As one of the world’s most affluent nation, Singapore is often looked over by digital nomads due to the high cost of living. Yet this small Southeast Asian city can be a good base, especially for digital nomads looking to take on more clients (with spending power).
Women Safety and Necessities
Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, where crime is almost non-existent. Women digital nomads will feel comfortable walking around the city alone at night, and sexual harassment by men on public transportation is very rare.
That said, there is a saying in Singapore that “Low crime does not mean No crime”, so you should still take precaution to prevent opportunistic thefts.
Women digital nomads need not worry about finding tampons, birth control pills or morning-after pills in Singapore. Tampons are readily available at grocery stores (NTUC, Giant Supermarket, Cold Storage) or drugstores (Guardian, Watsons).
You will need to visit a clinic to get birth control pills or morning-after pills, and they usually cost around $35-40 for a bottle, lasting around a month. Clinics can be easily located, there are always a few located in each neighborhood.
If you are running a slight fever and don’t wish to visit a doctor, you can buy a pack of Panadol (paracetamol) at any 7 Eleven, supermarket, drugstores or mom-and-pop stores.
Places to live
Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, Singapore’s housing rental is significantly much more expensive. Most of your budget would most likely be spent on rental.
96% of Singapore’s population live in government housing flats (also known as HDB flats) – they are nothing like the public housing in the US or UK though; Singapore’s public housing are well-maintained, safe, and still relatively expensive.
Average monthly cost of living
This will largely depend on the lifestyle you want to lead. On average you will probably spend around SGD2500/USD1835.
Housing & Utilities:
*If you are planning on staying shorter than 6 months, you will have difficulty finding short term rentals of HDB room/flat.
The cheapest would be to rent a room without an attached bathroom in neighborhoods like Jurong or Pasir Ris. Expect to pay around SGD500 – SGD700 a month.
If you want to rent the whole house, the average rental for these neighborhoods are around SGD2000 – SGD3000 a month.
The cheapest and easiest way to get around Singapore is by public transportation. Singapore has a comprehensive train and bus system, and fares are calculated according to the distance traveled.
If you are planning on staying longer than a couple of days, it is advisable to purchase the Adult Stored Value Smartcard which you can use for both trains and buses (similar to the London’s Oyster card or Hong Kong’s Octopus card).
You also get a discount for each ride when you use the Adult Stored Value Smartcard versus paying for single trip tickets.
When your credit runs low on the Adult Stored Value Smartcard, you can top up at any MRT train station or bus interchanges.
One of the best things about being in Singapore is the food. You can find all kinds of food in Singapore, from cheap local hawker food to expensive international restaurants.
Day pass would cost around SGD30 and monthly membership around SGD250 to SGD500.
If you want a free place to work out from, Starbucks and many cafes offer free wifi.
Local tip: Avoid the Starbucks at Clarke Quay’s Central Mall – it is usually packed with patrons and you might have trouble finding a seat. The environment is also not conducive for working due to the loud background noise.
Yoga classes are usually SGD25 per drop in or SGD150 per month. A popular chain of yoga studio is Yoga Movement, with locations at Tiong Bahru, Clarke Quay, Dhoby Ghaut and Tanjong Pagar.
You will find many gyms located in and around Raffles Place (CBD area), and drop-ins are usually SGD20 to SGD 30. A popular and well-equipped gym in Clarke Quay is Energia Fitness Club.
Cheaper gyms can be found in local neighborhoods further away from the CBD or center of Singapore. Gymm Boxx drop-in starts from SGD3 for non-peak hours to SGD5 for peak hours. They have locations in Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok and Jurong.
If you are looking for a quick swim, there are over 26 public swimming pools in Singapore. The OCBC Aquatic Centre at Singapore Sports Hub has an indoor Olympic sized pool as well as aqua fitness classes.
Most hostels and hotels have laundry services available. If you are renting a room or house, washing machines are usually available. If you are looking for a laundromat, there are more than 100 Laundromat outlets across Singapore, although most of them are located at HDB blocks at residential areas. Check out Wonder Wash for their list of outlets island wide.
Alcohol is expensive in Singapore due to the high import tax. Expect to pay SGD15 to SGD20 for a mixer in a pub/club, SGD20 for a bottle of wine at a supermarket and SGD2.60 for a can of beer bought from a supermarket.
Note that public consumption of alcohol is banned after 10pm, except within licensed places like bars, clubs or restaurants.
Singapore has one of the fastest internet speed in the world, so you will be able to work out of your accommodation without the need for a coworking space.
Wi-Fi hotspots are also widely available at various public areas in Singapore. To locate the wifi hotspot, look out for the Wireless@SG decal on display wherever this network is available, as well as the SSID Wireless@SG on your device.
You will first need to register for an account with your foreign mobile number at any Wireless@SG hotspot to receive your login details via an SMS message.
Here’s the internet speed test from The Hive coworking space:
There are 3 telcos in Singapore: Singtel, M1 and Starhub. All 3 telcos have equally good reception and offer different plans, so go for the plan that suits your need most.
You can buy a prepaid SIM card from any convenience store, as well as at the airport and at the telcos’ retail outlets.
The quickest and cheapest way to do a visa run is to take a local bus across the Causeway and spend a couple of hours in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, before taking the bus back to Singapore. If you are coming from Bugis, take bus 170 all the way to the Woodlands Checkpoint.
Note that Singapore immigration officers are very strict and will get suspicious if you keep doing multiple border crossings.
Supermarkets and Local markets
The most popular supermarket in Singapore is NTUC Fairprice. There are outlets in every neighborhood and prices are lower than Cold Storage, another popular supermarket.
Wet markets can be found in local neighborhoods, and you’ll find that the vegetables and meat are usually cheaper than NTUC Fairprice. A popular wet market is the Tekka Market, located next to Little India MRT station. Almost anything for your grocery needs can be found here, from dried nuts to fresh seafood.
Another popular place to stock up on groceries is the 24-hours Mustafa Centre at Little India. This huge place stocks goods from India to the US, and sells everything from electronics to groceries to sporting goods.
No matter when you visit Singapore, expect the weather to be hot, humid and averaging 32 degrees Celsius during the day. There are two monsoon seasons when you expect more rainy days: June to September and December to March.
The Southeast Asian haze that affects Singapore and the surrounding countries typically occur from June to October every year. During these months, you are advised to wear a N95 mask when you are out and about.
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