So you’ve decided to move to Singapore in pursuit of new opportunities. Congratulations!
However, Singapore has been named the most expensive city in the world and you’ve been worried about how you’re going to cope financially. Will moving to Singapore mean going broke?
No, it won’t, not if you know what you’re doing. And that’s why we’ve decided to list out 6 best ways to consider when you move to Singapore without having to go through financial hardship.
Choose your accommodation with caution
Accommodation is Singapore is not cheap, and making the wrong choice here can mean having to spend significantly more on your rental, leaving you struggling with other areas of your budget.
Just for context: a common room in the central downtown area can set you back by around $1,200 per month to rent. Whereas, a similar room in the suburban heartlands may cost only $700 per month.
The great thing is Singapore is also very safe, which means the likelihood of falling victim to crime – whether in glitzy high-end areas or modest public housing estates – is equally low.
Therefore, unlike other cities, there’s no need to seek a higher rental to avoid ‘unsafe’ neighbourhoods. And there’s certainly no practical need to insist on living in the city centre or in fancy gated communities.
What you want to look for instead is an HDB room or flat near an MRT station (or better yet, an interchange station where two lines cross). And don’t be afraid to venture into the older estates (aka mature towns) such as Ang Mo Kio, Queenstown and MacPherson.
These neighbourhoods are often well served by a variety of amenities, including hawker centres, market stalls and small businesses that provide convenience and practical amenities.
Embrace local cuisine
Singapore has no lack of food options, catering to every taste and budget. But eating at restaurants every time is simply not an affordable option for most. Seek out local cuisine at neighbourhood coffee shops and hawker centres, and you’ll be amazed at the variety of cuisines available.
Singapore’s cuisine is generally well balanced, and spiciness is probably the most challenging thing about local food. Singaporeans are mindful about what they eat, so you won’t find much to worry about.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll like the taste of the dish or not, follow the crowds. A line forming is usually a reliable stamp of approval. You can also always ask the locals – most Singaporeans will be proud to tell you about our homegrown dishes.
Be selective with your belongings
If you’re renting, most landlords will limit the space for your belongings to the room you rent. This means you may find yourself running out of space quickly, and may be tempted to rent a larger room just to make space for your belongings.
Instead of paying more for a larger room, consider using off-site storage to store and access your items when you need them. This is not only cheaper, but will also allow you to securely hold your stuff until you’re ready to ship them back home.
Look out for hidden moving fees
As an expat eking out a living in a foreign country, moving will be a constant part of the experience. You may go through a few jobs before settling in, which could mean having to move closer to your place of work.
While you may resign yourself to calling up the movers each time you switch accommodations, you may be paying hiked-up prices and exposing yourself to hidden fees. Instead, you can save money by packing your loose items into a backpack, and moving them over several trips via public transport.
For larger, bulkier items such as furniture, you may not need a full-fledged moving company still. Try GoGo Van, a delivery service app that lets you book vans and lorries for moving smaller items. You can even request for additional movers to help you with troublesome items. But, more importantly, you’ll get an upfront quote for the service you require, which lets you control your costs and avoid any hidden fees.
Save on workwear
Why, you may ask. Well, when it comes to looking professional, being properly dressed is important. But that doesn’t mean having to splurge on expensive tailored suits, especially when you’re just starting out in Singapore. Most companies here are quite relaxed about work attire, and most offices won’t mind as long as you’re dressed in clean clothes.
If still you’re determined to build a new wardrobe to go with your new life in Singapore, your neighbourhood mall or street shopping in Bugis Junction is your best bet. Between the anchor departmental store and the various boutiques, you’ll be spoilt for choice without your wallet taking a beating.
Singapore’s ‘shopping paradise’ status means you’ll also find no lack of international brands and labels. So, when in doubt, head to your nearest Uniqlo for cheap yet good casual business wear.
Get affordable furnishings from Taobao and Ikea
If you need to furnish your room or apartment with furniture, Taobao and Ikea are both great options. Between the Chinese online marketplace and the Swedish furniture giant, you’ll find everything that you need.
Maximise your savings at Ikea by shopping off-season items, these usually have their prices slashed. Ikea also offers delivery and installation at a fee, Now, you may be tempted to try putting your new bed together by yourself, but a lack of proper tools and manpower (some articles need two or more people to safely assemble) could lead to damage (or worse, injury) – which might end up costing you more money! It might be best to pay for the professional installation service afterall.
Similarly, Taobao offers a wide variety of furnishings and household items at low prices, thanks to the ability to buy direct from Chinese manufacturers. And if you’re unsure about the quality of Chinese goods, head on down to Funan Mall to visit the Taobao Store, where you can see some of the items on display. If you like what you see, you can make an order to have the items delivered to your address.
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.