SINGAPORE: A man applying for an international award to do his PhD in Singapore has taken to social media to ask if his monthly student stipend of S$2,700 is sufficient to cover his living expenses.

“Although I know student stipends are not great pay, I am just wondering if the amount is enough to live comfortably. I’m not a fancy spender, I mostly cook my own meals, and I’m ok with using public transport.”

“Again, I’m not looking for anything fancy, but I would like to know if I may be living too tightly or if I may have a good enough life during my studies, I just want to be able to buy the essentials plus occasional entertainment,” the man shared on r/askSingapore on Friday (Mar 1).

He added that he expects to receive a $2,700 stipend per month during the first year, and $3200 from the second year onwards,

“Won’t be able to live comfortably or even save but possible”

Singaporean redditors assured the man that he could survive in the country with his monthly student stipend but warned that he would only be getting by.

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One redditor said, “Won’t be able to live comfortably or even save but possible.”

While another redditor commented, “If accommodation is covered then will be more than fine, otherwise will be quite tight as 30-50% of it will be going to rent.”

One redditor, thinking that it might help in the man’s situation, also shared his own experience, writing, “ I was doing my PhD at NTU with $2000 6 years ago. The big ticket is accommodation. If you can secure an accommodation on campus, you should be able to live alone for a reasonable rate (a single room in NTU starts at $615 now). If you have to rent outside, factor in $1000+ for a room in a shared apartment with a shared toilet.”

Notice that renting in the private market is cheaper but comes with “many weird rules about cooking, air con, visitors,” they added:

“I was able to stay in campus for the 4 years, ate at the canteens there 90% of my meals, traveled by public transport exclusively. With this lifestyle, I had some savings and some money for traveling in the region.”

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Another went so far as to provide the man with a budget breakdown for his monthly expenses, “If you live within your means, a possible budget may look like this:

  • Rent for common room in normal area of SG $1000
  • Grocery $600
  • Eating out $300
  • Transport $150
  • Entertainment $500
  • Phone bill $50

They added: I wouldn’t say it is hard to do but you have to spend consciously.”

Tips for International Students

Recognized for its safety, top-tier education, and excellent facilities, Singapore is widely acclaimed as a prime destination for international students pursuing studies abroad. Yet, a common concern for students upon arriving in the country is the relatively high cost of living.

As per Godigit, the estimated cost of living for a student amounts to S$2,569, with accommodation standing out as the largest expense.

Given that students are typically allocated an amount that is only slightly more than this estimated cost, Upgradabroad recommends the following cost-cutting measures:

  1. Choose SIM-only mobile phone plans.
  2. Make and bring your own meals.
  3. Share subscription plans with your roommates and friends.
  4. Take advantage of early morning MRT rides for your commute (this will grant you a $0.50 discount on your fare).
  5. Utilize apps that provide discounts on food, groceries, and other purchases.
  6. Wait for sales to buy essential items.
  7. For those who like dining out, look for special credit card offers and deals on platforms such as Fave, Burpple, and Chope.
  8. Turn off appliances and unplug electrical outlets when not in use.
  9. Consider renting an apartment in a well-connected but less upscale neighborhood to save money on rent.