Singaporeans are good at finding bargains abroad. Some of us even drive across the Causeway every weekend for cheap petrol and groceries, and others shop in Thailand for inexpensive clothes and other wearables. But is there anything we should buy here at home for a change?
A recent study by Deutsche Bank, which compares the prices of goods and services across major countries and cities, has some interesting answers. The Straits Times looks at five things from the report that are actually cheaper here than elsewhere.
1. A bouquet of roses, delivered.
There's no time like the present to show your affection for a loved one, and now there's no excuse not to. At about US$74 (S$92.55) to deliver a dozen fresh roses to someone's doorstep, Singapore ties with Brazil as one of the least expensive places to buy and gift the flowers. Only South Africa, France and Germany offer them cheaper, at US$67.14 a bouquet. Lovebirds in Switzerland have it the worst - a bouquet there is about US$142.50, probably the most costly bunch of roses you can get in the world.
2. Apple iPhone 5S, 16 gigabytes, no mobile plan.
While Japan is still the cheapest place to get your hands on the newest Apple smartphone at US$695, Singapore is within the bottom few countries at US$784.37 (S$981). This costs about the same as in India (US$781), and beats buying from our neighbours the Philippines (US$820.44) and Indonesia (US$944.91). Malaysia is still cheaper, at only US$731.29. Surprisingly China, which both makes and assembles many of the phone's components, still pays a premium to get the finished product - at US$856.02. But don't expect to pay less for the rest of Apple's products here. A 13-inch MacBook Pro could set you back by about US$1,657.66 (S$2,073.25) in Singapore, while you could get it for just under US$1,500 in India, Malaysia, the United States and Indonesia.
3. Minimum fare for a single ride on public transport.
With the MRT breakdowns and increasingly crowded buses and trains, Singaporeans may be glad to know they are not paying more than others - far from it, in fact. We enjoy one of the cheapest public transport systems in the world at 61 US cents (S$0.76) for a basic single trip, a fraction of the amount it takes to get around in several similarly developed cities, such as London (US$7.79), New York (US$2.50), and Berlin or Paris (both US$2.06). It costs only half as much to commute in Kuala Lumpur at 30 US cents, while New Delhi is one of the cheapest at only eight US cents a ride.
4. Most basic annual health insurance.
Getting yourself covered is affordable - or at least that's what Deutsche Bank seems to be saying, although it admits that "the definition of a standard package varies between countries". A basic health insurance policy in Singapore costs US$90.50 (S$113.20) annually, extremely affordable compared to places like Australia, Japan, and France, which range between US$1,500 to close to US$2,000. Good luck to you though if you're living in the US - the land of the free isn't so free when it comes to annual healthcare premiums it seems, far outstripping any other country to top the list at US$5,884.
5. Hiring and deploying a business graduate for a month.
The world's most value-for-money MBA holders are found right here in Singapore. Just US$6,274.30 (S$7,847.27) will be enough to pay the monthly salary here of a graduate from a globally-ranked top business school, a figure which includes a mobile phone, laptop and office space. It costs about the same to deploy a business graduate in Mumbai (US$6,025.40), and much more to do so in Chicago, London, Paris or Melbourne, which are all above the US$10,000 mark. It's not only firms that are striking a good bargain when they invest in local grads, our students are also getting more bang for their buck. A recent study by The Economist ranked Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) one-year business course above Harvard and Wharton in terms of their return on investment for the student after a year.