Singapore is known to be one of the pricier countries to live in, especially in Asia. Over the years, this once upon a time fishing village has bloomed into a vibrant cosmopolitan city, which as a result, has caused the cost of living on the island to increase. Despite the high cost of living, Singapore, which was ranked 6th in the 2012 list of most expensive cities to live in worldwide, has drawn in many expatriates from all around the world as it offers excellent living conditions, with its stable economy and safety.
As an expatriate living in Singapore, or planning to move to Singapore, it is crucial to have in mind an idea of the living expenses that should be expected in this city. Living in Singapore means that there will be a whole range of expenses that you must be prepared to bear, thus this article serves to provide you with an idea of what life here will cost you.
Depending on the kind of place you choose to stay in, rent in Singapore can vary from S$600 per month for a single bedroom, to over a few thousand dollars (approximately S$3,000 onwards) for a comfortable private condominium unit, depending on the location and the condition of the place. However, if you are looking for luxury condominiums (in places like Sentosa Cove or Orchard Road) or landed properties to live in, then you should expect to pay a rent of at least S$8,000 upwards per month. These prices usually do not include electricity and the other miscellaneous expenses.
When it comes to household utility bills, Singapore charges for electricity, gas and water. As of April 2013, the cost for electricity is 26.70 cents per kWh, while the cost for gas stands at 21.04 cents per kWh. Water is priced at S$1.17 per meter cube if the consumption is below 40-meter cube and S$1.40 per meter cube if it is above a consumption of 40-meter cube. The tariff changes quarterly so it’s best to refer to http://www.singaporepower.com.sg/irj/portal/tariffs for an accurate figure. If you are frugal with the electricity, you can expect to pay about S$150 per month. For a better understanding of the average household electricity expenses, do refer to the Singapore Powers website, http://www.singaporepower.com.sg/irj/portal/ourservices .
As Singapore does not thrive on agriculture, expect to pay more for your groceries here. Many of Singapore’s food products, such as rice, vegetables and fruits, are imported, mostly from neighbouring countries. The plus side to this is that it is very easy to get your hands on international produce that you find in your home countries. When it comes to spending on groceries, expect to spend about S$100 a week if you are having all your daily three meals at home.
Singapore is known for its reliable public transport system, which includes trains, buses and taxis. If you are travelling around by buses and trains, you can expect to spend about S$4 daily for a two-way commute. Travelling with a taxi will definitely be pricier as the lowest opening meter that you can find in Singapore is S$3. However, if you travel during the peak periods, be ready to fork out 25% – 50% extra on top of your basic fare. You will also have to incur the cost of the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) during peak periods.
Alternatively, if you choose to own a car, please note that purchasing a car in Singapore will cost you a lot more than around the world. A sedan car, like a brand new Mazda 6, will cost you at least S$140,000, including the Certificate of Entitlement (COE). If you choose to get a second hand car, prices may range from S$20,000 onwards, depending on the year of the car. Owning a car means that you will also have to bear the cost of parking, which goes from S$1 per hour to S$4 per hour, depending where you park and the time of day. Fuel cost should also be a factor to look into when deciding to own a car in Singapore. The rate per liter of fuel stands at about S$2 to S$2.60, depending on the grade of fuel.
When it comes to the expenses of dining in Singapore, it all depends on your palate. Singapore offers a wide range of food that can cost you from S$3 a meal to over S$100. Do note that the service charge and taxes are included into your bills so there is usually no need for tipping in Singapore.
If you choose to have a meal at one of the many hawker centers in Singapore, you can have a simple dish, such as a roti prata or vegetarian noodles, and a drink and spend about S$3. Fast food in Singapore will set you back about S$8 for a full meal, including a drink and sides. If you choose to dine at the middle category restaurants, such as Swensen’s or NYDC, you will be looking at a bill of approximately S$20 per person. Of course there are also places that will set you back a few hundred dollars for a prime cut steak. So again, dining expenses are wholly dependent on your palate and appetite.
Despite having some of the best medical facilities in the world, Singapore does have reasonable medical costs, though some may argue that it is quite expensive. A trip to a general practitioner for a consultation will cost approximately S$40 (including the medication). A nights stay in a hospital ward can vary from S$30 to almost S$3,000 per night, depending on which hospital and the type of ward. This does not include the doctors’ fee and the different tests that you may have to go through. Some companies in Singapore may provide medical benefits but as this is not a requirement here, not all companies will offer this. If your company does not cover you for medical benefits, then it is highly advised that you take on an insurance plan in case of emergency.