The cost of living in Singapore, unfortunately, is on the rise. One of eight Asian cities in the top 10 of the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2019, Singapore ranked third most expensive city in the world out of 209 cities, just after Tokyo and Hong Kong, but well 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 can include benefits such as transport, school fees and accommodation allowances. But amid increased competition for jobs, expats interested in working in Singapore may need to accept a salary without many 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 adequately 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 which, although frequently offering enticing recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and playgrounds for children, will come with matching price tag. 

Expats who choose to live in houses and bungalows can also expect to pay a lot. A large bungalow might cost SGD 35,000 per month, while a three-bedroom HDB flat will cost around SGD 3,000 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 at 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 can 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 range from 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, inclusive of their salary and government levy. The employer will need to 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 20 per hour.


Cost of living in Singapore chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for May 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

SGD 2,820

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SGD 1,890

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

SGD 5,300

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SGD 3,200

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

SGD 3

Milk (1 litre)

SGD 3.20

Rice (1kg)

SGD 3.10

Loaf of bread

SGD 2.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

SGD 10

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SGD 14

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

SGD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

SGD 1.90

Cappuccino

SGD 5.60

Bottle of local beer

SGD 10

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

SGD 70

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

SGD 0.26

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

SGD 44

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

SGD 153

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

SGD 0.62

Bus/train fare in the city centre

SGD 1.80

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

SGD 2.25

Expat Health Insurance

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