Much has been said in recent days about the rising cost of living in Singapore.
Still, I think a new graduate today is far more fortunate as compared to when my peers and I when we drew our first paychecks about 10 years ago.
Food in general has become more expensive, while computers and electronics are far cheaper (and of course, better) then those we had when. Spa treatments were pretty unheard of, and while regional trips were quite affordable, we did not have the option to traveling on budget airlines.
A fresh graduate with an Arts degree could expect about $1,700 in 1996. Today, I think he can expect around $2,400 (up 40%).
In 1996, the only new car most new graduates could afford (if at all) was the Fiat Uno, a 1-litre hatchback with a dodgy reputation for reliability. It cost around $65,000. A 1.6 litre Japanese sedan was much pricier, at about $90,000. Today, the latter comes for about $70,000 (down 30%)
In 1996, a friend bought a new two-bedroom leasehold condo in Upper East Coast for nearly $700,000. I imagine that the same could be had for less then $600,000 today, even following the recent property boom (down 15%). A 5-room flat in Tampines was going for over $500,000.
Simply put, most young couples could not afford a car. A HDB flat application usually meant a 4-year wait for a unit at Sengkang or Punggol 21 – which did not have MRT at the time – unless you were willing to pay the premium for a resale flat.
The cost of living may be going up, but young graduates really have very little to complain about.