FI Lifestyle Personal Finance

How Much Does it Cost the Live the FIRE Life in Singapore? (As a Family of Four)

Photo credit: Swapnil Bapat on Unsplash

How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in Singapore?

Hello, and welcome to interview #14 in the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series! Part interview, part spending report, this series will introduce us to FIRE* seekers from all over the world.

They’ll reveal their essential spending and money-saving tips—all to help us learn new ways to save on our own expenses. As a bonus, we’ll also get to discover the unique advantages and challenges of living in different places around the globe.

*FIRE stands for financial independence, retire early. It’s also known as FI—financial independence. For more info, see my FI School series—it’ll teach you everything you need to know about FI (and FIRE).

About the interview series

I created an intro page for this interview series to help explain what it’s about, what’s included (or not) and why. I’ll also link to all the interviews from the intro page—so check back there to see the entire collection.

Jump to the series intro: How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life? (The Interview Series)

Disclosure: These interviews may include affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a commission if you make a purchase through my links—at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Interview #14: Richard from Singapore

In today’s interview, we’ll meet Richard from the Side Hustle Rich blog. Richard lives with his wife and two adorable boys in Singapore. He’s my first interviewee from this tiny island nation (which is the most expensive city and country in the world—yikes)!

About Side Hustle Rich

In 2018, when I first joined the personal finance community on Twitter, Richard was one of a handful of bloggers who warmly welcomed me. I believe our first interaction was when he replied to one of my tweets with something witty and hilarious. (It was probably a funny, spot-on meme—which he’s a master at, LOL!)

Soon after ‘meeting’ Richard, I discovered his blog, Side Hustle Rich. On his blog, Richard writes about a variety of topics, including: side hustles (of course!) investing (stocks, real estate and crypto) financial independence, and more. His posts are informative, easy to read, and of a nice, concise length. (Unlike the posts written here by yours truly!)

Richard also shares info about alternative investments and side hustles—many of which I’ve never heard of. If you’re interested in dabbling in some unique ventures, Side Hustle Rich is the blog for you!

I should also give a shout-out to Richard’s list of Singapore-based FI blogs—it was the inspiration for my Canadian FIRE Directory. (And I just noticed: following the list of Singapore bloggers, Richard’s listed my Twitter account in his FI Enthusiasts Twitter list. Thanks, friend!)

I hope you enjoy perusing Side Hustle Rich. But before you go, check out Richard’s interview with me below. I think you’ll find it very interesting—Singapore is definitely a unique place to live (for better and worse)!

Part 1: Getting to know you

Richard and his two adorable boys

Tell us about you and your family

Hello! First of let me say a big thank you to Chrissy for letting us be a part of your interview series. Really excited to be sharing our story. We are a family of four, with two young boys aged 6 and 4. My wife and I are both going to be 42 this year, and we live on the tropical island of Singapore, some say the most expensive city in the world! (Ouch!)

I blog at sidehustlerich.com and also recently started a YouTube channel. Please support! It’s quite bare at the moment, but I’ll get better at putting up more content, I promise!

We love travel, and so it’s been a really trying 12 months for us, not just on that front, but also because I’ve been jobless across the entirety of 2020 (curse you, Covid!) and that has thrown a spanner in our FIRE plan.


Where are you in your journey to FIRE?

This is a tough one. I can’t say for sure where we are, because my goalposts have been shifting a bit. That, and the aforementioned forced hiatus in work meant that I have been digging into my reserves for the past year, and we have yet to fully assess the damage that has put us in terms of time lost in the FIRE roadmap.

That said, we still aspire to have a choice to at least be Barista Fire by 2025.

What type of FIRE are you at? (FIRE, Lean FIRE, or Fat FIRE)

How Chrissy defines FIRE, Lean FIRE, and Fat FIRE

Some people define Lean FIRE as under $40k in annual spending; FIRE as $40–$100k in annual spending; and Fat FIRE as $100k+ in annual spending.

However, I prefer looser definitions that are not based on hard numbers. That’s because $100k could be Fat FIRE in a small Canadian town but Lean FIRE in San Francisco. That said, here are my definitions:

  • Lean FIRE: The essentials with little or no discretionary spending.
  • FIRE: The essentials plus a comfortable amount of discretionary spending.
  • Fat FIRE: The essentials plus a luxurious amount of discretionary spending.

Ultimately a comfortable FIRE. I think Fat FIRE might be a tad out of reach, so for me, FIRE with some leeway would include the ability to still maintain our current lifestyle without much sacrifice. (My wife is not really on this FI journey, though she doesn’t object to it… so the process has to not impact our lifestyle).


Tell us about your living situation

We live in a condo apartment which we own (mortgaged). We’re considered living out in the suburbs, although Singapore is small enough that it’s still pretty accessible, especially with a car.

There’s a bus stop right outside our condo apartment, but trains are a much more accessible means of transport in the country, and the nearest one is about 8 minutes’ drive away. 

Our apartment houses our family of four plus a live-in domestic helper originally from the Philippines. As my wife and I are both working, our helper is pretty much in charge of keeping our home clean, cooking, laundry and all other housework.


Why did you choose to live in Singapore?

Though I would love to relocate to a city with a lower cost of living, overall, we still love Singapore for the food, transport infrastructure and overall liveability. 

Outside of almost everything being expensive, it is probably one of the safest cities in the world to raise a family. Our friends and family are mostly based here as well, so it’s really difficult to leave this amazing support system.

Part 2: The expenses

In this section, Richard shares his essential expenses and best money-saving tips. But before we get started, let’s review some important notes:

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar.
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is Singapore dollars (S$).
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter for each expense.

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

1. How much does housing cost in Singapore?

Photo by Yehleen Gafney on Unsplash

Mortgage (S$2,600/month; S$31,200/year)

Property in Singapore is one of the most expensive in the world. We’re right up there with Hong Kong, London and New York. We’re also in a rather unique situation because of our small size. 

Singapore rarely has any land that is freehold. 80% of us live on “government-subsidized” housing, or public housing flats. Even though we’re labeled owners of the apartment, in actual fact, these flats are sold to you on a 99-year lease, after which the government has an option to take it back without any compensation. 

The housing market here has been on the up and up since Singapore gained independence as a nation. Currently, public housing in a prime location can go upwards of S$1M (US$745K) and we’re talking about apartments of about 1,000 square feet.

My first home when I got married was a government-built home. Its value went through the roof after 7 years, and so it made sense for us to cash out, lever up and get a private apartment to lock in further value.

Property tax (S$29/month; S$352/year)

The good thing about Singapore is the low property and income tax, relative to other countries. 


Strata/HOA fees (S$340/month; S$4,080/year)

We pay roughly $1,000 per quarter on maintenance fees, ensuring common areas within the estate are maintained. This includes clearance of garbage, as well as parking.


Home insurance (S$0)

This is combined with the home mortgage.


Home maintenance (S$60/month; S$720/year)

Aside from the maintenance to air conditioners, and the odd replacement of mops and pails, we don’t have too much in terms of home maintenance. When we moved into our current place (in 2016) we did about S$60,000 in renovations, so piping and most things under the hood are still pretty new. 


Home equity opportunity cost (S$20,900/year)

About the home equity opportunity cost ‘expense’

This is an optional expense category, suggested by The Economist from FI Garage. The intention for sharing this is to calculate the opportunity cost of home ownership versus renting.

That is: if you invested the amount that’s tied up in your home equity, how much would that be worth after one year of investing (calculated using a conservative return of 5%)?

Some of my interviewees aren’t comfortable sharing this, which is why this expense is optional. In addition, there are other factors (appreciation, rent savings, other home ownership costs) which could make this number less useful.

Still, I think it’s an interesting number to consider, so I’ve decided to include it. 😉

At last valuation, my place is currently worth $1,100,000. My mortgage is $682,000. So $20,900 would be my opportunity cost per year, I reckon?

$418,000 in home equity x 5% = $20,900 in opportunity cost after one year of investing.

2. How much does transportation cost in Singapore?

Paris Shared Bike, Bus and Taxi Lane” by EURIST e.V. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vehicle loan (S$1,077/month; S$12,294/year)

As you’ll see under the Gas section below, cars are so expensive that most of us take out another mortgage to service payments for a car.

Yes, I will resign from my position as a PF blogger after finishing this post.


Vehicle insurance and registration (S$79/month; S$950/year)

Not much to expand on here.

Gas (S$200/month; S$2,400/year)

Covid has definitely reduced my gas intake, but this is the number pre-Covid. I’m seriously thinking of getting a Tesla next, but the import taxes for cars into Singapore is crazy expensive. A Tesla Model 3, in Singapore would cost about S$150,000! 

This is because we have a stupid tax called a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that costs at least as much as the car itself. COE prices fluctuate monthly based on supply and demand (it’s a bidding system) and currently (March 2021) it is at S$46,000 for a 10-year certificate. 

This is why it almost never makes any sense for car ownership in Singapore. Yet here I am. I totally should not be a PF blogger. =/


Vehicle maintenance (S$50/month; S$600/year)

Not much to report here other than regular annual car servicing.


Bike maintenance (S$0)

The Singapore government has been really supportive of cyclists and biking, and have built park connectors safe for cyclists linking the island:

Bike route map courtesy Singapore National Parks

It’s just that personally for us, we feel so handicapped by the heat and humidity that it’s too unpleasant to cycle for leisure, let alone as a means of transportation.


Parking and tolls (S$120/month; S$1,440/year)

This includes parking at work, and when we go out during the weekends. Bulk of it is spent on parking at work. 


Transit (S$0)

We don’t spend on transit because we drive. We made the decision to get a car when my wife first got pregnant, just so it’s easier for the family overall to move around. 

3. How much does food cost in Singapore?

Photo by gemma on Unsplash

Groceries (S$600/month; S$7,200/year)

We shop for groceries once a week and average about $150 each week.


Eating out (S$500/month; S$6,000/year)

We typically eat out on the weekends and try to find someplace interesting to take the boys. 

4. How much do utilities and bills cost in Singapore?

Photo by Jason Richard on Unsplash

Natural gas (S$0)

We use an electric stove, so we don’t have any gas charges.


Electricity (S$122/month; S$1,464/year)

I think we can definitely do better in this regard. We often forget to switch off the mains when we’re not using a particular appliance, especially the TV!


Water (S$58/month; S$696/year)

Not too bad in this regard. Our bills come with a national average, and our water consumption has regularly come in under the national average! High Five!


Garbage and recycling (S$0)

This expense is combined with the strata fees. 

Internet (S$40/month; S$480/year)

We’re on a 1GBPS plan with extended wifi around the home. Can’t do without it!


Home phone (S$0)

Do people still use home phones?


Cell phones (S$80/month; S$960/year)

Unfortunately another must-have expense. Rates are pretty competitive across the various telcos, so not much additional value to squeeze here. 


Streaming entertainment (S$11/month; S$132/year)

Wooot! A win here for us. Currently, we’re enjoying free Netflix and Spotify because of my Cryptocom card. Because of that, we’ve recently splashed out on Disney+ as well! =)

5. How much do other essentials cost in Singapore?

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels

Life and disability insurance (S$30/month; S$360/year)

Just making sure that we have sufficient coverage that if anything should happen to me, my family is covered.

Medical insurance (S$25/month; S$300/year)

We have government healthcare facilities providing subsidised healthcare for Singaporeans. However, as general healthcare is super expensive, even the subsidised portions add up to crippling results if you end up with cancer or anything serious.

The subsidies come in two prongs. One is a direct subsidy from the clinic or hospital of itemized procedures. The other comes in a mandatory contribution while you are working into a fund that you can only use for medical purposes. (This is part of the same scheme that apportions part of your salary into a retirement account). It’s called Medisave.

We typically utilise our company medical insurance, but we still top this off with our own private medical insurance to cover for critical illnesses, hospitalization and loss of income arising from it.


Out-of-pocket medical expenses (S$30/month; S$360/year)

The occasional visit to the clinic for colds and fever. Not too much in this regard either.


Clothing and footwear (S$20/month; S$240/year)

We wear our clothes till the holes are too embarrassing to be seen out with before we’ll get new items, so I think we save quite a bit in this regard. 

Personal care (S$60/month; S$720/year)

I average a haircut every five weeks or so, cos I keep it short. But I go to a $10 or $12 barber, so that’s considered pretty cheap. 

I lumped shampoo and toiletries with the expenses in the groceries section. My wife goes for a cut and treatment maybe twice a year.


Technology (S$55/month; S$660/year)

I’m a phone geek and an Android fan, so I typically change phones every two years or so. I’m eagerly anticipating the Pixel 6 coming out this year! 

Part 3: Adding it all up

Now that we’ve detailed all of Richard’s essential expenses, it’s time to add everything up in some nice, organized tables!

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar.
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is Singapore dollars (S$).
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter for each expense.

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

How much does it cost to live the FIRE life in Singapore?

1. Housing

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Mortgage$2,600$31,200
Property tax$29$352
Strata/HOA fees
$340$4,080
Home insurance$0$0
Maintenance$60$720
TOTAL$3,029 (with mortgage)
$429 (no mortgage)
$36,352 (with mortgage)
$5,152 (no mortgage)

Home equity opportunity cost (OPTIONAL): $20,900/year

Note: Jump to the home equity opportunity cost section for details on this optional ‘expense’.

2. Transportation

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Vehicle loan$1,077$12,924
Vehicle insurance$79$950
Gas$200$2,400
Vehicle maintenance$50$600
Bike maintenance$0$0
Parking and tolls$120$1,440
Transit$0$0
TOTAL$1,526$18,314

3. Food

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Groceries$600$7,200
Eating out$500$6,000
TOTAL$1,100$13,200

4. Utilities and bills

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Natural gas$0$0
Electricity$122$1,464
Water$58$696
Garbage and recycling$0$0
Internet$40$480
Home phone$0$0
Cell phones$80$960
Streaming entertainment$11$132
TOTAL$311$3,732

Other essentials

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Life and disability insurance$30$360
Medical insurance$25$300
Out-of-pocket medical expenses$30$360
Clothing and footwear$20$240
Personal care$60$720
Technology$55$660
TOTAL$220$2,640

Grand totals

ExpenseMonthly (SGD)Annual (SGD)
Housing$3,029 (with mortgage)
$429 (no mortgage)
$36,352 (with mortgage)
$5,152 (no mortgage)
Transportation$449$5,390
Food$1,100$13,200
Utilities and bills$311$3,732
Other essentials$220$2,640
TOTAL$5,110 (with mortgage)
$2,510 (no mortgage)
$61,314 (with mortgage)
$30,114 (no mortgage)

Part 4: Other expenses

This is a special section that’s just for fun! It’s the place for my interviewees to mention any expenses that they’ve done a really good job of optimizing and/or just want to share.

These expenses won’t be included in the totals (just to keep things as standardized as possible). I hope you find this section interesting and informative. Here are a few additional expenses that Richard wanted to share:

Childcare

We were paying S$1,600 for preschool education per child per month. So it’s S$3,200 as of last year. Luckily, the older one has since moved on to primary school, which is heavily subsidised by the government—such that it is as good as free (S$6 per month).

Live-in helper

Our live-in helper is from the Philippines, and we pay her $650 per month. We also cover her groceries, food and toiletries on top of her salary.

Kids’ activities

Expenses on kid activities is really quite variable. We did start swim lessons for Oli, the older boy. That costs, I think it was $120 per month for 4 lessons.

Chrissy’s closing thoughts

Thank again to Richard for sharing his and his family’s expenses! As mentioned, Richard is my first interviewee from Singapore, so I was excited to learn more about his expenses.

In particular, I was curious to learn just how costly it was to live in the most expensive city/country in the world. To my surprise, expenses in Singapore are a mixed bag! Here are some of my observations:

Real estate

After reading Richard’s interview, I feel a little sheepish complaining about Vancouver’s real estate prices. To be sure, they’re still outrageous. But at least we don’t have 99-year leases to worry about (for the most part). And we get a little more square footage per dollar (not a lot more, but it’s something)!

However, expensive as real estate may be in Singapore, Richard’s mortgage payments aren’t as outrageous as one might expect. It’s pretty much on-par compared to Vancouver and other expensive cities

Property tax

This one surprises me! Singapore seems to have a very robust social support system, so I wonder how they fund it with such low property and income taxes?

The low property taxes also mean, once you’re mortgage-free, you could live in your property for almost nothing. That sure helps to make up for the costly purchase price!

Vehicle ownership

I admit—this one was pretty shocking to me. I’d never heard of this Certificate of Entitlement tax before! According to this post, the COE is “… a landmark scheme implemented to regulate the growth of the vehicle population in Singapore, which is among the densest in the world.”

It makes sense, I suppose, when your country is smaller than most US states. (Singapore is about 720 square kilometres/280 square miles in size. The Hawaiian island of Oahu is, by contrast, 1,546 square kilometres/597 square miles!)

Doing well despite it all

What’s most surprising to me is how very low Richard’s spending is—especially once you subtract his mortgage and vehicle loan:

  • Total essential expenses: S$61,314 ($56,651 CAD or $45,300 USD).
  • Minus mortgage (S$31,200): S$30,114 ($27,833 CAD or $22,249 USD).
  • Minus vehicle loan (S$12,294): S$49,020 ($45,292 CAD or $36,217 USD).
  • Minus mortgage and vehicle loan: S$17,820 ($16,465 CAD or $13,166 USD).

What?! That doesn’t seem right. But in fact, it’s totally correct—I checked the math three times! Somehow, Richard and his family of four live well on a crazy-low amount of essential spending. And they’re able to do this in the most expensive city on the planet! Well done, Richard and family!


Conclusion

I used to think that expensive cities automatically meant sky-high cost of living… but Richard’s interview (and many others) have once again proven my old beliefs wrong. Oddly, it’s often vastly cheaper to live in costly places. Who would’ve thunk it?!

However, I don’t think this is true for everyone across the board. Keeping expenses low still requires effort and a commitment to frugality in at least some areas. Clearly, Richard and his wife are doing just that. They’re controlling expenses where they can—so much so that they can still afford some big, huge expenses in their life.

In addition, they’ll likely reach Barista FIRE in just a few more years! How impressive is that? Bravo, Richard. Thanks again for letting us take a peek into your expenses. It was truly eye-opening!


Connect with Richard

If you’d like to learn more about Richard or read more of his content, visit him at his blog, Side Hustle Rich. You can also connect with him on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Share your thoughts

Were you surprised by Richard’s essential expenses? Are any of them significantly different from where you live? Share your thoughts in the comments, along with your own money saving tips!

Join the series!

I’d love for everyone to participate—whether you’re a blogger or not! The more FIRE seekers I can interview, the more useful the series will be. If you’re interested, I have three simple requirements:

  1. You’re at or pursuing FIRE (or FI).
  2. You track your expenses relatively accurately.
  3. You’re willing to share your expenses and money-saving tips.

That’s it! If you’re interested, fill in the form at this link or contact me.

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!)

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Al Wadd
    August 4, 2021 at 8:02 am

    Wonderful, it’s amazing to see that it is possible to live on such a small amount in such a high COL area!
    It would be interesting to see whether this low level of expenditure can be maintained as the kids get older and perhaps ‘need’ activities such as sports clubs, music and swimming lessons not to mention constantly outgrowing their clothes and uniforms. Also no costs are mentioned for your live-in helper – I know they are very popular in HK and Taiwan too. Are you able to provide some indicative costs?

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 4, 2021 at 10:04 am

      Hi Al—thanks for reading and commenting. Kids’ activities aren’t included in the series as many interviewees don’t have this expense. (I’m trying to keep the expenses as consistent as possible, so discretionary spending like this is omitted!)

      However, I would be curious to learn about about Richard’s current cost for this as well as for his live-in helper. I’ll ping him to see if he’s able to share this info!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 4, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Hi again Al—Richard sent me more info on their live-in helper and kids’ activities. I’ve added it to the “Other expenses” section!

  • Reply
    GYM
    August 4, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Great interview!! How much per month is the in home helper? I know it’s not “essential” but it is part of living for a lot of people in Singapore I think?

    Interesting that property taxes are so low! And just tax in general eg no capital gains tax or taxes on your investments. I wasn’t sure I read it but isn’t there also a health insurance tax taken from your income to pay for your future health care needs?

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 4, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Hi GYM—you’re right that a live-in helper is a part of living for many in Singapore and other Asian countries. I just added this expense to the “Other expenses” section. Richard said they pay their helper $650 per month plus food and toiletries.

      It’s crazy to me how low the property and income taxes are. Doesn’t seem to add up for the amazing infrastructure they have, but that is indeed the case. Yes, Richard did mention that there’s a mandatory contribution to a medical fund called Medisave.

      I find it so interesting to learn about taxes, healthcare, etc. in other countries!

  • Reply
    Dave
    August 20, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    So pre-school costs per child are S$1600/month but the live in domestic helper is S$650/month.

    Does no one see something wrong with this picture? It just seems to me that slavery is very much alive and well. I don’t care that the helper is from the Philippines and wages are lower there. It’s still treating people like 2nd or 3rd class individuals. It just makes me feel sad that the human condition is not actually improving. I can’t say It’s much better here in Canada when you consider domestic workers or agricultural workers who are imported from 2nd and 3rd world countries to do the work no one else is willing to do.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 20, 2021 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Dave—your comment and observations are absolutely valid. My reply to you is below. (Note that I pass no judgement on Richard. My thoughts on this issue come from a societal, not individual viewpoint.)

      It’s heartbreaking that so many domestic helpers leave their own children and families behind in order to care for those of others. They do this because they have little to no options in their homelands. This is one of the few ways they can attempt to give future generations a better life.

      On one hand, it’s certainly possible for foreign domestic workers to get ahead (I’ve seen it many times first-hand). Working abroad can be a way out of extreme poverty not just for them but their families as well. On the other hand, poor working conditions and abuse of these workers is rampant and yes, can be very much like slavery.

      There’s no easy way to reconcile this problem. Government oversight can help, but isn’t enough. As individuals, we can help by speaking up and supporting the rights of these workers. And if we ourselves are in need of their help, we must pay a fair wage and treat these people as equals, not as 2nd or 3rd class individuals.

      I myself have hired a few Philippino nannies over the years to help me with house cleaning (they do it on the side to supplement their regular nanny jobs). I paid them well over the going rate, treated them as part of the family, and helped them find new employment when they needed it. I have seen these hard-working nannies save up enough to bring their families over, buy property in Canada and their homelands, and become financially successful.

      Of note, the nannies I’ve known have told me that working conditions and wages in Asia tend to be lower than in Canada. Most of them start off working for families in Asia, but try as quickly as possible to apply to work in the US or Canada. Wage disparity and unsatisfactory working conditions do seem to be bigger issues in Asia than here in Canada.

      This doesn’t absolve Canada of its poor record when it comes to fair treatment of foreign workers, but it does show it is possible to do better. And that we all need to keep pushing for better, no matter where we live.

      I appreciate that you brought up this important topic. It’s not an easy one to navigate, but talking about it openly at least brings it into the open. That’s a good first step.

  • Reply
    Teresa
    August 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    It is so very interesting to read about about how much it costs to live in Singapore because I grew up in HongKong but became a proud Canadian when we came here in 1968! I had no idea what it would cost to live in Asia. Chrissy is right about nannies that get their training in Asia and then get the opportunity to come to Canada and work here, save up, bring their families over and buy a home. The caregiver I have employed for the past 5 years to take care of my 95 year old mother told me when she was new that what I paid her in 4 days was equivalent to a whole month’s salary in Singapore. We pay all her food and give her a private room with full ensuite. In the 5 years she has worked for us, she has saved $100,000 and will be bringing her husband, son and twin daughters here in a couple of months. We treat her like family and even after my mother passes, we will continue to help her settle with her family and anything they may need. I feel the nannies and caregivers are essential help for our young children so parents can go to work and for elderly folks to be able to remain in their homes. It certainly is not slave labour here.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 24, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Mom—it’s eye-opening to learn the difference in pay between Singapore and Canada. Wow, that’s huge. Thanks for sharing this info. I know you treat your mom’s caregiver very well, and I have no doubt that she will remain a part of our family even when she’s no longer caring for grandma. I just wish all foreign workers were treated as well as you’ve treated her.

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