Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Singapore As Expat


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Nikolia Brace



As an expat considering a move to Singapore, one of the most important factors to consider is the cost of living in this vibrant city-state. Singapore is renowned for its high standard of living, excellent infrastructure, and cosmopolitan lifestyle, but it does come with a price tag.


Before making the decision to relocate, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the expenses involved in living in Singapore. From housing costs to transportation, food, healthcare, and more, this article aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the various aspects of living expenses in Singapore as an expat.


Singapore boasts a diverse and multicultural community, offering a plethora of opportunities for career growth, quality education, and a high standard of living. However, it is essential to keep in mind that the cost of living in Singapore is considerably higher than in many other countries in the region.


This article will explore the key components of living expenses in Singapore, giving you valuable insights into what you can expect and how to budget effectively. By understanding the costs involved, you’ll be better equipped to plan your finances and lifestyle accordingly, ensuring a smooth transition into life in Singapore.


Additionally, it’s worth noting that while the cost of living in Singapore may be higher, the city-state offers a range of benefits, including excellent healthcare facilities, efficient public transportation, safety, and a wide range of recreational and cultural activities. Singapore’s dynamic economy also provides numerous job opportunities, making it an attractive destination for expats from around the world.


So let’s delve into the details and explore the various aspects of living expenses in Singapore as an expat, helping you make an informed decision and prepare financially for your new life in this vibrant city-state.


Housing Costs

One of the most significant expenses for expats living in Singapore is housing. The cost of renting or buying a property in Singapore can be quite steep, especially in prime locations. However, the city offers a wide range of housing options to suit different budgets and preferences.


In popular areas like the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard Road, the rental prices for apartments can be significantly higher compared to other neighborhoods. On average, expats can expect to spend around SGD 3,000 to SGD 6,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in these prime locations.


If you are looking for more affordable options, exploring neighborhoods further away from the city center can help reduce housing costs. Areas like Bedok, Jurong, and Tampines offer a range of housing options, including Housing Development Board (HDB) flats and condominiums, at more reasonable prices.


Renting a HDB flat can be a cost-effective choice, with prices ranging from SGD 1,500 to SGD 3,000 per month depending on the location and size of the unit. Condominiums, on the other hand, offer additional amenities like pools and gyms but come at a higher price point, typically starting from SGD 3,500 per month.


If you plan on purchasing a property in Singapore, be prepared for the high costs involved. The average price per square foot for a condominium in a prime area can range from SGD 2,000 to SGD 3,000. Prices for landed properties can go even higher, depending on the size and location.


It’s worth noting that in addition to monthly rent or mortgage payments, you may also have to consider other housing-related expenses such as property taxes, maintenance fees, and utilities. These additional costs can vary depending on the type of property you choose and the amenities it offers.


When budgeting for housing costs, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle needs, proximity to amenities, and transportation options. While housing expenses in Singapore can be significant, the city offers a high standard of living and excellent infrastructure to match.


It’s advisable to use the services of a reputable real estate agent or property website to navigate the housing market in Singapore. They can assist you in finding suitable options within your budget and provide valuable insights into the local market conditions.


By keeping your housing costs in check and exploring different neighborhoods, you can find a comfortable and affordable accommodation option that suits your needs and helps you make the most of your expat experience in Singapore.


Transportation Costs

Getting around in Singapore is convenient and efficient, thanks to its well-developed transportation infrastructure. However, it’s important to factor in transportation costs when planning your budget as an expat living in Singapore.


The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, Singapore’s subway network, is a popular mode of transportation among locals and expats alike. It offers extensive coverage across the island and is known for its reliability, cleanliness, and affordability. MRT fares vary depending on the distance traveled, with prices starting at SGD 0.80 and going up to SGD 2.50 for longer journeys. You can save on MRT fares by using an EZ-Link card, a contactless stored value card that offers discounted fares.


Buses are another convenient option for getting around Singapore. The fares are similar to the MRT, ranging from SGD 0.83 to SGD 2.70 depending on the distance traveled. Like the MRT, you can use an EZ-Link card to enjoy discounted fares when taking buses.


Taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab and Gojek are readily available in Singapore. Taxis typically charge a flag-down rate of SGD 3.20, with additional charges for distance and waiting time. Ride-hailing services offer competitive pricing and the convenience of booking through mobile apps.


If you prefer to drive, owning a car in Singapore can be costly. The city-state implements a vehicle quota system and high taxes on car ownership to control traffic congestion. As a result, the cost of purchasing a car in Singapore can be significantly higher compared to other countries. Additionally, you’ll need to factor in expenses like COE (Certificate of Entitlement), road tax, car insurance, parking fees, and ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charges.


Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Singapore, and the city offers well-maintained cycling paths. You can rent bicycles from various rental services, with prices starting from SGD 3 per hour.


When planning your transportation budget, consider your daily commute, travel frequency, and distance to amenities. The accessibility and efficiency of public transportation in Singapore make it a cost-effective choice for most expats. However, if you require a car for specific purposes or prefer the convenience of taxis and ride-hailing services, it’s important to allocate a higher budget for transportation expenses.


Overall, transportation costs in Singapore can vary depending on your preferences and lifestyle. By taking advantage of the public transportation system and exploring alternative options like cycling, you can manage transportation costs effectively while enjoying the ease of getting around this island city.


Food and Grocery Expenses

Singapore is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide range of culinary options available from local hawker centers to upscale restaurants. When it comes to food and grocery expenses, you have the flexibility to choose options that suit your budget and lifestyle.


One of the most affordable ways to enjoy a delicious meal in Singapore is by visiting hawker centers. These bustling food courts offer a variety of local dishes at wallet-friendly prices. You can expect to pay around SGD 3 to SGD 6 for a simple yet satisfying meal at a hawker center. Some popular dishes to try include Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, char kway teow, and rojak.


If you prefer dining out at cafes and restaurants, you can expect to spend more on your meals. A casual dining experience can cost you anywhere between SGD 20 to SGD 50 per person, while fine dining options can be significantly higher, ranging from SGD 100 and up.


Grocery expenses in Singapore can vary depending on your shopping habits and dietary needs. Supermarkets like NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, and Giant offer a wide range of groceries at competitive prices. On average, a single person can expect to spend around SGD 200 to SGD 400 per month on groceries.


If you prefer organic or specialty items, be prepared to allocate a higher budget for your grocery expenses. Singapore also has various international supermarkets that cater to specific cuisines, allowing you to find ingredients and products from different parts of the world.


When it comes to eating out or grocery shopping, it’s worth noting that Singapore has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) applied to most food and beverage items. The current GST rate is 7%, which is generally included in the prices you see on menus or product labels.


For those who enjoy cooking at home, Singapore’s wet markets offer fresh produce, seafood, meat, and other ingredients at affordable prices. These markets are a great way to experience the local culture while getting good deals on ingredients. Additionally, online grocery platforms like RedMart and FairPrice Online provide convenience, allowing you to shop for groceries from the comfort of your home.


Overall, food and grocery expenses in Singapore can range from affordable to more expensive, depending on your dining preferences and shopping choices. By exploring the local food scene, making use of hawker centers and supermarkets, and cooking at home, you can strike a balance between enjoying Singapore’s culinary offerings and managing your food budget effectively.


Utilities and Bills

When living in Singapore as an expat, it’s important to factor in the costs of utilities and bills into your monthly budget. These expenses typically include electricity, water, gas, internet, and mobile phone services.


Electricity bills in Singapore are calculated based on the amount of electricity consumed, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average monthly electricity bill for a small apartment can range from SGD 50 to SGD 100, depending on usage and the efficiency of appliances.


Water bills in Singapore are relatively affordable. The charges are based on the amount of water consumed, with rates ranging from SGD 1.20 to SGD 3.50 per cubic meter. On average, a monthly water bill for a small apartment can range from SGD 20 to SGD 40.


Gas usage in Singapore is primarily for cooking. The cost of gas depends on the type of gas supply you have in your home. If you use piped gas, your bill will be based on the volume consumed. On the other hand, if you use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders, you’ll need to purchase new cylinders when the existing ones run out.


Internet and mobile phone services are essential for staying connected in Singapore. The cost of internet and mobile phone plans can vary depending on the provider and the desired data and call allowances. On average, a monthly internet and mobile phone bill can range from SGD 50 to SGD 100 or more.


It’s also important to consider other recurring bills, such as home insurance, maintenance fees (for condominiums or apartments), and service charges. These costs will depend on the specific property and services provided.


In addition to regular utilities and bills, you may also need to allocate a budget for one-time expenses such as installation fees for internet and cable TV, as well as deposits for utilities and mobile phone plans.


To keep track of your utility and bill payments, many providers offer online portals or mobile apps where you can view and manage your accounts. Electronic billing (e-bills) is a common practice in Singapore, providing a convenient and eco-friendly way to receive and pay your bills.


By understanding and budgeting for your utility and bill expenses, you can ensure that these essential services are taken care of, and your living environment remains comfortable and well-connected.


Healthcare Expenses

When it comes to healthcare, Singapore is known for its excellent medical facilities and high-quality healthcare services. As an expat living in Singapore, it’s important to consider healthcare expenses and ensure you have adequate coverage.


Singapore has a unique healthcare system that consists of both public and private healthcare sectors. The public healthcare system, managed by the Ministry of Health, includes government-run hospitals and clinics. The private healthcare sector comprises private hospitals, clinics, and specialist centers.


Public healthcare in Singapore is known for its affordability and quality. Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) can benefit from subsidized rates for medical services and medications. Expats, on the other hand, usually have to rely on private healthcare services that may come with higher costs.


Healthcare expenses in Singapore can vary depending on the type of medical services needed, the extent of insurance coverage, and the choice between public and private healthcare providers. It’s highly recommended for expats to have comprehensive health insurance coverage that includes both inpatient and outpatient services.


The cost of health insurance premiums will depend on various factors, including your age, medical history, coverage limits, and the insurance provider. It’s essential to research and compare different insurance plans to find one that suits your needs and budget.


Expats can also make use of government-endorsed healthcare savings plans like MediSave. MediSave is a mandatory savings account for Singaporeans and PRs, which allows individuals to set aside a portion of their income to cover future healthcare expenses. Expats who reside and work in Singapore are also eligible to contribute to their MediSave accounts.


Out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare services in Singapore can vary significantly. Consultation fees with general practitioners typically range from SGD 30 to SGD 80, while specialist consultations can cost from SGD 100 to SGD 250 or more, depending on the specialization.


Hospitalization costs can be substantial, especially in private hospitals, where rates can vary significantly depending on the ward class and type of treatment needed. It’s important to carefully consider insurance coverage and understand the policy limits to avoid any unexpected financial burdens.


Pharmacy expenses for prescribed medications will depend on the specific medication and whether it is subsidized or not. Non-subsidized medications can be expensive, so it’s advisable to check with your insurance provider or doctor for alternatives or generic brands that may be more cost-effective.


Dental care is another aspect of healthcare expenses to consider. Routine dental check-ups and basic procedures like fillings can cost anywhere from SGD 40 to SGD 300, while more complex procedures like root canals or orthodontic treatments can range from SGD 800 to SGD 6,000 or more.


Overall, healthcare in Singapore is of high quality but can be costly, especially for expats who rely on private healthcare services. It is crucial to have appropriate health insurance coverage and set aside sufficient funds to cover medical expenses. Regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and taking preventive measures can help minimize healthcare costs in the long run.


Education Costs

For expats with children, education is a significant consideration when living in Singapore. The city-state is renowned for its high-quality education system, offering a wide range of options from local public schools to international schools.


If you choose to enroll your child in a local public school, education is heavily subsidized for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs). However, expats will typically have to pay higher fees as non-residents. Public schools in Singapore provide a rigorous academic curriculum and are known for their strong emphasis on math, science, and languages.


The cost of international schools in Singapore can be significantly higher. These schools cater to expat children and typically offer a curriculum based on international standards, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or a country-specific curriculum. Tuition fees for international schools can range from SGD 20,000 to SGD 40,000 or more per year, depending on the school, grade level, and additional services.


In addition to tuition fees, there may be other costs associated with education, such as application fees, school uniforms, textbooks, transportation, and extra-curricular activities. These additional expenses can vary depending on the school and the specific requirements.


It’s important to research and visit different schools to understand their curriculum, teaching methodologies, and facilities. Consider your child’s unique needs and academic goals when selecting a school that aligns with your budget and educational preferences.


Scholarship opportunities may also be available for exceptional students in some international schools or through external organizations. Scholarships can help offset the costs of tuition fees, so it’s worth exploring these options if applicable.


If you prefer homeschooling or alternative education methods, there are resources and support available in Singapore for these options as well. It’s essential to understand the local regulations and requirements for homeschooling and ensure that your child’s education meets the necessary standards.


Planning ahead and budgeting for education costs is crucial when living in Singapore as an expat. Consider your child’s education as part of your overall financial planning and factor in the expenses into your monthly budget.


Keep in mind that education costs can vary significantly depending on the type of school, grade level, and any additional services or activities. Researching different schools, understanding the fee structure, and considering long-term educational goals can help you make informed decisions about your child’s education while managing the associated costs.


Entertainment and Recreation Costs

Living in Singapore offers a plethora of entertainment and recreational activities to suit various interests and budgets. From cultural festivals and art exhibitions to outdoor adventures and dining experiences, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant city-state.


The cost of entertainment and recreation in Singapore can vary depending on personal preferences and the type of activities you choose. Here are some popular options and their associated costs:


Outdoor Activities: Singapore’s well-maintained parks, nature reserves, and beaches provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, and picnicking. Most public parks and nature reserves are free to enter, while some attractions like the Jurong Bird Park or the Singapore Zoo may have entrance fees ranging from SGD 20 to SGD 40 per person.


Cultural Experiences: Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, offering a vibrant mix of festivals, performances, and exhibitions. The cost of attending cultural events and exhibitions can vary, with some free events and others requiring ticket purchases. For instance, attending a performance at the Esplanade or visiting the National Museum of Singapore may have ticket prices starting from SGD 10 or more.


Dining and Nightlife: Singapore is a food paradise, offering a wide range of culinary experiences. The cost of dining out can vary, depending on the type of cuisine, the venue, and your preferences. Hawker centers and local street food stalls offer affordable options, usually ranging from SGD 3 to SGD 10 per meal. Restaurants and high-end dining establishments can have higher prices, ranging from SGD 20 to SGD 100 or more per person.


Sports and Fitness: Engaging in sports and fitness activities is popular in Singapore. The cost of gym memberships can range from SGD 100 to SGD 200 per month, depending on the facilities and location. Joining sports clubs or participating in organized sports leagues may have additional fees. Public sports amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts have affordable rates, typically starting from SGD 1 to SGD 5 per entry.


Entertainment Venues: Singapore is home to various entertainment venues that host concerts, shows, and sporting events. Ticket prices can vary greatly depending on the event and seating category. Large concerts or international performances can have ticket prices ranging from SGD 50 to several hundred dollars. Local theater productions and smaller-scale events may have more affordable options, typically starting from SGD 20 or less.


It’s worth mentioning that Singapore offers a wide range of promotions, discounts, and loyalty programs for various activities and attractions. It’s advisable to keep an eye out for these offers to make the most of your entertainment and recreation experiences while managing costs.


Additionally, Singapore’s diverse community and cultural richness provide opportunities for free or low-cost activities like joining interest groups, attending community events, and exploring local neighborhoods or heritage sites at no expense.


It’s important to set aside a budget for entertainment and recreation when planning your expenses in Singapore. By exploring different options and taking advantage of promotions and discounts, you can enjoy the vibrant entertainment scene and recreational activities that Singapore has to offer without breaking the bank.


Taxes and Other Financial Obligations

Understanding the tax system and financial obligations is essential when living as an expat in Singapore. Singapore has a reputation for having a relatively straightforward and business-friendly tax regime.


Income tax rates in Singapore are progressive, with higher earners paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes. The tax rates range from 0% to a maximum of 22% for individuals. As an expat, your tax liability will depend on your residency status and the duration of your stay in Singapore.


For Singapore tax residents, which typically include individuals who have stayed or worked in the country for at least 183 days in a calendar year, income earned both locally and overseas is subject to taxation. Non-residents are taxed only on income earned in Singapore.


Besides income tax, other financial obligations to consider in Singapore include Goods and Services Tax (GST), property tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and stamp duty for certain transactions like property purchases or lease agreements.


GST is a consumption tax that is levied on the supply of goods and services in Singapore. The current GST rate is 7%, which is added to the prices of most goods and services. It’s important to factor in this amount when budgeting for expenses.


Property tax is another financial obligation for property owners in Singapore. Property tax rates vary depending on the property value and its designated use. The annual property tax is typically a percentage of the annual value of the property.


Regarding investment income and capital gains, Singapore does not impose capital gains taxes. However, it’s crucial to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to ensure compliance with reporting requirements and any tax obligations in your home country.


Apart from taxes, there are other financial obligations such as healthcare insurance, retirement savings, and personal savings. It’s important to budget for these expenses and make prudent financial decisions to secure your future and meet your long-term goals.


Singapore encourages individuals to save for retirement through its mandatory Central Provident Fund (CPF) system. CPF contributions are deducted from your income and allocated to different accounts, including a retirement account, a healthcare account, and a housing account.


As an expat, it’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations surrounding CPF contributions based on your residency status and employment terms. It’s also recommended to explore additional retirement savings options and consider seeking professional advice to optimize your retirement planning.


Working with a financial advisor or tax consultant who specializes in expat tax matters can provide valuable guidance on managing your taxes and financial obligations in Singapore. They can help ensure compliance, minimize tax liabilities, and make informed financial decisions.


By staying informed about your tax and financial obligations, you can effectively plan and budget for these expenses, allowing for a secure financial future while enjoying the benefits of living in Singapore as an expat.



Living in Singapore as an expat offers a multitude of opportunities and experiences, but it’s important to be aware of the costs involved in order to plan and budget effectively. From housing and transportation to food, healthcare, education, and entertainment, each aspect of the cost of living in Singapore deserves careful consideration.


When it comes to housing costs, it’s essential to explore different neighborhoods and housing options to find an accommodation that suits both your preferences and budget. Consider factors like location, amenities, and proximity to public transportation to strike a balance between cost and convenience.


Transportation costs can vary depending on your preferred mode of travel. While Singapore’s public transportation system offers convenience and affordability, owning a car can be expensive due to high taxes and fees associated with vehicle ownership. Consider your commuting needs and lifestyle preferences to determine the most cost-effective transportation option for you.


Food and grocery expenses in Singapore offer a range of choices for every budget. From affordable hawker centers and local street food to upscale dining experiences, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. Planning meals, exploring local markets, and taking advantage of promotions can help manage food expenses effectively.


Healthcare expenses are a crucial aspect to consider when living in Singapore. Ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage tailored to your needs to offset potential medical expenses. Take advantage of government-endorsed healthcare savings plans and explore options for affordable healthcare services.


Education costs vary depending on the type of school and curriculum you choose for your children. Research different options, factor in tuition fees, and consider scholarship opportunities or alternative education methods to ensure your child’s educational needs are met while staying within your budget.


Entertainment and recreation in Singapore offer a diverse range of activities to cater to various interests and budgets. From free outdoor parks and cultural events to paid attractions and dining experiences, Singapore has something for everyone to enjoy. Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts to make the most of your leisure activities.


Lastly, be mindful of your tax and financial obligations in Singapore. Understand the tax system, keep track of your tax liabilities, and seek professional advice when needed. Consider other financial obligations such as property tax, insurance, retirement savings, and personal savings to ensure long-term financial stability.


By understanding and carefully managing these various expenses, you can embrace the expat experience in Singapore and make the most of what this dynamic city-state has to offer, all while maintaining your financial well-being.