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4 tricks to live frugal and happy in Singapore as an expatriate

4 tricks to live frugal and happy in Singapore as an expatriate

Dropping everything to move halfway across the world sounds like the adventure of a lifetime. But adapting to a new multicultural city like Singapore can be as overwhelming as it is costly (in case you weren’t aware, Singapore is always rated as one of the most expensive countries for expatriates to live in.)

Over the years, expat packages have also been readjusted, and are no longer as generous as before. Today, the pressure is on to be mindful of one’s expenses – but keeping your spending in check doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself.

Here are a few ways you can avoid missing out, without unnecessarily burning a hole in your pocket:

Dine like a Singaporean

If you work in Singapore’s CBD, you’ll quickly find yourself presented with a variety of exciting dining options – from the trendiest cafes to the hottest restaurants. But dining out at restaurants can leave you with a bill of anywhere between $30 to $300 if you’re not careful.

Instead, look for other affordable options and learn how to dine like a local Singaporean at food courts and hawker centres. These open plan eateries offer an array of tasty local food under one roof – and with a much more palatable budget! You’ll be surprised at the meals you’ll find for under $5.

Be smart about your entertainment options

The concept of having a work-life balance is not a myth, and spending your valuable time on other activities outside of work is just as important. If you’re looking to unwind, there are stretches of cool bars scattered all around town, but drinking alcohol can be expensive – so it’s a pricey past time.

Consider swapping the occasional night at the bar with a house gathering with your friends. It’s more affordable to buy your own drinks, so call on a few friends and impress them with your creative concoctions!

Singapore’s MRT system gets you anywhere

Getting around in Singapore is also relatively easy given the country’s size, and this is made even more convenient with its well-connected transport system.

Choosing to take the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) to get around is highly recommended, as almost every station is connected to a shopping mall, making life much easier. Each ride is also charged by the distance, so you’ll be pleased to know that your trips will usually cost no more than two dollars each time.

Another tip to save even more on your train rides is to go out early on the weekdays. Getting out of the trains in the CBD before 8 am daily can reduce each MRT fares to under 10 cents per ride, helping you stretch that dollar.

Be smart about what you buy

Singapore is a shopping paradise, with malls and dining options located within walking distance from every train station. The trick to save on your shopping expenses is to buy only what you need. This includes not buying a month’s worth of groceries in advance or buying that latest piece of clothing you saw at H&M last week.

This way when you’re moving houses, or even moving back home in the future, it will be easier to get your items moved around, or discarded if you do not need them anymore.

There is plenty more you can do to save on your expenses as an expatriate in Singapore, but until you’re comfortably settled in, establishing these habits early will help set you up for the rest of your time in the Lion City.


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