We have heard it over a thousand times that Singapore is one of the (if not THE) most expensive city in the world to live in. Whether you’re a young graduate who just entered the workforce or a young couple who just moved into your new home, you may wonder how much you can expect to spend each month to start budgeting and saving or investing for the future.
Your cost of living is something that is never stagnant – it changes with the different phases in your life. We have worked out a budget for the cost of living in Singapore for a young working individual – it could apply to couples but still at an individual level.
This may be more applicable if you’re a foreigner moving to Singapore or a local thinking of moving out of your parents’ home. No doubt, your largest expense is going to be housing regardless of whether you’re renting or buying a property.
Renting in Singapore
If you’re single and looking to rent just a room in a shared HDB flat or a condominium with perhaps a shared bathroom, you can expect to pay about $500 to $2000 each month depending on the location. However, if you prefer some privacy and would like to rent a studio apartment or one-bedroom unit in a HDB or a condominium, it is going to cost you a whole lot more – at least around $1,500 to $4,500. The difference in price depends largely on the property type and the location of the property.
Buying a property
If you’re a Singaporean or PR, you’re probably looking at a HDB flat or a private property. Currently BTOs are heavily subsidised and you’re probably eligible for grants based on your income level. For resale properties, prices can get quite high depending on location. Your monthly mortgage payment can range from $1,000 to $4,500 for either a HDB flat or a private property.
If you’re like most young Singaporeans, you’re probably living with your parents. The Asian culture is such that once you start earning a steady income, more often than not, you’re expected to give some money to your parents. This ranges from $500 to $700 depending on your salary.
Transportation costs highly depends on the distance needed to travel each day and the mode of transport. Having a car in Singapore (like everything else) is expensive – it can set you back at least $1,000 to $2,000 per month including car loan installments, petrol, parking and maintenance).
Usually, most people rely on a combination of taking public transport and Grab or Taxi rides. Public transport is rather affordable, costing around $100 to $120 a month. However, if you’re prone to hanging out late at night and grabbing back home, your transportation cost will be at least double. Let’s say on average you take $15 grab rides twice a week, that already adds up to an additional $120. (Let’s not forget now that Uber is out of the picture, Grab pretty much owns the space and prices have been stated to be higher these days.)
The rising cost of healthcare is a major concern in Singapore. Purchasing healthcare insurance is one of the most important things you ought to do for yourself as well as your family members. It is better to plan ahead and prepare yourself for unexpected situations. On top of Medishield Life, it is highly recommended that Singaporeans get additional insurance coverage by private insurers, typically to cover Class A/B1 wards in public hospitals or private hospitals.
You can view more on the cost of the various plans here.
You may choose to add riders to your standard health insurance plans which may increase the premiums to $200 per month.
The amount you spend on food depends on whether you cook or eat out often. If you’re one to cook regularly at home, you can expect to spend about $150 on groceries. The cost to dine out also depends on where you choose to have your meals. On one end, a meal at a hawker centre can cost about $5 and at a mid-range restaurant, it can cost between $20 to $30.
Regular mobile plans with about at least 3 to 6 GB can cost about $30 per month and plans with a higher data limit can go up to about $60 per month.
Gyms and niche sports classes tend to be quite expensive in Singapore. A reasonable price range for a gym is around $80 to $100 while the high-end gyms or niche classes can range from $150 to $250 per month. Otherwise, you can always go to any park connector and run for free.
Going out for drinks on Friday nights or weekends is a recreational activity that is going to cost you quite a bit with a pint of beer is the city centre ranging from $10 to $15. Movie tickets are about $9 on weekdays and $13 on weekends. If you’re on a budget, you can enjoy cheaper activities like going for a picnic, cycling or hiking.
Let’s tabulate the total cost.
Your cost of living in Singapore can vary drastically based on your lifestyle. Also, note that if you’re living on the low-end spectrum – you’re basically stuck cooking your meals at home almost every day, and will not be able to take Grab or cabs at all. We also didn’t factor in one-time expenses or medical bills.
We try to live within our means – our salary dictates which category we fall under. Is your salary increasing to match the rising cost of living in Singapore?
Check out the salary guide here.
It is not uncommon in Singapore for young working adults to be living paycheque to paycheque. The cost of living in Singapore is such that it makes it difficult to start saving or investing your money. However, with proper guidance from experts in the financial planning industry and with extra discipline, you might be able to break the cycle.