Living modestly in Singapore on $10 a day: 27-year-old Malaysian man shares insights

SINGAPORE: A 27-year-old man from Malaysia, garnered the interest of social media users on TikTok due to his method of budgeting and practising a frugal lifestyle while employed in the bustling city of Singapore.

Many are left wondering whether it’s feasible to lead a modest life in Singapore without significant sacrifices.

Malaysian civil engineer, Jonathan Lim, has provided some insights through his TikTok documenting how he manages to spend less than S$10 a day while working in the city.

The video’s caption read: “Part 6: Is spending 10 dollars enough for a day working in Singapore?”

His TikTok content primarily revolves around detailing his expenses in Singapore, excluding the costs related to accommodation.


Part 6: Is spending 10dollars enough for a day working in SINGAPORE? #sgvlog #worklife #minivlog #fypシ #simplelife

♬ 千与千寻 口琴版 – 口琴伟宝

Hybrid Work Arrangement

Lim, who earns about S$3,700 a month as a civil engineer in Singapore, follows a unique hybrid work arrangement.

He commutes from his home in Kulai, Johor, to Singapore three days a week, with the remaining days dedicated to remote work.

Lim strategically divides his time, with more than half of his week spent in his Johor home.

During the workweek, specifically on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, he opts to stay at a capsule hostel in Singapore.

This arrangement serves the purpose of reducing his expenses on permanent lodging in Singapore, although it necessitates regular commuting between Malaysia and Singapore.

His weekly schedule commences with a Monday morning journey to Singapore at 6 a.m., where he resides in the hostel for two nights.

Hostel Living and Food Choices

During his days in Singapore, Lim stays in a capsule hostel, which costs him about S$35 (approximately US$25.74) a night.

While this arrangement doesn’t include food expenses, the hostel provides free breakfast, helping him save on at least one meal each day.

Lim’s food choices are budget-friendly, focusing on cai fan (economic rice) for lunch and dinner, which costs him about S$3.60 per meal.

Occasionally, he indulges in items like bread and soya bean milk, emphasizing the affordability of such food options in Singapore.

For exercise, he opts for a cost-effective approach, eating grilled chicken drumsticks purchased from FairPrice, and running at public stadiums.

While a dinner consisting solely of protein might not seem substantial to some, Lim clarifies that the two drumsticks he purchased were exceptionally large, providing more than enough sustenance for an adult like him.

Therefore, when factoring in his daily transport costs of S$3, Lim’s daily expenses in Singapore amount to S$13.10, excluding accommodation expenses.

Balancing Thriftiness and Enjoyment

In his most recent TikTok video, Lim responded to both favorable and critical comments regarding his lifestyle of managing on S$10 or more per day in Singapore.

He expressed his belief that such frugal practices can become a standard way of life.


Replying to @limjiu1 Part 8: Spending LESS than 10SGD for 3 meals a day in SINGAPORE?! #simpleliving #budgetliving #sgtiktok #sgwork #worktok

♬ original sound – Jonathan Lim – Jonathan Lim

Moreover, he aimed to dispel the misconception that his approach is detrimental to his well-being and happiness, emphasizing that he doesn’t sacrifice enjoyment to save a few dollars.

He acknowledges the trade-offs, such as spending time away from family and loved ones.

However, he sees this period as an opportunity for professional growth.

While Lim’s lifestyle is not his everyday routine, it highlights how one can manage expenses in an expensive city like Singapore.

He also appreciates the safety and amenities the city offers, such as safe streets for late-night jogging.

In the long run, Lim said he will need to decide whether to settle long-term in Singapore or return to Malaysia.

Supporters cheer Lim’s thrifty approach

The majority of people expressed their support for Lim’s frugal lifestyle, offering him their best wishes and advising him to disregard those who ridicule his way of life.

“Good to start saving up at a young age,” they said, while also cautioning against taking frugality to such an extreme that it becomes excessively absurd.

However, some users believe that Lim should consider a slightly higher expenditure than his current approach, asserting that life is too short to subject oneself to such deprivation.

“Can add another $2 la, don’t have to thrift like that,” one user said.

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