Cost of Living in Singapore (2020) — Your Highly Curated Guide!


Hailed as a miniature “Silicon Valley” by former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, Singapore has attracted hundreds of thousands of software developers all around the world. With companies big and small choosing Singapore as their launchpad in the region, demand for tech talents surged — so did salaries. So without a need for further explanation, talents from all around the globe flocked to this glowing opportunity and you are probably one of them! Unlike how it was portrayed in the movie Crazy Rich Asians, living in Singapore is not as expensive as it seems and this article will break down the basics for you.

Without further ado, here is a detailed and transparent breakdown of the cost of living in this bustling metropolis:

1. Food
2. Accommodation
3. Transport
4. Cellular Service
5. Taxes

TL;DR Cost of Essentials in Singapore

Average monthly expenses (without tax) amount between S$1,260 to S$2,350.

1. Food

From cheap and delicious hawker food (kopitiam)to luxurious celebrity chef restaurants, Singapore offers a dynamic range of options for you to satisfy your hunger.

The amount of money spent on food varies and a frequent diner in a restaurant would of course incur a larger food expense compared to a savvy hawker centre goer.

A typical lunch (including a cup of coffee, better known as kopi in Singapore) at a hawker centre would set you back about S$6 while dinner at a mid-range restaurant on a weekend would cost between S$20–30.

For an average consumer, monthly food expenses would amount between: S$450–600

A wide variety of delicious cuisines at Old Airport Road Food Centre — Yum!

2. Accommodation

Accommodation costs in Singapore can be high but it depends on location. Housing near the Central Business District would no doubt be on the higher end. However, location would not be much of a worry as almost all of Singapore is accessible by the Mass Rapid Transit (or MRT for short), and by bus — most places are accessible within a 30–45 minute ride!

Listed below are trustworthy websites for your potential new home:


All in all, a unit with utilities like WiFi, air-conditioning and washing machine should set you back between S$700–1600 per month depending on your budget.

A sample from

3. Transport

For one of the best public transport systems in the world, Singapore offers an affordable price. Zipping around the island on the MRT is perhaps the fastest way to get around on a fare of about S$2 depending on distance. Trains arrive in intervals of 5 minutes and duration of travel between stops is about 2 to 3 minutes.

Aside from the extensive rail network, bus services are also available. Located near residential areas, these MRT stations and bus stops are easily accessible — getting to work would not be a hassle!

Taxi and Ride-hailing services are accessible as well.

On average, you can expect to spend about S$100 a month (2 trips a day).

A first-class transport network

4. Cellular Service

Communication is key in any relationship and that’s why we are being transparent with you! Jokes aside, Singapore offers reliable cellular services. For starters, prepaid options offering data and local calls range between S$8 to S$50.

For postpaid plans, we recommend SIM-only packages. Listed below are some of the options available:

To qualify for a postpaid plan, you must have a minimum 6 months validity on your S Pass or Employment Pass.

In a nutshell, a prepaid plan can be considered for the short term and should set you back about S$8 to S$20 per month. In the long term, you may consider postpaid options which would cost between S$0 (yes 0! check out TPG XL here) and S$50.

5. Taxes

Oh, the bane of every working adult…

Taxes in Singapore can be a tad bit confusing but let’s lay it down simply. Goods and Service taxes are at 7% but are set to increase to 9% between 2021 and 2025. Most restaurants charge an additional 10% for service as well…

What about income tax?

Here is where it gets a little tricky:

  1. Foreigners who are employed for 60 days or less are exempt from tax
  2. If employed for a period between 61 and 182 days, the foreign employee is subject to either 15% or the resident rate, whichever is higher
  3. Resident Rates will be taxed for employment extending beyond 182 days

Let’s talk about Resident Rates — A fixed amount will be taxed for a portion of your income and an ad valorem tax for another. Below is a chart provided by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore:

Now that’s (a little) confusing isn’t it? To paint a clearer picture, here is an example:

Mark earns an annual salary of $100,000
His first $80,000 is taxed a
fixed $3,350
His next $20,000 is taxed
ad valorem at 11.5%
Tax paid: $3,350 + 0.115*$20,000 = $5,650

Here’s another example:

Spencer earns an annual salary of $120,000
His first $80,000 is taxed at a
fixed $3,350
His next $40,000 is taxed
ad valorem at 11.5% as well
Tax paid: $3,350 + 0.115*$40,000 = $7,950

From both examples, Mark and Spencer (geddit?) fall under the same category on the chart provided. Hence, their fixed and ad valorem tax are the same rates at $3,350 and 11.5% respectively.

Additional: Dependant Pass

So you’re all excited to move to Singapore but you’re not coming alone. Your spouse or family members will require a Dependant’s Pass which is a relocation visa issued to selected family members of Employment Pass, S Pass holders, EntrePass holders or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) holders. Click here to find out more.

Low-balled on salary during Offer?

Join the smarter way. Discover upfront real salary data backed by payslips and offer letters.

Join the growing community of 800+ tech talents who have already submitted their salary data. Put an end to salary opaqueness here in Singapore!

Follow us on Telegram (@nodeflairsg) for the latest Tech Insight, Reads, Salaries & Job Opportunities!

Related Articles