Singapore is a country located in Southeast Asia and consists of islands between Indonesia and Malaysia. Despite being a small country, it has attracted many foreigners to her shore –expatriates and tourists alike. It’s known for its political stability, highly developed market-based economy, and affluence. English is widely spoken, and often the standard language for administration and business. Singapore is also very multicultural with a blend of Western, Asian, and Chinese cultures. Tropical climates, low-security risk, as well as a vibrant international and local community, are all added benefits of living here. That being said, prospective emigrants need to weigh up if the country’s cost of living can match their financial capabilities. Fortunately, that’s what this article will go through.
What is the cost of living in Singapore? Singapore is generally deemed to be expensive. This is partly due to the country’s high population in comparison to its limited size. This has resulted in a higher demand for virtually everything, which in turn brings up living expenses considerably.
Housing, maintaining an automobile, and private schooling are very costly, while other necessities such as food, public transport, utilities, clothing, and basic education are a bit moderate.
These high living costs are somewhat offset by the high salaries offered in Singapore. The country also offers a high quality of life and many career opportunities for expats. You can also spend less by choosing to live in districts situated further from the CBD. Public transportation is convenient and readily available for you to travel to the city center and across the country. Note that the currency used in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD or S$). While the exact cost of living varies depending on one’s spending habits, this article will serve as an approximation of the living costs in Singapore for a moderate lifestyle.
All costs are in US dollars ($).At the time of writing this article, 1 US Dollar=1.37 SGD.
Monthly Cost Of Living in Singapore
As a result of Singapore’s large population and limited space, housing is in high demand and costly. This makes it the biggest expenditure you’ll have to budget for in Singapore. The good news is expatriates have a wide variety of housing options to choose from, depending on their budget.
HBD flats are the cheapest option but basic. Condos, on the other hand, are swankier but expensive. Another determining factor is the distance to the CBD; the centrally located a house is, the costlier it is. That being said, you should budget at least $700 a month if you’re renting. If you’re single and looking to live frugally, consider renting a shared apartment for just $360/month.
Buying property is another way to find accommodation, but also in high-demand in this booming city-state. The average cost of buying an apartment in the city centre is $18,585/square metre. There are mortgages tailored specifically for expatriates, so be sure to shop around for the best possible deal.
Additional housing costs
As you budget for your monthly expenses, don’t forget to include utilities. Expect to spend between $100-150 on water and electricity. Electricity costs may go higher if you use air-conditioning a lot. As for internet and mobile phone plans, set aside around $95/month.
Monthly transportation costs will vary depending on the mode of transport and distance traveled each day. Buying a car in Singapore is famously expensive and will cost you $1,000-2,000/month in car repayments, parking, and fuel. A cheaper alternative is to use public transportation, which will generally cost you $80/month. In case you add a taxi ride twice a week, you’ll need to budget for an additional $85/month.
Of course, this will depend on your eating habits (whether you’re a vegetarian or not), where you shop, and the size of your household. Most products are imported in Singapore, which can bring up the overall cost of groceries. This is especially for non-Asian products such as cheese, milk, and non-Asian fruits. The cost of food can be relatively cheap, especially if you prepare meals at home as often as possible. Expect your food to cost from $145/month if you cook daily.
In addition to these constant costs, expatriates will also have to budget for several variable costs, including healthcare, personal care, dining out, health & fitness, clothing, and entertainment, just to name a few. These costs vary significantly depending on the lifestyle you choose to adopt in Singapore.
Here are the potential monthly costs for different lifestyles in the city:
|Expense||Frugal lifestyle||Mid-range||High-end lifestyle|
Cost Of Living in Singapore for Family
The average cost of living in Singapore for a family is $3,420 per month (excluding rent). The biggest areas of spending are the necessities of any person’s livelihood, which include housing, food, transport, and education. There are differences in spending patterns, depending on each household’s income. To help you budget for your family, here are the most common monthly expenses for families in Singapore:
Given how central housing is to everyone’s life, families try to spend within their means to avoid the high cost of housing in Singapore. A family of four needs a 2-3 bedroom house to live comfortably. For those on a tight budget, you can find a 3-bedroom HBD apartment for about $2,100/month.
Buying can also be a great option if you and your family plan on living in Singapore long-term. A 3-bedroom house outside of the city centre typically starts at $220,000, which means mortgage payments would likely cost you from $880/month.
Food costs will depend on how often you cook at home and how extravagant your plate is. A typical family that cooks at home as often as possible spends about $970/month on food. The exact cost of eating out is a bit difficult to pinpoint because Singapore has a range of lavish and inexpensive food options for families to choose from.
Transportation is the next expense that Singaporean families spend the most on, after housing and food. The median household spends about $570/month on transportation. Owning a car is often considered a luxury due to the high costs associated with it. But it might come in handy, especially in case of an emergency. On the plus side, Singapore has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. It’s reliable, extensive, and significantly cheaper than owning a car.
Expatriates with children will find education costs quite high in Singapore. You can either send your child to a local public school or an international school. Either way, the standards of education in Singapore are very high. Government schools are very affordable and costs vary depending on the level of education and the country of origin. Permanent residents should expect to pay from $150/month for public primary school, while international students should budget for $300-545/month.
Singapore has many childcare centers that provide childcare services for babies and kids up to 7 years. Cost varies from center to center and the packages being offered. For instance, half-day services cost between $290 and $880, while full-day services cost $360-1100 per month. Another cost-effective alternative is to hire a live-in domestic helper for around $365-730/month. You’ll have to provide food and accommodation, but they do help with housework as well.
Other costs families should budget for include:
- Clothing – $160/month
- Telecommunications – $175/month
- Health and personal care – $300/month
- Recreational activities – 327/month
- Utilities – $435/month
- Telecommunications – $175/month
Singapore Cost Of Living Salary
As one of the most expensive countries to live in, it’s worth knowing Singapore cost of living salary. This will serve as a guide for how much you’re worth and help you manage your expectations. This information is not only for job seekers, but also for those looking to further their studies. It will help them decide if the cost of higher studies is worth it. Without further ado, let’s get started:
Singapore salaries are generally high, especially for skilled and in-demand professions. For instance, chefs and waiters make more than you would expect since they are seen as needed professions. Lectures and attorneys also get paid quite well. The high salaries are attributed to the fact that this booming city-state attracts new start-ups every year; plus, many multinational corporations are headquartered here.
What Is The Average Salary In Singapore?
The average salary in Singapore is currently around $48,900 per year. This averages to $4,075/month (inclusive of CPF contributions of full-time employed residents). The average pay/hour is about $36. Apart from the national figures, average salaries also depend on several other things such as:
Some of the top-paying industries in Singapore include IT, tourism, finance, as well as health and life sciences. Start-ups and tech companies are also growing by the day.
Popular and high-paying employers in Singapore are:
DBS: Average salary is $50,150/year
National University of Singapore (NUS): Average salary is $43,200/year
Standard Chartered Bank: Average salary is $87,107/year
Citibank: Average salary is $59,265/year
Most popular job titles in Singapore include Marketing Executive, Project Manager, and Software Engineer, all of which pay between $24,159 and $56,355 per year. Here’s a more in-depth look at other job titles, together with their average salaries:
Minimum and Maximum Salary in Singapore
Unlike most highly developed countries, this city-state doesn’t have a statutory minimum wage. This is one of the reasons why Singapore’s economy is so dynamic. Plus, its flexible economic policies help to lower unemployment rates. However, some professions have a regulated minimum salary, so be sure to find out before accepting an offer.
With that being said, salaries in Singapore generally range from around $840 (minimum) to $27,500 (maximum) per month. The median salary is $6,300/month, meaning half of the country’s population earns more than that per month while the other half make less than $6,300/month. Ultimately, if your salary is above both the median and the average salary, then you can rest assured of a good life in Singapore.
Average Monthly Costs of Living in Singapore
Monthly rent for an apartment
The rental sector in Singapore is very well-developed but also very costly, especially in exclusive expat areas and in the city centre. The cost of renting depends on the type of housing, property’s proximity to the city centre, property’s age, availability and quality of furnishings, as well as any additional facilities such as a gym, swimming pool, etc. There are several renting options for expatriates to choose from, depending on one’s budget and preferences.
HBD housing, for starters, is a reasonable option if you’re on a tight budget. HBDs, however, don’t come with luxury amenities; plus, there are quotas in place for foreigners and long waiting lists.
Private apartments offer a better standard of living than HBDs, and the costs are mid-range.
Condos are a luxurious option with all kinds of recreational facilities, including playgrounds for kids, gyms, swimming pools, secure access, and so on. They are, however, the most expensive form of housing.
Here’s what it might cost you to rent in Singapore per month:
|Type of housing||Size||Cost (prime areas)||Cost (suburbs)|
Those who are single and on a tight budget should consider renting a room in a shared flat to reduce money spent on utilities, furniture, and the likes. Expect such rents to start at around $360/month. Other renting options include services apartments, renting a room from a homeowner, without forgetting landed properties such as bungalows, detached houses, semi-detached houses, and terraced houses.
The monthly cost for an internet provider
Being connected to the internet is becoming a need in this digital era. Singapore has some of the best internet speeds in the world, with the average download speed currently at 197.04 Mbps. Singaporeans pay an average of $50.43 for broadband. There are many internet service providers, all providing different packages to suit varied budgets. Be sure to take into account speed and stability, price, contract period, and quota when shopping for a broadband plan.
Popular ISPs in Singapore include:
ViewQwest: This is Singapore’s fastest ISP in the fixed network category. Their broadband plans come in 2 different high speeds: 1Gbps and 2Gbps. Contract plans start at $31.33/month. You can also get no-contract plans for $45.62/month.
MyRepublic: This ISP also offers fast and stable internet speeds, and don’t throttle speeds. They have 1Gbps plans for residential users, as well as 300Mbps, 500Mbps, and 1Gbps plans for business consumers. Get 1Gbps contact plan for $33.58/month or a no-contract 1Gbps plan for $43.81/month
M1: Their internet plans come in 5 different speeds. Get a 1Gbps plan for about $29.14/month for 24 months.
The monthly cost for a mobile phone provider
The well-established telecommunications infrastructure in Singapore ensures high mobile phone penetrations with excellent service coverage that spans the entire country. Like most countries, there are two main plans to choose from: pre-paid and post-paid.
Pre-paid plans are suitable for those who want freedom from binding contracts or plan on staying in Singapore for a short while. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased in various retail outlets, and credit can be topped up in the same places or via internet banking or ATMs. Post-paid plans are ideal for those who plan on staying for an extended period and need huge data packages without having to worry about running out of credit.
In addition to finding the cheapest mobile phone plan, it’s important to ensure it can provide you with reception and service wherever you go. Popular mobile phone providers in Singapore include:
Singtel: As the largest network provider in Singapore, and the world at large, you can rest assured of the best coverage with Singtel. They have a wide range of plans to suit every budget. For starters, you can get a SIM-only plan with 150 mins talk time + 500SMS/MMS + 20GB local data for $18.51/month.
Starhub: Get a SIM-only plan with 100 outgoing mins, free international roaming, and 5GB of data for about $18.25/month.
M1: Get a SIM-only plan with 1000 mins + 1000 SMS + Free calls to 3 M1 numbers + 30GB for about $18.25/month.
The monthly cost for health insurance
Singapore has the best health care system in Asia, and the world at large. It consists of both public and private healthcare facilities. They both offer high-quality healthcare services with the only difference being level of service and comfort.
Public healthcare facilities provide subsidized healthcare services, which is only available to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. This is made possible through a compulsory national savings scheme.
Those who are employed, especially by large companies, may have some type of health insurance offered by the employer. This is, however, not mandatory in Singapore, leaving expatriates without permanent residency with the choice of a private health cover.
Different insurance providers offer different coverage options to suit every budget. For instance, a policy that covers hospitalization and surgery will cost between $1,400 and $2,200 a year.
Singapore supermarket prices
Groceries are relatively cheap in Singapore, but it all depends on how extravagant you are. If you’re living a frugal lifestyle, expect your monthly groceries to cost about $330. This includes food, alcohol, beverages, and personal items.
Food prices have gone high over the past couple of years. The costs of rice, potatoes, meat, kale, seafood, and bananas have doubled in the last decade. The good news is food costs can be as expensive or as cheap as you want them to be. You can save more by cooking at home daily. If that’s the case, expect monthly food costs to be about $146 per person.
Here are some common Singapore supermarket prices ($) to help you budgets for your monthly groceries:
|liter of regular milk||$2.18|
|dozen of eggs||£2.11|
|1kg of chicken breasts||$6.38|
|1kg of beef round||$12.07|
|A loaf of bread (500g)||$1.72|
|1kg of white rice||$2.43|
|Local cheese (1kg)||$15.08|
The monthly cost for eating out
With a growing cosmopolitan influence through expatriation and tourism, Singapore’s dining scene has expanded to include food from around the world. This includes Chinese, Italian, Thai, Indian, Eurasian, Spanish, and Western cuisines, just to name a few.
One of the best reasons for living in Singapore is the abundance of food courts, restaurants, and hawker centers that offer a wide variety of dishes to suit varied budgets. For starters, a basic lunchtime meal at a hawker center costs as low as $2.95, while at a food court it can be $3.65-4.40. A visit to an inexpensive restaurant will cost you $8.75/person for a basic meal. A meal at a fast food joint will set you back $5.83.
Even with several international cuisines available in all kinds of restaurants to suit every budget, eating out daily can be very expensive. In summary, the average cost of eating out can range from $290-440 for an average budget-conscious individual.
A visit to the museum is free for permanent residents, while a ticket to the movies costs $8.75 for one seat.
The monthly cost of public transport
With a total area of only 725.1 km2, it’s never that far to get around Singapore. Owning a car in Singapore can be very expensive due to the heavy taxes levied on this mode of transport. The government does so in an attempt to reduce air pollution and heavy road congestion. The good news is Singapore has excellent public transportation services. You can choose between buses and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) routes, which all cover this city-state well.
Fares are also considerably affordable compared to owning a private car. For starters, a one-way ticket costs $1.24. Daily commuters should consider getting a monthly travel pass, which only costs about $80.
Another mode of public transport is the taxi service. Fares start at $0.40 per km. Note that there are also location-based surcharges that apply in the airport, CBD areas, and on selected expressways during peak hours.
Cost Of Living in Singapore for Students
Singapore has one of the best education systems and its renowned universities attract students from all over the world, especially India, for higher studies. It helps to know the typical cost of living in Singapore for students to be financially prepared. An international student will spend about $513 on monthly expense (excluding rent).
Tuition fees in public universities range from $17,900 to $36,500 a year. Fees at private universities vary wildly. You could pay $20,000/year for a Bachelor’s degree in one institution and pay $60,000/year at the next.
Students can find accommodation in halls of residence, private hostels, as well as private housing. On-campus housing is the cheapest form of accommodation, but demand often exceeds supply. Private hostels are also a cheap option, costing from $102-325/month, but the quality is not that great. Private apartments offer a better quality of life. They are quite costly, which makes sharing with other students a great way to reduce the cost. Expect to pay from $300/month for a single room. Renting an entire flat alone will cost you anything above $730/month.
Other costs you need to consider include:
- Food – $219-330/month
- Utilities – $36-60/month
- Transport – $14-80/month (Public transportation)
- Learning materials – $21-74/month
These costs are subject to alterations, depending on the university, degree course, location, and most importantly, your lifestyle.
Singapore Cost Of Living VS the USA
Despite varying hugely in size and culture, Singapore and the US both have very powerful economies. The Singapore dollar is only slightly weaker than the US dollar, making them relatively easy to compare. When it comes to Singapore’s cost of living VS USA, Singapore takes the lead. Statistics show that it’s 2.5 times more expensive than the United States.
For starters, housing in Singapore is about 45% more than in the US. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is $1,985 in Singapore, but $1,290 in the US. A 3-bedroom apartment in the same area goes for $3,880/month in Singapore and $2,097/month in the US. Owing a property will cost you an arm and a leg in Singapore. Expect to pay $18,585/square meter for an apartment in Singapore’s city center as opposed to the $2,600/square meter you would pay in the US. Since housing takes up the biggest percentage of any household’s monthly budget, it’s not difficult to see why living in Singapore costs more than living in the US.
If you lived in Singapore instead of the US, you’d also pay 3.7 times more for transportation, 15% more for childcare, 2 times more for entertainment, and 22% more for clothing.
However, not everything is costly in Singapore. One item you’ll definitely pay less for is food. This includes paying about 13% less for groceries and 36% less for restaurants.
Singapore Cost Of Living VS India
Singapore and India are both developing rapidly and looking to establish themselves as centers of SE Asian commerce and innovation. For this reason, expatriates from all over the world are making their way to these countries to take advantage of the growth and opportunities available to unskilled workers.
Beyond the similarities, Singapore and India are quite different. Singapore is known to be very orderly and structural, while India is a bit chaotic. The most important difference we’re going to discuss is the Singapore cost of living VS India. Singapore is 7.3 times more expensive than in India.
Housing, for starters, costs 14 times more in Singapore than in India. Expect to pay $1,982/month for a 1-bedroom apartment in Singapore’s city center as opposed to $161/month in India. Buying will cost you $18,585/square meter in Singapore, but $ 1,327/square metre in India.
Living in Singapore instead of India will also cost you 2x more for restaurants, 6x more for transportation, 2.8x more for groceries, 2x more for clothing, 11x more for childcare, and 4.5 times more for entertainment.
The difference is so extreme that you would need $8,200 in Singapore to maintain the same standard of life you would have with $2,400 in India. The good news is Singapore is wealthier, more globally-connected, and offers higher salaries than India.
Cost Of Living Singapore VS London
Being culturally diverse hubs for SE Asia and Europe, Singapore and London are both homes to a wide variety of nationalities, cultures, and languages. This makes them great destinations for expatriation. Whilst there are some similarities between the two cities, prices might vary.
Here’s what the cost of living Singapore VS London looks like.
Generally, both cities are very expensive to live in; however, living in Singapore generally costs less than living in London. For starters, if you want to rent, expect to pay more in London than in Singapore. For instance, a 1-bedroom apartment in London’s city centre will set you back an average of $2,120/month compared to $1,980 in Singapore.
Two things that are similar in both countries are traffic and great public transport systems, which makes the need to own a car obsolete. Public transport is way cheaper in Singapore than in London. A monthly travel pass will cost you $80 in Singapore as opposed to the $189 in London. But if you want to buy a car, prices in Singapore are about 70% higher than in London.
Other expenses you’ll pay less for in Singapore than in London include utilities, childcare, and restaurants.
Groceries, on the other hand, are about 13% more expensive in Singapore than in London.
Singapore Expenses for Tourist
Singapore attracts many tourists every year with its impressive attractions, fine dining, luxury hotels, breathtaking views, an incredible nightlife, as well as exciting activities for everyone. Singapore is known for being very expensive; however, the exact travel costs will depend on the kind of trip you’re looking to have. For instance, if you’re looking to travel on a budget, expect to spend about $70/day. This city-state is, however, not designed for shoestring travellers. For a more comfortable trip and a chance to experience Singapore’s attractions and cuisines, you should consider setting aside $150/day or more. Here’s a detailed breakdown of Singapore expenses for tourist to help you plan for your next visit:
One of the easiest ways to keep accommodation costs low is to stay in hostels, which cost $10/night. Capsule hotels are also affordable and offer a little more privacy at $30/night. A mid-range level hotel will cost you $60-120/night. But, if you’re looking to splurge and have a truly iconic experience, expect to spend $500/night for a famous luxurious hotel.
Consider buying a Singapore tourist travel pass to save money on transportation. It gives you unlimited rides on public transportation for a given number of days as shown below:
- $10 for 1 day
- $16 for 2 days
- $20 for 3 days
Should you need a taxi, they start at $0.40 per km.
The food scene in Singapore is incredible. You can eat so well without spending much if you eat from hawker’s stalls. Get a tasty meal for less than $3.65. Restaurants are everywhere. A basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost $8.77 per person.
Costs here will depend on the kind of experience you’re looking to have in Singapore. On the cheap end, expect to spend $17/day.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.