Asia Economy

Cost of living a major worry for young Singaporeans

Shoppers walk past a boutique on Orchard Road offering sale items.
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The rising cost of living in Singapore, one of the world's richest countries, is a major concern for the young population, a survey conducted by Singapore Polytechnic has found.

In the last three weeks of June the Mass Media Research survey interviewed 825 people between the ages of 15-35 living in Singapore, and found that nearly 100 percent said financial stability was among their top three aspirations, along with strong family relationships and work-life balance.

Nearly all participants also said they hoped to see Singapore as an affordable place to live in five years' time.

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Singapore was recently ranked as the world's seventh most expensive city in Expatistan's Cost of Living index, while its property market is among the world's top ten most expensive, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Tight supply has led to a 60 percent spike in residential property prices since 2009. A new 1,000 square-foot condominium, for instance, is priced at an average of between S$1 million (US$784,683) and S$1.2 million. Meanwhile, the cost of buying a car is also high, as the law requires drivers to purchase a permit - a Certificate of Entitlement (C.O.E) - on top of the price of the vehicle.

A 10-year category A C.O.E. sold for S$72,369 (US$56,786) this month, according to, a web portal serving motorists and vehicle owners in Singapore.

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It's no wonder, therefore, that young Singaporeans are fretting over whether they will be able to fund the standard of living they have become accustomed to while living with their parents.

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21-year old Firdaus Sukiman, a student and part time worker in a coffee shop, told CNBC that the rising cost of living in Singapore was a concern for him.

"I feel like I'm under pressure while I'm studying to juggle two jobs as well," he said.

"It's not for the sake of necessities, it's so I can have money to enjoy myself and buy a beer on the weekends and alcohol is so expensive in Singapore."

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Furthermore, Bobby Chen, a 31-year old Singaporean entrepreneur, told CNBC nearly all of his friends still live with their parents because they're unable to afford living on their own.

"Singapore is a small country and rental prices are high. It makes sense to live with your parents so you can save more. Unless you are very successful you would not be able to buy a private condominium while you're young," he added.

For 21-year old Firdaus, buying his own place was also something he imagined he'd have to spend a long time saving for, while he described buying a car as "unrealistic."

"Buying a car is something I'd look to do much later on as the prices of C.O.E.s are so high. My family is relatively wealthy and we'd still rather depend on public transport and taxis rather than buy a car," he added.

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The survey findings also challenged perceptions of Singapore's youth being obsessed with material wealth, given the city state's abundance of shopping malls, designer goods and luxury hotels and cars.

It found participants described their top three concerns as happiness, peace of mind and friendship. They also hoped Singaporean society would in five years' time be more focused on work-life balance rather than academic and material achievements.

Another trend to emerge from the findings was that 61.5 percent of those surveyed have considered moving abroad, or have already done so to achieve their aspirations, while the remaining 38.5 percent are more firmly rooted in Singapore. This group showed more inclination to get married and start a family.

By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie