Cost of living matters more than you think

In Singapore, I had someone tell me that even making $100,000 a year, he couldn’t live in the country.

To me, that was just.. crazy! How can you make $100k a year and not afford to live in Singapore?

Note: $1 CAD/USD is approximately $1.20 SGD — not that far off

Then I took a look in the aisles of a grocery store that was located downtown-ish:

  • $1.75 for a small bunch of green onions and we pay $0.59 in Canada
  • $15 for a steak and we pay $7 for the same cut in Canada
  • $7 for a small bag of nuts and we pay $2 here in Canada

And so on.

Sure, there are other things that are cheaper and of higher quality such as the delicious Thai honey mangoes that are in season right now ($1 each!), but overall, the cost of living in Singapore has gone up 3x in the recent years due to the influx of immigrants (or so they tell me), and many people cannot afford to even live in the country.

They work in Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. Not in Singapore.

What I also found eye opening was that a home in Singapore ranges into the millions-of-dollars range…. but it isn’t NYC, Hong Kong, Paris or Los Angeles here!!!

Singapore is not a country that most people flock to, to live — it is hot, humid, expensive and there isn’t much to do there.

So for a home to be SO FAR out of the average Singaporean’s reach.. makes me wonder how the country will be in 5-10 years, when the cost of living drives people out of their own country and their kids cannot afford to stay.

It’s also why in their minds, earning a $100,000 CAD salary is “nothing” to them, and not enough to use to live on.

They don’t realize that they’re paying 3x what they should for basic needs (considering the country is an island that has to import EVERYTHING), and their $100,000 SGD salary doesn’t go as far as $100,000 CAD.

NOTE: I should also mention that this guy pays for his wife who doesn’t work, his wife’s parents and his own parents. He is supporting 3 families on that income, but even so…

It got me thinking that cost of living matters a lot more than we think.

Cost of living boils down to whether or not you spend 15% of your income on food or 25% for the same (or perhaps lower) quality.

Your money can go farther if you make a decent salary ($50,000) and live in a low cost of living area, where green onions don’t cost $2.

Of course, we already knew this, because making $100,000 in Detroit is not the same as making $100,000 in New York City, but to see the reactions of people who live in a bubble of sorts, and to hear them make comments like: “$100,000 SGD is not enough to live here”, is very interesting.


About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.