We talk a lot about families in Singapore. But according to an HSBC survey, Singapore is the number one destination among expatriates worldwide. That's right! It's the best place in the world for an expat or a person who has decided to leave their country of citizenship and choose to live elsewhere.
If you're a single person attempting to make this move, you will need to calculate the cost of living in Singapore. Here's what you need to know.
Accommodation Costs: S$1,959 to S$2,885
Stock Photo - New Singapore government appartments
As an expat, you'll likely want to rent a furnished apartment, specifically a studio. Singapore is known for social outings, events, dining, and entertainment. A studio is sufficient for a single person unless you intend on spending a great deal amount of time at home.
Singapore has dropped from its 4th position as the most expensive location for high-end rental homes in Asia to 7th. That's great news! You can likely find a fully furnished studio apartment in an expensive area for about S$2,885. If you're on more of a budget, a fully furnished studio apartment in an average area is S$1,959.
Of course, you will likely find a range of rental prices with the most expensive rental located towards the main city center. It gets more affordable as you travel towards the outer city area.
If you really want to splurge on accommodations, a 3-bedroom private condominium with recreational facilities in hot areas close to the city start around S$7,000 and can go up to even S$15,000. However, these prices are for communities such as Orchard, Bukit Timah, Tanglin, and River Valley. If you are looking for high-end luxury waterfront apartments at Sentosa and Keppel Bay, you should probably adjust your budget to start at S$8,300 and go up to S$13,000.
If you are looking for an extremely inexpensive option, you can rent a room in a private apartment. A room in prime districts such as East Coast, River Valley, and Chinatown will run you between S$800 to S$1,800. On the other hand, a room rental in an HDB flat begins at S$500 and can increase up to around S$800 depending on the size of the room and location of the apartment.
Cost of Food: S$200 to S$500
Stock Photo - Hainanese chicken rice, singapore cuisine
After rent, your next most significant expense is likely the cost of food and drink. If you cook at home, your average monthly groceries should be about S$200 per month for basic meat and vegetables.
You would be remiss if you didn't explore the local foods in Singapore. Meals can be relatively cheap depending on your food preferences. Alternatively, Singapore also offers quite lavish meals for the more extravagant palates.
An average lunch at a hawker center can start at S$4, at a food court begins at S$5, fast food is around S$7 with an average restaurant meal around S$20 to S$40 per person. Therefore, if you eat breakfast and dinner at home, lunch at food courts and venture out to restaurants on the weekends, your food budget increases to S$400 to S$500 for a single person.
Transportation Costs: Starts at S$150
Stock Photo - 25-February 2018 Passenger holding ticket at the entrance at Singapore MRT station
Public Transportation: $S150. Since Singapore has one of the most extensive transportation systems in the world, you can probably get anywhere you need to use the MRT and bus. It will likely cost you about S$150 per month to go to and from home to office as well as a few weekend outings. Your daily commute will probably average S$3.50 a day and S$10 on the weekends.
Stock Photo - Traffic jam on a busy road of Singapore
For a taxi fare, the first mile costs S$3.00 to S$3.40. You then pay S$0.22 for every 400 meters up to 10 kilometers. Beyond that, it costs S$0.22 per 350 meters.
There are more expensive taxis that charge a higher rate of S$3.90. Additionally, to book a cab via the phone number, there is a S$2.30 to S$3.30 extra charge.
Be aware of the surcharges during peak hours, which is an extra 25% of the fare. The late-night surcharge is an additional 50% of the fare. If you are in the CBD area, there is a S$3 surcharge at certain times. Similarly, if you hail a cab at the airport, you likely have another surcharge between S$3 to S$5. Additionally, you are responsible for the Electronic Road Pricing or ERP charges on designated expressways during peak hours.
Alternatively, you may consider using the Grab app or the ride-sharing Ryde.
Owning a Private Car S$600
Owning a private car in Singapore is a luxury. There are hefty government taxes associated with this mode of transportation to deter traffic and air pollution.
First, there are upfront costs for obtaining a vehicle, such as the Certificate of Entitlement. The recurring costs include auto insurance, road tax, petrol, and parking charges. In general, you will likely spend about S$600 per month for these recurring charges. Don't forget to budget for vehicle maintenance costs for the inevitable mechanic visits.
Healthcare and Dental: S$267 to S$450
Singapore was ranked to have one of the top healthcare systems in the world in the World Health Organization's 2010 report. However, the cost of healthcare will vary depending on if your employer offers a compensation package. It's important to note that in general, employers do not provide health insurance benefits. Fortunately, healthcare costs in Singapore are fairly reasonable.
A typical consultation fee at a general practitioner is about S$40, where a blood test and an x-ray will cost S45 to S$80. Cold medicine for six days will cost around S$12, and 12 doses of antibiotics are only S$24. Therefore, you likely don't need any medical insurance for more straightforward doctor visits. Instead, a budget of S$100 to S$200 should be more than sufficient.
However, it is recommended that you have hospital and surgery insurance. Hospital charges vary depending on which ward you choose. The conditions vary from open wards with no air condition to a private medical suite that can rival a 5-star hotel. Hospital premiums average about S$2,000 to S$3,000 annually or about S$167 to S$250 per month. Your premium may cover a percentage of the hospital bill at private wards.
Utilities: S$313 to S$830
Gas, water, and electricity may range from S$200 to S$600 per month. Your cellphone bill will cost between S$35 to S$100 per month, depending on your plan options. Your broadband Internet service has a S$50 monthly fee. If you aren't on Netflix and choose a basic cable subscription, you'll pay S$28 per month. The expanded subscription includes a wider choice of international channels, which may be more to an expat's preference, will cost S$50 to S$80.
Domestic Help: S$10 per hour or S$1,000 per month
It is quite common to get some help from a maid to clean, cook meals, or even provide child care services. A full-time live-in domestic helper will cost you around S$1,000. As the employer, you must also provide accommodations and food for your maid. On the other hand, if you choose to hire the maid at an hourly rate, it will cost you S$10 to S$20 per hour.
In general, Singapore only taxes income earned in Singapore. For individuals that have worked in Singapore for 183 days or more in the tax year, the tax starts at 0% and has a maximum of 20%. For non-residents, specifically, foreigners that have worked in Singapore for less than 183 days in the tax year, the tax rate is a flat rate of 15%.
The cost of living is very variable in Singapore. In fact, most of the costs are within your control. For example, you can choose a less expensive apartment outside the city center, or you can select a high-end luxury apartment with a swimming pool. You have the choice to use mostly public transportation, taxis exclusively, or own a private car. Additionally, you can choose to be extremely frugal and cook at home or venture to see all the food that Singapore has to afford and eat out.
It is highly recommended to set up a budget and manage your funds well. The cost of living for a single person can be as low as S$2,899 and as high as S$6,265 per month. Additionally, you can also increase your cost of living by opting for a more expensive apartment and dining out often. These figures do not include taxes, shopping trips, or vacations.