Just sharing my overseas living experience with tips from my personal budgeting.

Earlier this year, I got an opportunity to take up an assignment in Melbourne, Australia. Without much hesitant, I took up the opportunity since I had just married without kids and always wanted to experience overseas life and step out of my comfort zone.

My wife joined me for a few months in Melbourne and recently just returned home so I am back to my “bachelor” life like before marriage for the rest of my stay. Since this was my first time living alone overseas after my wife left, I started my personal budgeting exercise to track my overseas living expense. I never used to track my daily expense in Singapore. Simply LAZY!

Melbourne was ranked number one for the most livable city in the world in 2013. Of course, world class living standards comes with high cost of living, most evidently was its food when you decide to dine outside. For someone like me who used to dine out frequently in Singapore Hawker Centre and “Kopitiam”, this was indeed a shocker. For example, average dining outside can set you back by AUD 10-25 per meal.

Below was my typical monthly expense inclusive of both fixed and variable living expenses. I included both total expense breakdown including and excluding apartment rental. As my company covered me for a big portion of my rental so my daily expense should exclude rental in reality. No transport expense as I am living 20 minutes’ walk to my office in the CBD.

Expense Include Rental

Expense exclude Rental

As I tracked my daily expense quite diligently so the data presented was accurate as far as I am concerned. Above was tracked for the month of November 2013.

Excluding rental and my fixed expenses which are out of my control, my variable expense that includes food (occasionally dine out), Groceries (90% of the time) and any other personal purchases for a typical month of 30 days was about $450 to $500 (Actual tracked Nov 13: $474.62) or daily $15 to $16.78. Its considered relatively low at Aussie standard.

How did I manage to keep my expense within control against the high cost of living in Australia? Because I choose to!! Basically, I cooked my own meals from home and bring to the office for lunch as well for dinner. But what’s really different from Singapore was that it was a “norm” to bring lunch from home in Australia. No need to feel “Paisay” at all!

If I could practice what I am doing here when I am back to Singapore in the future, I am sure I could save more money to grow my passive income.

Overall, I think Singapore is not so bad after all (discounting high property & car price); at least we can get a decent meal for under SGD5.

In life, we do have available options of what kind of life we want to lead; for example, everyday restaurant dining or home cooked food to save more to invest in order to attain financial freedom earlier. The choice is yours!

Having home cooked food is actually surprisingly healthy, also depends on what you cook. I lost 5kg since I arrived in Melbourne 8 months ago.

While building your portfolio of passive income and work towards financial freedom, do also practice personal budgeting with discipline, every dollar saved will count towards ending your rat race earlier than your peers.

Remember!! Remember!! You can have $3,000 monthly passive income but if your monthly expenditure is $4,000; you can NEVER achieve financial freedom with a budget deficit.


2 thoughts on “Overseas budgeting experience

  1. Jared Seah

    Hello SGFT,

    Ah! Your first overseas posting. Congrats and have fun! OK, not too much fun since you are married 😉

    It’s nice to get out right? Now we can see Singapore in a different light.

    I too learned how to make simple meals when in Athens – Mcdonald meal sets cost SGD 10, and a simple plate of spaghetti costs SGD 18!?

    I don’t want to talk about Shanghai – I was decadent… LOL!

    Have a super summer time Merry Christmas!


    1. sgftfund Post author

      Hey Jared, yea my first ever overseas posting, excited and abit “mountain turtle” la since you know Singaporean like me always scare to step out of comfort zone one!

      But after taken e first step out, it’s really another world out there. Singaporean love taking vacation but it is always going to be different from living the local life, culture shocked sometimes! Thus I think Singapore not bad lah, don’t complain too much. i actually appreciate our public transport now. Over here waiting 20mins for a train/bus is a norm Lo. Suka suka breakdown somemore!

      Learning budgeting the practical way is always good and this is a life skill to have.

      I read that you worked in Shanghai before right? I stayed there for 1 mth 3 years back. The food price can be extreme, I remembered having a Chinese economical rice on the road side below sgd 2 and having “la mien” in a shopping centre restaurant for $10-15. At least there’s a choice.

      In Australia, kind of no choice, if I don’t cook, guess I will be broke when I am back to singapore! Haha. Guessed Angmo countries all like that.

      Have a blessed “summer Xmas” too if you are currently in Singapore. It’s gonna to be a 30 degree Xmas over in Mel! Hot!!!


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