Singapore

Singapore on a student budget

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Singapore on a student budget

Congratulations! You’ve found your internship, got your visa, packed your bags and are ready to go to Singapore. But there’s one final thing to consider before you’re ready; how to live in the world’s most expensive city on a student budget.

Singapore is a popular destination for foreign expats due to its cleanliness, regulation and English-speaking environment, but unfortunately the city also ranks as one of the most expensive locations in the world. However, you needn’t be discouraged by high costs as there are a lot of things to do in Singapore even on a student budget. Below are some useful tips on how to enjoy your time in Singapore with limited finances.

1: Buy the EZ-link card for 12 sgdTransport

Don’t make the mistake of buying the tourist transport card, because to make this a worthwhile investment, you will need to make travelling your side hustle. The KEZ card however is a great way to save money on transport, and you won’t have to buy tickets for any trip you take anymore so no need to queue.  

Pro tip:  walk like the locals do, did you know that people from Singapore are the quickest walkers in the world, averaging over 6 kilometers per hour. If you can keep up with that speed, there is no need for taxi’s or subways anymore. By using your feet to get around town you can save money on transport and at the same time get a nice work out in for free.

2: Save the Alcohol and cigarettes for back home

We won’t make ourselves popular with this suggestion, but if you really need to cut down on your expenses, Heavily taxed alcohol and cigarettes are among the first products you should look at. A pack of cigarettes can easily cost around 15 Singapore dollars, and just entering a club will already lighten your wallet by 30 dollars. Don’t despair though, there are some places in town where you can get a reasonable price for a drink. Try bars in the Clarke Quay area and for the ladies among us, Wednesday is ladies’ night with great discounts and deals such as free drinks or special happy hours. Also, the beer market is a good option as this bar offers drinks at fluctuating prices, which are determined by demand.

3: Avoid the heavy finesGum

A fine is always a waste of money, but in Singapore you have to even be more careful. There is a reason that apart from the City of Lions, Singapore is also often referred to as a ‘fine’ city. Law enforcement is very strict, and did you know that bringing in more than two packs of chewing gum can result in a heavy fine of around 5500 Singaporean dollars and one year in prison. Other heavily penalized daily activities include spitting, not flushing public toilets, jaywalking and using electronic cigarettes.

4: Go shopping at wet markets

Score your new outfit by shopping at wet markets. If you really need your designer brand outfit then you will need to save some money but if you don’t care that much about the brands, try to shop at wet markets. Here you can get great prices through markettax advantages and your awesome bargaining skills. Furthermore, you can get some great accessories such as watches or headbands to complement your outfit and make your outfit options more diverse.

Pro tip: take the bus to Johor Bahru in neighboring Malaysia to do some low-cost grocery and household shopping. There are some great shops there with cheap goods and the bus tickets to get there are not too expensive, standing between 3 and 10 SGD. Also, services such as spa’s and haircuts are very lowly priced compared to Singapore. By strategically planning your purchases and trips you can keep some valuable extra money in your pockets. 

5: eat at hawkers

Luckily, food in Singapore is not that expensive. Especially if you go food hunting at the local Hawker places where you can get a delicious Singapore rice noodles or mei fun for only about 3 Singaporean dollars. If you really can’t live without an occasional western meal, then try to go to restaurants during lunch time as you can often get a discount up to 20 percent during lunch. Additionally, contrary to other countries in Asia, the tap water in Singapore is perfectly safe to drink, therefore, you don’t need to buy a new 2 Singaporean dollar water bottle whenever you are thirsty.

Pro tip: don’t tip in Singapore it is not customary to tip in a restaurant or a bar, so save some money by abiding to the local customs.

6: Go to low cost polyclinics

One of the aspects where Singapore actually can be cheap is health care. Rather than going to a more expensive private clinic, you can check out low cost or sometimes even free polyclinics for minor injuries and issues. Getting local insurance will also save you a big chunk of money on your insurance expenses.

7: use carousell

A great way to get anything you can imagine for a good price. From books and furniture even to rentable apartments for reasonable rates. Always keep an eye on your phone to get the best deals relevant for you. Also, in the case you have any old stuff you won’t use anymore you can sell it on caroussel and earn some extra cash. Additionally, Taobao is a great source of inexpensive online products.

Pro tip: often when buying things such as laptops, phone cases or sports apparel, it can be useful to buy multiple items with a group of people together so that you can get a lower price for each individual product.

entertainment8: use public fitness spots and swimming pools

If you don’t feel the need to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger but still want to keep the beer belly at bay, try public fitness spots and swimming pools. These public spots often are charge a low price or might even be free and are great places to keep working out while hardly spending any money. You can for example take a dive at your local swimming pool for a fee as low as 1 Singaporean dollar or go to ActiveSG for 3.3 dollar per entry.

9: look for free entertainment

There are a lot of free things in Singapore. Places such as gardens by the day and marina sands will cost you absolutely nothing to explore. Singapore also has a lively culture of street entertainment where you can enjoy performances and even orchestras and actual theatre performances for free. A great idea for a night out with friends is the free movie shown at moviemob, a drive in movie place where you can enjoy a nice movie for free in a chilled environment. There are a lot of things you will need to pay for during your time in Singapore, but entertainment definitely does not need to be one of them.

Pro tip: For the daredevils among us: You need to pay 23 SGD for the Marina sands bay observation deck, however, if you tell the personnel that you just going to go to the bar you can walk in and at the observation they will assume you are a hotel guest (who have free entry to the deck).

Hopefully some of these tips can help you during your time in Singapore. With a little creativity and strategic thinking, it really is possible to enjoy a great life in Singapore even when on a stringent budget. Enjoy!

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