Living on an expat budget in Singapore

Posted on 26 Jun at 6 PM in Finance
Story link: Living on an expat budget in Singapore
Living on an expat budget in Singapore

Living on an expat budget in Singapore

How to get by as an expat in Singapore without spending a fortune.

It has to be said that Singapore is an expat dream destination for its stunning setting, vibrant culture and amazing choice of cuisines, but it’s also the planet’s most expensive city in which to live. The island draws expat professionals from across the world, but many run into financial difficulties even although they’re earning a generous salary. Tightening the budget is no fun, but adjusting your lifestyle can avoid your running into debt without wrecking your new lifestyle.

The largest chunk of your salary will go on accommodation, with the city centre’s eye-watering rental charges only doable if you’re from a wealthy family or have just won the lottery. However, the further outside the central district you go, the less you’ll be charged for rent, and the more you’ll be able to live in an authentic Singaporean area with excellent public transport links to your company’s centrally-located headquarters. Wherever you live, your rent will depend on the square footage of your apartment, with those on strict budgets advised to leave most of their belongings back in the home country and rent as small a condo as they can manage.

Using local transportation rather than buying a car and putting up with endless traffic snarl-ups is the sensible option for expats on a restrictive budget, especially as Singapore’s system is one of the world’s best. Mass Rapid Transit and its linked bus routes are affordable, reliable and comfortable. With the money saved by not owning a car, using taxis when necessary isn’t a strain on the budget. An essential way to control costs, is to avoid expat-friendly grocery stores like the plague. Prices for Western goods are marked up to crazy levels compared to the stores and wet markets where the local shop.

Singapore is famous for its street foods, market cuisine and food courts, all a treat for expats unused to cooking their own meals. You’ll find dishes from many cultures as well as amazingly fresh seafood, all at highly affordable prices. Upscale restaurants are, it has to be admitted, a pricey luxury, but the savings you’re making allow for a few treats! Singapore’ reputation as a shoppers’ paradise isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as the same fashions and everyday clothing can be had in Hong Kong for far less, as the locals know well. If you shop online, savings can be made on prices of the same clothes in the stores.

Lastly, if you enjoy a bevy or two of an evening, keep in mind the Singaporean ‘sin tax’ – excise duty set by the government, thus making alcohol far more of a luxury than in most other expat hubs in Asia. The tax runs at S$88.00 for a litre of sparkling wine or whisky, and prices of all alcoholic beverages allow for this tax, thus wrecking your chances of getting blotto every night. In spite of this depressing fact, it’s possible to live comfortably in Singapore without spending a small fortune.

Related Stories:

Latest News: