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Expat LifeMoney Know-How

An Expat’s Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

Singapore, the blooming garden city, has been a top choice for every traveller taking a trip through Asia. There has also been a clear preference for Singapore in case of studying and working in comparison to the other trade hubs of the world. Singapore has transformed into an industrialised nation and hot spot of education, mostly with the influence of cultures from around the world.

Over half of the total workforce and students in Singapore are non-Singaporeans by nationality. As soon as you set foot in the garden city, you’re greeted with gleaming skyscrapers, Asian shophouses, Malay mosques, Hindu temples, and streets boasting of endless air-conditioned shopping malls. While on the other side, the city surprises you with an abundant lush green spread of parks and trees. Despite its small size, Singapore has a diverse culture embedded within. It’s a city that beautifully marries western modernity with rich Asian culture.

What’s more? The Singaporean province is blessed with less traffic, fresh air and less crime rate. It is everything you dreamt a city could be. Expats and Students moving into this city must know that Singapore is one of the best countries to live in. Luckily, Singapore offers the leisure to select the type of lifestyle you want to lead for the cost you can afford. They say the cost of living in Singapore is 158.87% higher than India’s financial capital, Mumbai. But it is also calculated by the index that Singapore is about 27% cheaper than the city of New York.

How about we take you through every cost you’ll incur while living as an expat in Singapore? Let’s begin:

1. Average Cost Of Living In Singapore

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

Not known to the outside world, the cost of living in Singapore is rather high. Singapore has been ranked the costliest city in Asia but in comparison to other cities across the globe, it is preferably low. According to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Singapore has been steadily climbing up the rankings as one of the most expensive expat destinations. Over the past 5 years, it’s jumped from being outside the top ten list to the 4th most expensive city in 2016. Singapore also has one of the highest percentages of millionaires worldwide. This huge ratio of affluence has an effect on the cost of living here too. The average cost of living in Singapore also depends on the number of people you’re staying with. A four-person family spends around SGD 3939.57 per month which amounts to USD 2858.49, excluding rent. And a single person hardly spends about SGD 1093.05 which comes up to USD 793.10, excluding rent.  However, salaries for expats are often generous and income tax is fairly low. The highest personal income tax an expatriate would incur is 20%. So, in the end, it’s a win-win. You’ll probably take home more than you spend on living here. 

2. Living Costs For Students

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

As a student, you may not have to worry about taxation or much about the high cost of living. Universities in Singapore provide scholarships that cover not just your accommodation but your food, medical benefits, school and examination fees among other expenses. A scholar in Singapore spends an average of SGD 200 to 300 per month. As a student moving into Singapore for the first time, its best to take the following budgets into consideration before moving in:

  • School fees in total
  • Food (lunch – since you’ll be spending time at school during the day)
  • Transport
  • Uniform expenses
  • Mobile phone recharges
  • Books and stationery
  • Personal expenses

For a non-scholar, Singapore is still a more affordable option than other European education destinations. Singapore has a variety of options to offer you, that can vary the cost in each of the above-mentioned mandatories. So, it’s likely you may not spend as much as you imagined as an expat would. An international student mostly spends between SGD 750 to 2000 per month, depending on the lifestyle and course one chooses. 

3. Monthly Expenses

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

Since the island nation has international students flocking in herds every semester, the options to live are widely accommodating. At Singapore, a student has the luxury to choose between on-campus living and off-campus living costs.

If you choose to live on-campus, you spend about SGD 1100 to 2000 every month. Which include the following:

Expenses Cost Per Month (SGD)
Accommodation on campus 300-800
Food: 3 meals a day 250-400
Public transport 100-150
Books & Stationery 200-400
Personal expenses 250-400
Total 1100-2050

Most students opt for off-campus housing too, there are loads of student housing agencies that arrange student hostels and private flats to share. Singapore, being the free westernised country, gives international students the choice of renting and living as any other citizen. Here are the costs you can expect while staying off-campus.

Expenses Cost Per Month (SGD)
Accommodation off campus 500-1200
Food: 3 meals a day 400-800
Public transport 200-400
Books & Stationery 250-400
Personal expenses 250-400
Total 1550-3000

4. Education Costs

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In SingaporeThe cost of education is also among the highest in Asia. However, it is still an inexpensive option when compared to the UK or Australia. Currently, the average annual tuition fees for top Singaporean universities come up to USD 11, 800. For a full-time MBA programme at a reputed Singaporean university, the tuition fee would come up to SGD 62,000 which rounds up to USD 45,219.39. For an Undergraduate Bachelor Degree, the tuition fees including examination fees would amount to SGD 10,000 to 15,000 per year, and a Postgraduate Degree would cost about SGD 20,000 to 30,000 per year.

These courses and their costs are worth the price due to the quality of education Singapore ensures to give international students. Each of the top Singaporean universities has links to the top universities in Europe and America, making the education at par with global standards. This is also one of the reasons, why students from all over the world flock to study in Singapore. 

5. Daily Expenses

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

In case, you choose to stay off the campus, there are other costs that you might incur on an everyday basis. If you choose to cook yourself, groceries would be a requirement. The plus point is that Singapore imports the best quality products from all across the world. On an average, you’ll end up spending SGD 200 a month. Else you can always walk up to a nearby hawker for a delicious meal for just SGD 3-4. You could also eat out once for SGD 20-30 at a mid-range restaurant.

If you are someone who is a fitness enthusiast, gymming and sports class options are at your dispense at every nook and corner of Singapore. You could either choose to take a monthly membership for a reasonable price of SGD 100 only. Or if you choose a premium fitness centre, you’ll have to shell out SGD 150 at max.

Staying off the campus adds travel to your budget. The average fare for a one-way bus ticket or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) ticket is about SGD 1.60. If you combine bus and MRT transports, it will cost you SGD 150 a month on an average. If you are looking for a more comfortable ride around the town, you could also opt for a local taxi service. 

6. Recreational Costs

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Singapore

Living in Singapore, a city with diverse cultures offers you a diverse choice of entertainment options too. Depending on your budget you could choose to entertain yourself accordingly. You can head for a movie with your college gang for just SGD 9 per person during weekdays. Weekends see a hike of SGD 5 in the ticket prices. Singapore is known for its karaoke bars and nightlife. Your friends and you can have a rollicking time in a private booked karaoke session for SGD 25-30 per person. Alcohol is a bit expensive. So, keep a watch on your alcohol spends when you step out to party. If you are tight with money, you could choose to chill at home with digital streaming options.

And, if you’re on a budget, you could enjoy leisurely activities like picnics, cycling, hiking or Netflix for a basic subscription fee of SGD 10.98 a month. You also have a number of shopping malls to keep yourself occupied.

If you choose to move to the lion city, you’d be choosing a new world of opportunities, enriching lifestyle and exposure to new cultures. And, while we have given you a panoramic view of what you might spend during your Singaporean tryst, you’ll also need a digital money transfer service provider for sending and receiving money. That’s where InstaReM has your back.

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