Expats living like locals enjoy the real Singapore

Published:  31 Mar at 6 PM
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In spite of its reputation as a haven reserved for the wealthy, the cost of living in this famous city can simply depend on each individual expat’s chosen lifestyle.

Luxury cars, glamorous, brand-new, high-rise apartments, high-end dining and top private schools can all make a serious dent in even the biggest salaries or retirement packages. However, the attractions of the city-state appeal just as strongly to many expatriates with far more modest means. Living as the locals do makes dreams come true, even on a small monthly budget.

Singapore’s citizens range from the very seriously wealthy to those earning just enough to keep their families, resulting in a huge choice of food, transport and all the essentials needed. For the last three years, the city has ranked as the world’s most expensive, ahead even of Hong Kong and Zurich, yet many expats are living comfortably here by using the same facilities as does the everyday population.

As with anywhere else on the expat trail, it’s lifestyle choices which determine expat budgets. Singapore is fortunate in having an excellent, cheap public transport network and well-kept roads, allowing trains, buses and even cycling to be the alternative to the expense of buying and running a car.

Famous for its food, Singapore has far more than its share of high-society eateries where a meal will cost more than an average months’ salary for most workers in the city. Living here on a budget doesn’t mean scrimping on supper, as the answer is to do what the locals do and shop in the local wet markets for delicious, fresh or ready cooked goodies of all kinds.

Accommodation eats a hole in most budgets, with the newest rental condo buildings charging the most for their facilities. However, rentals for condos built ten years or more ago can be had for less than half the going rate for new developments, and the facilities on offer are usually just as impressive. All you need to live the good life in this vibrant city is to budget as cleverly as you would in your home country.
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