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Does it really cost $S500k for a family to get by in Singapore?

Singapore is an expensive place to live.

That particular factoid needs little elaboration – the World Economic Forum, for instance, named it (tied with New York) the most expensive city in the world for its own citizens. The Australian Financial Review, meanwhile, quoting an investment banker, said that “half a million dollars is the new minimum for an expat family to live in Singapore.”

Is SGD500k (around 374k in US$) really too little to live on in the city? We reached out to two Singaporeans in financial services with an insight into high net worth spending habits, who came to two different conclusions.

“That's totally off,” one said, calling the Financial Review’s quote “clickbait”. He noted that tastes differ amongst expats, and that the investment banker who said SGD500k was the new minimum was “probably living the ultra-high life.”

“These people are earning $2 and wanting to spend $7 a month,” he added, although also noting that “everything can get pretty costly if you want luxury. However, that's the exact same thing in Zurich or New York too.”

Another insider disagreed, pointing out that the cost of children can cause costs to skyrocket – not just due to school costs but also marginal additions across all facets of spending.

He suggested that a family of four could very much live on SGD500k – but there would be some cost cutting involved, and an expansion of the family might leave them looking to relocate to either London or Australia or similar.

A cost of living calculator devised by the Singaporean government suggests that schooling costs for three children could easily reach up to SGD108k, and rent in a high-status suburb (as befits, presumably, an MD) could add the same to a family’s budget.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon
  • kh
    19 February 2023

    We are cramp in Singapura then they want us to produce more babies, it’s like “survival for the fittest I might say” 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

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