This post estimates the cost of living in Singapore of one person with a relatively decent and modest lifestyle.
If you are a one-person household and you'd like to find a simple one-bedroom with a kitchen and a bathroom, take a step back, because it is very difficult to find a studio apartment to rent in Singapore. Land is scarce in Singapore, so housing units are built to accommodate more people.
Often, you would have to resort to renting one room in a housing unit, or alternatively, rent the whole unit (which typically comes with two or more bedrooms).
Photo of HDB Housing in Toa Payoh, Singapore by Lionel Leo (CC0 Licensed)
So what's the cost?
One room in a housing unit typically rents out from between SGD 700 to SGD 1,000, depending on location and the size of the room. Keep in mind that you will often have to share the kitchen, bathroom, and the living room with other tenants. However, if you get a master bedroom, which is typically the largest bedroom in a housing unit that comes with its own private bathroom, it would typically cost between SGD 1,000 to SGD 1,300 per month.
There aren't a lot of studio apartments to go around, but if you do happen to find one, it would cost at least SGD 1,500 per month. A housing unit with two or more bedrooms will cost at least SGD 1,800 per month.
One of the most spectacular things about living in Singapore is the abundance of food. Wherever you are in the island, you are almost never 10 minutes away from food. Hawker centers populate the entire country, making food extremely accessible and affordable.
Photo of Newton Food Center, Singapore by Sengkang (CC0 Licensed)
If you don't know what hawker centers are, simply think of them as food courts. Two main differences are that hawker centers are not air-conditioned and the food are typically more affordable. A full meal from a hawker center costs between SGD 4 to SGD 6, and a full meal from a food court would cost between SGD 5 to SGD 8.
How does the cost pile up over a month?
So let's consider you eat 3 times a day at an average of SGD 5 per meal. That totals up to SGD 15 per day and therefore in a month, you'll be spending around SGD 450 per month on food.
Remember, this is the cost of eating out! It will be cheaper if you were to make your own meals, but it will be more expensive if you frequent restaurants. But regardless, all in all, you can definitely consider food in Singapore to be quite affordable compared to food you'd get in other developed countries.
Phone & Wi-Fi
There are 3 major telecommunication companies in Singapore: Singtel, Starhub, and M1. Circles.Life is also a newer, but popular player in the Singapore telecommunications industry. Prices change all the time and vary between service providers, but to give a rough estimate, it'll cost about SGD 30 per month for a plan with 3 GB data and 100–200 minutes.
If you live alone, then you'd need to subscribe to your own Wi-Fi service, which on average, would cost around SGD 50 per month. However, if you are renting a room in a housing unit, it is often the case that using the Wi-Fi is already included as part of your rent, so you wouldn't need to worry about it.
Transportation in Singapore is very accessible. Buses come typically every 5 to 10 minutes, while an MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, a.k.a. the subway system of Singapore) train comes every 3 to 5 minutes.
Photo of Singapore MRT Map by Aforl (CC0 Licensed)
Cost are calculated based on distance, so you'd have to tap in and tap out every time you get on and get off the bus or the MRT train.
Cost ranges between approximately SGD 0.80 to SGD 2.10 per a full ride.
Typically, a 20-minute ride, whether on a bus or an MRT train will cost around SGD 1.30. There are usually very minimal fees on transfer, so for example, if you have just paid SGD 1.30 after taking a 20-minute ride in an MRT train and you transfer to a 5-minute bus ride, you'd only be charged around an extra SGD 0.10 for the bus ride.
So considering you take the public transport two-way every day at an average cost of SGD 1.50 per a full ride, you'll spend approximately SGD 90 per month on transport.
You can also consider taxis to be more affordable than those you would find in other developed countries. A 20-minute taxi ride will cost around SGD 25, although there will be premium charges on certain timings on the day.
Utilities (Electricity & Water)
If you live in a one- or two-bedroom house, utility bill per month is typically between SGD 50 to SGD 100. Utility bill for houses with more rooms typically costs above SGD 100. Then again, if you are renting a room, the payment of utility bill typically depends on the agreement you have set up with the landlord. The most standard practice is that the utility bill will be divided amongst the number of people living in the housing unit.
Shopping & Entertainment
Photo of Bugis+ (formerly Iluma) in Singapore, by William Cho (CC0 Licensed)
Here's one more thing about Singapore: You will find at least one shopping mall in every few MRT stops.
Let's take the East-West Line for instance.
- We'll start from City Hall MRT Station, in which there is Raffles City Shopping Center.
- Two stops later, you'd find Bugis Junction and Bugis+ at Bugis MRT Station.
- Another two stops later, you'd find Kallang Wave Mall and Leisure Park Kallang near Kallang MRT Station.
- And two stops later, Paya Lebar MRT Station is linked to Paya Lebar Quarter Mall and Paya Lebar Square.
- Three stops later, you'd get to Bedok Mall, which is linked to Bedok MRT Station. There is also Bedok Point nearby.
- Two stops later at Simei MRT Station, you'd get to Eastpoint Mall.
- One stop later at Tampines MRT Station, you'd get to explore three different shopping malls, all within a few minutes of each other: Tampines One, Tampines Mall, and Century Square.
- And finally, one stop later, you'd get to White Sands Mall at Pasir Ris MRT Station.
Seriously, you get to explore 14 shopping malls all within 13 MRT stops! These are just malls from central to eastern Singapore, and we have yet to include all the other parts.
It's hard to quantify how much you'd spend on shopping, because with so many shopping malls you can easily find anything in your price ranges. But let's talk about entertainment and dining out.
A movie will cost around SGD 10 during weekdays and SGD 15 during weekends.
A meal at a decent restaurant will cost between SGD 12 to SGD 20, and will definitely cost more if you were to go to high-end ones.
What's The Cost of Living in Singapore Per Month?
Here I have summed up the cost of living in Singapore per month based on expenses outlined above. The numbers are at best estimates, but they should give you a decent idea on how much an individual would spend per month on a fairly modest lifestyle.
- Rent: SGD 800
- Food: SGD 450
- Phone & Wi-Fi: SGD 50
- Transport: SGD 100
- Utilities: SGD 50
- Shopping & Entertainment: SGD 50
Total with Rent: SGD 1,500
Total without Rent: SGD 650–700
Of course, if you rent premium condominium units, or eat frequently at restaurants, rides a lot of cabs, and do a lot of shopping, these number will no longer be reflective of your cost of living, so do adjust the total based on your lifestyle.
- If you live in Singapore, do you think this post reflect your average cost of living? Leave a comment in the comment section below!
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