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Expats need over $4.5K a month to live in Singapore but many Singaporeans live on much less

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An expat on Employment Pass, Dhananjay Pai, recently wrote on Quora that he needs $4,500 to $6,500 a month (for him and his wife) to live in Singapore. They have no children.

“I am a person who kept track of all the spending and I saw when we didn’t travel, we spent 4500 per month. When we did travel, it could go up to 6500 per month,” he wrote.

Here is the breakdown of his expenditure per month:
* HDB flat rental – $2000
* Taxi – $300 to 350
* Eating out – $350 to 400
* Utilities – $120 to 150
* Cable TV plus internet – $100
* Grocery – $300 to 400
* Main medical insurance – covered by employer
* Additional hospitalization insurance – $167
* Combined tax for both – $400

“Of course, life becomes very boring if we only did basic things. We bought some things in the mall from time to time, went on travel around the region and to visit our parents (overseas) so all this added up,” he added.

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According to his calculations, his total expenses come to about $4,500 to $6,500 a month.

Singaporeans need only $1K a month

A few years years ago, DPM Tharman told Parliament that Singaporeans need only a household income of $1,000 a month to afford a HDB flat.

Addressing NCMP Gerald Giam, he said, “I would like to assure Mr Gerald Giam, who might not have caught up with all the developments, that our enhanced housing grants for lower income families are such that a family with a monthly income of as low as $1,000 can now purchase a small flat.”

One blogger commenting on DPM Tharman’s statement in Parliament said:

“Minister Tharman now makes this claim that a family with income of $1000 can afford to own a flat. Maybe he forgot to tell us his assumptions. Engineers will tell you that you can always adjust your assumptions to get the conclusions you want. The family has to live on maggie noodles. They cannot get sick and see the doctor. They have to wear cheap clothes that last for decades. They cannot furnish or renovate the flat they purchase. They cannot have school-going children. If they have children, there is no budget for entertainment – no movies, no electricity for computers, no handphones, etc. They have to walk and not take the bus if the destination is within 2 km to save money. They cannot go out unless it is for work or groceries. They have to bathe once a day (or every 2 days) only to keep the water bill down. If the bread winner break his leg during the 30 years he has to service his housing loan he can set it back himself and go to work the next day because low paid workers are fired if they take too many days of MC.”

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