Blog Students Advice For Students Cost of Living in Singapore as an International Student [2021]

Cost of Living in Singapore as an International Student [2021]

Want to be in a financially fit state before moving to Singapore? This article offers a complete guide on the cost of living in Singapore as a foreign student. Additionally, I’ll lay down some effective ways of getting financial assistance to afford the expenses you might have to incur.

A rough estimate for monthly living costs in Singapore falls somewhere between SG$900 and SG$2000. But, I recommend combing through this guide for detailed information on different aspects of living in Singapore.

Before we start, here’s a simple currency comparison for a better understanding:

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  • SG$1000  = 745 US Dollars
  • SG$1000  = 625 Euros
  • SG$1000 = 55,308 Indian Rupees

With that out of the way, let’s get right into it. 

Table of Contents

1. How Much Does It Cost to Study in Singapore?
2. Housing Accommodation Costs in Singapore
3. Utilities Generally Associated with Housing Accommodation
4. Food & Grocery Costs in Singapore
5. Tuition Fees Costs in Singapore
6. Singapore Transportation Costs
7. Entertainment Costs in Singapore
8. Other Expenses to Consider
9. Financial Assistance Opportunities
10. Is Singapore Expensive Compared to Other Countries?
11. Final Words – Is Singapore Worth Moving to for Education?

How Much Does It Cost to Study in Singapore?

The tuition fee in Singapore for international students costs around US$25000 for 2021 intake. However, it may significantly vary depending on the university and the course you choose. When it comes to the general living costs in Singapore, know that it falls somewhere between SG$900 and SG$2000 for personal expenses.

As compared to other countries where top-tier education is available, the education and living expenses for an international student may seem pretty high in Singapore.

But the foreigner-friendly environment, social and political security, and good infrastructure you get make Singapore worth it. For instance, Singapore is among the top 10 list of the safest countries around the world.

Similarly, the country performs well considering the availability of top-ranking universities and numerous job opportunities you get after graduation.

That being said, let’s jump into details and take a closer look at the major expenses of living in Singapore. 

Housing Accommodation Costs in Singapore

Since accommodation is a necessity that comes associated with various utilities like electricity and hydro bills, it demands the largest chunk of your budget. General Housing Accommodation costs in Singapore fall around S$800-$1000 for a single person to rent a room. For a 4-person family, a whole flat rental will cost between $2,500-$4,000. 

Sounds like a sizable sum, right? But, it’s nearly the same as in America and Canada. So, how do you tackle the excessive housing rents in Singapore? Well, there are two ways around it: either consider living on campus or share an apartment with friends. These cost-cutting solutions are popular basically all over the world and will significantly decrease the expenditure for shelter. 

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Now, let’s talk about utility bills. These monthly expenses can quickly add up if you’re not careful, so it’s important to consider all regular out-of-pocket expenses you need to incur.

Utilities Generally Associated with Housing Accommodation

The following utilities come with the house or room you rent. In most cases, you get:

  • Internet
    We’re living in a time when there’s no survival without the internet. When you rent a room, generally it will be part of your rental package. If you’re renting an entire apartment, usually you’ll pay for your own. Rates are around $50/month.
  • Gas
    No home is complete without a gas connection and a stovetop. You can apply for this if you rent an entire apartment, costing you about $20-50/month. Note that in Singapore, cooking is generally not allowed if you are renting a room with a live-in landlord.
  • Electricity
    If you rent a room, your landlord will charge you extra if you require the usage of an air-conditioner (which you’ll probably do in hot and humid Singapore). If you rent an entire apartment, you’ll have to pay for this yourself. This will set you back between $50-$200/month depending on usage.
  • Trash
    If you rent a room, you don’t need to worry about this. If you rent an entire apartment, this costs about $15/month.

Food & Grocery Costs in Singapore

Wherever you’re moving to, if after paying for rent and utilities you have nothing left over for other necessities like groceries, what’s the point of moving? Food costs in Singapore vary depending on the region you live in. 

Fortunately, eating out in Singapore is pretty cheap. There are plenty of delicious food options everywhere costing between $4-10 per meal (meal + drink). If you dine-in at restaurants, expect to fork out $20-30 per person generally.

Let’s see how much meals typically cost in Singapore. 

Examples of Food Pricing in Singapore

Following are the pricing examples of different foods in Singapore.

  • Hot or cold drinks, coffee, chocolate, juice, cola can cost somewhere between SG$1-SG$2.50.
  • Popular local dishes like chicken rice, nasi lemak cost between SG$3-6.
  • A personal-pan pizza (for one pax) can cost around SG$6-SG$12.

Cost of Groceries in Singapore

Of course, when you’re living somewhere for years, you won’t be heading to a restaurant every time you’re hungry. So, when it comes to the grocery costs, basic food requirements for one person will cost around SG$200 a month (say, for your daily dinners and breakfast items).

The more bulk cooking you do, the cheaper it can get. It’s not really worth it to cook up meals for just one person in Singapore due to how cheap it is to eat out. 

I know what you’re thinking – not only are the restaurants really pricey, groceries also consume a good chunk of your income. Additionally, while buying groceries and preparing meals at home is a cheaper approach, it can be really time-consuming.

So, is there a way around it? Let’s see.

Is There a Cheaper Option for Food?

One of the most affordable ways for getting food in Singapore as a foreign student is by living on campus. Since there’s a whole lot of other students like you too, food costs are significantly lower as prices are catered to students who tend to be on a budget.

Moving forward, let’s take a look at the tuition expenses in Singapore

Tuition Fees Costs in Singapore   

After all, your main purpose for moving to Singapore is to get admitted to a top-tier university or college for education. So, what are the average tuition fee expenditures in Singapore? Let’s find out.

  • The NUS school fee is somewhere between US$24,600 and US$28,800 for the 2021 intake.
  • The SMU school fee is around US$34,350 for the 2021 intake.
  • The SUTD school fee is significantly higher and can be around US$39,900.
  • The SIT school fee falls somewhere between US$22,500 to US$30,000 for the 2021 intake.

Remember, the education costs can be different regarding the course you want to do and your eligibility.

Also, there are some other university costs to consider;

Other Education Costs to Consider in Singapore

  • The application fees for the course.
  • Miscellaneous fees that may include lab, health insurance fees, or such. 
  • Study materials like textbooks, laptops, and anything else you might need for the university.
  • Uniform and other outwear costs regarding the university requirements.

Aside from that, you’ll likely be transporting from your accommodation to your university, as well as going out for entertainment or to run errands.  So, how much does transportation cost in Singapore? Let’s see.

Singapore Transportation Costs

Unlike the other aspects, public transportation costs in Singapore are quite cheap as compared with other countries. A one-way bus fare can fall somewhere between SG$1 or SG$2 depending upon how far your destination is.

By this metric, if you spend about SG$2-SG$4 every day, it roughly adds SG$60 – SG120 a month, which is still a great addition to the loads on your shoulders. So, is there a cheaper way around? Let’s find out.

Is There a Cheaper Way for Transportation?

The most affordable way for transportation is either by choosing an apartment or hostel at the nearest location to the university. It could save you thousands of bucks throughout your education years.

On the other hand, what I recommend the most is living in your university dorms. There will be no transportation cost this way – unless you regularly go to far-off places for the weekend. Even so, the transportation costs won’t be so much of a burden.

With these options in mind, let’s take a look at the different transportation available.

Options for Transportation

Since Singapore is quite a developed country with 5 million residents, there’s a variety of options for transportation.

I’ve listed the ones suitable for students:

MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

MRT is an underground subway system spread across multiple regions of Singapore. If you move to an area where the system is in place, surely consider it for everyday travel. The fares vary on how much you travel and can fall somewhere between SG$1 and SG$2.

Bus

The bus is another affordable way of transport in Singapore and is arguably the most popular mode of transport. Nevertheless, the bus fare can cost around $1-2 per ride. As a rule of thumb, the more distance you travel, the more it costs. 

Taxi

Taking a taxi every day can get expensive for obvious reasons. For comparison purposes, think of the Uber or Lyft service in your hometown and the bus or subway. So, only consider taxis when you’re in a hurry or want flexibility during the weekend. The fares can cost between SG$12 and SG$25 per trip.

Car

What I don’t recommend for students at all is buying a dedicated car to go to university every day. Although you may easily afford the petrol dues, the maintenance will break your bank. Moreover, owning a car in Singapore is a huge luxury and you certainly pay a hefty price for it, to the tune of $2,000-$3,000 per month.

So unless you have a fat wallet, public transportation might be a better approach.

Entertainment Costs in Singapore

Entertainment is essential for mental health. If you move to Singapore for education, you’ll probably be visiting parks, playgrounds, historical places, museums, and other attractions in Singapore. So, how much do they cost?

You see, attractions generally don’t cost very much. You only need a cheap ticket to get in. The same is true of Singapore. Entertainment costs can fall somewhere around SG$$10-40 per person per attraction place. This can include a variety of attractions such as museums, parks, etc.

The Singapore National Park is among the most popular parks in Singapore. Its ticket only costs SG$10 for students (provided you have your student pass), otherwise, you might have to pay SG$15.

Besides study, entertainment, and Housing Accommodation, there are some other expenses you might want to consider:

Other Expenses to Consider

Following are some other expenses to look into before moving to Singapore. 

Travelling costs

As an international student, you’ll likely want to visit places around the country as well. Singapore is at the center of many exciting countries to visit. Each trip may set you back $500 for a round trip air ticket alone, among other costs.

You also need to factor in the costs of travelling to and fro your own country, if you plan to visit back often.

Private Tutoring costs

We all need a little extra help sometimes, especially as an international student in Singapore where the educational curriculum is different from what you used to know back home.

This is why you can consider the option of engaging a private tutor via a home tuition agency to help you in your studies. Private tuition can be affordable depending on which types of tutors you engage. For example, part-time tutors will charge a cheaper hourly rate compared to a full-time tutor or MOE (Ministry of Education) tutor.

Like any other financial decision-making, do make an accurate budget on how much you should spend on private tutoring!

Health Insurance Cost

Health insurance is an essential step towards financial protection. You never know when a medical emergency might strike and more often than not, treatment fees are way out of a student’s budget.

To avoid such situations that can basically spell financial doom for you, health insurance corporations are in place. The average cost for health insurance in Singapore is about SG$1,200 yearly. However, there are various aspects it varies on. For instance, age, gender, and coverage are some important ones. 

With that in mind, let’s move on to the next section.

Financial Assistance Opportunities

After having an overview of just how much it might cost to live in Singapore, you might find yourself hesitating. It’s true, Singapore might not be the cheapest country out there to live in but, the quality of education provided in Singaporean universities will have you set for life.

That being said, many institutions realize that not all students can bear the expenses that come with studying in Singapore. Therefore, below are a couple of ways you can lessen the financial burden.

Scholarships in Singapore

If you cannot afford the living expenses and tuition fee in Singapore and don’t want to get under the burden of a loan either, aiming for a scholarship is a viable solution to your problem. 

Now, there are many organizations offering scholarships to enthusiastic students with their own limitations. These corporations include:

The Singapore Government Scholarship (SGS)

This Ministry of Education in Singapore offers scholarships to students in need of financial assistance. There are various strict requirements for obtaining a scholarship such as applicants must not have taken a study loan or scholarship from some other organization.

GIC Private Ltd. 

This is a private organization that offers scholarships to students and helps them study in the best universities around the world. Their scholarship requirements include:

  • Scholarships are applicable only to Pre-Tertiary students
  • Candidates with strong critical thinking, creativity, and leadership qualities
  • Good CCA/NS records or involvement in community service

Singapore Institute of Materials Management (SIMM)

SIMM is a non-profit organization helping students complete education at their dream universities by giving them part-time jobs. There’s a variety of jobs you can apply for. These particularly include the position of the supply chain professional. 

That said, you can go through Scholarships in Singapore: A Step-by-Step Guide for further information on scholarships in Singapore. 

Financial Loan Providers in Singapore 

If you don’t consider yourself eligible for scholarships, moving toward financial loan providers can be a considerable option for you. 

Study Loan From Banks

If you’re looking for the most reliable and trustable way of attaining a financial loan in Singapore, banks should be at the forefront of your priority list. Although you’ll have to pay a certain amount of interest, it’ll help you tide through for multiple years. 

The top banks offering education loans to foreign students in Singapore are Maybank and OCBC by Frank. Both come with competitive rates and offer flexible plans to suit multiple criteria. But if you’re looking for an alternative option, consider:

Loans from Education MoneyLenders

Some moneylenders have been licensed by the government itself to offer personal loans. Although they won’t be considered as authoritative as banks, it’s worth contacting them to find out their latest offerings.

Sometimes, their interest rates can be quite competitive makes them a suitable alternative to traditional financing. 

Is Singapore Expensive Compared to Other Countries?

Here’s a comparison chart to put things into perspective for you:

CostsSingaporeAmericaCanada
Tuition CostsUS$24,311 (for the four-year course)US$26,290 (for the four-year course)US$8,332 (for the complete course)
General Living Costs EstimateUS$668 for a single person (monthly)US$1200 for a single person (monthly)US$1,003 for a single person (monthly)
Housing Accommodation CostsUS$594 for a single person (monthly)US$600 for a single person (monthlyUS$609 for a single person (monthly)

Final Words – Is Singapore Worth Moving to for Education

If you’re looking for the best place to study in Asia, Singapore is second to none. Although the cost of living in Singapore isn’t easy on your pocket, the facilities offered to make the country worth what you spend. In this guide, I have given insights into multiple aspects of living in Singapore.

In brief, Singapore isn’t cheap to live in – the living cost for a single person falls somewhere between SG$900 and SG$2000.

Since not every student dreaming of getting an education in Singapore is able to afford living here, I’ve also presented some helpful ways of getting financial assistance in Singapore.

I hope this guide provided you with the information you were looking for. Wishing you luck in reaching your destination! 

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via smiletutor.sg or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.