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Cost of Living in Singapore
How much does life in Singapore cost?

A question we regularly get is "how much does this or that cost in Singapore?". If you are planning to move to Singapore, and are about to start your contract negotiations, you want to know what your money will buy here. If you ask any expatriate in Singapore this question, you will receive different answers. The wife of a multi-national CEO will tell you that you will not find an acceptable home below $25,000 per month, while a $1,000 per month flat is like paradise-come-true to a student. In this chapter, we will not go into the standards of a CEO-wife (or a student), but instead tell you what you can get at minimum. Do you earn more? Great! That means you can only get better than what's described here. Note that everything is, off course, in Singapore Dollars (S$, SGD) and that some of what you see is just a snapshot that can vary with time and place.

Housing

In general, the further you move away from the city center, the cheaper housing rates are. There are many different types of housing (see our housing section for more details) but generally, the following prices are what you can expect:

Type of house Distance from city Price per month
House
Landed property with garden, driveway, 4 bedrooms, swimming pool, 2500 sq/ft
0 mins $10,000 - $25,000
Condo
3 bedroom, full facilities, 1500 sq/ft
0 mins $4000 - $7000
House
3 bedrooms, 1200 sq/ft, no facilities, small garden
20 mins $3000 - $6000
Condo, 3 bedrooms, 1200 sq/ft, full facilities 20 mins $2000 - $3000
Black & white, Semi-D
1000 Sq/ft, huge garden, lush greenery, no facilities (few and far between, state property mostly)
30 mins $1500-$3000
Room 0 - 30 mins $400 - $1000
While some expats will argue that these prices are incorrect ("I live in a house in the city center for only $3,000", "You will not be able to find any decent home below $10,000"), these are roughly what you can expect.

Cars

Yes, it's true. Cars are very expensive here, but that doesn't mean they are unaffordable. Keep in mind that it is always cheaper to just take taxi's and rent a car occasionally, if you want to go for a road trip. If you choose to own a car, please see our Buying a car section for more details. The prices you can expect for a car are roughly the following (please keep in mind that prices fluctuate tremendously): (these prices include average road tax, insurance (comprehensive), petrol (1 tank per week) and parking fees (season parking in city center), based on 100% car financing, to be paid over 10 years or the remaining duration of the COE)

Type of car Age Monthly cost
Low-range (Suzuki Swift, Perodua Kembara, Nissan Micra) New $1000
Mid-class (Honda Civic, Nissan Sunny, Mazda 323) New $1300
High-end (Mercedes, BMW 3 series, Saab 93, Volvo S60 New > $1700
Low-range 5 years $800
Mid-class 5 years $1000
High-end 5 years $1200
Low-range 10 years $600
Mid-class 10 years $800
High-end 10 years $1000

Food

There are a number of items with their specific prices in our Price Index section, but the best example is a real-life example. I will share with you my grocery receipt from a large supermarket from last week.

Monday
Call us corney, but on Monday, we don't want to cook. Instead, on Monday evenings, my girlfriend and I have a wine&cheese evening with a good movie. We had Goose paté, 3 kinds of French cheese, asparagus, olives, crackers, rye bread and a bottle of white wine

Tuesday
We had grilled Dory filet with potato wedges, home-made gravy and home-made salad. After dinner we had a cup of coffee with chocolates.

Wednesday
Me being Dutch, we love to eat Dutch food once in a while. We made Dutch "Stamppot" with Bak Choi, potatoes, onion, pork belly and a real Dutch "Unox Rookworst" (which we got from Holland, so this is not calculated in our grocery receipt)

Thursday
My girlfriend being Colombian, we also love to eat Latino food once in a while. We made Burrito's with minced meat, spicy salsa, corn, tomato, avocado, sour cream and cheese.

Friday
On Friday we invited a friend over for a barbecue. We had salmon filet with carrot, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, salad and 12 beers. We had fresh strawberries and cream for desert.

Saturday
On Saturday we decided to eat out. We had dinner in a nice restaurant outside of the city center. We had a main course with wine and beer, and a cappuchino as desert.

Furthermore
We bought hair gel, washing detergent, 5 cans of cat food, toilet paper, stock cubes and toothpaste

Our total expenditure for the week
$215,- (excluding breakfast, lunch, cigarettes etc)

Other

Description Cost
Annual expat medical insurance premium 1000 euro
Monthly gas/water/electricity bill $200
Monthly mobile phone bill $150
Monthly 1500 kbps wireless internet ADSL subscription $70
Average daily lunch in hawker center with softdrink $5
Cigarettes (Marlboro) $11.60 per 20 sticks
Evening of clubbing in the city $100
CD's $27,50 (or $5-10 in Chinese parallel import)
Ralph Lauren Polo's $99
Branded Jeans $120
Petrol (per liter) 95 - $2.077, 98 - S$2.147 (before discount, June '08)
Haircut (male) $29
Sixpack beer in supermarket $15.50
Cocktail in prime club/pub $15
20 min. taxi ride $16
Average bus/MRT fare (one way) $1.20
Doctor's (GP) consultation $40
Car park in City from $2.50 p/h
Novel (bestseller) $30
Movie ticket $12
Weekend getaway to Tioman (with diving, transport, food etc.) > $350
Big Mac menu $6.40
Airconditioning maintenance (per unit) $40

So how much do I need to earn?

How much do you need to earn to live comfortably in Singapore? Let's presume you are married but don't have any kids and do not have an expat package. In other words, all costs are borne by you. Once again, I'll let you have a peek into my own expenses (and I live very comfortably)

Description Cost
2-bedroom black & white colonial bungalow with big garden, free club with pool, tennis, squash, fitness, bar, restaurant, 25 mins from city $1500
Monthly gas/water/electricity bill $200
Monthly mobile phone bill for me and partner $300
Monthly 1500 kbps wireless internet ADSL subscription $70
Breakfast, lunch and dinner per month $2000
Monthly medical, liability and accident insurance for me and my partner $350
Our car (second-hand sports car, incl. all costs) $1000
Clothing $200
Cable TV $50
Savings $500
Total $6170

On a yearly basis, add to that one ticket to your home country for you and your partner ($2,500 total) and 2 getaways (total $1,500)

Based on this your total annual income to live here comfortably must be at least $78,000* nett

* Of course, if you choose a smaller house, no car, less luxury etc. you can live comfortably on less income, many of the locals have to.

For more information about cost of living, please see our Price Index section

Do you need more info? Leave a message on our expat message board!

 

Further Reading

More on expatriate packages

Moving here

Arriving in Singapore

First nights

Hotels

Serviced Apartments

Housing

Utilities

Telecoms

Cost of living

Integrating

Furnishing

Maids

DIY

Places of worship

Pets in Singapore

Related Links

Cross Roads Your Moving Facilitator

Singapore Customs