Thursday, September 13, 2012

Singapore Living Expenses: then and now

Living in Singapore for the past 12 years, I have somehow witnessed how the cost of living changed over time. Here is a list of living expenses as I have experienced their rise and fall (?).

Accommodation (rent or mortgaged or owned)
  • this is where a big chunk of our money went 12 years ago (renting a room then a flat)
  • accommodation type: HDB flat (high-rise, gov't funded buildings), private apartments, condos, landed properties (semi-detached, terrace houses, etc)
  • rental fees depend on location, proximity to amenities. The closer to town/city area, the more expensive. So are units near MRT stations.
  • from 2000-2002
    •  room rental fee was as low as $500 per room per month (for a family of 3, excluding PUB) in a condo (Normanton Park, located along AYE (a convenient location going to the city)
    • 3rm HDB flat rental in Toa Payoh (close to the city), top floor, was $900 per month
  • from 2002 onwards, rental prices spiked. A common room in a condo would cost $500 but only for one person in the room. A 3rm HDB flat near the city would cost minimum $1200-1500. These days, room/flat rentals even in the outskirts are too pricey! Rental flats in Sengkang (4rm) cost as much as $2000 (some even more) - a price tenants would only be willing to pay (years ago) if location is near the city. 
  • there are a lot of grocery shops, supermarkets, convenience shops and wet/dry markets all around Singapore.
  • grocery expenses depend on how families/individuals plan their meals. In our case, back in 2000-2002, we would spend only about $300 or so for a whole month's groceries. These days, we are spending about double that for groceries, but I do admit the family has gone bigger and the kids eat more.
3. PUB - this includes electricity, gas, water and waste disposal. Yes, you do have to pay for water and waste disposal in Singapore (I say this because we didn't have to pay water in my province in the Philippines).
  • For those who are renting a room only, your PUB can be included in your monthly rent or the main tenant/owner can compute your share of the bill every month. This will mainly be based on consumption (of course, not as accurate as you would like it to be) depending on the number of people living in the house. 
  • Some owners charge just $50 (fixed) for PUB. But the amount can go as high as $100 (or more) depending on the amount of PUB monthly bill if it is not assigned as a fixed amount. 
  • Before signing in to a tenancy agree, make sure you understand and agree to the allocation of PUB bill. Bear in mind that tenants usually have problems because of PUB sharing.
4. Phone bills - there are 3 main telephone companies providing telecom services in Singapore - Singtel, M1 and Starhub. For more info on their services and products, please visit their websites.

Just a caution, only get a plan that you can afford so you are not caught up in a situation wherein your bills are too high for you to afford to pay them.

5. Internet/Cable - I assume most of us probably need the internet either for work or personal use. The telcos mentioned earlier also provide these services. You can visit their website to check which plans fit your needs.

Cable services may be a must to others so this can also be another expense to consider. The 3 telcos also provide this service. Do check out their packages of phone line, cable and internet to save on monthly bills.

8. Food - eat at home or eat out?
  • If you want to save on food, eating at home and bringing packed lunch is definitely the best way to save money. You can incorporate this expense in your groceries. 
  • if you don't know how to cook, this is the time to learn :). 
  • Or you can just opt to eat out. There are a lot of eating places in Singapore from hawker centers to fast food chains and food courts. Prices range from $2.50 per meal (rice with meat or vegies) to around $7 for a fastfood meal.
9. Transportation - MRT, bus, LRT, taxi. Singapore is a small country. You can get from one place to another using any of the transportation mentioned above.
  • You need an ezlink card to pay for your bus/MRT/LRT fares.

10. Education - for those who have children, this is an added item on your expense list. Cost depends on the age of your child and on which centre or school you plan to enrol them.
  • pre-school kids (ages 2-6) go to nursery, k1, k2 levels. You can choose to send them to a government-subsidized centre (PCF) or private centres. Range of tuition fee is from as low as $90 per month to as high as $1,000 per month
  • primary school kids (ages 6-12) can go to government schools, semi-government funded schools, private schools or international schools. Range of tuition fee from $14.50 per month to $2,000 per month for International schools.

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