3 Reasons Why the Singapore Dream Doesn’t Come Cheap

singapore dream

What would you consider your Singapore Dream? Living in a condo, at least, or some multi-storey landed property. A powerful “continental” car with all the prestige that comes with it. Or maybe you’re thinking more practically – like just having a good job that allows you to be your own boss, or, better still, a business where your money can work for you.

Or maybe your dreams are smaller – like just being able to travel often (and I don’t just mean weekend trips to Bangkok). Whatever it is, all these dreams have one thing in common – they cost money, money that is now harder to get.


The cost of living in Singapore is going up

Based on a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is the most expensive country in the world. Again. And we can’t do anything about it. A lunchtime meal in the CBD can cost over $10, unless you know where to dine. Let’s not even talk about paying your utility bill or your petrol bill or how much public transport costs you these days.


But Singaporeans are still spending!

So, if everything is so expensive in Singapore, why is it that we’re still spending more than we earn? And I’m not just talking about small amounts of debt. Some 32,000 people in Singapore are reported to have debts of more than 24 times their monthly income. That means that even if they don’t spend a cent of their salary for 2 years… they still can’t pay off everything they owe! Is it any surprise then, that the government introduced the Total Debt Servicing Ratio in order to reduce the number of people who overextend themselves financially.


Singaporeans need better money management

Singaporeans in general are quite hooked on marathons. Each year, there are several local races and they’re always well attended. A marathon requires months, or at least weeks of planning. You can’t just decide to run 42.195km or even just 10km without sufficient preparation. Yet, when it comes to money, we generally don’t put in the same kind of effort. Which is strange – you’d think that more Singaporeans would want to achieve their financial dreams than just get a medal and a t-shirt that says “Finisher of 42.195km”.

Perhaps you haven’t started thinking of how to manage your money because you’ve not exactly broken down how much your dreams will cost you. Not to worry – we’ll do it for you:


Dream #1 – Owning a car… a luxury one

We Singaporeans all know that it’s not easy to own a car because of the ridiculously high COE prices. But how many of us have actually stopped to calculate exactly how much it costs to own a car? A brand new BMW would normally cost you slightly more than $162,000, but over 10 years, with extra costs like maintenance, insurance, road tax and petrol, you could find yourself spending almost $250,000. At least!

That’s a quarter of a million dollars over 10 years – and the worst part is, you won’t even see a single cent of it because a car is simply not an investment.


Dream #2 – Owning a condo in a central location

Earlier this year, sales of units at the 50-storey [email protected] made headlines because it was essentially a HDB project that had been sold for as much as a million dollars. Ultimately, the Singapore Dream is to live in a condominium with all the facilities included – the swimming pool, the function rooms, the gyms, and those are just the minimum you expect.

How much will a condo in a central location cost you? Popular locations such as Tiong Bahru have per square foot prices that are still between $1,600 and $1,800. That means a unit that isn’t exactly huge would cost anything between $1.5 and $2.1 million.

With a $2.1 million home, you would need to have at least $420,000 in cash or CPF for that downpayment. The good thing is, a condo will probably appreciate significantly in value over the years, so at least your money is well-spent.


Dream #3 – Just travelling the world… twice a year

In this day and age, where less and less Singaporeans are getting married, and more and more Singaporeans are leaving marriages – it’s no surprise that more people are spending most of their income on themselves rather than saving a larger portion for the future. Without children to raise, the only other people who may be a liability to you are your aging parents.

Instead of a car or a condo, perhaps your Singapore Dream is simply to travel the world.

How much would using up all your annual leave on overseas vacations cost you? Here’s a quick breakdown.

City Estimated Cost of a Week Long Holiday
Paris, France $2,400 per person
London, UK $2,600 per person
Los Angeles, USA $2,800 per person
Buenos Aires, Argentina $3,200 per person



How can you make your Singapore Dreams realistically achievable?

There are three ways that you can earn enough money to make your Singapore Dream possible.


Very simply, saving a portion of your income every month will set you in good stead for achieving your Singapore Dream. Just imagine, setting aside $500 each month means you’ll have $6,000 by the end of each year. That’s more than enough for your overseas vacations. Alternatively, you could keep it in a savings account that gives you interest when you do extra stuff like spend on credit cards. Say the account gives you 2% interest a year, that’s $120 more. Which really isn’t much, but that’s as good as it gets when it comes to savings accounts.

So if you save at that rate for about 14 years, you should have just enough to buy that dream car. Or, more accurately, pay the downpayment for one. Because you’ll definitely need a loan. Speaking of loans…



Want something but don’t want to wait too long to get it? A loan is a great way to avoid the wait. Only two problems – Firstly, you’ll still need to make a downpayment. Secondly, you’ll need to have enough income. Too low an income and you won’t qualify for the loan amount you need. While this isn’t a problem for most salaried workers, it can be difficult for self-employed or commission-based workers to qualify how much they earn.



Ultimately, the best way to achieve your Singapore Dream is to invest. Even at a very, VERY conservative rate of 4% returns, investing would already double the amount you receive from even the best saving accounts in Singapore. Instead of having to wait 14 years to save up enough for a downpayment for a luxury car, investments can help you reach your dream within 7 years or less.

What’s more, by just sharing your Singapore Dream you may get a head start of up to $20,000 in Unit Trusts to start your investment. Unit trusts are just one of several investment products that can help you achieve that dream.


Do you think your Singapore Dream is achievable? How do you feel about your Dream getting more and more expensive? Let us know.

Image Credits:
The Residences at W Singapore, Sentosa Cove, Singapore – 20110912” by Stankn. – Own work.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –