At Our Expense

It’s been top-of-the-mind lately … the cost of living in Singapore. Teenager Meenakshi Venkataram has her own views on this, and suggests that kids (not just parents) can do their bit in addressing the issue.

SONY DSCThis March, Singapore was said to be the most expensive city to live in, according to the 2014 Economic Intelligence Unit. For people living in other countries this might have come as a surprise. They would probably need a map to locate our tiny dot-sized island. But the real reason Singapore has topped the list is probably because of, rather than despite, its size.

Looking at the statistics, Singapore’s cost escalation shouldn’t come as a surprise, because it has been steadily rising in the EIU rankings. The big factors that contribute to the expensive life here are quite specific, like that of car ownership – which involves a Certificate of _MG_7773Entitlement tax that costs almost as much as the car itself ! But, understandably enough, this tax was implemented to curb the traffic flowing through our 40 km wide country. Another factor cited in the research was the cost of food in Singapore Items like bread and wine are comparatively expensive because of the need to import the goods. An article in the Economist humorously sourced the need for air conditioning in the tropical heat as the culprit of costly utility bills, and living in Singapore, I’m sure we can all understand that !  So in my opinion, the size and location of Singapore is one of the main things that contributes to the expense.
IMG_1933Honestly though, what I was interested in after reading the various articles about this phenomenon was how I, as a resident in the ‘world’s most expensive city,’ could save money. I know that as students – children really – this doesn’t usually matter to us as much as it does to our parents. At school I remember learning about declining birth rates, a problem that well-developed nations like Singapore are facing now, and we learned that one of the reasons parents are more reluctant to have children nowadays is because they are expensive.

It’s true. My parents have to spend money on my education, activities, sports equipment, books, stationery, phones, toys and much more … how will I ever pay them back ? Reading those articles got me thinking on how one goes about cutting down living expenses. Here’ are some ideas I came up with, that both kids and parents can implement:


  • Ditch the H&M trip. Instead head to a small chain store which I’m sure has the same thing you’re looking for, only cheaper !
  • Online shopping is also  recommended, though if you buy from abroad remember to keep in mind the shipping costs.
  • DIY clothing can be a fun activity for a rainy afternoon, and it adds a new item to your wardrobe !


  • Groceries can be expensive, and so can eating out. Gardening is one alternative if you have the land space and the time, and don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty – the food will taste that much better because you’ve grown it.
  • If you don’t have time, hawker stores are ideally inexpensive but sometimes you don’t get enough nutritional value out of the food – but there are small restaurants that offer affordable, good quality food, as well as great deals, which you can find on Restaurant-Match.


  • We all know how expensive cars are here, but there are so many other ways to get from A to B. MRTs are fast and come quite often, but if you can’t reach a destination by MRT you can always take a public bus.
  • These methods are cheap and reliable, but can take a long time, so if you really need to get somewhere quickly, try carpooling with a friend.

IMG_0314You can find other inexpensive activities for kids on SingaporeforKids. I hope this has got you thinking not just about the recent buzz surrounding the cost of living here, but also what you can do about it !

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