Cost of Living in Singapore 2022: How Much Salary to Live Comfortably Here?
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With inflation in Singapore approaching a 14-year high, everyday expenses are becoming more expensive. Here’s how much you may need to keep on top of rising costs, and tips on how to make your dollar go further.
Singapore’s core inflation rate in September reached 5.3%, up from 5.1% in August. The continuing upward trend threatens to crest towards the record-high 5.5% core inflation seen 14 years ago in November 2008.
This is especially concerning as core inflation does not include housing and private transport costs such as car ownership – which make up a significant portion of household budgets in Singapore.
When we add in housing and private transport costs, we have what’s known as headline inflation, which is currently at 7.5% per annum.
Will your salary be enough to cope? How much would a family of 4 need to continue living comfortably?
Latest median household income in Singapore
Of course, what counts as a “sufficient” salary differs from person to person. However, we can take a look at some data as a jumping off point, namely, the Key Household Income Trends 2021 report, published by SingStat.
From the report:
- Median monthly income per household in 2021: S$9,520
- Median monthly income per household member in 2021: S$3,027
In statistics, “median” refers to the value separating the higher half from the lower half of a sample of data. This means that 50% of households in Singapore had a monthly income higher than S$9,520, and 50% of households had an income that was lower.
Ok, that’s all well and good, but is a monthly household income just shy of S$10,000 sufficient to continue living comfortably as prices carry on climbing upwards?
Average monthly household expenses in Singapore
|Item||Average monthly expense (per household member)|
|Total (including inputted rental of owner-occupied accommodation)||S$1,997.20|
|Food and food-serving services (delivery, restaurants, etc)||S$403.20|
|Clothing and footwear||S$41.40|
|Miscellaneous goods and services||S$225.20|
The table above displays average household expenses per household member, drawn from Singstat.
Note that the figure in the first row shows the total monthly household expense; this comes to neary S$2,000 per person.
Because not all households spend on the same things, and to the same degree, we have also included some Singstat data on different household expenses, as a benchmark for your own budget.
Median household income vs monthly household expenses
If we take the figures above at face value, this means that in 2021, a 4-person household spent nearly S$8,000 each month. This is compared against the median household income of S$9,520.
As you’d notice, this leaves barely any headroom in the household budget for savings, investments, insurance and other important financial needs.
Perhaps this is why Singaporeans are often ranked as the most stressed out in the world?
How much salary do you need to live comfortably in Singapore?
An oft-quoted rule of thumb is that 20% of your income should go into retirement savings.
If we apply this rule to the figures above, we see that with a 4-person household budget of S$8,000 per month, a working couple should aim for a combined monthly income of S$10,000.
This will leave S$2,000 for retirement savings for the both of you, but you may want a higher income to cover insurance needs, leisure activities such as overseas holidays, and more.
Tips for stretching your dollar
With inflation expected to carry on rising, you’ll need to make your dollars stretch even further. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Lock in your mortgage
Housing costs make up a large portion of household budgets, and with mortgage rates threatening to cross a 20-year high of 5% per annum, you could be faced with unbearable housing costs in the near future.
If you can still find them, locking in your mortgage using a fixed-rate package may prove useful. This will prevent your mortgage from increasing uncontrollably and adding to your financial burden.
Buy second-hand when shopping for cars
The prices of brand-new cars are being pumped up not only by inflation, but also the ongoing campaign to lower the number of Certificate of Entitlement (COEs) released to the public.
If you’re looking to purchase a private car right now, it is advisable to shop around in the second-hand market instead. You can find relatively new models with a healthy COE lifespan remaining, without having to pay an exorbitant price.
Beware discretionary spending
It is always a good habit to periodically review your discretionary expenses to weed out services and subscriptions you no longer use, and this goes double for the times we’re in right now.
Don’t underestimate the value of a few dollars saved here and there, they can quickly add up to a tidy pile. You should also review your discretionary spending and cut out those that you don’t really need.
It’s not about depriving yourself. Rather, it’s about spending your money wisely – i.e., prioritising things that make the most positive impact on your wellbeing, and giving up the rest.
Read Also: Best Cashback Credit Cards in Singapore 2022
Take advantage of high-interest saving accounts
The next time you come across an ad for a high-interest savings account, take heed. Banks are dangling eye-popping savings interest rates in a bid to attract more customer deposits.
Since you’re looking to spend less, this means you will have more spare cash sitting in your bank account, so you might as well go ahead and earn yourself some additional interest.
You may have to jump through a few hoops (such as crediting your salary, making investments, or signing up for an insurance plan) to start unlocking the best interest rates, but you shouldn’t let the perceived inconvenience stop you from earning essentially free money.
But whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of spending more just to reach that next level of bonus interest; that’ll be defeating the purpose!