Singapore is a thriving city-state located in Southeast Asia. It is known worldwide for its vibrant culture, modern architecture, and booming economy. However, its collection of upscale malls, high-end restaurants, and luxury homes come with a price tag. The cost of living in Singapore is one of the highest globally, which raises questions about the affordability of the city to the locals and expatriates residing there.The items that drive up the cost of living in Singapore are mostly expat-related, anyway, such as private accommodation, international schools, private medical insurance/treatment and western food/products. That said, alcohol and cigarettes are expensive too.
Housing is one of the most significant expenses in Singapore. The city boasts of stunning high-rise apartments, condos, and landed properties; however, these come with a high price. Despite having government-subsidised housing options for low-income earners, the majority of Singaporeans live in expensive private properties. The city-state's limited land space drives up property prices, making it challenging to find affordable housing.
Additionally, public housing, public transport, food and household bills are considered cheap, not as cheap as surrounding countries, but cheap in proportion to earnings here.
In addition to housing, transport is another significant expenditure in Singapore. The city has invested considerable resources in developing a world-class public transportation system, consisting of buses, trains, and taxis. However, the convenience and comfort of these options come at a high cost, especially for those who use them often. Additionally, owning a car in Singapore is prohibitive due to the high taxes and cost of ownership. Owning and maintaining a vehicle can easily cost a family a sizeable portion of their income.
Public transport is efficient and cheaper to use than taxis or a private car in the city, with weekly ez-link travel cards available from 45 SGD.
The cost of food in Singapore is another area of concern. Singaporeans enjoy diverse cuisines, from traditional local hawker fare to upscale international cuisine. However, dining out in Singapore can be quite costly, especially in high-end restaurants. The average cost of a meal in an upscale restaurant could be as much as three times the price of an affordable meal in a local hawker center. Therefore, it is not unusual to see locals and foreigners alike flocking to hawker centers, where the prices are more reasonable.
Despite the high cost of living, Singapore's economy is flourishing. The city-state is a hub for international trade, finance, and technology. Its strong economy has led to job opportunities for the citizens and attracted skilled expatriates to work in Singapore. However, the high cost of living has also led to a higher wage requirement, making it difficult for small businesses to thrive and make a profit.
Overall, the cost of living in Singapore is relatively inexpensive if you choose to live in public housing and use public transport, though not as inexpensive as in surrounding countries. On the other hand, if you choose to live as many western expats do, the cost of living will be high. So, if you need to save a pretty penny or two, do away with the car and the luxury condo, and send your kids to a local school.