The cost of living in Singapore is expensive

April 10, 2017

Today we are talking about costs and finances. The point is likely to be of particular interest to those planning a stay abroad in Singapore next year.

The costs are of course dependent on the individual requirements and projects and the overview should be understood as an aid. Basically, I would say that life in Singapore is a lot more expensive compared to Germany.

First of all, the fixed costs that are incurred in advance. These are the tuition fees at the host university and the flight costs. My connecting flight to Singapore cost me around 500 euros.

1) Living in Singapore

The biggest item in Singapore is certainly the monthly rent. As mentioned in my previous blog post, there is a wide range of different accommodations. Realistically, you can find accommodation for 800 to 1200 Singapore dollars (SGD) - that's around 540 to 800 euros. In most cases, there is also the initial deposit.

2) Food: Adapt to regional conditions

For groceries you should expect about 10-15 SGD per day. Of course, that depends entirely on consumption. The university has a pretty good cafeteria with many different dishes. Lunch here costs around SGD 3-5. In addition, water dispensers are set up everywhere in the university, so that you don't always have to bring or buy water yourself. You can also eat very cheaply outside of university in food courts or hawker centers. Dishes here cost around 3-6 SGD. Restaurants are much more expensive. An average meal costs from SGD 15 upwards.

The prices for groceries in the supermarket are mixed. Here I can recommend adapting to the regional conditions, because regional fruits, vegetables, fish products and drinks are relatively inexpensive. Typical European products such as bread, muesli, all kinds of dairy products, meat products and coffee are definitely overpriced. So I only buy a few things in the supermarket and stick to the local hawker centers.

3) Free time: Going out is comparatively expensive

Going out is pretty expensive in Singapore. Alcohol in particular is really expensive. For example, a six-pack of beer in the supermarket costs between 10-20 SGD and a bottle of wine around 20-30 SGD. Also in bars or clubs the drink prices range between 12-20 SGD for a drink and it is not uncommon that you have to pay 20-30 SGD admission in the club - unless you are on the guest list; P

Tips are uncommon in Singapore, even taxi drivers generally give change down to the last cent or even round it off to their disadvantage in order not to have to worry about change.

Restaurants usually state their prices in the form of $ 19.99 ++, which means that the prices do not include taxes (7%) and service (10%) and are added to the invoice amount. Hotels and fancy restaurants may even write +++ after the net amount, here 1% CESS (a kind of "tourist tax") is added.

But it's also worth noting that many things to do in Singapore are free. For example the MacRitchie Nature Reserve, Sentosa Island (as long as you don't go to Universal Studios), the area around the Singapore River and Marina Bay, the Botanical Garden, Mount Faber and of course the whole districts in Singapore, especially Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam.

4) Local transport and miscellaneous: Taxi and Uber

The MRT (light rail) system in Singapore is very well developed, so you can go almost anywhere. If there is no Mass Rapid Transit, or “MRT” for short, station nearby, you can of course also take the bus. But be careful - the stops on the bus are not announced, so you have to count yourself. I would also advise against taking the bus during rush hour, as you are stuck in traffic for longer than the actual travel time. Local public transport is relatively cheap in Singapore. An average trip costs between SGD 1-2.

We got a rechargeable card at James Cook University JCU, but you can buy one too. I need around SGD 80 per month to travel by train. The costs mainly depend on the distance from home to campus and other trips during leisure time. It is also important to know that the MRI only runs until midnight. So if you should be out in the city for a longer period of time, you only have the taxi. But this is less dramatic in Singapore, as you can get a taxi or rather Uber / Grab almost everywhere and the prices are much cheaper compared to Germany. A trip from downtown to my apartment costs around SGD 15.

The mobile phone costs are also relatively manageable in Singapore. I got a Singtel SIM card on arrival. You can simply top it up with the desired amount if necessary. As a tourist you can use the landline network almost everywhere. With moderate use, I would accept around 15-20 SGD per month.

Depending on the destination, nearby interesting places can be visited relatively cheaply. For example, Kuala Lumpur can be reached quickly and easily. With Airbnb accommodation and bus transfer, three nights cost around 75 euros. Or if you book a plane ticket at short notice and forget your passport, then 200 euros.

In general, you should always be on the lookout for special promotions. Groupon or “” often have very interesting offers

I hope I was able to help you with your financial planning with this post. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to write to me or leave a comment.


Financial reasons are still a reason why a semester abroad is not affordable for everyone. But don't let that stop you, because luckily there is a range of scholarships and additional benefits that you can apply for. So with a little planning and advice from the DAAD, you can get it done. 😉