Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The city-state placed 7th out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2021, sitting just behind the likes of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Zurich and Shanghai, but quite a number of spots ahead of cities such as London and New York.

The good news is that taxes are low, professional salaries generally match the high cost of living, and expat packages often include benefits such as transport, school fees and accommodation allowances. That said, amid increased competition for jobs, expats interested in working in Singapore may need to accept a salary without many of these additional benefits – although they should always at least try to negotiate with their prospective employer. If no benefits are forthcoming in contracts, expats will need to ensure they budget for Singapore's high cost of living.


Cost of accommodation in Singapore

Accommodation is the largest expense that expats in Singapore will have to shoulder, but they can relieve some of this burden by opting for a private apartment or a government housing flat (HDB) rather than a lavish condominium. Although these homes frequently come with enticing recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and playgrounds for children, there is usually also a matching price tag attached. 

Expats who choose to live in houses and bungalows can also expect to pay a lot. A large bungalow could cost SGD 35,000 per month, while a three-bedroom HDB flat may cost around SGD 3,500 per month. Costs vary wildly depending on the age, condition and location of the housing, and obviously expats will get more bang for their buck the further they live from the city centre.


Cost of food in Singapore

Depending on personal spending habits, shopping for groceries can be a modest or extortionate expense. Expats fond of purchasing imported products from back home may be startled by how quickly costs can stack up.

Although Singapore offers many tempting choices of delicious cuisine, eating out can be an expensive exercise. There are alternatives though, and if expats stick to hawker centres rather than restaurants, sampling the local fare will be way more affordable.


Cost of transportation in Singapore

Public transport in Singapore is efficient and significantly cheaper than using private vehicles, with EZ-Link travel cards providing good value for money. Owning a vehicle is a luxury rather than a necessity in Singapore and, thanks to the heavy taxes cars are subject to, plus parking costs, it can become a costly luxury.


Cost of international schools in Singapore

Many expats choose to send their children to one of many excellent international schools available in Singapore, and these fees are sometimes included as part of their employment package. Annual fees generally range from around SGD 15,000 to SGD 40,000, with extras on top.


Cost of domestic help in Singapore

The average cost of a live-in maid is between SGD 600 and SGD 1,000 a month, excluding the SGD 300 government levy. The employer will also provide accommodation and food as part of the package. It's also possible to hire part-time domestic workers for between SGD 10 and SGD 30 per hour.


Cost of living in Singapore chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for November 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

SGD 2,000 – 4,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SGD 1,300 – 2,800

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

SGD 3,500 – 8,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SGD 2,400 – 4,500

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

SGD 3.30

Milk (1 litre)

SGD 3.50

Rice (1kg)

SGD 3.06

Loaf of bread

SGD 2.40

Chicken breasts (1kg)

SGD 11.20

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SGD 14

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

SGD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

SGD 1.90

Cappuccino

SGD 5.70

Local beer (500ml)

SGD 10

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

SGD 80

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

SGD 0.20

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

SGD 44

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

SGD 158

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

SGD 0.90

Bus/train fare in the city centre

SGD 1.80

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

SGD 2.30

Expat Health Insurance

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