How much do you think an international student will need to spend when living in Singapore?

Regarding food, utilities, and daily necessities, Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) Student Ambassador Sagarika Majumdar estimates it is between SG$300 and SG$500 (less than US$360). Fellow Student Ambassador Priscilla Ayleen concurs—she spends around SG$400 a month, including some shopping.

For the two, it’s not about scrimping and saving but knowing where to go and what to look out for. Here are their tips for staying wallet-friendly.

1 | Go Local

Where possible, shop, eat, and run errands around the HDBs (Housing Development Board flats) instead of the shopping malls.

“Groceries are also much cheaper than you expect if you buy them at a wet market or local area,” Priscilla explains. Sagarika concludes that choosing a hawker center instead of a restaurant can reduce your spending to less than SG$10 daily on lunch and dinner.

She adds that you might also be surprised at how well-stocked HDB neighborhoods are. She’s found nail salons, hairdressers, and other services—all offering a far more affordable price than if you went into town.

2 | Shop Smart

Singapore has plenty of shopping holidays, and both Sagarika and Priscilla are diligent about waiting for significant events like 11.11 and Black Friday before they start spending.

“11.11 is by far the best,” Sagarika exclaims. “There are so many discounts on online stores, and on Black Friday, if you head down to Orchard Road or any other departmental stores, you’ll probably find a lot of discounts going on as well!”

On regular days, there are always budget-friendly shops across the island. Priscilla’s favorite haunts for budget shopping are IMM, an outlet mall in the west, and Bugis Village, which offers apparel and accessories at affordable prices.

3 | Dig for Deals and Discounts

There are plenty of deals in Singapore—if you know where to look. One popular platform for students is UNiDAYS, which offers discounts on brands like Cotton On, Apple, Dell, and more.

Other options include Fave, where you can find offers on everything from cafes to beauty and fitness classes, or ShopBack, an app that entitles you to cashback through in-store and online purchases.

The local bank you choose matters as well, Sagarika adds. “Most credit and debit cards will have offers and discounts—like for OCBC, I’ve found five percent off on many restaurants I’ve visited.”

4 | Walk, Cycle, or Ride!

Their final tip for staying budget-friendly? You can just skip the taxis. “I never take them because they’re way more expensive than public transportation,” Priscilla testifies.

Instead, try buses, bike-sharing options, and one of the six MRT (mass rapid transit) lines that cover the island—two of which are within walking distance from the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus. These are all a fraction of the taxi cost, and in a place as well connected as Singapore, you save cost, with no compromise to convenience.