Living in Singapore – Information

People are always asking me about living in Singapore. I put this reply together for a friend of mine… hope it helps, or email me at if you have any other questions.

[Circa Dec 2003, all amounts are in Singapore dollars]

OK – One thing – it’s a recession here. While that means that prices are down (you can live here on MUCH less than in Sydney – except for international schooling – which runs to about $20K – $40K pa).

One really good reference:

I need to ask you a few questions:
– local package or ex-pat package? (are you looking to get accommodation and schooling included? ex-pat packages include this sort of thing, but they are pretty rare now)

Probably your biggest expense – international schools. Schooling is practically free if you send them to a local school – some poeple I know have sent kids to local schools and only bothered with international schools for high school… it’s up to you – email the schools below – they all have web sites, but beware the sales pitch.

The Australian International School is probably an option for Australians… Go to:
For fee structure click on the “Enrolment form” menu item on the left, and then the link “fee structure”.

Another option is the Overseas Family School:

There is also the United World College… and American, Japanese and other schools.

Note that the kids start school young here, so get in touch with the school to find out what grade your kid should be in.

Note that international schools matter for high school if you want your children to slip back into school back home. Although I have some friends who have continued their kids in Singapore schools and they have ended up in higher grades when they went back… *shrug* it’s up to the kid really.

This depends… you can live on Orchard Road for $15K/month, or you can rent on River Valley Road (about 5 mins from the city) for $2.5K-4.5K per month). This is condo pricing, with security and all the facilities. East Coast is where a lot of the ex-pats live and it’s a good deal cheaper – some families prefer to live in a house, but keep in mind that it’s hot and humid and people generally don’t do much outdoors work except for exercise – picnics are really hard, gardening sucks.

There are all types of places to rent – houses (called “landed properties”), condos, private apartments (the difference between a condo and a private apartment is the facilities and security) – and prices vary accordingly. There are HDBs as well (Housing Development Board apartments – government housing). See near the end for more on this.

Public Transport
One of the best public transport systems in the world – the MRT is fantastic, the bus system is integrated with it (although I never use buses), and the cabs are really cheap. Alot of ex-pats forget the car and use cabs instead.

EXPENSIVE – although at an all time low for the past 15 years.

New – range from about $65-70K onwards (for a Hyundai Accent).

Second hand – you can get really cheap vans and cars with only one or two years’ COE left…
Learn about the COE:

I live in government housing, which is not the same as government housing in Australia – 80% of the population do it. It’s not really that “accepted” for white families to do that – but it’s really cheap ($1-1.5K for a 3 bedroom)… and it’s starting to happen more often. If you are a local here you can live really cheaply.
I wouldn’t recommend it if appearances matter for the working adults in the family. For those that don’t already know it, you will learn about face and that appearances are everything.

People here usually talk in terms of monthly salary. So if someone is talking to you about $8K, then it’s not per year! Schooling and rental decisions are going to make the difference here – let me know where you’re pitching yourself, and I can give you better information.

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