So an American expat family recently complained that they’re struggling to get by comfortably here, but if only they knew that Singapore’s actually pretty cheap for most daily necessities! True, we have expensive big ticket items like cars and houses, and we’re frequently near the top of lists of expensive cities to live in. However, truth be told, for a first world country, we’ve got some pretty cheap everyday items and services. Stay in any of those other expensive cities on the list, and you definitely won’t be able to find food and cabs at the same price.

Check out all the cheap things we have to be grateful for in Singapore!

1. Hawker food

Food, glorious food. Credit: Under the Angsana Tree

Food, glorious food. Credit: Under the Angsana Tree

There’s really nowhere else in the world where you can get so many different types of food at such cheap prices. Not even Taiwan or Bangkok’s night markets can rival our coffeeshops for the number of choices possible. But those night market stalls offer snacks, and our hawkers offer proper, complete meals. Compared to other countries, the average cost of a meal here is $6-$7 (plus a drink), compared with at least $10-$20 overseas. That’s why so many people overseas cook at home, because it’s much cheaper to get your own groceries and cook your dinner than to eat out.

Here, the price difference isn’t so great, so most of us can actually get away without learning cooking skills… until we get married.

2. Taxis

Taxi! Credit: Taxi Singapore

Taxi! Credit: Taxi Singapore

Yes, we have surcharges almost the entire day (there’s only a short window where you can take a cab without paying any additional fee). But even if you have to take a taxi from Changi Airport to Joo Koon, it’s still cheaper than hailing a cab in Tokyo or New York. And in Western countries, you have to tip the taxi driver too, meaning your ride is more expensive than what the meter says.

It’s definitely not as cheap as in Bangkok, of course, but then you don’t have to say “meter” to every taxi driver you meet and ensure they switch on the meter.

3. Movie tickets

Guess which cinema this is?  Credit: Vulcan Post

Guess which cinema this is? Credit: Vulcan Post

Do you know how much movie tickets cost in Hong Kong? 20 Singapore dollars! Even for a 3D weekend movie booked online, no ticket is going to hit the $20 mark. You can watch Gold Class movies, but remember you’re paying for a lot more space, comfort and convenience. For the most part our movie tickets are pretty decent. That’s why our cinemas are always packed and we get an awesome selection of films every month!

4. Taxes

IRAS. Credit: The Business Times

IRAS. Credit: The Business Times

Our tax rates are also quite low, unless you’re in the top 20% of income earners in Singapore. Even for businesses, tax rates are quite competitive compared to other countries, because we want to attract other companies to set up shop in Singapore. Nobody really complains about taxes in Singapore, unless it’s GST.

5. Business start-up costs

Shops in Singapore. Credit: We Love Singapore

Shops in Singapore. Credit: We Love Singapore

Have you seen the number of grants that Spring Singapore and IRAS gives for new companies? The PIC (Productivity and Innovation) grant is the most famous grant that companies apply for, helping to cover the cost of IT setups. There’s a reason why we’re known as one of the best places in the world to start a business. If you don’t know what grant you’re eligible for, you can always call IRAS. Contrary to what you might think, their hotline is really helpful for small businesses!

Poster for Money Monster. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Poster for Money Monster. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Luckily, things in Singapore aren’t as bad as they are in the city where Money Monster takes place! It’s a film where an angry investor decides to go on a rampage when he loses everything due to some bad advice from a financial television show, and holds all the people on the show hostage on live television! Things have got to be really expensive for him to be doing that!

Catch Money Monster and marvel at how much everything costs in that city (bet you can’t buy a $4 char kway teow there), and then think about how tasty a $5 prawn mee would be here in Singapore!

 

Credits: Under the Angsana Tree, Taxi Singapore, Vulcan Post, The Business Times, We Love Singapore, Golden Village Cinemas