Curious about the cost of living in Singapore? In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living (WCOL) survey conducted in 2015, Singapore took the top spot as the most expensive city for expats for the third year running – but don’t let this halt your plans. There’s a reason why the lion city remains a favourite destination for expats. Savvy financial planning is key. For starters, you’ll need to factor in basic necessities such as accommodation, utilities, and food when you plan for your big move.
The cost of housing depends on several factors such as the property type (private or public), age of the building, furnishings that come with it, types of facilities available (pool, gym, etc), location (it’s proximity to the city/ how centralised it is) and surrounding amenities (close to public transportation, malls, etc.).
|Types of Private Property||Description|
|Condominium||Usually equipped with facilities such as 24-hour security, gymnasium, swimming pools, playgrounds for children, etc.|
|Private Apartment||Similar to condos but with limited facilities. They also tend to be older buildings.|
|Serviced Apartment||Normally offers personalized services and hotel-style facilities. It has flexible leases – per-day basis, per-week basis or on a per-month basis. Fully furnished with a pool and gymnasium.|
|Landed Property||More often than not, these houses are the most expensive type of property in Singapore. They include terraced houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, and bungalows.|
Estimated rental prices per month:
|Profile of Buyer||Profile of Buyer||Profile of Buyer||Profile of Buyer||Profile of Buyer|
|Core Central Region (CCR) i.e. Orchard, Bukit Timah||S$7,000 to S$15,000||S$5,000 to S$7,000||S$7,000 to S$14,000||A high-end luxurious bungalow in Sentosa: S$35,000.
Detached bungalow near Orchard: S$18,000.
Terraced houses and semi-detached: S$8,000 to S$13,000
|Rest of Central Region (RCR) i.e. Sentosa, Queenstown||Sentosa: S$8,300 to S$13,000
Queenstown: S$4,500 to S$7,000
|Outside Central Region (OCR) i.e. Pasir Ris, Sembawang||S$3,300 to S$5,000||Usually found in CCR and RCR|
Short for the Housing Development Board, HDB flats are the most affordable housing option in the little red dot. Take note that they do not come with facilities such as swimming pools or gyms. A majority (more than 80%) of Singaporeans live in HDB units. Amenities such as banks, libraries, local schools, supermarkets, clinics, shopping malls, bus and train stations are usually within close proximity.
Rental costs vary depending on the location and unit size. A three-bedroom unit near the Central Business District (CBD) can set you back around S$3,000 per month while the rest of the other locations in Singapore ranges from S$2,200 to S$2,700. If you’d like to compare the monthly room rental in a private apartment and an HDB flat; it can cost between S$800 to S$1,800 and S$500 to S$800 respectively.
After you’ve secured a home, it’s time to decide on the utility company, internet, mobile and television subscription.
Utilities: The monthly bill which includes gas, water and electricity may range from S$200 to S$600 a month, depending on your usage, especially air-conditioning which takes up most of the cost.
Internet: The cost of a basic broadband Internet connection at home starts at S$50 per month, depending on the speed and the size of your home – larger houses need more than one router.
Mobile: Subscription costs anywhere between S$35 to S$100 per month, depending on the mobile data, talktime, etc. Some telcos offer value-added services like Netflix and Spotify – those will be added to your monthly bill.
Television: If you choose to have cable TV, the price starts at S$28 for the basic channel subscription and it can go up to S$100+ for a wider selection of channels. Some broadband Internet plans come with cable TV, so do your research and see which one is the best deal for you.
A hawker centre in Singapore
Food expenses depend on how frugal or extravagant you are. Cooking for yourself certainly saves you the most money. Dining out every day is an expensive lifestyle to maintain in the long-term. Eating in, aka cooking at home, costs about S$200 per person for basic meat and vegetables while eating out depends on the places you dine. As Singapore is known to be a cheap food paradise with a slew of hawker centres and coffeeshops peppered all over the island, it’s easy to find scrumptious local dishes that cost less than a Starbucks drink.
|Types of Eateries||Average cost of a meal (starting price)|
|Fast Food Restaurant / Starbucks Drink||S$7|
|A Normal Restaurant / Cafe||S$25|
|Fancy Restaurant / Hotel Restaurant||S$80|
Living in Singapore is quite flexible as there are multiple options under one category i.e. there are four types of housing options, and under each type are sub-categories like the different districts and regions in Singapore – all of those play a role in pricing.
Do you need cable TV when you’re working most of the time? Need to cut back on daily expenditure? Cook instead. The question is, do you prefer practicality or do you have the means to splurge? When faced with these choices, just like living in any part of the world, it all boils down to making financially savvy choices.
No matter your budget, Singapore is truly a livable city for everyone.
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