Singapore Country Profile - Cost of Living

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Geographical variation

By reputation, the cost of living in Singapore is much higher than in many Asian countries, and the city-state regularly features in the list of most expensive cities to live in. With land at a premium, accommodation is particularly expensive compared to neighbouring Malaysia. The priciest places to live are in the Central Area, however there are some cheaper regions where larger or more affordable properties can be found. The costs of education and running a vehicle can also be high for expats, but the day-to-day shopping may be less expensive than you first anticipate.


The cost of accommodation in Singapore depends largely on the type of property and its location. Many expats choose to live in private condos because of the attached amenities, although these are usually more expensive to rent or buy than regular apartments. The cheapest housing available in Singapore is usually Housing and Development Board (HDB) property, but access to this scheme is restricted for foreign nationals so most properties of this type are occupied by Singaporeans.

Similarly, there are restrictions on foreigners purchasing property in Singapore, although these were relaxed in 2005. Non-Singaporeans can now purchase apartments or condos with few obstacles, but must still seek permission from the Singapore Land Authority to buy land or most types of detached housing.

Rental deposits

In Singapore there are several upfront costs associated with renting a property. The security deposit can be up to three months’ rent, while a ‘good faith’ fee is also payable, although this may become the first monthly rental payment after completion of the let. Tenants are also liable for stamp fees on a property.

Local taxes

Local and town councils usually charge Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) to cover the cost of amenities in the area. Rates vary across the country and also depend on property type and the residency status of the occupiers. Contact your local council for further details.


Water supply in Singapore is regulated by the Public Utility Board (PUB), but billing is managed through Singapore Power (SP), which is the main provider for all other utilities in Singapore. This means that most of your utilities can be set up and managed through a single online application. Be aware that connection charges may apply and you will also need to pay a deposit, which varies according to the size of the property. For internet and telephone services, there is slightly more choice, so shop around for the best prices through providers like SingTel, StarHub and M1.

TV licence

The television licence was abolished in Singapore in 2011 and the public broadcaster MediaCorp provides a range of free-to-air channels, although paid cable and satellite TV services are also popular.

Healthcare and medical costs

Singapore has an excellent standard of medical care, although very few services are offered free of charge. Instead the system is funded by insurance, with Singaporean citizens and permanent residents paying their share through their Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions. Non-resident foreign nationals are often insured privately by their employer, but if not then it is advisable to take out a private health insurance scheme as although the costs of care are comparatively low, medical bills can mount up very quickly.


As a self-confessed nation of shoppers, you will find no shortage of places to purchase essentials, while less essential items can also be bought at the impressive array of malls and shopping destinations around Singapore. For grocery bargains, try your local ‘wet market’ for fresh meat, fish and vegetables at very reasonable prices – you’ll need to get up early in the morning for the best choice though!


Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a value-added tax charged on the majority of goods and services in Singapore. For more information on GST, including rates and exemptions, visit the Inland Revenue Authority website.

Price guide 

  • Rent on 1-bedroom apartment in city centre – SG$3,278.18 (≈£1,562.96) per month
  • Rent on 1-bedroom apartment outside city centre – SG$2,124.59 (≈£1,012.95) per month
  • Price of apartment in city centre – SG$19,945.77 (≈£9,509.67) per square metre
  • Price of apartment outside city centre – SG$11,392.78 (≈£5,431.81) per square metre
  • Loaf of bread – SG$2.09 (≈£1.00)
  • Milk (1 litre) – SG$2.84 (≈£1.35)
  • Bottled water (1.5 litre) – SG$1.84 (≈£0.88)
  • Draught beer (0.5 litre) – SG$6.00 (≈£2.86)
  • Packet of cigarettes – SG$12.00(≈£5.72)
  • Petrol (1 litre) – SG$2.15 (≈£1.03)
  • Cinema ticket – SG$11.00 (≈£5.24)

Source: (accessed August 2014)


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