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The Cost Of Living In Singapore For Expats

With 29% of its population coming from overseas, the South-East Asian city-state of Singapore is a global hub for expats. Singapore offers an incredible way of life, combining a tropical climate with all the luxuries of living in a great metropolis.

No wonder it’s on our list of the best places to move as an expat in 2023. If you and your family are thinking of moving there too, one of your first questions is likely to be how expensive is it to live in Singapore?

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The cost of living in Singapore

Singapore is one of the most expensive countries to live in the world. As an expat, your monthly expenses in Singapore are likely to be much higher than elsewhere in the world. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a high-quality lifestyle in Singapore. With a decent salary and the right budget, you can make the most of everything this country has to offer.

In this guide, we’ll cover the cost of living in Singapore as an expat, going over everything from the average rent in Singapore to the cost of everyday essentials like food, energy and public transportation.

According to 2022 data, the cost of living in Singapore is around 39.1% higher than in the United Kingdom. While the cost of many consumer items and everyday essentials in Singapore is far lower than in the West, rental prices dramatically push up the cost of living in Singapore. Rent in Singapore is almost three times as expensive as in the UK costing, on average, 181% more.

The good news is that skilled workers can expect to earn a good salary, which makes the cost of living in Singapore more manageable. In 2020, the average salary for a middle manager working in Singapore was SGD$119,927/US$88,045.

On top of this, tax rates in Singapore are very lenient and capped at 22%, so you will get to keep much more of your pay than you would in other countries.

The tax rates in Singapore in 2022 are as follows:

Gross income (SGD)

Tax rate

Up to 30,000
30,000 – 40,000
40,000 – 80,000
80,000 – 120,000
120,000 – 160,000
160,000 – 200,000
200,000 – 240,000
240,000 – 280,000
280,000 – 320,000

Altogether, the GDP per capita for people living in Singapore was US$72,794 in 2021, putting it slightly ahead of the USA at US$70,248.

As an expat, you should have no trouble finding high-paid work. This is because, as a city state, the key industries in Singapore are in the service sector. Almost three quarters (73%) of people in Singapore work in the tertiary sector, with key industries including financial services, sales, chemical and electronic engineering, aerospace, and business management.

Another emerging market attracting expat workers is tourism, and there are also an increasing number of SMEs. Around 70% of workers are employed by a small or medium-sized company in Singapore.

So, while the cost of living in Singapore may be high, expats working in a lucrative field should expect to take home enough money to live quite comfortably.

However, do be mindful that the cost of certain essentials may be more expensive in Singapore:


Average cost in Singapore (USD)*

Milk (1 gallon)
Loaf of bread
Rice (1 lb)
12 eggs
Local cheese (1 lb)
1kg of chicken fillets
1.5 litre bottle of water
Bottle of wine
Domestic beer
Imported beer

*Data correct as of December 2022, Numbeo

And when it comes to eating out, Singapore has a wide range of options – some more expensive than others:


Average cost in Singapore (USD)*

Three-course meal for 2 at a restaurant
Meal at a fast food restaurant
Domestic beer (1 pint, draught)
Small bottle of water

*Data correct as of December 2022, Numbeo

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Effects of the cost of living crisis in Singapore

As a country dependent on imports, supply chain disruption and the cost of living crisis have hit Singapore especially hard. In December 2022, the Economist Intelligence Unit named Singapore as the joint most expensive city in the world, alongside New York. This is the eighth time in ten years Singapore has taken the title.

Singapore experienced a period of continuous growth throughout the 2010s, but that came to an end during the COVID-19 pandemic, and average household incomes have actually started to decline in the 2020s. One of the main causes is rising inflation, which increased from below zero to 7.5% between 2020 and 2022. Inflation in Singapore sits at 6.7% as of December 2022.

In response to the soaring cost of living, the Singaporean government launched a US$1.5 billion support package in October 2022, offering a ‘Cost of Living Special Payment’ of up to US$500 to support lower-income households. The total grant is expected to reach around US$8 billion by 2027.

Being so reliant on imports, Singapore has been heavily impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war. In 2020, Singapore imported more than US$1 billion in refined petroleum from Russia, but in 2020 was one of the many countries to impose sanctions. As a result, petrol prices in Singapore shot up through 2022, rising almost 50% between June 2021–June 2022. They have since stabilised, but still remain higher than 2021 prices.

Food prices also rose by 4.1% in April 2022, while energy prices spiked 1,300% at one point in July 2022. As a fairly affluent country, Singapore has yet to show signs of crumbling under the current effect of the cost of living crisis, however there may be further disruption to come in 2023.

What does this mean for people living in Singapore? Firstly, it means that monthly expenditure in Singapore will be much higher now than ever beforebad news for a country already known as the most expensive in the world. This disruption will affect locals most of all, with between 10-14% of Singaporeans already living in poverty, and many surviving on just US$5 a day.

Expats earning good salaries in Singapore should be okay for the meantime, but if you are moving to or living in Singapore, it’s worth keeping up-to-speed with the ongoing cost of living crisis to see how it may affect you.

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Average rent in Singapore

Renting in Singapore can be very expensive. Being a small, island-based nation with a population of over 5.4 million people, space is at a premium in Singapore – but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great deal on a luxurious place to live.

The most popular regions of Singapore for expats are the hospitable central neighbourhoods of Orchard Road, Tanglin, River Valley, Holland Village, Thomson and Serangoon. As well as being the most popular, these regions of the city also tend to be the most expensive.

But wherever you move in Singapore, you are sure to find excellent accommodation in one of only seven of the Globalization and World Cities Research Network’s Alpha+ cities.

Rent in Singapore can vary considerably. Here are some of the maximum and minimum average monthly prices you can expect to pay to rent in Singapore.

Apartment size

Highest rent (US$)

Lowest rent (US$)

1 bedroom
2 bedroom
3 bedroom
4 bedroom

Source: property search

As you can see, the cost of the most lavish apartments in Singapore can be very expensive, which is why many expatriates choose to flatshare. Singapore has its own dedicated flat sharing platforms such as Homates and Roomies. Here you can find rooms to rent for as little as US$700 per month, with a variety of options including women-only flats.

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What is the cost of buying property in Singapore?

Foreigners are welcome to buy property in Singapore, however they will be subject to various restrictions.

Non-residents of Singapore are only allowed to buy apartments that are more than 10 years old. If you are a permanent resident, you can only buy a property that has been occupied for more than 5 years (known as a 5-year Minimum Occupation Period). Foreigners are also not allowed to buy new Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, unless they are married to a citizen of Singapore.

As an expat, you may have to pay other additional fees. As well as Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), foreign investors will need to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). These aggregate as the price of your property moves up through various price bands, so you will need to work out the total tax before committing to purchasing a property.

The rates in 2023 for these taxes are:

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

Property price bands (SGD)

BSD (%)

First $180,000
Next $180,000
Next $640,000
Remaining amount

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

The ABSD you pay depends on your existing property ownership status in Singapore. If you become a Singaporean citizen, or are married to a Singaporean citizen, you may be able to reduce or avoid these additional fees.


ABSD (%)

Permanent resident, buying first property
Permanent resident, buying second property
Permanent resident, buying third or more property
Non-permanent resident, buying any property

Property prices in Singapore have risen substantially since 2018. Property prices per square metre in Singapore are now the third most-expensive in Asia, behind Hong Kong and Japan.

In 2022, the average property price in Singapore was US$14,373 per square metre.

What are the costs of household bills in Singapore?

The cost of household bills is increasing due to the cost of living crisis in Singapore.

As a country dependent on imports, Singapore is unable to produce its own energy and is therefore reliant on other countries such as Malaysia to supply its energy. Therefore, you may find that the cost of household bills in Singapore is high compared to other countries.

See below for the average cost of bills in Singapore:

Utilities (monthly)

Average cost in Singapore (US$)*

Basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for a regular-sized apartment
One minute phone call on a pay-as-you-go mobile tariff
Monthly home internet bill

*Data correct as of December 2022, Numbeo

Multiethnic group of school children sitting cross legged on floor listening to teacher

Cost of education in Singapore

A little-known fact is that Singapore is one of the best countries in the world for education. According to the 2019 UNESCO Human Development Report, Singapore ranks 8th in the world for quality of education.

Education in Singapore is mandatory for all children and is divided into three levels: six years of primary education, four to six years of secondary education, and one to three years of post-secondary education. Children are educated in English starting at primary level, and also have the option to take languages in their native tongue (available for Chinese, Malay and Tamil-speaking children).

Education in Singapore is not free for non-permanent residents, and prices have increased for 2023. Fees for government-aided schools are different for Asian and non-Asian expats. The monthly fees for 2023 will be:


Monthly fees (SGD$)

Permanent resident
Asian expat
Non-Asian expat

Many expats who move to Singapore choose to continue their children’s ongoing education from their home country by enrolling them in one of Singapore’s 64 international schools. These schools offer education systems from around the world and teach in different languages, including British, French, Chinese, American, Indian, Dutch and IB.

Annual fees for international schools in Singapore will vary depending on the type of education system you choose, the number of children you enrol in a school and whether you choose boarding or non-boarding. Annual fees for 2023 range from US$5,300 to US$40,000.

What is the cost of higher education in Singapore?

Singapore is home to two of the world’s best universities. The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are ranked 11th and 12th in the world respectively, according to QS World University Rankings 2022.

The tuition fees for international students at Singaporean universities are much higher than for domestic students. As an international student, you should expect to pay between US$13,000US$24,000. To aid with the high prices for international students, Singaporean universities offer a variety of scholarship schemes.

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Singapore's subway station

Cost of transport in Singapore

Singapore has a highly advanced metro system that spans the entire city. Known as the Mass Rapid Transit system (or MRT for short), it covers six lines extending through 134 stations. Singapore also has an extensive bus network that is included in the MRT network, meaning you can switch from rail to bus without incurring additional fees.

Since March 2022, the MRT has charged fares based on the distance travelled. This is so passengers do not need to pay full price fares to travel only a couple of stops. MRT fares are relatively inexpensive, making it easy and affordable to get around Singapore via public transport.

The daytime adult fares for public transport in central Singapore as of 2023 are:

Distance travelled (km)

Cost (SGD$)

Up to 3.2
3.3 – 4.2
4.3 – 5.2
5.3 – 6.2
6.3 – 7.2
7.3 – 8.2
8.3 – 9.2
9.3 – 10.2
10.3 – 11.2

Thus, you will need to pay no more than SGD$2.26 for a single journey on the Singapore metro, unless you choose to travel via an Express Service.

Singapore is also well-connected by cycle lanes, and many local residents choose to get around by bicycle.

And of course, Singapore has very high-quality roads, which travel by taxi feasible.

However, when it comes to owning a private vehicle, you may find the price of cars in Singapore to be extremely expensive. This is because cars come with a number of additional taxes, such as the Additional Registration Fee, Excise Duty, and Certificate of Entitlement, plus the Vehicular Emissions Scheme charge, which added together can cost several tens of thousands of dollars.

With that said, this is what you might expect to pay getting around Singapore by road:

Transport type

Average cost in Singapore (US$)*

Base fee, daytime taxi
One mile, daytime taxi journey
1 gallon of petrol
Small family car, new

*Data correct as of December 2022, Numbeo

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Cost of healthcare in Singapore

Another one of Singapore’s claims to fame is that it has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and the best in all of Asia. The Singaporean government has been investing heavily in healthcare over the last decade, more than quadrupling its expenditure between 2007–2019, up to US$11.3 billion.

Singaporean citizens enjoy free public healthcare, with major treatment covered by a statutory public health insurance named MediShield Life. This public health insurance has been growing gradually more expensive in recent years, with some groups seeing price rises of up to 35.4%.

If you are not entitled to public healthcare in Singapore, you may need to pay for treatment out of pocket. Healthcare costs can be quite expensive, especially for major treatments. Some of the costs you may be expected to pay, especially if you choose private treatment, include:

Type of treatment

Cost (US$)

GP consultation
Visit to A&E
Minor surgery
Hip replacement
Stroke treatment
Knee replacement

It is worth bearing in mind that a recent influx of foreign nationals to Singapore, especially those moving from Hong Kong, has put a strain on Singapore’s local healthcare system. Therefore, you may find that waiting times for treatments are increasing.

Taking out international medical insurance is a way to ensure you and your family can get the treatment you need. This will help you seek treatment at a private healthcare centre, whether in Singapore or neighbouring Malaysia, and includes additional types of cover such as:

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Singapore skyline cityscape at night

Staying on budget while living in Singapore

Moving to any new country is stressful, but more so when you are moving to a very expensive country in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

However, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy your new life in Singapore. With the right budgeting skills, you can not only survive, you can thrive in this bustling metropolis.

Here are some of our top tips for expats to help them stay on top of their budgets:

1/ Know your take-home pay

As mentioned above, expats will not have to pay high amounts of tax to live in Singapore. In fact, the personal income tax rate is capped at 22%, which means you may get to keep more of your income than you would in other countries. Even so, it’s important to factor in exactly how much you will have left out of your pay packet.

2/ Budget for rent/mortgage payments

The average rent in Singapore is very high, so it’s important to know in advance how much you will be paying, and what you will have left afterwards. Look for cheaper accommodation if this is your first time moving to Singapore – this way, you can work out how far your budget can stretch after rent or mortgage payments.

3/ Calculate your monthly bills

Likewise, the cost of household bills in Singapore is high and still rising. Therefore, you should research how much you might expect to pay on things like utility bills, phone and internet charges, and how much you will pay to get around town.

If you believe your income may change while living overseas, global income protection insurance could help you to manage the cost of living in Singapore.

4/ Set your monthly budget

Once you’ve worked out your monthly outgoings, you’ll know how much you have left over to play with. Singapore is an incredible country with lots to offer, so make sure to check out our expat’s guide to living in Singapore in 2023 to find out some of the best things to do around the city.

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Insurance to help you manage the cost of living in Singapore

William Russell has been helping expatriates like you settle into a new life overseas for over 30 years.

Our comprehensive insurance packages are made with expats like you in mind. They give you and your family complete peace of mind, wherever you move in the world, with premiums designed to suit your finances. Our international health insurance helps you access the best-quality medical treatment abroad, while income protection insurance can offer a lifeline should you experience loss of finances.

Speak to us today to find out more about how we could help you make the most of your new life as an expat in Singapore.

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