Whether you are born and raised in Singapore or an expatriate working here for a while, you will notice that Singapore isn’t exactly a cheap country to settle in – in fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is rated as the most expensive country to live in.
Not exactly something we should be topping the charts at!
However, in truth, Singapore can be as affordable or as expensive as you require it to be. It all boils down to the lifestyle you choose to live and how ‘flashy’ you might want to show off to relatives and friends.
Are you a fresh graduate entering the workforce and still living with your parents? Well, your cost of living will be much lower compared to a working professional in their 40s supporting a family and is on track to move into a new condominium apartment.
In this guide, we will take you through the 8 non-negotiable expenses that you will need to budget for in Singapore if you want to create a realistic budget that you can stick to.
Strap in and remember to count those dollars!
The Cost Of Living In Singapore – 8 Essential Expenses To Budget For
#1. Your Housing & Accommodation Costs
Housing in Singapore can easily account for over 30-40% of your monthly salary especially if you are looking to splurge on your accommodation.
While you can definitely put a zero figure to this if you are fortunate enough to still be staying with your parents, but eventually you would either want to have your own home or stay alone.
Buying A Home
Taking out a $250,000 mortgage over a 25-year repayment period to buy a 3 room flat in Ang Mo Kio?
Your monthly mortgage will be around $1,060 assuming a 2% flat interest rate.
With all things similar, a $750,000 mortgage to buy an entry-level condo unit will need you to budget around nearly $3,200 a month!
In Singapore, it is safe to expect a monthly mortgage payment of $1,200 to $5,000 a month easily (and much higher if you want to lead a high life).
Renting An Apartment
If you are just starting out in your career or are an expat working in Singapore for a limited period, renting is a great option that doesn’t require a long-term commitment and without locking up your cash.
Renting an HDB flat on a per-room basis can set you back anywhere from $800 a month while renting a room in a condo can easily exceed $2,500 a month if you want to live near amenities like the MRT and shopping centres.
Want to live in the whole apartment itself? Get ready to shell out anywhere between $2000 – $5000 monthly depending on your appetite and lifestyle needs.
If you want to rent, be a good tenant – the last thing you want to do is to get hit with additional charges for broken furniture or appliances that will add an additional dent to your budget!
#2. Food Costs
We all love the food in Singapore, but when it comes to the food bill, sometimes it can make both our stomach and wallet hurt.
The good thing is your food expenditure is something that you can fully control if you are willing to make the short term sacrifice on your way to bigger goals.
Been preparing your own meals since you were young? Then cooking at home is a highly affordable option for you.
If you are living alone, you can skate by with $250-$300 a month on groceries, but if you are raising a family of four, be prepared for your grocery bill to easily exceed $800-$1000!
A busy office worker in Singapore’s central business district and just have no time to cook?
Then expect to pay $10 on average for a meal – that works out to $30 a day in a flash!
Need to mix in a dash of food adventuring around Singapore’s various delicious restaurants once a week?
Be prepared to budget an additional $50-$100 every week.
If you are disciplined, you can feed your belly with just $500 a month with a combination of eating out and cooking at home, but if you want to live it up a little, a monthly food budget of $1,000 or more will probably be more realistic.
With the abundance of ride-hailing apps like Grab, you might be tempted to hitch a car ride everywhere you go – but that might just be busting your budget!
Consider public transportation
If you run your scheduling on a tight ship, you can benefit from Singapore’s extensive and rather efficient train and bus services. With a monthly SMRT pass, you can travel unlimited times for just $128 a month.
Looking to ride in style once in a while?
Whether it is from a party late at night back home or with your significant other to a concert, budgeting in an additional $100 is a wise move.
So you want to drive your very own car?
Apart from the COE price-tag which is easily more than $30,000, you will need to throw in an additional $500 – $1,500 a month if you are buying a decently priced sedan.
Oh, that’s not all, you will have to throw in an additional $500 for your petrol and parking cost in Singapore for good measure (your car doesn’t run on goodwill!).
#4. Daily Essentials
From your mobile data plan to your toiletries, your daily essentials are items that have to be purchased without fail.
Your phone plan:
Thankfully with huge competition between telcos, you can easily get a good data plan below $70 a month.
From toothpaste, toothbrushes and toilet paper to your washing powder and facial washes, you can expect to budget in a modest $50 a month.
This is where the big-budget differences will lie in!
If you are a standard guy that sticks to your favorite pieces of clothing, you can probably skate by easily with under $100 a month (underwear, socks and exercise gear included)!
But if you are a fashionista that loves the latest trends, expect to budget in $300-$500 a month to satisfy your craving for new clothes.
#5. Exercise & Health Wellness
Live near a stadium with a running track or bike trails? Then this is one cost you can easily cross off your budget list as you can exercise pretty well for free!
But if you work late nights in a corporate job and want to squeeze in that exercise hour or two, then a professional gym membership will make more sense.
Expect to budget anywhere from $100-$200 monthly depending on the location and package you have signed up for.
Always remember to bargain, some gyms might give you a discount if you can pay up-front, sign-up for a longer period or just by you asking!
#6. Medical Costs
We live in an unpredictable world and it is prudent to factor in costs such as the occasional doctor clinic charges we will have to pay out of our pocket.
Depending on the location and clinic that you are visiting, the consultation fee itself (minus any medicine cost) is on average $100.
If we assume we fall sick on average twice a year, budgeting a $30 a month makes sense.Now, depending on your healthcare needs and planning, you might be looking at insurance policies which will need you to budget anywhere from $100 to $500 a month easily, depending on the type of coverage needed for your lifestyle.
From your Netflix service to catching the occasional movie, you probably want to enjoy life in Singapore to some degree and staying at home 24/7 can get pretty boring fast.
Be prepared to budget anywhere from $200 a month to live it up a little to $700 or even beyond $1,500 if you really want an active social life with some dating sprinkled in.
#8. Your Utility Bills
Your lights and water don’t just magically appear when you turn on the tap or flick a switch on – you’ll need to pay for it.
Depending on your residence type, be prepared to budget the following based on SP Services average billing (with gas):
Considering this information, it is safe to budget $100-$150 a month for your electricity bill. But if you are staying alone then, of course, your utility bill should be lower.
With the full launch of the Open Electricity Market, households across Singapore would be able to save on their monthly electricity bill when they switch to a retailer.
We aren’t just talking about a 5-10% savings, more like a whopping 20-30% savings every single month!
How Much You Can Expect To Budget For Your Electricity Bill
Now before you let those figures (especially on the last two categories) shock you, you can definitely scale-up or scale-down your cost depending on what is important to you and your lifestyle.
Not fussy about accommodation or willing to live with your parents? Then scale it down and save cash, allowing you to either spend more on food or even accumulate it as savings in the bank.
Also depending on your workplace and location, some companies actually provide transport allowance and free meals within the company itself – that means extra savings that will help you out on your monthly budget – capitalise on those!
While we are on the topic of savings, there is one way you can, guarantee-plus-chop, enjoy savings every single month.
Through your utility bills of course!
Lock-In Savings When You Switch To An Electricity Retailer
With a rising cost of living in Singapore, searching for a way to control our cost is key to ensure we live a comfortable life without taxing too much on our finances.
Thankfully, the utility bill is one way to control your monthly cost that is easily within our reach.
We mentioned earlier that the Open Electricity Market is now in full swing in Singapore – that means every household in Singapore (including you) can switch electricity retailers to save on their electric bills.
Depending on your lifestyle needs, there are a variety of plans you can choose from.
Are you on a fixed budget? Then the fixed price plan is for you.
Want guaranteed savings no matter what? Then the discount-off-tariff plan is perfect for you.
So don’t wait, it’s time to stretch your dollar even further and lessen any burden on your monthly budget.
Learn more about our residential plans here.
Keep in touch and join our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter!