Why Singapore is NOT the most expensive city

TL;DR – We can be cheap cheap too.

I read with delight (actually, also don’t know what’s there to be delighted about) the recently published report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that said Singapore is ‘still world’s most expensive city’ and promptly shared the article on Facebook. In fact, I even told my friend who was thinking of moving back to Singapore, “Eh don’t come back lah. Singapore everything damn pricey.”

But over the past few days, as I was playing tour guide to said friend as I showed him around Singapore and how much it has changed since he has been away (Check out our new Downtown Line! See how developed Punggol is now!) and looking at the follow-up interview by the same people who did that report, it made me realise that Singapore can be pricey or cheap – it really depends on how you cherry pick accordingly.

Food is inexpensive


Sure, we have our swanky celebrity restaurants at MBS but we have our crazy good hawker food at almost third-world prices. As for staple groceries, to buy a loaf of bread, for example, it costs us in Singapore half of what it will cost in New York and many other Asian cities. A common basket of groceries will cost you about 30 per cent less in Singapore than in Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo. 

Cars are not cheap


Car ownership was factored into the EIU report and our given our high costs of car ownership, we obviously become a “more expensive” city.

But frankly, given what a small city state we are and our pretty mean public transport network and Uber, do we really need to own a car?

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The report was meant for Expats

Pinnacle@Duxton HDB flats at Tanjong Pagar

Pinnacle@Duxton HDB flats at Tanjong Pagar

Our public housing and home ownership strategies for Singaporeans have put us on the world map for its success. Expats do not get access to these and thankfully, most of us do not have to pay rent like them.

Ultimately, the survey was designed really for multinationals to use to understand what is the cost of living for expats and business travellers – so yes, Singapore can be expensive but unless you’re living the #expatlife and buying your groceries from Isetan, it’s frankly not that bad lah.

(Cover image via)


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Flora Isabelle Lim

Author Flora Isabelle Lim

On a constant quest to be a really professional internet person.

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