Expats need over $4.5K a month to live in Singapore but many Singaporeans live on much less

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An expat on Employment Pass, Dhananjay Pai, recently wrote on Quora that he needs $4,500 to $6,500 a month (for him and his wife) to live in Singapore. They have no children.

“I am a person who kept track of all the spending and I saw when we didn’t travel, we spent 4500 per month. When we did travel, it could go up to 6500 per month,” he wrote.

Here is the breakdown of his expenditure per month:
* HDB flat rental – $2000
* Taxi – $300 to 350
* Eating out – $350 to 400
* Utilities – $120 to 150
* Cable TV plus internet – $100
* Grocery – $300 to 400
* Main medical insurance – covered by employer
* Additional hospitalization insurance – $167
* Combined tax for both – $400

“Of course, life becomes very boring if we only did basic things. We bought some things in the mall from time to time, went on travel around the region and to visit our parents (overseas) so all this added up,” he added.

According to his calculations, his total expenses come to about $4,500 to $6,500 a month.

Singaporeans need only $1K a month

A few years years ago, DPM Tharman told Parliament that Singaporeans need only a household income of $1,000 a month to afford a HDB flat.

Addressing NCMP Gerald Giam, he said, “I would like to assure Mr Gerald Giam, who might not have caught up with all the developments, that our enhanced housing grants for lower income families are such that a family with a monthly income of as low as $1,000 can now purchase a small flat.”

One blogger commenting on DPM Tharman’s statement in Parliament said:

“Minister Tharman now makes this claim that a family with income of $1000 can afford to own a flat. Maybe he forgot to tell us his assumptions. Engineers will tell you that you can always adjust your assumptions to get the conclusions you want. The family has to live on maggie noodles. They cannot get sick and see the doctor. They have to wear cheap clothes that last for decades. They cannot furnish or renovate the flat they purchase. They cannot have school-going children. If they have children, there is no budget for entertainment – no movies, no electricity for computers, no handphones, etc. They have to walk and not take the bus if the destination is within 2 km to save money. They cannot go out unless it is for work or groceries. They have to bathe once a day (or every 2 days) only to keep the water bill down. If the bread winner break his leg during the 30 years he has to service his housing loan he can set it back himself and go to work the next day because low paid workers are fired if they take too many days of MC.”

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52 comments

    1. HDB flats should be a basic shelter for all citizens, not be used as an investment tool. Make it as affordable as affordability should be . Grant all local born citizens easy access to this basic shelter while not becoming a slave to owning one.

  1. Social workers place a bench mark of $1800 about 3 years ago! Those earning below this figure is classified as living in poverty!
    Now, with 30% water price hike, that is a vicious cycle that raise all the materials price of goods plus GST, the current bench mark is $2500
    Below this income is living in poverty!
    Poor citizens of Singapore living under half-baked politicians making half-baked policies and suffering in silence!
    Singaporeans are swallowing the bitter pills!

  2. An expat on Employment Pass, Dhananjay Pai, recently wrote on Quora that he needs $4,500 to $6,500 a month (for him and his wife) to live in Singapore. They have no children.

    “I am a person who kept track of all the spending and I saw when we didn’t travel, we spent 4500 per month. When we did travel, it could go up to 6500 per month,” he wrote.

    Here is the breakdown of his expenditure per month:
    * HDB flat rental – $2000. Vs HDB Owner saved ($5k-2K=3k)
    * Taxi – $300 to 350. Vs Bus + MRT = S$250. Saved $50
    * Eating out – $350 to 400. Vs Hawker$240 ($4x2x30days) Saved $110
    * Utilities – $120 to 150 vs Citizen U-Rebate Saved $40
    * Cable TV plus internet – $100 vs Free TV + Internet @ $50. Saved $50
    * Grocery – $300 to 400. Vs Home-Make BF ($2x2x30days) Saved $180
    * Main medical insurance – covered by employer
    * Additional hospitalization insurance – $167 vs Medishield $37. Saved $130
    * Combined tax for both – $400 Vs HDB under Combine income $2000 Tax Free. Saved $400. mY Estimated to saved $2960 WITH EXPENSES $2040 THIS 2017 FOR A COUPLE IS POSSIBLE IN HDB 3RM with 5N6D Asia Hoilday per year.

  3. YI LU FA says:

    Not forgetting the contribution to CPF HOW much left for household expenses ? If household has children the cost of Milk n CHILDCARE ,even with an gross incomes of 2k will not make end meet

    1. Sherrz Lim says:

      contributing to CPF is good for retirement, a different form of saving for old age. It’s limitation is that the restriction in the manner of control over the monies appears less advantageous for some people.

    2. Plus gahment promoting cashless system so must have a min 3G phone for payments including very soon the toilet ! Handphone hardware n bills are also cost. If there are more than 4 members in a family, the monthly payment are not cheap!

  4. It’s amazing that this e pass holder’s HDB rental is only $2000. Open market rental for unfurnished 3rm flat is above $2500. Very conservative numbers.

  5. $1,000 a month. They should try it themself for one year. Than talk about the quality of life for the average singaporean . Please treat us with respect. Cheap Cheap $400 water electricty soap toilet paper washing soap bouse hold needs. $ 200 transport etc. Savings???? For leasure walk to the nearest aircon mall look see look see.
    I pity these people who have to live these way.

  6. I think if the couple takes the train, eat out less, and pledge their future children to the State, living cost could come down by 50%, but they are expatriates, guess they need to live like one…

  7. Sherrz Lim says:

    eh the foreigner can choose not to eat out, choose not to take taxi etc etc. It is his choice.
    On the other hand. 1000sgd is rather extreme. Factoring inflation etc, this amount becomes debatable.

  8. Colin Chan says:

    This is a classic case of White Smokes….

    Nowadays, I Siam and can’t be bothered whenever I detected any signs of Smokes….

    Especially White in color….

  9. Swiss standard they say will bring to singapore. That’s the Swiss standard $1000 enuff. Our 1000 value become same value like Ringgit in singapore version.

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