Since 2017, when Malaysian Ringgit (RM) had hit its lowest against Singapore dollars (S$), the exchange rate between the currencies have clearly been in favour of Singapore, the crown jewel of the Asia-Pacific region. Since then, the conversion rate has slightly shifted to Malaysia’s favour, moving down to below RM3 per S$1. But, it still offers Singaporeans an attractive proposition – if they come to Malaysia for shopping, holidaying, or partying, they enjoy a higher purchasing power than they would in their own country.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Singaporeans have increasingly been thronging to places such as Johor Bahru to shop for festivals and weekly ration.
A Short Flight or a Train Ride From Singapore to Malaysia Is What You Need to Stay Ahead of Your Budgetary Goals
In the recent times, Singaporeans have found more reasons than one to catch short-haul flights or make quick train journeys to visit nearby Malaysian cities such as Johor Bahru to shop over the weekend. According to certain media reports, the ringgit had hit 3.173 against the Singapore dollar on 1 March 2017. Since then, the rate has gone down below RM3 per S$1 but needless to say that it still remains fairly biased in favour of Singapore.
So, whether it is grocery or dental crowns, a quick stopover in Malaysia can save you hundreds of dollars, something that you may not have factored into your budget plans. Whether it is Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, Malaysian merchants offer deals that can surpass the value deals offered by their corresponding Singaporean merchants due to the gap in economic conditions in the two countries.
One look at the EasyBook website will tell you that you can take a two-way bus ride or ferry ride from Singapore to Johor, Malaysia for everywhere between S$5 to S$30, depending on the availability of tickets and seasonal factors. At the time of publication, a two-way Economy class flight ticket between Singapore and Johor, booked on Expedia, was priced in the approximate range of S$250 and S$400. If you’re wondering why you should take the trouble of travelling all the way from Singapore to Johor or Kuala Lumpur to buy simple household items, read the following section for better understanding.
A Short Journey for Big Savings!
Travelling to a neighbouring village, town, city, or in this case country, is not a new idea. This concept has been around for ages. Travelling a little in the hope of saving more has attracted many. With the disparity in wages, economic conditions, and exchange rate, Malaysia continues to be a hot shopping destination for thousands of Singaporeans every year. If you have so far resisted the temptation thinking of it merely as a fad or a needless hype, let us give you some reasons:
- While a wholemeal bread with fine grains, weighing 420 grams, at FairPrice Singapore may cost you around S$2.50, it might cost you no more than RM2.90, if you check the price on Honestbee, Malaysia. Considering the current exchange rate of RM2.98 per S$1, this means the same bread in Malaysia would cost you approximately S$0.97, keeping in mind that brands may differ and country-specific charges may come into play. Roughly speaking, if you can save S$1.53 per packet of bread, can you imagine how much you might save if you were to buy in bulk?
- If you were to buy a packet of 8 super-heavy-duty Eveready batteries online from Giant in Singapore, you may have to pay S$4.90 under normal circumstances. A packet of 12 similar batteries from Tesco (online) in Malaysia could cost you RM15.50. At the current exchange rate, this translates to S$5.20 approximately. A few multiplications and divisions later, you’ll see that you’re basically paying S$3.47 approximately for 8 batteries. So, you can save around S$1.43 on a packet of 8 Eveready batteries. The savings may be substantial, if you decide to purchase the same in bulk.
- Want to look like a princess at your best friend’s wedding or on the first date with your prince charming? If you get your hair done or treated from a salon in Johor Bahru, you may not have to liquidate your fixed deposit, after all! For example, a sneak peek into the Facebook page of Classic Hair Salon, will reveal to you that a session of rebonding and perm will only cost of RM99 (or S$33.22, approximately). While this is only an estimate and the actual prices may differ, a similar session at Team Salon in Singapore could cost you anywhere between S$155 and S$300. While it is possible that the quality of services may differ widely, it still supports our view, isn’t it? If you’re looking for more evidence, check this article published by Zula on 12 January 2018 which listed 10 top salons in Johor Bahru, Malaysia where a complete hair makeover is possible for less than S$150.
- Wondering how much a stay in an executive suite in Hilton, Singapore would cost you vis-à-vis your stay in an executive suite in Hilton, Kuala Lumpur. Here’s an estimate:
- A stay in Grand Executive Suite, Hilton, Kuala Lumpur (89 square metre area) with complimentary breakfast, could cost you somewhere around RM794. At the current exchange rate, that roughly translates to S$251.34.
- A stay in King Hilton Executive Suite, Hilton, Singapore (69 square metre area) with complimentary breakfast could cost somewhere around S$485. While it is true that the two suites may not be mirror images of one another, the price difference is quite striking, won’t you agree?
- A broken or chipped tooth can cause immense discomfort. While quite clearly, the focus of this article isn’t on the benefits of dental crowns, if your dentist recommends it, you could consider a visit to neighbouring Malaysia for a quick implant. The savings could be substantial and worth the effort. Here’s how:
- As to a page on the Ministry of Health, Singapore website, which was last updated on 18 January 2018, you may have to shell out at least S$619 for a single unit of crown (non-subsidised price) at a public healthcare institution. It may not be wrong to assume that the price for a similar piece at a private clinic would be far higher.
- According to this article, the estimated starting price of a ceramic crown in Malaysia could be somewhere around US$248. If we were to use the current exchange rate of S$1.37 per US$1, this would be somewhere around S$340. The savings from a single dental cap may be enough to buy you a two-way ticket from Singapore to Johor Bahru. Now, that’s insane, isn’t it?
- Getting around town, whether in Malaysia or in Singapore, without a taxi (unless you have your own car) may be difficult, especially when you’re out shopping or partying. A page on the Land and Transport Authority, Singapore website suggests that the flag-down fare for standard taxis in Singapore vary from S$3.20 to S$3.90 and for premium taxis from S$3.90 to S$5.
According to the Land Public Transport Commission, Malaysia website, the estimated flag-fall fare for taxis in Johor Bahru and Klang Valley, may range from RM3 to RM6. This will include the first 1 kilometres or the first 3 minutes after the start. In both the countries, surcharges may apply and would depend on the operator and traffic conditions. In Singapore dollars, the value will be S$1.01 to S$2.01 (approximately) [S$1=RM2.98]. So, savings on cab rides, could also be substantial if you have plans to move around quite a bit.
Planning to Buy in Bulk? Hop Over to Johor Bahru
To beat the rising inflation, hopping over to nearest Malaysian towns and cities for purchasing goods and grocery in bulk makes absolute sense. As long as the exchange rate remains in favour of Singapore, biweekly or monthly trips from Singapore to Malaysia, could help you save big and meet your budget objectives.
It has been proved time and again through credible data such as Mercer’s surveys that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to live in. The other problem is that a slowing economy and a stressed job market can only complicate matters for ordinary Singaporeans such as yourself. It can also force you to make budget cuts and crimp your discretionary spending, affecting your quality of life.
However, now that you know about the benefits of making a “foray” to neighbouring Malaysia every once in a while for shopping, beating inflation may seem to be a tad easier. And due to globalisation, you can rest assured knowing that most of what you find on the shelves of supermarkets in Singapore, are also readily available in Malaysia. Why pay more when you can get the best for less?
In fact, you may as well use the savings to surprise your spouse/partner with a romantic getaway to an idyllic beach somewhere far from the maddening rush of Singapore.