Living on a boat in Singapore: a six-month cost comparison

Some time ago after living aboard Oia for a month I crunched some numbers and came up with a premature analysis to see how expensive living aboard is relative to renting an apartment in Singapore.

Now that I’ve been living aboard for a bit longer, I decided to revisit the whole thing with six months of data.

I compared my most recent six months of fairly typical apartment living (August 2009 — February 2010) with my first six complete months of boat living (May 2010 — October 2010).  This time I decided to do the comparison in SGD, for two reasons.  First, most of my expenses are in SGD.  Second, the USD has steadily lost value over the last six months, and it’s really not fun to watch my berthing fees and other expenses increase month-by-month as I convert them to USD.  (Too bad I get paid in USD.)

Here is a comparison of expenses averaged over the six month periods:

Category Apartment Boat
rent/berthing S$2450 S$734.45
utilities S$183.86 S$36.24
transportation S$186.07 S$240.49
food S$994.17 S$853.30
boat expenses S$0 S$1892.07
Total S$3814.10 $3756.55


Most of the explanations from the previous analysis still apply.  Some things worth pointing out:

  • I didn’t bother including categories of expenses that are clearly unrelated to boat-vs-apartment living, like entertainment and travel.
  • I did, however, include things like diesel and HARTS transponder rentals in “boat expenses”.
  • I really don’t spend every night aboard Oia — I spend quite a few at Charlene’s place — so that probably cuts down on utility costs a bit.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this seem to be that, as appeared to be the case initially, living aboard and living in a (nice-ish) apartment here costs about the same.  In fact it’s almost scary how similar the total costs turn out to be.

Some more interesting revelations since the last time I examined this:

  • After a couple months of taxiing to and from the boat, I finally figured out the free One 15 shuttle bus.  More recently, Doug uncovered a free Sentosa Cove shuttle bus which adds to the convenience.  Recently I’ve spent less on transportation than I did while living at City Square, even though Singapore’s public transportation costs have gone up substantially over the last 4-5 months.
  • I’ve been spending way too much on food for quite a while now.  It doesn’t look like it has all that much to do with the boat.
  • It’s not obvious from the table above, but boat-related expenses really vary a lot from month to month depending on whatever projects I’m working on.  Certain expenses are really large (new upholstery, electrical equipment, and the like).  Aside from the big things, the rest of the expenses are all pretty minimal.  Of course, there are a lot of big things to spend money on when you’re fixing up an old boat.  I do have some hope that the rate of really big purchases will slow after a year or so.


Filed under liveaboard

6 Responses to Living on a boat in Singapore: a six-month cost comparison

  1. Madeline

    Wow I caught your article by chance! it’s amazing to know that relatively cheaper to live on a boat than an apartment here in Singapore O_O
    and by apartment do you mean the HDB, housing development board estate
    or a private condominium?


    • Kris

      Hi Maddy. I mean a private condo. My old apartment was a 600 sqft studio in City Square. The current going rate is around S$3500 which is up quite a bit from the S$2500 I was paying. HDB would certainly be cheaper, of course, although probably not enough to beat a boat. I wouldn’t necessarily say living on a boat is cheaper, though. It really depends on how much work you need to do on the boat. :)

  2. Pingback: Is living on a boat in Singapore cheaper? A premature analysis | Oia

  3. Hi, Kris,
    We are a like-minded couple living here in Singapore as well. My wife just finished a five day competent crew course with Keppel sailing school, and I have started sailing when I was living in Atlanta and later in Toronto. We are serious about the living on board life style as well. I can see you are going through a lot of renovation work. And if you are still here in Singapore, we would be glad to offer you a hand, and hopefully we can also learn in the process.
    Looking forward to hear from you soon.
    Wayne and Fion

  4. Pingback: Living aboard a boat in Singapore — Part 1: Why? | Oia

  5. Pingback: Should we all live in a boat in Singapore to save $? «

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