Understanding Cost of Living in Singapore

Despite being a very small country, Singapore is one of the most expensive countries not only in Asia but also in the entire world. Based on the 2009 Mercer’s survey for cost of living, Singapore occupied the tenth spot, along with Tokyo, Beijing, and Hong Kong.

However, Singapore is also a land of a thousand opportunities, and the government takes care of its people well. Moreover, as long as you know how to budget your money, you may find living in Singapore manageable.

Here’s the typical cost of living in Singapore:


A great deal of your money will definitely go to your housing unit. You do have a lot of options when it comes to your home. You have the HDB flats, apartments, condominiums, landed properties, terrace houses, and even old houses. Plenty of expatriates would purchase the old ones, especially the black-and-white homes, because of their distinctive look and history.

If you’re not really picky and trying to save, start looking for HDB flats. They are very cheap. You may find a flat worth 400 SGD. You also have several options to choose from: one-bedroom to executive flats. If you want modern luxury, head to apartments and condominiums including 24-hour security but ready to spend several thousands of dollars every month.

Rental fees also tend to go much higher if you want prime spots, such as those near offices.


You will never go hungry when you’re in Singapore as food is abundant and very varied. Usually you will spend around 200 SGD every month for your food, unless you love to eat out in classy restaurants and drink wine. You can also go cheap if you simply purchase the ingredients from the local farmers’ market. If you prefer seafood, go to the port and get the fresh ones for an affordable price. Hawker centers can already feed a family of four for only 25 SGD.

You may want to settle with water and juices as beer and wines are expensive in the country. Better yet, be mindful of coupons usually published in the newspaper. You can use them to further reduce retail prices.


Most people walk in Singapore because bus stops are found in certain locations only. They also don’t prefer to use a car. Owning a car in Singapore can be a huge financial burden. If you’re getting a brand-new car from Japan or Europe, the total cost can go as much as 90,000. You also have to pay a lot of taxes and compete for COE or certificate of eligibility, which may cost you another thousand. The COE is good for only 10 years. You also have to think about your fuel and parking fee.

Singapore has a very extensive transportation system, so you don’t have to worry about getting to any destination. You simply need to purchase a pass that you can already use for all modes of public transport. It’s reloadable. If you love to ride a taxi, you will spend close to 400 SGD. If you prefer buses, you will spend less than a hundred.


The cost of education will depend on where you’re from. If you’re from Europe or the United States, you will find the fees to be affordable. If you’re from another Asian country, it will be a shock for you. Needless to say, Singapore education is widely regarded all over the world. It’s worth pursuing.

If you’re a student, you may spend more than a thousand Singapore dollars every year. This doesn’t include the course fees. Nevertheless, you can apply for an education loan in a bank, provided you are eligible to do so. You need to obtain student’s pass and a student visa. International schools for kids may cost around 6,000 SGD every year.


If you don’t have a small kid and you’re not around for most of the time, it’s best not to employ a maid, since it’s an additional cost for you. However, just to give you an idea should you decide to have one, the salary every month is over $300, depending on where she came from and her experience. You also need to pay a maid levy to the government, along with an agency fee. There’s also a bond protector, maid insurance, and maid loan. 


If you want to save, go about renting rooms only. This way, the total cost of utilities can be divided among the people in the house. If you’re just living alone, though, you may spend a hundred for your household utilities and 50 for your mobile phone. Internet access will cost you 50 SGD.

By knowing how much to spend in Singapore, you will have an idea how much money you need. You can also use this as a guide when coming up with a good salary figure.