Singapore is known internationally for its affluence and political stability, which has in turn attracted many foreigners, as both expatriates and tourists, to her shore. However, Singapore is also known to be an expensive city to reside in, which is why you will realise that many Singaporean families, especially within the middle and low income group, will have dual income sources, as both husband and wife will be working to contribute to the monthly expenses. The monthly cost of living in Singapore is relative to the type of income one earns and the spending habit of the individual. However, this article will serve as an approximate of the monthly cost of living that you can expect based on the three income groups.
Someone who is earning in the mid to higher five-figure range monthly can be considered a high-income earner. This would usually be individuals who are in senior white-collar jobs in the banking or engineering industries, or business owners. As this group of people have more spending power, it can be expected that their monthly cost of living can be significantly higher than the middle and low-income groups.
The high-income earners tend to live in slightly pricier housings, such as private condominiums or landed properties. For expatriates, it is unlikely that they would own the property, due to Singapore’s regulation on housing, which would therefore mean that a monthly rent is to be paid. The rent for condominiums and landed properties would usually begin at approximately SG$5,000 (US$3,932) for a condominium and up to five figures for landed properties, depending on the size and location.
High-income earners, be it expatriates or Singaporeans, also have to take into consideration car expenses, if they drive, which can range between a few hundred to thousands, depending on their car model and the insurance on the car. There is also the cost for groceries, bills, entertainment costs, and school expenses if there are children in the household. This can add up to a few additional thousand dollars a month, making the monthly expenses for high-income groups approximately SG$8,000 (US$6,292) and above per month.
In Singapore, within the middle-income group, there are the further sub-categories of the lower middle-income group and upper middle-income group. The lower middle-income group would typically earn around SG$2,000 (US$1,573) to SG$5,000 (US$3,933) per month, while the upper middle-income group would earn between SG$5,001 (US$3,935) to SG$9,999 (US$7,866).
This group of earners would typically have the same type of expenses that the high-income group has, which would basically be housing, groceries, bills, entertainment and school expenses, for those family with children. Generally, the middle-income group expatriates would rent a HDB unit/room or condominium to reside in while they are in Singapore. This would therefore mean that the rent could range between SG$800 (US$629), if only a room is rented, to $4,000 (US$3,162), for either a HDB unit or a condominium. Again, this is all subject to the type of property and its location, as some locations are costlier than others.
In terms of the other expenses, groceries, entertainment cost, etc, it can be said that a middle-income group earner can expect to spend about SG$1,000 (US$786) per month. This cost will obviously increase if you are residing in Singapore with a family of three onwards, as it would mean additional expenses due to the children’s need for school, allowances, etc.
To be considered a low-income group in Singapore, the individual in question would be earning between a few hundred to under SG$2,000 (US$1,573) a month. In Singapore, the low-income group may receive financial support from the government, which would mean they might receive housing, education and groceries subsidies.
However, as expatriates, it is unlikely that one would fall under this category, as there is a basic wage required to receive a working pass (usually S-Pass or Employment Pass) here. The low-income group category, however, would include many foreigners, especially in the construction industry, and domestic workers, on work permits, who are often earning below SG$2,000.
For low-income groups in Singapore, it can be said that the monthly cost of living in Singapore can range between SG$200 (US$157) to SG$500 (US$393) per month, provided they are receiving government subsidies. For those who are not receiving any subsidies, the cost of living may be much higher, depending on the number of people in the household.