Singapore, despite being one of the most popular cities for expats in Asia, also remains one of the most expensive. Until you move there and see for yourself exactly how much you can expect to spend, it is difficult to guess. So, we have broken down some of the amounts you can expect to spend and where that money will go.
The most vital of all expenses and also the most pricy. If your expat package does not cover accommodation allowances, then you will have to look at renting accommodation yourself. This of course depends on where you choose to live. So, let’s keep it simple. Imagine that you want to live in a spacious apartment (roughly 900sqft) downtown. This will cost you in the realm of $3500 per month. If you decide to live outside of the more expensive central areas, you can expect to knock at least $1000 off that price for a home of the same size. A home half the size will cost around $2000 per month. Perhaps you prefer to really cut back and share a flat, in which case you can expect to pay around $800, depending on size, amenities and location.
Moving around the city will probably be your second most important point to consider. Luckily, thanks to the public transport system, hiring a car or motorbike is not strictly necessary. You can expect to pay around $150 per month, if you are using both the MLT, LRT and bus system in Singapore. Getting an Adult Smart Card is the cheapest option but be warned that minimum top-ups are valued at $10. If you prefer to travel by taxi, downloading the Grab application (similar to Uber) is also highly recommended. You can easily find a private car or motorbike for a very reasonable price. Uber is also legal and is extremely popular with locals who prefer to ride in more comfort than that offered by the trains and buses.
Food prices vary greatly in Singapore. From hawker markets where you can eat for as little as $4, to upmarket restaurants that teeter into the hundreds for dinner. Street food is extremely common in Singapore and thanks to the impeccable hygiene standards imposed on the owners, you can guarantee that your meal does not come with a heavier price tag. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are relatively cheap and can cost between $4-$6. Alcohol is slightly more expensive, with a pint of beer costing around $12. Many people prefer the option of buying alcohol in a supermarket, where prices are slightly more reasonable, instead of drinking out. Hawker centres also offer cheaper alcohol options, but remember, you can’t take it home!
Buying your food in a supermarket can save money in the long term, even if it seems quite expensive to buy from your local shop. Keep an eye out for discounts in supermarkets like Giant, which can be a very easy way to save money. Try keeping an eye out for local stalls selling fruit and vegetables, which will always be cheaper than buying in supermarkets. The quality may not be quite the same, but if you intend to use them on the day you buy them, you can save a fair amount of money. Expect to pay around $40 for each time you visit the supermarket to buy food for one meal, including meat and/or fish.
This is where you will see most of your money being eaten up. Drinks, like cocktails, cost upwards of $10 each and if you decide to reserve a table in a club, it will come with a price of around $800, depending on the club. For something a little quieter, the cinema could come in at $12-14, whereas the theatre is extremely pricy, at $200 per ticket. Again, discounts can be found at certain bars and clubs, but make sure you check the terms and conditions first, in case there is a minimum spend.