Cost of Living

The cost of living in Singapore is on the rise – again, and in 2011 it even surpassed its rival, Hong Kong, in terms of expensive destinations. The Mercer Cost of Living Survey (2011) ranked it the eighth most costly city in the world, just after Zurich and well ahead of London.

The good news, however, is that salaries for experienced professionals are commensurately high, and additional benefits such as transport, school fees and accommodation allowances may be included in an expat employment package.

That said, in light of the recent economic turndown and the increased competition among qualified professionals interested in working in Singapore, companies are more often looking for expats willing to accept high salaries without too many additional benefits.

The items that drive up the cost of living in Singapore are mostly expat-related, anyway, such as private accommodation, international schools, private medical insurance/treatment and western food/products. That said, alcohol and cigarettes are expensive too.

Public transport is efficient and cheaper to use than taxis or a private car in the city, with weekly ez-link travel cards available from 45 SGD. As an example of the general cost of living in Singapore, a meal at a restaurant costs about 100 SGD but a very wholesome meal at a sidewalk café or hawkers centre can cost as little as 10 SGD. A bottle of Coke is around 7 SGD and the cost of a phone is about 20 SGD per month.

Additionally, public housing, public transport, food and household bills are considered cheap, not as cheap as surrounding countries, but cheap in proportion to earnings here.

Overall, the cost of living in Singapore is relatively inexpensive if you choose to live in public housing and use public transport, though not as inexpensive as in surrounding countries. On the other hand, if you choose to live as many western expats do, the cost of living will be high. So, if you need to save a pretty penny or two, do away with the car and the luxury condo, and send your kids to a local school.