Cost of Living in Singapore. Prices Updated Dec 2020.

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They say you get what you pay for. After having traveled the previous 4 months in India, Cambodia, VietNam, Myanmar and Thailand, Singapore was so easy! The subway system is a marvel, streets signs were easy to read, everyone speaks English (that just makes it easy for me as an English speaker) it is safe, clean, and parks are gorgeous. I was there as COVID 19 was breaking out fairly fast and that put a damper on my time but I was so happy to be there anyway and plan to go back. For digital nomads if you can afford accommodation this is a very easy city in which to stay awhile. The internet was strong and consistent everywhere I went. If order, safety, and ease of transport is high on your list Singapore can be a great place to land for awhile.

9 months ago

Clean and modern city state. Singapore is clean, modern and Singaporeans are friendly and internationally minded. It has skyscrapers, green parks and food courts. It’s a country that exists by the grace of globalization and internationality. Anyone can feel home here as the country is a collection of ethnic Chinese, Malay, Indian and a whole bunch of expats from anywhere. Singaporeans are highly educated, smart and professional.

Singapore is a great place for incorporating your remote startup and do banking from there. It’s a great place for dating because there’s lots of internationally minded high educated high income and somewhat progressive young people.

The only bad things you could say are that 1) Singapore is expensive. I don’t deny that. But it’s because it’s a first world country in a continent of third world countries, 2) That’s it not completely free. There’s limits to political freedom of speech in favor of a more stable government. If I agree with that, I don’t know. But it is stable, 3) That it’s too hot and humid. Singapore is on the equator. Luckily they have A/C pretty much anywhere. And they have tunnels under the city to walk that are also A/C’d. Nice.

9 months ago

Easiest subway system to master. Everyone lives within 10 minutes walking of a major greenspace. 90 percent home ownership. People believe in the laws the government writes. Offices are VERY QUIET.

10 months ago

It truly is a garden city — the amount of green space is mindboggling. Everywhere you go it’s green and amazing. One of my favourite cities anywhere.

1 year ago

Everything just works. The food by Singaporean Hawkers are world-class for a good price too. 👌

1 year ago

The Diet Coke of Asia. Zero crime, English spoken everywhere. Reliable public transport. Some nice spots for off-the-beaten-path walking and hiking. But also clinical, authoritarian, money-minded and very costly. Companies and shopkeepers will always do what’s good for them (or makes their own life easier); not what’s good for the customer. People avoid eye contact and are generally overworked and miserable. After a while, crossing over to Malaysia’s neighboring Johor will, warts and all, feel like a breath of fresh air («Yes! Space! I can move! I can breathe!»).

1 year ago

Nomad-ed here for a month. A totally ok place if you have the budget for it. Coworking spaces are good, 4g everywhere, transportation is effective. Lots of things to do. I was able to find friends. Lots of international people, very few digital nomads. If you’re there, consider not renting in the center (as it gets expensive fast) and being creative with places to eat to find cheap options. Be prepared to use cash unless you live in a luxury.

2 years ago

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Hey guys, here’s a question I’ve been asking nomads I meet everywhere, but still haven’t found good information. My startups mostly focus on american and european markets but I don’t have a registered company, nor I live permanently on any of these countries.

I get the cash payments online in paypal (or adsense) and transfer it to Thailand (or Malaysia, or Bali, or Brazil, or wherever I’m at). The thing is… for low volume living expenses it seems fine, but as I scale the business, I’m starting to think more and more about fiscal law.

A fellow nomad told me to transfer it to Singapore, Hong Kong or The Virgin Islands, and then use an international credit card anywhere. I don’t know if it’s the best way to optimize this… any ideas?

Also, could there be any problems in selling to these countries without a registered local company?

A Limited Liability Partnership in British Colombia might be a great option: If you don’t have any clients in Canada itself, there are no taxes and you don’t need to do any book keeping. And, as the name implies, you’re protected against liability.

As Canada hasn’t a reputation of a tax paradise (but as a tax hell), opening bank accounts should be possible without problems. Costs are about 2000USD, when done by a local lawyer.

I didn’t look into the details, yet, but what I know about it sounds great. I’ll probably go this way, as soon as turnover is big enough.

I know this is a late response, but what about Dubai Free Zone company in the RAK zone? It costs about $1500 to incorporate and has no taxes or filing requirements. Of course, you must not live in other countries for extended periods of time or you will become a tax resident there and thus liable for taxes.

Dubai rents are cheaper than Hong Kong and cost of living seems a bit better. Plus you’re closer to Europe.

Singapore requires 2 directors.

Hong Kong requires a HK resident secretary.

HK requires an annual audit even for a company that earns $1.

Annual Financial statement is mandatory as well. During the annual financial statement you have to add a form to prove you don’t make money out of HK because 0% corporate tax is not automatic.

HK government does not allow a non resident HK bank to pay through wire transfer for gov fees or profit tax or any tax. You need HK bank account to pay fees and tax to HK government or you need to pay someone in HK to pay HK fees.

I know a country that is incredibly under-estimated in Europe. It is called Bulgaria. Full protection of owners. corporate tax 10%, Cheap Accountants, Cheap & Serious Local Banks (société générale, Raiffeisen) who just require passport and utility bill. The only thing that you cannot do in Bulgaria is distributing pornography.

Is there any particular reason folks are looking to setup companies rather than operate under their own names?

What is the benefit of a corporation vs just running your “business/consultancy” under your own name? Why go for an offshore “company” when you can just go for an offshore personal bank account?

For US citizens who live outside the US, there are US tax benefits to operating a business through a non-US corporation instead of through their own names.

More on this here:

I wouldn’t suggest incorporating in countries like BVI, Seychelles…as these are perceived as tax avoidance countries and that many companies are not carrying out normal business but just set up there to hide funds to avoid tax. This is evident by the fact that there has been increasing scrutiny and new regulations in BVI in the recent years to battle this.

Set up business in Singapore or Hong Kong is definitely better option as it is perceived that you are running a legitimate and real business. Besides, your funds are safe as HK is one of the major financial centres in the world. Clients in general, will have more confident in your company. Regarding the company set up and maintenance costs, it is actually very cheap considering that the maximum corporate profit tax rate is only 16.5% (in some cases can be as low as zero). You just have to work with a reliable and professional local service provider. You will be amazed that this is actually very cost effective and efficient.

Putting up with the Hong Kong hassle just for perceived legitimacy of your company may be beneficial for certain startups. But it’s absolutely unnecessary for a business owner that simply wants to make money.

No one cares about the type of company you use to hold your Amazon FBA business, SaaS product, blog, podcast, etc. And if you structure things correctly, no one will even know about it.

More thoughts here:

Hello, I agree with “freedomsurfer”. Hong Kong and Singapore both are very expensive for startup needs. Additionally to BVI and Belize I can recommend Seychelles International Business Company — it will be relatively inexpensive and incorporation process is very fast. Check for more info regarding other jurisdictions and their correspondence to your business activity.

Good Luck!

This post is very relevant for me at the moment. At the moment I am trying to set up a small software consulting (totally remote) firm in the US and it has been a pain. I am currently nomadic US citizen but not entirely sure that I will always be nomadic. As for my company, I see no problem in it being based offshore since we are a global team. What I am wondering is what guidelines my company has to follow to be legit even if I were to live in the US and do business with clients there. Currently my only clients are in the US but I could easily work with some clients elsewhere if that would help my case.

@freedomsurfer that blog post is awesome thank you for that. From reading the post it seems like BVI may be a good choice. Would I hire a firm or agent to help with that process or just do it all myself?

Singapore and Hong Kong come with filing and reporting requirements. You’ll also be liable for tax in most circumstances (yes, even in Hong Kong). If you’re not a US citizen, or a citizen of some countries that are going crazy against offshore structures (i.e.: Turkey), a traditional offshore jurisdiction may be the best to avoid costly filings and audits. Panama is good; BVI and Caymans are UK territories and more expensive. I think the trend is going to paying a little tax vs. paying 0% tax, so a country like Gibraltar that has 0% tax rather than no tax could be helpful, also, but it will come with more requirements.

Hong Kong and Singapore are probably not the most cost efficient jurisdictions for your company. Hong Kong because of the high annual cost of the mandatory audit and Singapore because of the requirement for a local director. It really depends on what you do but since you get paid online I’d say jurisdiction reputation isn’t that important. An IBC in Belize or BVI works pretty nicely for most businesses and they aren’t only cheap, there are no tax returns to file there and no audit requirement.

Check out my blog post here about some of the most popular jurisdictions:

I’m looking for the same, but in europe… Ireland looks to be the best, both on taxes and on startup enviroment… But I’m also looking for solutions worldwide.

If you’re not an EEA citizen, setting up shop in Ireland can be expensive. It also has a 12.5% tax rate that requires some trickier set-ups and transfer pricing or invoicing if you want to reduce that rate.

Hi Raphael,

That’s an excellent question. I can’t give you a binding answer as I’m not a lawyer, but can provide these remarks. For a deeper discussion, you can hit me up via PM. I’ve been dealing with these issues for a few years now and may be able to give some tips.

  • There seems to be a (WTO?) treaty that will grant your passport country taxation rights, if there is no company or other place of residence. I don’t have a source for this and it doesn’t seem to get enforced.
  • Americans will always have their worldwide income taxed until they cancel their citizenship or you’re subject to a Double Tax Treaty.
  • If you deliver to the EU consumers, you need to collect VAT since 2015. Even on virtual goods.
  • There are a number of countries that allow you to put up an official residence without really being there.

Is there an affordable way to incorporate in Singapore?

I asked an agency and they charge around SG$11000 for the whole package.

I’d like to find a cheaper option since I’m just starting out.

Any recommendations?

Search for “Sleek” as I understand they charge around 5000 SGD

I am thinking to change my base to Singapore .

I have some queries regarding it,

Hacks of Price of Living : I don’t want to live in hostels where 4/8 persons live in a room, want to live in a room may be in a shared apartment, gym and other facilities would be nice, I am getting in 800 to 1000 SGD’s pretty good Condo rooms, can I turn it down to 500-600 ?

Food : I stayed there for a month recently, so pretty much know the food hacks now, if I am eating at home its cheap and hawkers places are also cheaper.

How’s it for business Base ?

I run a Software Development Company mostly into building MVP’s for Startups and running extension teams for SME’s. So I think it will be pretty good for me based in Singapore for finding new opportunities and Client Communications.

What do you think about it and any suggestions would be great.

Singapore is an expensive country.

So for as running a business, it is an excellent place to run a company from in some ways. Tax is low (15%) and its easy to get a local nominee director (about $2k a year). Set up costs on a company are about 5K. You will need about a 5K deposit into local bank account to open one up.

Running a company out of Singapore as a nomad is a nightmare. Their banking system is archaic. They still manually approve international transfers, for example. Their fraud and identity regulations are the toughest ever. If you are used to using PayPal in US or Aus or basically anywhere else, you will get a nasty shock when dealing with PayPal Singapore who will constantly limit your account for volume variations. I usually have to ring PayPal in order to be able to login to my PayPal account because if I am overseas (not in Singapore). they will autoamtically lock the account.

Recommended if you want to reduce taxes and have a higher volume business not recommended if you are a typical digital nomad.

Currently I am a typical Business Nomad. But do I want to be a high volume business person ha ha

Rent is very expensive in Singapore. The main issue will be the lease. Usually you will have a lease and if you break it you end up loosing a lot of money. Most rentals, even for rooms in a flat share, go through agents, so you always pay a considerable fee. I am not sure if they changed the laws but some years ago, almost everyone could be a real estate agent — and most of them had no idea of what they were doing. Same goes for the office, that you will most likely rent, because you probably don t want to live and work in 5 m2 room…

As for the Visa and requirements to open a business — I am not exactly sure what the status is, but it is definitely not cheap.

Unless you make some serious cash directly with clients in Singapore, I would consider other options in SEA and regularly come to Sing to meet potential clients.

Singapore is hugely expensive and you need a company to sponsor a work permit.

Getting a resident permit is probably going to be your biggest challenge. It’s a lot harder than it used to be. To stay for a long time on an Entrepass you may even have to hire locals. That’s something you want to consider when making your cost analysis.

I need some locals, at least some Biz Dev guys fresh out of NUS, so obviously will end up hiring them

Its good for finding clients though, what I have found so far.

bear in mind that rent in singapore’s expensive compared to other parts of South East Asia… although there’s cheap food, it’s not filling (mostly carbs, like lo mein and fried rice).

business base — that’s what i use it for. no tax on the first 3 years of incorporation (private limited company).

Nothing useful to add here from me. I’m curious as well as a US citizen considering making a move Singapore for eventual citizenship as residential & business base. FACTA and all that nonsense is something I’d like to skip.

Seems Singapore is good enough but though have to have good business to settle down there.

Here’s some information about the tax side of starting an online/solo business in Singapore:

Hi! Has anyone wondered how to get Android Pay working on their device as a non US/UK/Singaporean citizen? Apparently those are the countries supported by Android Pay currently (as in, supported Cards of banks situated in those countries, to be precise).

I was thinking to open a UK bank account just for this purpose, but that requires proof of residency and opening a Singaporean account has became significantly harder, either in later years. Any tips? I’m an EU citizen btw.

What happens once you get that account, though? I haven’t made an Android Pay capable international transaction yet, but when I tried Google Wallet in Ireland (using US cards) it rejected the transaction for being unsupported.

Why not setup a US company to act purely as a payment gateway? Stripe’s Atlas program is great, fast and efficient (yes, I’ve been through the Atlas program).

✅ Pretty safe

✅ Fast internet

✅ Lots of fun stuff to do

✅ Warm now

✅ Warm all year round

✅ Good air quality today

✅ Nomad List members liked going here a lot

✅ Many Nomad List members here all year round

✅ Very easy to do business

✅ High quality of education

✅ Great hospitals

✅ Roads are very safe

✅ Democratic

✅ Everyone speaks English

✅ Very safe for women

✅ Family friendly

✅ Not many people smoke tobacco

❌ Very humid now

❌ Feels crowded

❌ Difficult to make friends

❌ Freedom of speech is weak

❌ Hostile towards LGBTQ+

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