Cost of living in Singapore



It's well known that Singapore has one of the highest cost of living in the world, but in this city, the standard of living you can get is on par with the price that you pay, so there's definitely more options depending on your budget, and the standard of living you get is bang for your buck. 

In the South East Asia region, Singapore is the preferred choice for expats, settlers and tourists because of its high-quality infrastructure, health facilities, top attractions, efficient public transportation and culinary delights.

In April 2016, the Economist Intelligence Unit survey listed Singapore as the #1 most expensive country to live in the world. The survey represents a weighted average of the prices of more than 160 items found across the major cities of the world ranging from household goods to luxury items. Although Singapore has consistently been on the top 10 of this list and other surveys, the cost of living in Singapore depends on the lifestyle you choose. Frugal living has been a chic trend following the global economic downturn, but that does not mean that you cannot enjoy everything Singapore has to offer.

Housing and Accommodation 

Most housing types (private and public), such as the Government built Housing Development Board flats (HDB), are open to foreigners.The HDB flats prove practical for expats on a tight budget. Sharing a flat can cost as little as 700 SGD per month. Plus, you can experience first-hand local life in Singapore. HDB are conveniently located near supermarkets, food centres, medical clinics, schools, malls and libraries.

Citizens of Singapore, Singapore Permanent Residents and Non-citizens legally residing in Singapore (holder of Singapore Blue Identity Card, Employment Pass, Work Permit or Student Pass) can apply to rent HDB.

“Fact is, the cost of living in Singapore, in general, is incomparably high compared to my home country. From food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care, and entertainment, every item – big or small – is expensive. You must have a survival level of financial literacy to manage your monthly cost of living if you want to maximize your salary and savings, when in Singapore.”- Bowdy Ragas, Expat in Singapore

Renting an apartment in the middle of the city costs between S$550 and S$700. A three-bedroom condo comes for S$2000 - S$4000, while a four-bedroom house with swimming pool can cost anything between S$10,000 and S$25,000.

For a short-term visit, a rented room close to the city centre costs from S$100 and up in budget hostels. Deluxe Serviced Apartments are around S$8,000 - S$9,000 per month for two bedrooms and S$10,000 - S$20,000 per month for three bedrooms.

"Singapore was considerably more expensive than Atlanta in the US, especially for rent. Bangkok is more reasonable. The more local you are willing to eat, the less expensive it is. But for imported food (wine, cold-weather food like broccoli, strawberries, asparagus, etc.) the price can be quite high due to the transportation and taxes."- Kate, Expat in Singapore and Bangkok

Foreigners interested in purchasing properties in Singapore should visit the Singapore Land Authority website for more details on foreign ownership of residential properties under the Residential Property Act (RPA).


Singaporean food is on the culinary map. Just follow your nose to the nearest hawker/ kopi tiam or food court that litter the streets in Singapore. These food courts offer a wide variety of flavours: Local, Indian, Malay and Western, among others. A meal will cost you S$3-7.

Shopping at local markets and cooking at home is a great way to save money. On average, you should allow S$400 per month for food for two people. If you frequently dine out in fine restaurants and fancy hotels, expect to pay approximately S$300-S$500 a month for a moderate dining experience.


Owning a car is not recommended in Singapore. Aside from an over-the-top price range, the government has implemented a range of measures to manage car ownership and usage, which include the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), Vehicle Quota System (VQS), road taxes and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP). Buying a car is a heavy hit for your budget, but owning one is not impossible.

However, you can get away without owning a car in Singapore, as the public transport network is highly efficient and cost-effective. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) operates a network of trains (5.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. daily). Train tickets cost from S$1 to S$1.79. Public buses run daily from 5.30am to midnight. A bus fare ranges from S$0.71 to S$1.80 per trip depending on the travel distance.

Singapore taxis carry a maximum of four passengers by regulation, and in addition to travel fare, surcharges may include ERP, peak hour and public holiday charges. Note: if you're coming from Changi International Airport, an additional surcharge is applied, as imposed by taxi regulators.

A reasonable public transport budget is between S$50 and S$150 per month.

Other miscellaneous expenses

State-run or aided schools cost less than international schools with an annual fee of around S$3,500 compared to S$15,000.

Monthly gas, water, internet, cable TV and electricity bills can collectively come to around S$300-S$500 per month.

High-end branded stores are found on the stretch of Orchard Road. Shopping for clothing can cost you around S$300 a month or even more.

Watching a movie will cost S$8 on weekdays and S$10 at the weekend. Clubbing can cost around S$25. Alcohol is very expensive in Singapore because it is taxed quite a lot, especially in venues that expatriate frequent but alcohol purchases in the supermarket are cheaper. It's also worth noting that recent law states that alcohol can no longer be purchased in Supermarkets after 10 pm.



Continue reading:

Cost of Living Abroad

Expat Services in Singapore