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Guide on Cost Of Living in SG

Cost of Accommodation


The rental prices for private condos can vary greatly depending on the location and age of the building. The rental cost of a 3-bedroom condo in prime areas close to the city-center including areas such as Orchard, Bukit Timah, Tanglin, and River Valley starts at around S$7,000 per month and can go up-to S$15,000 depending upon how luxurious the apartment is and its proximity to the CBD. The rents for high-end luxury apartments such as waterfront housing at Sentosa and Keppel Bay can range anywhere between S$8,300-S$13,000 per month. 3-bedroom condos located in the city fringe areas start from around S$4,500 and can go upto S$7000. Condos that are located outside the city-center in neighborhoods such as Bedok, Changi, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Ang Mo Kio, Woodlands, Yishun, Clementi, Jurong, and Punggol are less expensive with a monthly rental of around S$3,300-S$5,000.

Private Apartments

Private apartments in Singapore are similar to condos but normally lack most of the facilities that are found in condominiums such as large sized pools, BBQ pits, tennis courts etc. They also tend to be older buildings since most of the new private construction is done in the form of condominiums. Renting a 3-bedroom private apartment in the CBD area will bear a tag of S$5,000-S$7,000 while those in the outskirts can be rented around S$4,000 per month.

HDB Flats

If you are on a tight budget, living in a government housing flat (called HDB flats) is a very reasonable option; more than 80% of the local Singaporeans live in HDB units. Most HDB flats are within close proximity to basic facilities such as banks, local schools, markets, polyclinics, libraries, shopping malls and train and bus stations. However, these apartments do not come with luxury amenities like swimming pools or gyms. Rental costs for HDB units depend on the location and size of the unit. A 3-bedroom HDB apartment close to the CBD rents at S$3,000 while at other sub-urban locations it ranges from S$2,200 to S$2,700.

Landed property

Landed properties include terraced houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, and bungalows. Due to Singapore’s relatively small land size and large population, landed property is no longer very common and is consequently quite expensive to rent. The average rent for detached bungalows in prime locations is close S$18,000 per month. A high-end luxurious bungalow (i.e.4-bedrooms, land area of 1,400 sq meters, and a large garden) can cost as high as S$35,000 per month. Terraced houses and semi-detached houses are less expensive and can be rented for approximately S$8,000-S$13,000 per month.

Cost of Food

Eating In

If you cook at home, your average monthly personal food costs should come up to only about S$200 per person for basic meat and vegetables. For a couple eating out, average monthly food cost can range around S$1,000 – S$1,200 depending on their eating choices.

Eating Out

One of the unique features of living in Singapore is the abundance of hawker centres and food courts that offer a wide variety of dishes. An average daily lunch at a hawker centers can be as low as S$4 whereas at a food court you can have lunch for about S$5 – S$6. A meal at fast food joints such as McDonalds will cost you around S$7, while a drink at Starbucks is around S$6 – S$7. A visit to to an average restaurant can set you back by S$20 – S$40 per person for basic meals. In summary, with breakfast and dinner at home, lunch outside at food courts, plus basic weekend outings, the monthly food budget in Singapore can run around S$600 – S$1,000 for an average budget-conscious couple.

Transportation Costs

Public Transportation

Singapore has one of the best, most comprehensive, and least expensive public transport systems in the world. A one-way average bus or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) fare is about S$1.60. If you combine bus and MRT transports, it will cost you S$150 a month on the average considering a daily to and fro office commute costing S$3.50 and average weekend cost of about S$10. A couple that travels regularly within Singapore, using MRT or bus, will need to set aside a monthly combined transportation budget of roughly S$300 as part of their Singapore living costs.

Taxi Service

Taxi service in Singapore is one of the most efficient worldwide. Taxi drivers are willing to cover even the shortest of distances. Unlike most western countries, traveling by taxi in Singapore isn’t very expensive.

Taxi fare starts at S$3.00 – S$3.40 for the first mile and you pay S$0.22 for every 400m traveled up-to 10km, and S$0.22 per 350m thereafter. Some taxis like a Mercedes or a London cab start at a higher rate of about S$3.90. You can hail a cab on the road or call their number (S$2.30 – $3.30 extra) to book a service. During peak hours (weekday mornings 6:00am – 9:30am and evenings through Sundays 6pm – 12 midnight), you will incur extra charges of about 25% of the fare while the late night surcharge (from midnight until 6:00am) is 50% of the metered fare. There are location-based surcharges that apply in the CBD area (S$3 from Monday to Saturday, 5pm until midnight) airport (S$3-S$5), etc. You may also have to pay any ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charges on selected expressways during certain peak hours.


  • Cost of Healthcare

    The health-care system in Singapore was ranked best in Asia and sixth best in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000. The system is cost effective and offers state-of-the-art medical treatment that boasts of high success rates. The system has stringent government-mandated guidelines for transparency, excellence, safety and cleanliness. However, there is no government mandate for employers to provide health insurance to its employees. As a general practice, health insurance benefits are not provided by majority of the employers in Singapore. If your compensation package includes medical insurance, this is a non-issue for you. Even if your employer does not provide health insurance, the cost of medical services in Singapore is reasonable.

    You don’t need any insurance to cover your day-to-day health-care needs and can set aside a monthly budget of S$100 – S$200 to this end. A typical consultation fee at a general practitioner is S$40 while blood-work and x-ray will cost you around S$50-S$80. Specialists at private institutions usually charge between S$75 -S$125 for a consultation. Note that you should purchase insurance that covers surgery and hospitalization. Such insurance will add up to about S$2,000 – S$3,000 per year. Hospitalization charges vary depending on the type of ward chosen. Wards in Singapore vary from open wards with no air-con in place to a private medical suite that resembles a royal suite at a 5-star hotel. Accordingly, the daily charges for a ward can vary from S$30 to S$3,000.

    Utilities Expenses

    Monthly gas, water and electricity bill may range from a low of S$200 to a high of S$600 a month, depending on your air-conditioning usage. Mobile phone subscription costs anywhere between S$35 to S$100 per month. A broadband Internet connection at home will cost you around S$50 per month. For cable TV connection you can estimate about S$28 for the basic channel subscription and S$50 – S$80 for the expanded subscription. You have a wide choice of international channels including familiar channels such as CNN, BBC, Discovery, HBO, Disney, ESPN, and many more. A deposit of S$250 is required of foreigners for obtaining a cable connection.

    Cost of Education

    As a working expat in Singapore, you have the choice of sending your child to a government or private school. Government schools are also called local public schools while private schools are also called international schools. Education standards in Singapore are very high and you can’t go wrong with either one of the two. A local school will follow a curriculum as approved by the Ministry of Education whereas an international school will follow a curriculum that’s more widely accepted internationally such as the well-known International Baccalaureate (IB) high school diploma. One of the key advantages of local school education in Singapore is that it is very affordable. In contrast, sending a child to an international school can cost anywhere between S$1,000 – S$3,000+ per month.

    Local Government Schools

    Primary school totals 6 years. There are 4 years of secondary school leading to the GCE O Level exams or 5 years for the GCE N Level exams. Children of expatriates residing in Singapore on employment passes can be admitted to local schools. It should be noted however that local schools are attended by children of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. The monthly cost of sending your child to a local school in Singapore w.e.f 2012 will be S$246 – S$356 for primary education, S$341 – $486 for secondary education and S$552 – S$772 for junior college education.

    International Schools

    International, American, British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Japanese, and Swiss are some of the international schools present in Singapore. The estimated yearly fees range broadly from S$12,000 to S$30,000. School bus fare expenses amount to an estimated S$1,500 – S$2,000 a year.

    Cost of Childcare Services

    There a number of childcare centers in Singapore that provide childcare services for babies and children up-to to the age of seven years. The fees vary from center to center and depends on the packages being offered i.e half-day childcare, full-day childcare, or extended full-day childcare. Typically, half-day childcare (7am to 1pm) costs around S$400-S$1,200 while full-day childcare (7am to 5:30pm) will cost you about S$500-S$1,500.

    Cost of Hiring Domestic Help

    You can hire a live-in domestic helper in Singapore through maid agencies. Most of the live-in domestic helpers are recruited by maid agencies from approved neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The average monthly cost of keeping a live-in maid would come to around S$600 – S$1,000, inclusive of your helper’s salary and government levy. As the term “live-in” implies, you also have to provide accommodation and food for the maid. You can opt to hire part-time domestic workers for a modest fee of S$10-S$20 per hour.


    Singapore boasts of one of the lowest income tax rates in the world. Singapore’s tax system ensures sizable tax savings and is one of the most commonly cited advantages among expats relocating to the country. Singapore follows a territorial basis of taxation which essentially means that only income earned in Singapore is taxed. Income earned overseas is not taxable, barring certain exceptions. Singapore’s personal income tax rates for residents (citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who have stayed or worked in Singapore for 183 days or more in the tax year) start at 0% and are capped at 20% while non-residents (foreigners who have stayed or worked in Singapore for less than 183 days in the tax year) are taxed at a flat rate of 15%. Singapore has also concluded as many as 69 comprehensive tax treaties to provide relief from double taxation of income. Furthermore, there is no capital gains tax, no wealth tax, no estate duty, and no dividend tax in Singapore. You can use our online tax calculator to compare how you will be taxed in Singapore vis-a-vis your country of residence.


    Electronics and appliances in Singapore are relatively inexpensive. A typical PC sells around S$800 while a regular laptop at about S$800 – S$1,200. You can buy a TV for anywhere between S$600 – S$10,000 depending on your personal preferences. A movie ticket sells for around S$10.00 and a copy of local newspaper will cost you about S$1.00. Concert prices start from S$12 and go up to S$150+. The national library annual membership fee for permanent residents is free with only a one-time registration fee of S$10.50 while the annual membership fee for foreigners is S$42.80. A pack of cigarettes cost from S$11.60 onwards. The average cost of a 640ml bottle of beer is around S$5.50.
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