Cost of Living in Singapore: Travel and Accommodation for International Students

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    Singapore being such a highly developed economy in comparison to other countries in the world, it is no surprise that it is also one of the most expensive places to study in. The tuition fees at Singapore universities is estimated to be SGD 15,000-30,000, while the cost of living in Singapore is INR 72,060.85 for a single person for one month.

    With international students making up nearly 20% of the university graduate population there, scholarships in Singapore are in high demand among the international population. Therefore, you must apply to them on time, and fill the requirement details correctly, so that you may receive prestigious ones like the NUS Science And Technology Undergraduate Scholarship, that have provisions for living allowances and travel fares.

    Cost of Living in Singapore: Travel

    The first step will be to travel to Singapore from India, for which you can purchase a one-way ticket for INR 29,000-32,000. To complete the immigration process, you must submit:

    • Your passport, with the Singapore Student Pass
    • In-principle Approval (IPA) letter
    • Disembarkation/Embarkation card, which is handed out in Singapore airlines

    One of the easiest ways to get from Singapore Changi Airport to your accommodation is to take the MRT, which would cost approximately SGD 1.5. Alternatively, you could take the City Shuttle for SGD 9. However, sometimes students might have a lot of luggage, in which case you can opt for a taxi from the airport, though this comes with a levy surcharge of SGD 3.

    Singapore Travel Restrictions

    Indian citizens travelling to Singapore have to take a Covid-PCR test within at most 72 hours before departure. This negative test, along with details of passport and date of test, have to be shown at the pre-boarding checks at the airport. You will also have to submit the electronic Health Declaration Card (eHDC) via the SG Arrival Card (SGAC) e-Service. Moreover, you have to undergo 14 days quarantine - i.e you get a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) - at a dedicated SHN facility in Singapore.

    Transport in Singapore

    Since the cost of living in Singapore is already high, it is important that students are well aware of the local transport in Singapore, as it can make for quite a cheap component of your expenditure. You should budget for transport costs of around SGD 92.77 per month.

    • With Singapore introducing the National Cycling Plan, more and more people are opting for cycles as a mode of transport. Purchasing a new bike would set you back by SGD 100-500, so you may get a second hand one.
    • Taxis are plenty in Singapore, charging SGD 2.40 for the first 1.5 kilometers, and then 10 cents for every additional 240 metre.
    • There are mainly two types of buses in Singapore - SBS Transit (red & white colour) and SMRT (yellow colour). The average bus fare is SGD 1.4-2.4, but you can also calculate the rate as SGD 0.8 for non-AC buses and SGD 1.5 for AC buses. Other than that, there are “feeder” bus services that charge a fixed rate no matter what distance, the usual amount being SGD 0.67.
    • Trains are also of two types, namely Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT). The ticket cost for MRT is SGD 0.6-1.5, varying on the distance of travel.
    • One of the more unique modes of transport in Singapore is the trishaw. Although they are more or less a tourist attraction, you can get a ride around the city and see all important locations for around SGD 50.

    For hassle-free travel in Singapore, it is advisable to purchase the EZ-Link card, which is a smartcard that enables cashless transactions. You have to tap the card on a card reader, which scans and deducts the fare from the card. It is an accepted form of payment for MRT, LRT and buses, and you can top up the value in the card at all stations. You have to buy the card for SGD 10-50, but in the long run you can save a lot of money because of the discounts it provides.

    One of the first errands you must run once you are all settled in at your accommodation in Singapore is to open a bank account. Students are advised to go for a bank that does not charge high fees. You will need the following documents to complete the procedure:

    • Your passport
    • Student pass
    • An initial deposit of at least SGD 500

    Having a bank account in Singapore makes all your financial transactions easier, and is especially useful because you do not have to bother dealing with currency exchange rates if the funds sent and received are within Singapore.

    Cost of Living in Singapore: Accommodation

    Accommodation is probably the most expensive factor that adds to the cost of living in Singapore, with the average monthly rent being SGD 2,447.76. This can of course vary with the type of stay and facilities you have chosen:

    • Most universities in Singapore provide accommodation to students, particularly first-year international students. You can apply for on-campus accommodation at a hall of residence, where each apartment houses up to six students. Students often get single or double rooms that are furnished, and have the management taking care of any issues in the stay. This would cost SGD 140-440 per month.
    • Private hostels are also available which, though sometimes run by universities, are mostly owned by private agencies. Some hostels are for short-term stay, i.e a day or a week, while some are for three-month contracts. The long-term accommodations cost SGD 540-1,000 per month.
    • You can rent out a condo apartment, or a room in a shared flat, with some facilities like living area and bathroom on a sharing basis, for SGD 927-2,650 per month.
    • If you were to share a room at such a student accommodation in Singapore, you will have to spend only SGD 480 per month on rent, while a single room will cost you SGD 730 per month.
    • If you are looking for a condominium, you can expect the rent to be SGD 1000-1800 per month for a normal room, while it is SGD 1700-2400 per month for a studio unit.
    • Some students find it easier to adapt to the new environment by staying with a host family in Singapore. Homestays provide stay, food, and other amenities for SGD 500-1,000 per month.
    • A student who wishes to live on their own, and has the means to do so, can rent a one-bedroom or studio apartment for SGD 1,988-5,964 for a month.

    Most of these include utilities, especially air conditioners, but very often at accommodations that are not university-managed, there is a separate charge on these utilities as per your use. The location that you are living in also affects the rent, with apartments in expensive areas like Orchard Road costing SGD 4,000-7,000 per month in rent (for the whole apartment).

    Singapore Universities: Housing Rent

    Singapore is home to around 34 universities, each with its own kind of on-campus accommodation. Charting out the rent for one person in the average room in a hall of residence at the top Singapore universities gives us these figures:

    University Accommodation cost
    National University of Singapore SGD 86-217 per week
    Nanyang Technological University SGD 265-605 per month
    Singapore Management University SGD 630-1,025 per month
    INSEAD - Singapore SGD 20,573 for the whole study period
    Singapore Institute of Management SGD 500-1,200 per month

    Cost of Living in Singapore: Expenditure

    Aside from accommodation in Singapore that would cost you SGD 1,809-3,553, you should budget for other expenses that come with living in Singapore as an international student:

    • Utilities - SGD 155 per month
    • Food - SGD 5-16 daily, if buying from outside

    - SGD 200 per month, if cooking own meals

    • Public Transport - SGD 80-120 per month
    • Mobile Plan - SGD 48-108 per month
    • Books and Materials - SGD 150

    In total, one should expect the cost of living in Singapore for a single international student to come to around SGD 10,000 a year. When you plan to study in Singapore, you must keep these costs in mind so that you can get a clear idea of how much funds are required. Whether it is to know more about public transport, or find cheap student hostels in Singapore, it is recommended that you begin your research on your preferred university’s website, as they provide information that is more specific to your situation.