Photo of Singapore MBS from AFP

According to a recent cost of consumer goods survey conducted by UK-based group ECI International, Singapore has become more expensive and it’s ranking jumped two places to 16th in the world this year (2016). The survey excludes rent, utilities, car purchases and school fees, and focuses only on a basket of consumer goods commonly purchased in other cities.

In a media interview, the director with ECA International cautioned that the Singapore dollar appreciated at the time of the survey, taken earlier this year. Henceforth given the current declining Sing dollar and bearish outlook from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, it is likely Singapore will become more expensive in 2017.

Earlier in June 2016, Mercer ranked Singapore 4th most expensive but only 26th for quality of life. The disparity between costs and quality indicate that Singaporeans have been overpaying without getting equivalent value seen in overseas markets.

While almost everyone including the rich is feeling the pinch, the young, low income and retirees in Singapore are the hardest hit in the high cost environment. Young Singaporeans are putting off marriage and family plans because of exorbitant housing and living costs, pushing birth rate to the lowest in the world at 1.24. Retirees aged 55 and above are also stuck in a double-bind situation where they have to choose between going back to work or live in extreme poverty, despite receiving CPF savings payout.

However, not everyone in Singapore thinks the country is expensive. At least to members of the ruling party. In Jan 2015, Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam claimed that public housing price is affordable and that even a worker on a S$1,000 salary can afford an apartment. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan also claimed that public transport in Singapore is cheap and affordable, while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that everything is affordable including healthcare costs. Supposedly the next Prime Minister, Minister Chan Chun Sing also said that there is no need for a poverty line in a country like Singapore which look after the poor very well.