22 January 2019, by Flora Isabelle

How much does it cost exactly to raise a child in Singapore?


Some of you might have known from my previous blog posts that I’ve been pre-school hunting. It’s funny how the most early (and probably insignificant) part of their education is taking such huge efforts on my part.The search has taken me months, as if I’m deciding between Oxford and Harvard.

Anyway, I’ve finally found a school that has truly captured my heart. It has a sprawling outdoor area for sand and water play and comes housed in a restored bungalow surrounded by lush greenery. Natural light fills each playroom beautifully. The curriculum seems like the perfect mix between play and learning and it looks like the perfect setting for toddlers to spend their growing up years in.

I would have signed up immediately… if not for the close to $40,000 annual school fees. Yup, you read that right. Considering that he would be enrolled there for 4 years, his pre-school education could possibly cost more than 5 times that of his university education.

Of course, raising a child in Singapore doesn’t necessarily have to cost this much.

There is this post circulating Facebook lately, where a fellow parent, Ivan Teo, shared some numbers regarding raising a child in Singapore till he/she is 22:

1-1 2

3 4 5 6 7

The amount adds up to $670,000 – at the very least.

The post has since garnered 554 comments and over 4,000 shares.

To be honest, I thought he was already guesstimating at the lower end of the spectrum ($100 per month for food?) but many netizens disagreed with the costing and provided several helpful alternatives. After all, this other calculation says it requires just $340,000 to raise a child in Singapore – which is half of what Ivan provided.

I’m no financial expert and I won’t claim to be one but thanks to Google, this time.com article aptly titled Why the $245,000 Cost of Raising a Child Shouldn’t Stop You From Having One has some pretty helpful tips (which I’ve adapted to our local context):

1. Assess your current expenses.

First step, get a handle on how you are currently allocating your income. There are financial websites and convenient phone apps that can help you track your spending.

2. Estimate future income.

Then consider how your income might change after the baby. Ask yourself questions such as will you or your partner stay home part time or full time? Or will you have to engage a helper or send your child to an infant/ childcare centre? Will you take any unpaid parental leave?

3. Estimate future expenses.

Once you know what your post-baby income will look like, get a rough estimate of the new expenses you will be footing, both one-time (like maternity clothes, hospital costs, car seat, crib) and ongoing (childcare, food and diapers). Check out a few websites (since you’ve realised by now that different sources will estimate quite differently and do the math based on your lifestyle.

You’ll also want to factor in the cost of basic protections like life and health insurance.

4. Cut costs.

You may find through this exercise that your future expenses with baby exceed your income. If so, look for any fat in your budget to cut out such as switching to a cheaper mobile phone plan, or cancelling the Netflix and/or Spotify subscriptions.

5. Practise your new budget. 

Once you’ve figured out your post-baby budget, it is advisable you start living on it — even before you get pregnant.

This makes quite a bit of sense since you’d already be accustomed to the lifestyle change and additionally, you can save up the money you would otherwise be spending.

However, the most important point of this blog post is – it’s not about the money.

As Ivan pointed out in his Facebook post, the final line in the equation of adding up all the numbers is,

Experience of raising a child? = Priceless

I’m a new mother but I’ve never been happier than in the past 16 months. Every morning, despite the sleepless night, I wake up with renewed energy and joy when I see the little one. Every small milestone he has achieved leaves huge footprints on my heart and every day, as I figure out how to give him a rich life – no, not with a $160,000 pre-school education, but how to raise him to be deserving and empowered, and not entitled – I discover that it is he, who makes me richer instead.

This wise old adage is indeed true,

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, a home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten and the future worth living for.

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