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Cost of living calculations not making sense

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Kryptos
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Cost of living calculations not making sense

Postby Kryptos » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 1:21 pm

I am currently investigating the option of moving to Singapore but there is one thing that does not make much sense to me.

I have seen on several sites that the average salary in Singapore is around S$3000 per month. Then I look at accomodation and I see it ranges from S$1200 to S$6000 going from the HBD (?) to condo accomodation. Even with the lowest accomodation cost, after taxes, this looks pretty impossible as I recently visited Singapore and with my salary that is significantly higher that the average (using current exchange rates) I found the city to be quite expensive. :???:

Can someone perhaps shed some light on this and/or give some info of what the actual picture would be for myself as a Senior Software Developer working in Singapore requiring pet-friendly accommodation for me and my wife?

Any help will be really great! :D

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sierra2469alpha
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Postby sierra2469alpha » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 1:35 pm

Hi Kryptos - in order to assist - where did you get those figures from?

Also, have a bit of a search on this forum (use the search function up above) for "cost of living" - there's a wealth of information here - but it is scatterred around a little.

Post back the source and I'll have a look for you - cheers, P

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Postby Kryptos » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 3:03 pm

sierra2469alpha wrote:Hi Kryptos - in order to assist - where did you get those figures from?

Also, have a bit of a search on this forum (use the search function up above) for "cost of living" - there's a wealth of information here - but it is scatterred around a little.

Post back the source and I'll have a look for you - cheers, P


It was actually found in this site whilst doing a search.

Och, did not save the links but will see if I can find it again.

Will post again once I have my ducks in a row :D

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Postby Guowei58 » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 5:19 pm

Rent is a big part of your expenditures.

s$3K per month salary is probably on the low end, and those folks live in areas that are much cheaper than what expats are paying. Considering that there are typically two breadwinners in the family, and the kids don't leave home until he/she is married, i think people can get by with that kind of salary, although tight. I was talking to a taxi driver, and he said that Singapore is becoming very expensive for the locals...

Food (no fancy restaurants) and MRT are also cheap...

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Postby sierra2469alpha » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 5:25 pm

Guowei58 wrote:Rent is a big part of your expenditures.
...I was talking to a taxi driver, and he said that Singapore is becoming very expensive for the locals...

Food (no fancy restaurants) and MRT are also cheap...


Agreed...the Uncle I had the other day asked what we were paying for our place and he almost fell out of his taxi. Rents are high, but there are bargains to be found...heaps of postings on other threads regarding this for you Kryptos.

Guo - yeh, food is great AND cheap here - love it - never moving back! If only I can improve my Singlish, eh!!!!

P

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Postby Kryptos » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 7:40 pm

And I am back.

Thanks for the info so far.

Here is at least one link:
http://www.ida.gov.sg/News%20and%20Events/20070905134236.aspx?getPagetype=21

This states that a software developer earns an average of S$3000 per month. Now quite honestly, at current exchange rates that is about half what I am earning in South Africa at the moment even with our currency being so weak.

I have also searched for cost of living on the forum and also done some other searches on the net and see that a good sized condo (not even looking at HDB as we have two cats that verge more on being children than pets and I have already found out that they do not allow cats there) will be in the region of S$2000 - S$5000 per month. Which leaves preciously little of the S$3000.

See:
http://www.singaporeexpats.com/guides-for-expats/house-hunt-guide.htm

So with this in mind I need to know the reality of Senior Software Devlopers in Singapore. What does a good developer actually earn?

And as I said, with earning double the everage amount already, I found food in Singapore to be quite expensive when we visited. Approximately 50% to 100% more expensive than it is in South Africa where we are already feeling the pinch at current salaries. Perhaps I was just at the wrong place but this included shopping malls, Sentosa Island etc. Granted this was 'fast food', so perhaps the normal grocries will be less?

So in fact I cannot figure how a person can afford rent AND food in Singapore on the salaries I see in the posts here and on other sites.

What am I missing? Honestly, what is left of an average salary after rent and taxes?

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A difficult one to answer

Postby shef » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 8:43 pm

Hi,

I can only imagine your confusion when you are reading all these posts. I had the same problem prior to our arrival in Singapore. I cannot help you with the salary bit but I can tell you a bit about the cost of living.

If you are a local and eating local type food (lots of rice and noodles and barely any meat), food is very cheap. This includes eating out at local hawker centers and cooking it yourself. Local food is predominantly Chinese food.

if you are a typical expat where rice and noodles is an occasional thing and not 3 meals a day, food can be expensive. This includes pricing of meat (in particular red meat) bought to cook or eating out in Western type restaurants.

Accommodation can be pretty expensive if you intend to live in the main expat areas or near Orchard area. Otherwise, you can get decent condos a little bit further out quite affordable. Of course, HDBs are a lot cheaper but then the local wages are also less than the typical (not all) expat wage.

Hopefully someone else can help you with the salary bit to allow you to do your maths.

Cheers

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Postby yoongf » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 8:57 pm

Software Developers are now either fresh grads, or Indian expats working in Sg. This could explain why the average figures appear low.

Most family units are dual income, so.. $3K a month per person is pretty livable.

Hey.. locals do eat meat.. ok. maybe more of the processed kind like spam, fish cakes, fish balls, crab sticks, yong tao foo, etc.

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Re: A difficult one to answer

Postby Kryptos » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 8:58 pm

shef wrote:Hi,

I can only imagine your confusion when you are reading all these posts. I had the same problem prior to our arrival in Singapore. I cannot help you with the salary bit but I can tell you a bit about the cost of living.

If you are a local and eating local type food (lots of rice and noodles and barely any meat), food is very cheap. This includes eating out at local hawker centers and cooking it yourself. Local food is predominantly Chinese food.

if you are a typical expat where rice and noodles is an occasional thing and not 3 meals a day, food can be expensive. This includes pricing of meat (in particular red meat) bought to cook or eating out in Western type restaurants.

Accommodation can be pretty expensive if you intend to live in the main expat areas or near Orchard area. Otherwise, you can get decent condos a little bit further out quite affordable. Of course, HDBs are a lot cheaper but then the local wages are also less than the typical (not all) expat wage.

Hopefully someone else can help you with the salary bit to allow you to do your maths.

Cheers


Thanks. That is very helpful :D

When you say meat is expensive, what are we talking about here. Let's say, for instance, what would the cost of beef be per killogram?

Any help on the salary side from anyone else will be much appreciated...

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Cost of beef to OP

Postby shef » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 9:32 pm

The cost of beef varies from where you get it from:
- Frozen chuck etc (only good for casserole cooking for > 4hrs) is about $10 from a wet market
- Fresh Aus/NZ (taken directly from the Cold Storage website- major supermarket here to find beef) is $33/kg (for beef tails and shin beef) and around the $59/kg for steaks. Check out their website in the meat section. Local western butchers that sells fresh beef are about the same price. Beware that a lot of beef here is frozen-thawed out (hence F/T in the name).

Yes, locals do eat meat. Predominantly chicken and pork. The local dishes tends to be a lot of rice (80%) and very little meat (20%). I am talking about the oh so famous Chicken Rice you find in every hawker center or the Nasi Lemak with one fried chicken wing and the rest rice. It all depends on what you are used to.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 11:12 pm

Kryptos,

Most Singaporean Families are a MINIMUM of dual income families. A high majority of the actual may have 3 or more Full Time Income Earners under the same roof. Stop to consider......

A Single cannot afford to rent (couldn't 5 years ago either) due to rental costs, They cannot afford to buy as they are young so haven't worked long enough to build up a sizeable downpayment. They are not allowed to buy and HDB Flat if they are single unless they are over 35. That means most still live at home until they are close to 30 at least. Average marriage age here is now around 33 I believe. Now take a set of Husband and wife in their mid 40's with two grown up children. The parents, each earning 3~5K a month and the two kids earning say 1.3 & 1.7/mo. This could amount to around 11K/mo per household. Now you have to also realize that Singaporeans/PR can utilize their CPF in their ordinary accounts to pay their mortgage payments as well. This makes the cash outlay even smaller. (although they are contributing 20% towards the CPF the employer also contributes a sum equal to 14.5% of the salary as well. That means a 3000/mo salary has 1035/mo going into CPF of which 70% can be used to offset any mortgage payments if the mortgage is from HDB.

Now, how to compete on equal terms? You can't. Also, you are competing with Filipinos, Indians, Malaysian who also have the experience but not the Western Consumption habits. They will happily live in HDB Flats whereas a high majority of Western Expats shun these as they feel it's beneath them. Having said that though, due to the rapidly escalating rental prices, a lot have been forced to do just that though.

I was an early adopter though, I'm a western PR (Yank) and I own an HDB flat that only has about 5 years left on the mortgage now.

Sorry for the length of this but it does explain it......

SMS

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 03 Apr 2008 11:18 pm

As Shef pointed out regarding the food. Maybe learning to eat local is the best option. (I did ) The spices used in Asia make if worthwhile. If you are not too keen or Chinese Food but like spices, you will love Indian & Malay Foods. Also, Looking at my breathern in the US, UK and Aus, I would say it might be prudent to move away from the heavy meat & potatoes upsized at every turn type of meals. Could be good for you health. :P

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Re: Cost of living calculations not making sense

Postby MikeDirnt » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 12:17 am

Kryptos wrote:I am currently investigating the option of moving to Singapore but there is one thing that does not make much sense to me.

I have seen on several sites that the average salary in Singapore is around S$3000 per month. Then I look at accomodation and I see it ranges from S$1200 to S$6000 going from the HBD (?) to condo accomodation. Even with the lowest accomodation cost, after taxes, this looks pretty impossible as I recently visited Singapore and with my salary that is significantly higher that the average (using current exchange rates) I found the city to be quite expensive. :???:

Can someone perhaps shed some light on this and/or give some info of what the actual picture would be for myself as a Senior Software Developer working in Singapore requiring pet-friendly accommodation for me and my wife?

Any help will be really great! :D

3k average for a person in sg i would consider it quite right. it is enough if you already own your own house and your spouse is having about the same income.

but to live in singapore with that amount and renting a place for 1k+ will definitely be a squeeze. maybe for the time being rent a room for below $500. if you intend to stay long, i suggest get your own place because paying rent in the long rent is not a wise thing to do.
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Postby Kryptos » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 1:44 pm

Thanks for the information. It is really helpful in making my decisions.

I think the issue at hand for me is that I would initially be the breadwinner. My wife is also a very experienced worker, however, the chances of us both getting a job sitting here in South Africa would be quite slim. So there would at best be a couple of months of me having to carry the household.

I would not consider the HDB option to be beneath me, to be quite honest the reason it is not an option is that they do not allow cats there and with my wife having had these two for 12 years already one can understand the bond. Hey even I have fallen in love with them and if they can't go, I won't go. If it was not for that the sky would have been the limit but some sacrifices are just too high.

So woult it be safe to say that unless both myself and my wife can find employment, with HDB excluded from our equations, it will be really difficult to impossible to make a living in Singapore?

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Postby MikeDirnt » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 3:20 pm

i guess you dont have kids? single person working with 3k income and 1k+ rental can be tight but not impossible if no children.

i have a friend who came from malaysia to work in singapore earning about same income. he got a family with 2 children, single working and rented a hdb flat for 700+. after few months he decided to move out and stay in malaysia but still work in singapore. that shows how tight it can be.
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