Saturday, November 19, 2016

TRUE Living Cost in Singapore

CNN rated Singapore as the world’s MOST EXPENSIVE city to live in year 2016.
It is even more expensive than Zurich, Switzerland. Are you sure, CNN news?

I have worked and stayed in Singapore since year 2004 and I definitely can tell you the living cost in Singapore is not that bad. In fact, it is much lower than Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Let me share with you my true living cost in Singapore in great details. Here you go!

I break down the cost into few categories as follow:
(1) Utilities bill - S$119.

Below shown are my past 13 months of utilities bill (that includes electricity, gas & water). In average for the past 13 months, my utilities bill was S$119 per month only for a family of 3. We switch on the air con every night at 25 degree C, FYI. Government gives quite a fair bit of free rebate in this bill (S$220 per year), if not, the true electricity cost is at S$150 maximum per month for my household.
(2) SingTel Internet broadband / house phone line (FREE) / cable TV and mobile phone- S$122.
The breakdown is as following:
That comes with Fibre Home Bundle with 300 MB speed at S$46.64.
Cable TV Entertainment Bundle: Family Starter (including CNN / Bloomberg, Disney Kid Channels, etc..) at $34.40. The sub-total is S$81.04.

My mobile phone Combo 2 Plan (with 2 GB local data):$40.09 before 30% discount.

Caller ID is additional S$5.00, mobile phone per month is S$33.06. Above total cost with 7% GST, that’s S$122.09 per month.

(3) Foods expenses - S$600

Foods expenses: for our household, we can say it is easily less than S$10 per day (weekday lunch and dinner, can you believe it? ). 

As me and my wife work full time, we decided to engage foods delivery to our home directly at S$214 per month. Well, we surely have no time to cook for ourselves and for the little 4 years old boy and to cook such a portion is not very practical too. I also found out the foods delivery quality is not bad or better than hawker centre as it is less oily and have good varieties too, you don’t have to worry what to eat everyday.

 We usually ordered 3 months services and it comes with S$150 discount! How good can it be?
3 month S$214 x 3 (months) = S$642 – S$150 (discount) = S$492 / 3 (person)= S$164 /20 (days)= S$8.20 per day.
The food is enough for us and the little one and, that’s like S$8.20 per day for 3 persons. Of course, in certain days, I will buy more food if I see some dishes that I do not like, ha ha. That’s about 1 or 2 times per week, and I can easily just top up some mixed rice items from the hawker centres downstairs. I cook rice myself. It is an easy job.
There are many hawker centres in Singapore. Just below my home, there are 3x hawker centres within 10 minutes walk. You basically can get all the food you want, from chicken rice to noodles soup and mixed rice. The price range is from S$2.50 to S$5.00. Most of the Singaporean settled their meal at hawker centres as you can have all the varieties, easy to access and it is affordable.  

We spend more at weekend as we usually dine at restaurants on weekend, if not, cook at home (that's very seldom). In average, the bill comes to S$50-70 per meals (be it lunch or dinner). So, average out, one person S$600 maximum per month on foods is surely more than enough.

Below are the restaurants that we visit very often in Singapore. That's me and my boy beloved eatery places. You got to try them all when you visit Singapore!


The milk powder consumption is about S$1,000 per year. I got all my milk powder from AEON at Bukit Indah. :)
(4) Medical Cost - $0
We have medical and dental cost coverage from our employer up to S$3,000 per year (combined) for the entire family. We never fork out extra for medical cost in Singapore, which is very good.

(5) Transportation Cost - S$100 (if you don't drive)
or S$1,700 (for my case).

Taking public transport is dirt cheap in Singapore. I take a bus from my home to Jurong East MRT station (3 bus stops away) and transit to the MRT train to Raffles Place (CBD), that cost me less than S$1.60 (that's 25 minutes train journey). I used public transport in Singapore until I have kid. I can survive with public transportation too.

All right, car in Singapore is the most expensive in the world, Malaysia is the second most expensive country to own a car too. A brand new Toyota Corolla Altis costs you S$110,000 for 10 years, then, you will take back S$10,000 after you scrap your car after 10 years. So, I pay monthly car loan of S$1,200, new HDB monthly car park would be S$120, and car patrol, $200 , with all the car insurance and road tax, in average, I am paying S$1,700 for my car to ferry around my family. I do not need to pay ERP as I don't have to pass through those ERP gates. :)

If you want to save costs in Singapore, obviously you can cut the expenses here by taking the public transport and taxi services. Don't complain!

(6) Domestic helper - S$0

I do not have domestic helper. I love doing housework myself. I have all the time to do it myself too. It is a form of exercise for me and my expectation of cleanliness is very high. I rather to do it myself. If you hire one domestic helper, it shall be around S$900 per month (to include additional expenses you need to pay for them)

(7) Childcare - S$750
For those who have kid, unless your wife is not working, else, you will surely either to have a domestic helper to look after your kid or sending him/her to full day childcare. I love the childcare concept here. It opens from 7 am to 7 pm. I usually send him to the school at 7.30 am and pick him up at 6.10 pm. You can send your 2 months infant until age 6 (K2) to the childcare. The kid will learn massively in the childcare and they will also build up immune system. S$750 per month for full day childcare is good money spent. I would not complain about this cost.

Of course, there are also additional cost for the excursion or enrichment class if you sign up. For example, the swimming class, gym class, drama & speech class, excursion trip to play centre, etc. The fees can be ranging from S$30 to S$70 per trip.

We bring our 4 years old boy to art class as he has talents in drawing. He has the skills from his mum and maybe he can become an architect too. :) The art class is S$30 per session.

We also expose him to keyboard class (piano class). It is about S$25 per session. He does not show interest in music class so we will stop the course after the 12 sessions are completed.



(8) Housing loan - S$0
We are lucky to pay off our HDB housing loan 3 years ago. It has the market valuation price of S$460,000. To buy a 4 rooms flat at good location (Toh Guan, Jurong East), it was S$355,000. With 80% loan, 30 years of tenure, and interest rate of 2%, the monthly mortgage is only S$1,049. You can easily pay this amount off by using the CPF. You do not need to fork out any cash.
In fact, if you like, you can rent out your room at S$750 per month, 2 rooms will give you extra S$1,500 cash per month even! How crazy is that? S$1,500 can fully pay all your monthly expenses in Singapore!
(9) HDB town council fees - S$46.25
Jurong East monthly town council fees is S$55.50. Government has consistently waived 2 months of charges every single year. So, the monthly commitment now is S$46.25.
Having say all these, do you really think the living cost in Singapore is the highest in the world?
Surely NOT. That is for the foreign expats who stay in Singapore la ! They love to rent the expensive private property, go fine dining , pub drinking and a lot of entertainment costs too.

Few words for Malaysians

I am a Malaysian too. I was born in year 1980. My friends in Malaysia always converting the expenses in Singapore from SGD to RM. If you want to do that, make sure you do not forget to convert the income too!

As a fresh graduate in Singapore in year 2004 (during my time), it was S$2,500 per month, comparably it was RM 2,500 in Malaysia too. Vice versa, assuming after 12 years of work, you are now earning S$8,000 per month in Singapore, that also means you are earning RM8,000 in Malaysia too. I told them, by then, if I minus off all my Singapore expenses, the balance I have in SGD, if I covert them back to Ringgit, it will be surely more than the gross income earned in Malaysia! (It actually means, for a monthly income of S$8,000minus the expenses in Singapore say, S$5,000 a month, you will have a balance of S$3,000 which is RM9,000 a month. That is still more than the monthly gross income of RM8,000 in Malaysia)  Not to mention, the personal income tax in Singapore is so much lower than Malaysia as well.

Last but not least, the SGD had appreciated almost 200% towards RM since year 1986. It could touch RM4.0 by year 2026. Who knows?


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