So it is that time of the year where pumpkins are being purchased to be carved up into Jack-o’-lanterns. People are preparing for Halloween here in Singapore as in many other places around the world. When walking through a local grocery store recently I saw the prices in the photo above and they really made the higher cost of living here stand out.
Now those pumpkin prices are in Singapore dollars, not US dollars, but they are expensive. Using Coinmill to convert the $39.90S for the large pumpkin into US dollars I get $28.99. Less, but far from cheap. Even the medium pumpkins at $26.90S are over $19.50 US. Far more than I am used to seeing at the HEB back in Central Texas. I checked their website and see “Fresh Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins” listed for under $7.00 US.
One of the local malls had a couple of BMWs on display a few weeks ago. If you can’t read the price on the BMW X2 shown above it lists the vehicle ‘from’ $152,888S ($111,070.11 US).
While talking about autos, what does fuel cost? The prices shown on this pump don’t look that bad . . . until you realize that the price is per liter. Looking at the website globalpetrolprices.com the average price per liter of gasoline in Singapore over the last quarter was $2.22S with a minimum of $2.18S and a maximum of $2.28S. If we think in terms of gallons and US dollars the average is $6.10 with a minimum of $5.97 and a maximum of $6.25. About double, or more, what we see back in the US.
Returning to the grocery store lets look at ice cream. You see here small 458 ml (essentially a pint) of Ben & Jerry’s for $13.90S and a 1.66 L (3.5 pints) of Tillamook for $19.95S. That is $10.10 and $14.50 respectively.
They don’t have hamburger here, at least not as we know it. The closest is this Australian minced beef at $29.90S per kilogram. This is just over half a pound of hamburger for $5.70 or over $11.00 per pound.
Eating out isn’t cheap either: a Three Meat Pizza for $27.90S ($20.25 US), a chicken sandwich for $17.90S ($13.00 US), a Philly Steak sandwich for 20.90S ($15.18 US) and gourmet hamburgers for $22.00-$26.00S ($15.98 to $18.89 US).
So while it is beautiful here and the weather is quite nice, though a little warm and humid, it is an expensive place to live. Having said that, the same can be true for pretty much any island that has to ship in most items. While I have not been all over the island of Singapore, from what travels I have made I have not seen any land in use for agricultural purposes. In the grocery stores, you see many items imported from the US, Australia, Japan, and Korea.