Recently, some genius on r/Singapore posted a chilling question: “What are Singaporeans paying way too much for?” and the answers have been absolutely fascinating.
The Reddit thread was full of the usual gripes, of course – like cars, houses, minister salaries – but what I found really interesting were the everyday things that are more expensive in Singapore than they are in other (perceived) expensive, first world countries.
Most gave examples from their own experiences living abroad, so naturally I had to stop what I was doing to fact-check them all. Check the list out:
16 things that are more expensive in Singapore than other first world countries
|Price in Singapore||Price elsewhere|
|Pizza||$11 regular or $16.50 large at Domino’s||A$5 ($4.77) Domino’s Australia|
|Bacon||$3.95/200g at NTUC FairPrice||US$3.73/340g ($5.10) at Walmart US|
|Wedding||$30,000 to $50,000||£14,740 ($25,539.10) in the UK|
|Consumer tech||$1,649 for iPhone XS 64GB||US$999 ($1366.99) from Apple Store US|
|Gym membership||$80 to $100/month||Under £20/month ($34.66) in London|
|Musicals||$79 onwards for Phantom of the Opera at MBS||£25 onwards ($43.36) at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London|
|Ramen||$11 to $15 for a basic bowl with no extra toppings||¥400 to ¥900 ($5.07 to $11.41) in Japan|
|Bubble tea||$2.90 for Koi black tea macchiato||NT$40 ($1.74) at 50 Lan|
|Cheese||$5.91 for 226g sharp cheddar||£1.55 ($2.69) at Tesco UK|
|FIFA World Cup||$94.16 for early bird subscription||HK$280 ($48.88) early bird rate in Hong Kong|
|Health supplements||$60 for 60 probiotic capsules at Guardian||US$20 ($27.37) for 60 capsules on iHerb US|
|Clothes||$139.90 for Levi’s 501 jeans||US$32.24 to US$79.50 ($44.13 to $108.82) on Amazon US|
|Infant formula||$52.60 for 800g Nestle Nan Optipro / $55 for 900g Aptamil||A$22 ($21.01) Nestle Nan Optipro / A$24.80 ($23.68) Aptamil in Australia|
|Ice cream||$14.50 ($9.43 on offer) for Haagen Dazs ice cream||US$3.88 ($5.31) at Walmart US|
|Petrol||$2.27/litre onwards||US$0.65 to US$0.95/litre ($0.89 to $1.30) in the US|
|Alcohol||$8 to $12/pint at Holland Village||£5.19/pint ($9) in London|
The only people who think they’re getting a good deal on $22 for 2 small pizzas at Domino’s are those who have never lived in an ang moh country like Australia, where pizzas are more reasonably priced at AUD 5 ($4.77) a piece.
The cheapest bacon I could find at NTUC FairPrice is $3.95/200g, barely 6 or 7 rashers. Over in the US, bacon comes in larger packs and a typical retail price is US$3.73/340g ($5.10) at Walmart.
It’s pretty hard to get a handle on average wedding costs in Singapore, but this article pegs it at $30,000 to $50,000. In contrast, the UK’s average of £14,740 ($25,539.10) looks almost modest.
Yup, can verify that the iPhone XS 64GB costs $1,649 on Apple Store Singapore, $300 more than the US$999 ($1366.99) price in the US. The fact that Singaporeans still snap iPhones up despite the markup makes even less sense.
I remember feeling pretty smug that I found a bunch of “cheap” gyms in Singapore charging “only” $80 to $100/month. Imagine my dismay when I realised that the market rate in a city like London is less than £20/month ($34.66).
It’s indeed true that tickets start from $79 onwards for Phantom of the Opera at MBS – that’s nearly twice that of the starting price of £25 ($43.36) at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.
Some Redditors did mention that productions like these involve a lot of performers and staff, many of whom are flown in to Singapore and need to be housed and fed, so the cost may be justified.
Ramen is basically hawker food in Japan, so prices of basic bowls can be as low as ¥400 to ¥900 ($5.07 to $11.41). Even the famous Ichiran ramen costs just ¥890 ($11.26). Over in Singapore, basic ramen bowls start at $11 and go up to $15. And it probably tastes worse to boot.
A tea macchiato costs $2.90 at Koi in Singapore, while its counterpart 50 Lan in Taipei (the original Koi) charges just NT$40 ($1.74). Although it’s probably a blessing in disguise that the prices of sugary beverages aren’t as low as they are in Taiwan, otherwise we’ll never B.E.A.T diabetes.
Another fatty indulgence that costs way more in Singapore than other developed countries is cheese. A 226g block of cheddar will set you back $5.91, despite costing just £1.55 ($2.69) at Tesco in the UK.
World Cup subscription
Did you know that Singapore is one of the few countries where you actually have to pay to watch the FIFA World Cup? I didn’t… The only other first world country with a paid subscription is Hong Kong, where the early bird subscription rate of HK$280 ($48.88) is nearly half that of Singapore’s $94.16.
You might feel like those $60 probiotics Guardian are super worth it (because health = wealth). But in the US, you can get pretty much the same thing for just US$20 ($27.37). What the hell?
Hey, I would be outraged, too, had I paid $139.90 for a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, only to find them retailing for US$32.24 to US$79.50 ($44.13 to $108.82) on Amazon US.
While I didn’t find a huge difference in the prices of diapers in Singapore vs other countries, the real killer is infant formula, which is insanely expensive here.
It’s typical to pay >$50 for a tin here (samples: $52.60 for 800g Nestle Nan Optipro, $55 for 900g Aptamil), whereas the exact product would cost only A$22 ($21.01, Nestle Nan Optipro) or A$24.80 ($23.68, Aptamil) in Australia. If wet nurses ever made a comeback, it’d be in Singapore.
A tub of good old Haagen Dazs ice cream costs a mere US$3.88 ($5.31) at Walmart in the US, whereas it’s $14.50 ($9.43 on offer) in Singapore.
Bubble tea being more expensive in Singapore than Taiwan? That I can accept. But why does ice cream have to be twice the price in Singapore than in the US? SMH…
As if owning and maintaining a car wasn’t expensive enough, I also learnt that pumping petrol in Singapore is more expensive than even ‘Merica. In Singapore, you have to cough up $2.27/litre onwards, whereas in the US it’s more like US$0.65 to US$0.95/litre ($0.89 to $1.30).
While Londoners are all up in arms over the fact that a pint now costs as much as £5.19 ($9), over in Singapore, we think any happy hour price below $10/pint is “dirt cheap”. Sad, really.
Do you have anything to add to the list of things that are unjustifiably more expensive in Singapore than elsewhere? Leave a comment.