$0 to Condo in 8 Years – How to Save For Condo in Singapore

Condominium apartments in Singapore are very expensive, but it is not impossible to buy one as a single person before 35 (the age where a single individual can purchase a private property). In fact, I think it’s quite possible to do so within 8 years or even less!

Some parameters required:

  • fresh graduate earning around $3,500 gross
  • no financial difficulty
  • living with parents

A one-bedder condo goes from $600,000 and up, and we can use $700,000 as a target. This budget precludes property in central and prime regions of Singapore, but it is important to be more prudent and realistic about our property options.

A $700,000 property now will appreciate to $1,034,218 in 8 years assuming a 5% p.a. growth in property price, and going by the current Loan-to-Value (LTV) rules, you need at least 25% of the property price as the down-payment. This works out to a downpayment goal of $258,554.

For a fuller breakdown of the total costs involved, I made a separate video on my homebuying experience.

Saving aggressively

The most crucial ingredient one requires is the ability to not only save, but also to save aggressively. Saving $258,554 within 8 years means a minimum of $32,319 per year – or $2,693 per month. We will round this figure up to $2,700.

Based on a gross monthly salary of $3,500, the total CPF Ordinary Account (CPF OA) contribution each month is $805 inclusive of the employer’s portion. Since we can use our CPF OA for housing, this means that we will need to set aside at least $1,895 per month. A gross monthly salary of $3,500 comes with a take-home pay of $2,800. Simple maths tell us that we are left with only $905 after setting aside $1,895.

Is $905 a reasonable budget to survive on as a fresh graduate in Singapore?

I actually do believe so; I spent 2 to 3 years of my adulthood earning barely $1,000 each month, and I’m very familiar with the realities of surviving under a grand for living expenses. One has to cut down on expenses like dining out and taxi rides. Even as one of the most expensive cities in the world, Singapore has very cheap food and public transportation.

My proposed budget is:

ItemMonthly Budgget
Meals$300
Insurance$100
Transportation$100
Bills$50
Discretionary (e.g. entertainment, parental support, occasional dining etc.)$355

This isn’t even theoretical because I have lived this budget. I even managed to cram in a budget trip to Japan with the leftover discretionary spend I had accumulated each month.

Earning a second income

Another way to ensure that you reach your property purchase goal is to earn a second income. There are a variety of ways to earn more money in what we call the “gig economy” now, and most graduates should be able to teach tuition. An extra $200 a month translates into almost $20,000 over the course of 8 years, and that’s almost 10% of your total downpayment goal alone.

Is it unreasonable to spend a few hours each week on top of your day job to work? Again let’s remember that our goal is to purchase private property in one of the smallest and most expensive cities in the world. How much do you want to move out into your own apartment?

Bonus: having a side-hustle also means you have less time to spend money.

Avoiding financial products and financial salespeople

Spend a little bit more time on my site or YouTube channel and it is very clear what my stance on insurance agents – or yuck, financial consultants – is. Do you think they would recommend you a cost-effective insurance portfolio that would only take $100 or so per month to insure you pretty well? Most are well-meaning people who trained to sell high-commission products.

Do yourself a favour and spend a little bit of time researching if you want to avoid committing to costly financial mistakes that would help your agent afford his/her condominium instead. Subscribe to my Telegram and YouTube channel because more such content is definitely coming up soon.

Invest

An 8-year time horizon isn’t the shortest period of time, so one need not be overly conservative and put money into low-risk (and correspondingly low yielding) assets. At the same time, my personal risk appetite isn’t the biggest, and so while I was saving I placed half my savings into bank deposits back when they offered decent interest. Current options seem to be things like Singlife Account and Dash PET (review coming soon!).

The other half went into investments, and as the relatively risk averse person I am, I placed them into broadly diversified ETFs like S&P 500 a well as our very own STI Index. Not the sexiest of investment ideas, I suppose, but you have to decide on your own risk level to take for money meant for your housing.

Having returns on your savings make it much easier for you to reach your goal. You can either buy your condo earlier, or have more monthly budget for your expenses.

I recommend taking a look at the following. For roboadvisers:

  • Syfe (use code SETHISFY for 3-month fee waiver)
  • StashAway (up to $40,000 managed for free for 6 months)

If you prefer to do-it-yourself:

Lower risk products:

  • Dash PET (code DASH-L72MK for 1,200 points and $10 cashback)
  • Etiqa policies (short term savings plans with guaranteed yield, code R161521)

Conclusion

Is it a realistic endeavour to save for a condo in 8 years? I think it is entirely possible to do it in even fewer years if we combined every method I have listed. It takes lifestyle changes and mindset shifts, but even if you slip up in one regard or another, you should be able to accomplish the goal if it is something you truly want.

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