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Living in Singapore

Cost of Living

The standard of living in Singapore is amongst the highest in Asia. However, compared to countries in western continents, the cost of living here is relatively low, and basic items like food and clothing are considered reasonably-priced.

When planning your budget for living expenses in Singapore, do consider these items:

  • Accommodation
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Clothing
  • Telecommunications
  • Books & Stationery
  • Medical/Hospitalisation Insurance
  • Personal Expenses

On average, an international student in Singapore spends about S$750 to S$2,000 a month on living expenses. The amount varies depending on your individual lifestyle and course of study.

(Source: Information adapted from Singapore Education at

Money Matters


The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents.  A 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) is imposed on all purchases.  Tipping is not practised in Singapore as most hotels and restaurants already levy a 10% service charge on bills.

Major credit cards are generally accepted by establishments, including American Express, Diners Card, JCB, MasterCard and Visa.

Another widely-used method of payment is NETS, which allows you to make payment with your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card.

(Source: Information adapted from Singapore Education at

Housing & Accommodation

Choosing a suitable accommodation to stay is one of the most important decisions you will make if you are an international student coming to Singapore to study.  You are advised to start looking for a place to stay before you arrive in Singapore and before school term commences.

Typically, demand for student accommodation is quite strong and good units may be hard to come by or taken up very quickly. Therefore, the sooner you begin your search, the higher your chance of finding a place that meets your needs and budget.

It is not advisable to look for housing from unfamiliar or dubious sources via email or telephone. Your personal safety is a paramount concern. Where possible, you should meet your prospective landlord and inspect the accommodation, together with a friend. It is also best to negotiate rental rates and use of facilities in person and together with any room-mate(s) if you are planning to search for accommodation after your arrival in Singapore.

Types of Accommodation


A group of students can come together to rent a house or a flat, and share the use of facilities such as living room, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Residents do their own cleaning and may have to pay their own utility bills.

Room in Owner-occupied Apartments (Mostly in Housing & Development Board Apartments)

The most common type of student accommodation, student will rent a vacant room in a flat currently occupied by the flat’s owner. In this type of unit rental, students will negotiate with owners on the use of washing machine, cooking facilities, telephone, television, internet access, etc.

Private Student Hostels

A number of privately run hostels take in foreigners that hold a Student’s pass card issued by the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). Students are advised to contact the hostel directly for rental charges.

Private Apartments/Houses

Private apartments and houses are typically pricier than most of the above-mentioned types of accommodation.  You may engage the services of a property agent to help you find an apartment or house. Often, the agent would charge a fee for the service they perform.

The following are average rental charges for rooms, flats & private student hostel.

Type of Apartment

Monthly Rental

(Renting of whole apartment)

$1500 - $5000

Room in Owner-occupied Apartment

$500 - $1500

Private Student Hostel

$400 - $1200

Private Apartments/Houses

$3500 and above

Factors to Consider When Choosing Accommodation:

  • Rent - This includes the monthly rental of the unit, rental deposit, security deposit, administrative charges, agent fees etc.
  • Location - Do check whether the apartment/hostel is conveniently located and if amenities like public transport, grocery stores, food outlets or banks are easily accessible.
  • Length of Lease – The minimum lease of a unit is normally at least a year. You are advised to negotiate the terms of lease with your landlord.
  • Others - The cost of accommodation depends on several factors such as the locality, type of premises, size, furnishings provided, recreational facilities available, length of lease. Housing in Singapore is generally expensive, especially within the city.

Do note that the contract / tenancy agreement will be solely between the student and hostel management / owner. We advise you to read the contract / tenancy agreement carefully before you make any commitment.

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