Costs of Living in Singapore
Highly renowned and honored for its diversity in culture and heritage, Singapore also offers an abundance of great career opportunities and is home to world-class amenities such as its world-renowned healthcare system. The standard of living in Singapore is quite high, which reflects in the costs of rent, living and private education. Expats who are either on an Employment Pass or S Pass, which are the two common employment visas available to foreigners working in Singapore, are required to work in a Singapore-registered company and command a monthly salary of around SGD 6,000 (USD 4,300) in order to be qualified to bring their dependents into Singapore, in accordance to the regulations set in place by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Singapore is 100% urbanised, and in general, the cost of living does not differ much across the island. From 2014 to 2019, Singapore was named one of the world’s most expensive cities. Even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore was still listed as the top five most expensive cities to stay in, after Tel Aviv and Paris. The cost of living in Singapore is around $2,560 (mid-range) for an individual with an average lifestyle with rent, for either locals or foreigners.
However, there are visible differences in the cost of rent between the different regions in Singapore. The country is categorised into five regions: Central, North, North-East, East, and West; and further subdivided into 28 districts through the zip code system. The Central District has the highest cost of living while the North District has the lowest cost of living (due to the significant difference in cost of rent).
From the table above, it can be seen that rent plays the biggest role in defining a high or low cost of living while staying in Singapore. To further lower monthly expenses and cost of living, there is also an option to purchase groceries and cook meals at home rather than eating out, and also to use public transportation instead of private-hire cars.
Singapore also offers a plethora of education pathways, and the cost of education depends on the pathway chosen. Studying at a private or international school can cost over SGD 30,000 a year depending on the specific school one attends. On the other hand, studying at a public school costs under SGD 30 a month.
When living in a foreign country, healthcare is also another important factor to consider. Singapore has an excellent healthcare system, but it is not free. It is especially costly for expats who are not permanent residents. Therefore, expats who are not permanent residents should have their own private health insurance to fall back on, in case of unforeseen circumstances.
So, are you thinking of moving to Singapore as an expat?
- Written by: Patricia Shareleen and Fang Wenting, Cayman Management Consultants