Singapore is internationally known to be an expensive city to live in but it should be a relief for expatriates to know that it is not impossible to live frugally here. In this guide, we will share with you some tips to save money, while still leading a comfortable life in Singapore.
Putting a roof over your head in Singapore may not be cheap, especially since properties here are quite exorbitant, in comparison to properties in other parts of the world. As an expatriate, it is quite unlikely that you would be immediately purchasing a home, and you would also need to be frugal at the initial point of your relocation, so the best way is rental.
If you are moving here with a family, then of course it is recommended that you rent a complete apartment or house, which can cost you from SG$2000 (US$1,579) to $10,000 (US$7,895) per month, depending on the type of housing you choose. We would recommend that you look for public housing rather than private housing, try and get apartments with the Housing Development Board in the suburbs, such as Pasir Ris or Jurong, rather than condominiums or houses in the prime district areas, such as Orchard or East Coast.
If you are a single man or woman, and relocating to Singapore on your own, we would recommend that you rent a room rather than a full apartment, as it would cost you almost half to one third of the price you would have to fork out for a full apartment. Besides, moving in with other foreigners or a local family would give you a chance to make more new friends and learn more about the Singaporean culture!
To be able to live frugally in Singapore, you will probably also have to cut back on owning a car. If you are from America, Europe or Australia, owning a car is most likely the norm, considering the vast size of these countries. Also, cars are pretty cheap to get in these regions. However, owning a car in Singapore will pretty much put a hole in your pocket due to the car prices and also the additional costs of taxes, parking, fuel and the tolls. The positive side to not owning a car here is that Singapore has a very good and reliable transport infrastructure where trains, buses and taxis are easily accessible and pretty much service all parts of Singapore. It is also a plus point to know that travelling from end to end in Singapore will take you approximately a maximum of 1 hours on the train, so even if you are living in the suburbs, it will not take you that long to get to work.
If you prefer to your own transportation, we would suggest getting a motorcycle, provided you have the valid license from the Singapore authorities. It is also recommended that you check if your company offers free shuttle services to and from your work place.
Dining out in Singapore on a daily basis can be quite damaging to your wallet, especially if you have got an acquired taste for a specific type of cuisine that is deemed ‘foreign’ here. However, there are alternatives for you that would allow you to enjoy your meals, while still living frugally. Instead of having your steaks at posh restaurants, where a plate of steak can cost you up to SG$100 (US$80) for a prime cut, you can choose to compromise on the cuts and opt to have your steak at open air hawkers, where you can get a plate of tender steaks, complete with fries and salad, for under SG$20 (US$15).
If you are not too keen on cooking at home, then we would suggest getting your takeaways from the many hawker centers in Singapore, as they are wallet-friendly, and much cheaper to eat at in comparison to fast food restaurants. Hawker centers in Singapore also have a wide variety of dishes for you to choose from, so you won’t get bored with the same food daily!
With regards to your social life in Singapore, it is recommended that you spend your weekends doing activities that are not too costly. Clubbing in Singapore can be expensive, especially with the cover charges and drink costs, so maybe you might want to consider going to a pub instead, where it would be less expensive. And if you are heading for a pub, in order to save money, you might want to consider having your friends meet at a pub in the suburbs, as the drinks are priced slightly cheaper than pubs in town.
You can also adopt a cost-friendly social life, such as heading to beaches for picnics and barbecues, watching movies on weekday evenings rather than weekends, as tickets are cheaper on weekdays than weekends, or even just having a house party, provided your landlord is all right with it. In Singapore, people sometimes adopt a “potluck” concept for home parties, meaning each person will bring a food items to share with the guests. This could be yet another way for you to still enjoy your social life, without over-spending!