Starting in Singapore: Living Costs in Singapore
Living Costs

The annual inflation rate in Singapore is among the lowest in the world. Indeed according to the Singapore statistics for 1998, the inflation was -0.3% and it is no surprise to find it hovering around zero at the time of writing. The government keeps a tight rein on the economy to good economic effect. The ECPI (Expatriates Consumer Prices Index) reflects the cost of living for expatriates living and working in Singapore. The difference between the CPI and the ECPI is due to the different consumption patterns of expatriate and local households, as well as the different weights given to the various items used to compute the indices. For example, while the CPI generally reflects the trend in food prices, the ECPI reflects the trend in housing rentals because the accommodation index alone accounts for 40% of the total weights. The compiling of such reports is the responsibility of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC), who have a comprehensive website at http://www.sicc.com.sg.

One very useful indicator of how much Singapore salary you would need to equate to your previous job is found here:http://www2.homefair.com/calc/salcalc.html. Simply input the annual salary of your present job and the city where you work, and the program will display the equivalent in Singapore dollars, based on current exchange rates. Thanks to one of our readers for contributing this.

Here are a guide to the prices of some essential goods and services (subject to change of course):

Food:

  • Fresh beef - $12.63/kg
  • USA smoked ham - $30.40/kg
  • Local chicken - $3.99 each
  • Scottish smoked salmon - $5.90/100g
  • Fresh milk - $1.15/250ml
  • Eggs (large) - $0.26 each
  • Butter - $1.86/250g
  • Local tomatoes - $2.90/kg
  • Local lettuce - $5.90/kg
  • USA apples - $0.99 for 3
  • Red seedless grapes - $6.90/kg
  • Coffee - $8.15/200g
  • Sugar - $1.90/2kg
  • Plain bread - $1.40/400g
  • Wholemeal bread - $3.09/600g

Services:

  • Bus fare - $0.60 to $1.40
  • MRT fare - $0.70 to $1.60
  • Taxi fare - $2.40 flag down for first 1 km
    $0.10 for every subsequent 240m up to 10km
    $0.10 for every subsequent 225m after 10km
    $0.10 for every 30 seconds of part there of that the taxi is detained.
    Surchage of 50% of the fare from midnight to 6am
  • Movie ticket - $6 - $8
  • Hawker centre meal - $4 - $6
  • Air conditioned Food court meal - $5 - $7
  • Big Mac at McDonalds - $2.80
  • Can of coke - $0.60 - $1.00

What does this all mean in simple terms? Let's say it's the weekend and you and your spouse are going out. You take a train from say Clementi station to Orchard Station ($2.60 for 2). You then decide to catch a movie ($16 for 2) at the cinema, with drinks and popcorn ($8 for 2). After the movie, some window shopping which costs absolutely nothing, and finally to the food court to get some dinner ($12 for 2). After all that walking, you decide to take a taxi home ($8). Total cost for the day out? $44.60 for 2 people. That's about US$27.

Note: Expatriates hailing from afar, i.e. the United Kingdom or the USA, will no doubt hanker after special somethings from home, such as cheeses, fruits or ice cream flavours. Singapore caters more than adequately for such people (of which I am one!) although of course, you pay a premium for such airflown products. Examples are Cheshire and Cheddar cheese from the UK, available at Cold Storage supermarkets, Florida Fresh Orange juice, available at most supermarkets, raspberries from Chile, priced at a whopping $9 or so per punnet and huge Californian strawberries costing anything from $6-$10 per punnet.

The message? That almost anything is available here as long as you don't mind paying for it. Cold Storage Gourmet supermarket, situated at the foot of 6th Avenue in Bukit Timah is one place specially designed for homesick expats but a warning - here even the normal humdrum products cost more than in the other Cold Storage branches. So unless you are buying something you can't get in another branch, stick to the hard-to-find items!  Other so-called gourmet supermarkets are Jason's (tel: 6235 4355) and Tierney's (Tel: 6466 7469). All relevant details are in our Groceries section.

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