some other countries, but this is pretty expensive compared to many other Asian countries. 

cheap mobile plan singaporeCheapest mobile plan we found in Singapore is REDONE – Costing just a fraction of what others like M1, Starhub and Singtel is charging.


Cost of gym subscription in Singapore

A gym is of paramount importance to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but unfortunately for Singaporeans, a gym membership is a bit expensive. On average, it would set you back $100  to $150 for a monthly membership at a gym with each session costing you around $3 per entry. This is not for a person trained, but just access to the gym. More expensive gyms will easily cost around $200 and more. But this includes personal training and classes. 

You can read a more exclusive review on Gym Prices in Singapore.


Entertainment Expenses in Singapore 

Luckily for Singapore, there are numerous experiences one can partake in to relax. There are many free parks that you can visit and of course chill with friends. But if you are planning to get out and party, then it might cost you a bit.

With your average drink costing you about $15, even a pint of beer will set you back by $6 to $10. It is expensive to drink outside in Singapore and it’s way cheaper to buy alcohol from a supermarket where you can get a decent bottle of gin for $15. 

If you want to catch a movie, you can get a ticket for $9, this would jump to $13 during the weekends! 


Cost of Clothing in Singapore 

Singapore being a hub has a lot of e-commerce options and also local stores that sell cheap t-shirts. You can easily buy a t-shirt for $5 or a good shirt for $10 to $15. Singaporeans love shopping and to cater to the market there are a lot of sellers who sell competitively.

If you go to a big mall, or you pick up a big brand name clothing piece, then be prepared to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 for a t-shirt! 

You can be a cheapo by shopping at THRIFT STORES IN SINGAPORE.


Taxation in Singapore 

Compared to many other countries, Singapore’s taxes are pretty reasonable. There is no capital gains tax and inheritance tax. The tax slab starts from $0 for the first $20,000 and has a progressive system of tax starting at 2% and goes up to 22% for any income over and above 320,000. 

For Personal tax, check this table.

personal tax singapore

A more comprehensive on Singapore TAX can be found on IRAS Singapore website.

Is Singapore one of the best places to live in?

Singapore is expensive because it is easy to start and set up a business here. The government provides a lot of grants and benefits to Singapore based companies. The International companies also set up their Asia offices in Singapore because of its ease of doing business, the negligent corruption and the access to talent. When everybody finds a place perfect in almost every way, it’s granted that people are going to come in droves. Take an example of the Bay Area in the Silicon Valley that has the most expensive rent in the world. In India, Bangalore has close to 100,000 people making it their home. New York’s central area does not have any land left for construction.

A great place attracts a lot of people and in turn raises the price of accommodation and rental properties. This cannot be helped because it’s a great city to live in.

Singapore Culture

Without a doubt, the culture of Singapore has been one of the best and will continue to be the best. The country itself is so multicultural that it can give competition to some of the top democracies in the world. Singapore has brought about people from all over with different countries and different cultures and provided harmony for all. This is a very rare achievement in the world where even the greatest democracy in the world, United States struggles from different racial cultures. I want you think about some places in the world for a second, where people of their own religion fight with each other because of some small differences in beliefs. People are sidelined in many countries because of their race and religion.

Take Singapore’s national languages for example. It’s English, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin. For those of you who don’t know, Tamil is a language spoken in a state called Tamilnadu is South India as well as Srilanka. India has many national languages, in fact in the highest in the world, but they were all part of the democracy and identified themselves as Indians. Singapore had to be created from scratch and these languages were included. Where else can you find such multi cultural diversity and toleration?

Singapore is truly a cosmopolitan, that many countries will take hundreds of years to get there.

Strong Leadership

You cannot talk about Singapore without talking about Lee Yuan Kew. LKY as he is popularly known is the founding father of modern Singapore and he may not be as popular as many international leaders like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, but his impact is not any less. I want to talk about LKY because his DNA is still present in the Singapore DNA.

LKY set up a Singapore that was rational, smart and cut throat when it came to certain matters. A lot of people might criticize him for controlling the media or setting up a state where it seems Freedom of Expression is less, but that isn’t true. LKY set up a Singapore that was just, meritocratic and effective.

He ruled with an Iron fist but without any inefficiency, corruption, red tapism that is expected from a dictator.

Laws in Singapore

The strict Capital Punishment that was adopted by the Singaporeans from the British helped in deterring crime. The punishments for possession of drugs and serious offences like rape and murder are met with a death penalty. These stringent rules are seen as a colonial rule still followed by agencies like Amnesty, but they are required to keep harmony, peace and a happy state.

The stringent laws for drugs are an absolute requirement some countries in the world are consumed by the power of drugs. In some countries, the drug menace is so much that the politicians are involved in providing drugs to voters to vote them to power in the next election. Being strict with very dangerous things like this is what keeps Singapore safe and the youth clean. After all the youth are the future of the country.

Caning was it’s highest in Singapore in 2007 at around 6,400 but it plummeted to 2500 in 2012. This shows that Singapore is relaxing it’s rules to follow the International norms.

security singapore

To answer the question, is Singapore one of the best places to live in? The answer is a resounding YES.

Singapore is a city of the future and it is a pioneering city that shows the way to other countries in the world. Singapore shows the world that the bad can be eliminated from a society by breeding good. Singapore also shows the world that people with complete different religions, habits, beliefs can all be put in a single place and be happy and progress together. Isn’t that good for the world? It is excellent. The cost of living is a topic is a negative, but the ease of doing business is what keeps companies coming here and makes it a financial capital of the world. To me Singapore will always be one of the best cities in the world.

You might have heard of jokes like

“An Englishman, An Irishman and an American went into a bar…”.

I want to change that a bit and say “A Chinese, A Malaysian and an Indian went into Singapore and lived happily ever after.”

As you can see, Singapore is a pretty reasonable place to live except for the rent. If you look at most modern-day cities like New York, London and Mumbai, it costs quite a lot to live there because of the culture, opportunities, the buzz and the quality of people living there. 

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