Seven  Ways Expats Can Live Less Expensive Lives in Singapore!!!

Singapore has a reputation for being the most expensive city in the world. On the upside, it combines a low tax environment with great safety and political stability.

So if you’ve just moved to Singapore, you don’t need to worry too much about your physical well-being. Spend the time fretting over your wallet instead, because this city can empty it in record time.

Here are some time-tested tips to help you survive the world’s most expensive city:

Watch Where Singaporeans Eat or Drink:

Newcomers are often amazed that locals can eat out (all three meals) for around $9 a day. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, and keep walking into cafes or restaurants, be prepared to fork out $75+ per day if you eat out every meal. 

Watch where Singaporeans (or anyone who has lived here a while) go to eat and drink. The sooner you learn from the locals, the sooner this will stop being the world’s most expensive city for expats. Being a food hub, you’ll quickly realise that a $3 meal can taste as good as a $35 one. And yes, portion sizes are equal. So despite being the most expensive city, you never have to go far for a hearty meal and even a pint of beer after work for less than $10. 


Is Singapore a paradise for shopaholics or not?? …Maybe Not!!

Retailers will hate us for telling you this, but mark-ups in Singapore stores can be high. This is doubly true for high-end br ands and touristy areas, such as the shops along Orchard Road. Even among Singaporeans, there are shoppers who prefer to get their br anded bags, clothes, shoes, etc. in HK, US or Europe instead.

So do check out the prices online before you buy. Chances are, you may be able to get it cheaper on an online store. But with affordable br ands like H&M, Uniqlo and Topshop, at your drop step putting together a swish outfit for a night doesn’t hurt your wallet that much.


Whom are you Banking with??? Local Vs International Bank

As the region’s financial hub, there are well over 100 banks in Singapore. Beyond well-known banks like ANZ, SCB , HSBC or Citibank are local banks such as DBS, UOB, and OCBC. Local banks bring an accessibility advantage with more ATMs and branches, which makes it easy to withdraw cash. Singapore is also host to a range of private and offshore banks that may offer you a better deal if you are affluent. 

It is advisable to pick two banks when you l and. The first bank should be an international bank which can be used to remit money back home at better exchange rate. The second bank should be a local bank, through which you can have your salary credited and conveniently h andle withdrawals or deposits. 


Consider a Regional or Global Insurance Policy

If you need private health insurance, it may be more cost-effective to get a regional or global policy, especially if you’re staying less than seven years or travel a lot. You might get sticker shock once you see the premium, but it may be financially efficient, depending on your situation.

Many local insurers will terminate your policy once you leave the country.  Or may not want to cover you if you spend a lot of time going in and out of Singapore. Getting a global policy may still be cheaper than repeatedly adding coverage from a local insurer.

Speak to an independent financial advisor if you want global insurance. 


Public Transport Will Help You Save Pretty Well!!

Singapore can proudly boasts its world class transportation system, that will definitely help you save some extra bucks. With 5 metro railway lines and over 300 public buses, all the areas are well connected for daily commuters. The average commute for one direction is $1.40.

Hiring a cab will not leave a hole in your pocket as well, with 5 cab companies operating in this little isl and  and competing each other over fares, the consumer always have a happy ride to home. 



If You’re Buying a House Here, Be Picky About Conveyancing Fees and Loan Packages

 You can choose which law firm h andles the paperwork, as long as they are recognised by the bank. Conveyancing fees can range from $1,500 to $3,000, and are rarely brought up by the mortgage banker. If you’re not too lazy to compare (you can get an independent mortgage broker to do this), you can save a tidy sum.

 If you’re getting a property loan , use a mortgage broker instead of just letting the estate agent point you at one. It’s not their forte, so you may not be getting the best deal. Mortgage brokers are generally free in Singapore, so go through them instead.



If You’re Renting, Ensure There is a Repatriate or Diplomatic Clause

By convention, this clause should be present if you have a lease exceeding 12 months. This allows you to terminate the lease on two months’ notice, with no penalties if you are retrenched or transferred elsewhere.

If you are unfamiliar with the document, ask your property agent or the l andlord to point out the specific page on which the clause is printed.



Author Bio:
Lauren Dado is the Content Manager at, Singapore’s #1 comparison site for credit cards and personal loans . She has 8 years of digital and content marketing experience under her belt, and has recently been writing about personal finance. Originally from the Philippines, she loves to surf and misses the pristine tropical beaches of her home country.