SINGAPORE: Contrary to the opinion of many, one woman declared in a social media post that the cost of living in Malaysia is higher than in Singapore.

Spiralling living costs due to higher prices for food, property, and utilities have made headlines in the past couple of years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. And while inflation has recently moderated, Singapore is still ranked among the most expensive cities in the world.

However, this is not the case for a Malaysian woman whose story was posted on the Humans of Kuala Lumpur Facebook page over the weekend.

She wrote that while she was born and raised in Malaysia, she’s lived in Singapore since 2013, when she was studying for her Bachelor’s degree. She married a Singaporean and has been here for the last decade.

“Here is my take on the hot-button question — ‘Why should you move to Singapore?,” she wrote, adding that it came as a surprise to her that living costs in Malaysia are higher, “especially if you consider dollars-to-dollars, ringgit-to-ringgit, without conversion.”

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The woman then gave the example of buying a purse. “In Singapore, if you earn 2,000 SGD and you want to spend SGD 200, you can get Coach or Braun Buffel. If you don’t convert SGD to RM, you can easily afford the international brands with your income.

But in Malaysia, if you earn RM2000, the Coach bag is RM600. You’d have to earn three times as much to afford the same lifestyle.”

She then proceeded to answer the question of how much one needs to earn to live comfortably in Singapore, saying that she and her husband together earn S$6,000+ a month and live in an HDB flat they bought for S$430,000, which they purchased in part with a S$90,000 first-time buyer grant.

“This was actually part of the Singaporean government’s initiative to help first-time home buyers. The amount you receive varies according to how many criteria you hit,” she explained, adding:

“Because I am a PR (and my husband is a citizen), we were granted up to $90,000 to purchase our first home in Singapore.”

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Enviably, the couple only has to pay back S$276 monthly for their half-loan, the rest of which is paid via their CPF accounts. Again, this is courtesy of the government’s endeavors to assist first-time homebuyers.

“We considered ourselves extremely lucky. Not everyone is gonna get $90,000 for their first house. You ACTUALLY have money leftover for savings,” she wrote, adding that they receive subsidies for their water and electricity bills every three months.

Moreover, due to Singapore’s public transport system, they do not need a car. She characterised it as “more than capable of delivering us from Point A to Point B with minimal last-mile problems. There’s a mall every corner, and a station everywhere.”

As for food, she said that it’s affordable in Singapore, adding that they receive CDC vouchers to use at both F&B places and supermarkets.

“Expensive as the individual items are after conversion, when you consider the spending dollar-to-dollar, the income-to-spending ratio in Singapore is more sustainable,” she added.

Not only that, she also wrote that they have “a lot of disposable income left over” for savings or spending on themselves, with up to S$500 each left from their incomes.

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“To reiterate: Life in Singapore is definitely more comfortable, especially when you don’t convert the currencies. The standard of living is higher, and we enjoy a more secure and stable lifestyle.”

What she does not love in Singapore, however, is the overtime culture, fast pace of life, and crowded public transport. She says that Malaysia is “more chill and has a more laid-back work culture.”

Nevertheless, while she does miss her family, she does not regret living in Singapore.

“Moving to Singapore has brought a lot of advantages. The higher income, better job opportunities, and improved quality of life make it worth the move. 

As much as I miss Malaysia, we are happy with our decision and appreciate the life we have built here in Singapore.” /TISG

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