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Singapore: Student Finances - Must read

Student living costs in Singapore

Our guide to living costs for students studying in Singapore


One of Asia’s largest financial hubs, Singapore welcomes an increasing amount of international students and businesspeople every year. With over 7,000 multinational companies, low taxes and a foreign population of around 38%, the nation boasts one of the highest qualities of life in Asia. Unfortunately, Singapore is also consistently ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities.

But not to worry: with smart budgeting and the help of our guide to living costs in Singapore, you’ll find living comfortably a breeze.

Note: SGD 1 = £0.47= €0.58


Whilst most universities will offer some on-campus accommodation, usually in the way of residence halls or a student hostel, due to the huge amount of international students in Singapore it is in high demand and can be difficult to secure. Where rooms in residence halls are available, on average monthly rent ranges from SGD 155-SGD 800.

Most students opt for off-campus housing organized by student housing agencies, stay in student hostels or rent accommodation privately. There are no restrictions on non-citizens renting residential units in Singapore. To stay in The Singapore University of Technology and Design’s student hostel, international students must obtain a valid student pass from the Immigration and Custom Authority.  Monthly rent comes to SGD 265 per month, and you’ll need to also pay a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent when you move in that you’ll get back once you leave. Each student receives a subsidy of SGD 15 for utilities, with any excess costs divided amongst the students in the apartment. Students pay these excess fees monthly.

Hostels offer single to four-bedded rooms, and provide meals, laundry services, television and internet, and are generally priced at around SGD 140-SGD 440 per month.

Whilst prices of rental properties vary depending on the type of room and its location, living in subsidised public housing will generally be your cheapest option. Within self-contained estates that sometimes include supermarkets, schools and usually a metro station, the estimated monthly cost of a room in a Housing Development Board flat will cost around SGD 400-SGD 1,000 per month. There may be a waiting list for a HDB property, and utilities are generally not be included in monthly rent of either HBD or privately rented properties. Privately rented flats will be your most expensive option, with rent usually starting at around SGD 1000 per month.

Learn more about international student passes and the ICA


Living Costs

Whilst utility costs are usually paid in addition to monthly rent, other costs of living are relatively cheap.

  • Utilities (if not included in rent), monthly...SGD 150-200
  • 1 minute prepaid mobile phone tariff (no discount or plans)...SGD 0.17
  • Internet, 6MB (if not included in rent), monthly...SGD 41.63



Large sums of money have been invested in Singapore’s comprehensive public transport system. With a metro system, buses and light rail transit circuit, you’ll find getting around cities a breeze. Fares are charged per distance travelled, and may be deducted electronically from a pre-paid travel card whose value must be topped up in multiples of SGD 10. You’ll also pay slightly more to travel in an air-conditioned carriage on the metro. As a student, you are entitled to a 50% discount on all fares, and will pay a flat rate for any journey over 7.2km.

  • Adult EZ-link contactless travel card...SGD 5
  • Single fare, up to 3.2km, air-conditioned, EZ-link card...SGD 36
  • Single fare, up to 3.2 km, air-conditioned, no EZ-link card... SGD 55
  • Single fare, over 7.2km, air-conditioned, EZ-link card...SGD 58
  • Single fare, over 7.2km, air-conditioned, no EZ-link card...SGD 75



With a population as densely packed as Singapore, there will always be a multitude of markets, specialty stores and supermarkets that sell different types of food at different prices. Selection and price also varies between supermarket chains, with Giant and FairPrice Finest being moderate, mid-range options. Here’s what you might look to pay for basics: 

  • Milk, 1L...SGD 3.10
  • Loaf of white sandwich bread, 500g... SGD 1.40
  • Chicken breast fillet, 1kg...SGD 10.50
  • Spaghetti, 500g... SGD 2.40
  • Coca-cola, 1.5L...SGD 1.95
  • White rice, 5kg... SGD 13.85
  • Eggs, 10pk...SGD 2.40
  • Olive oil, 750ml... SGD 11.90
  • Big Mac... SGD 4.85


Misc. Costs

To fund the basics of student social life, you’re likely to pay something like:

  • Pint of larger in a bar... SGD 10.70
  • Cappuccino... SGD 5
  • Bottle of water, 330ml... SGD 1.10
  • Eating out, mid-range restaurant...SGD 20- SGD 40
  • Bottle of wine, mid-range restaurant... SGD 50
  • Movie ticket, without student discount... SGD 10


Now that you’re ready to plan your budget, why not start browsing courses in Singapore now and start planning your study abroad adventure!



Useful Links


Housing Development Board, Singapore


Yo:Ha student hostel service


Yellow pages Singapore: housing

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.