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sg prices 1990s vs 2010s

20 Price Differences In Singapore Between 1990s vs 2010s

profileKenneth Lou

Any 80s and 90s kid can relate to these price changes

Let’s face it, any Singaporean who grew up in the 80s and 90s would have embraced the good old days of cheaper affordable food and drinks.

However, inflation was not the only phenomenon that occurred. Let us take a look at some of the price hikes and dips in the last two centuries here on this little red dot!

 THEN: 1990sNOW: 2010s
What went UP in price
Bak Chor Mee (Bowl of noodles)$2.00$4.50
Public Transport$0.65$2.00
Car Ownership$15K$65K
Homes (price index)50150
Movies (Weekend)$6$12.50
Water & Electricity$2.15/15cents$2.74/25cents
Marriage Registration fees$26$42
Healthcare->$1000 (B1 ward)
What went DOWN in price
Tech Gadgets$3000$600
Plane Tickets$1500$300
Hotel Prices$300≤$100
Newspapers and Books$1.50Free
Brokerage Fees-$10

10 Prices that went UP

A cup of Kopi (drink)

  • A traditional cup of coffee found at any Kopitiam which a working adult would buy before starting the day’s work
  • A cup of Kopi increased 160% from $0.40 to $1.20

A bowl of Bak Chor Mee (food)

  • Hawker fare in Singapore has increasingly risen in price due to inflationary pressures for utilities and raw ingredients largely bought overseas
  • A bowl of bak chor mee increased 125% from $2.00 to $4.50

Public Transport

  • The everyday bus and train rides we once took to school and now, work, has grown over the years… in terms of island coverage, prices (and of course, breakdowns)
  • MRT tickets increased 225% from $0.65 to $2.00+
  • Bus tickets increased 150% from $0.60 to $1.50+

Car Ownership


  • Aligning on the above principle, a small island with a booming economy can only mean one thing – increasing home prices
  • General residential prices index increased 300% from 50 to 150
  • A built-to-order(BTO) HDB flat would have cost under $100,000, but now start at $400,000+


  • A typical dating/group/family activity, prices have been on the rise as well (but yay to Youtube, Viu, and Netflix etc.!)
  • Weekday ticket prices increased 116% from $3 to $8.50
  • Weekend ticket prices increased 116% from $6 to $12.50

Water & Electricity

  • Actually one of the main drivers of inflation, thankfully this is reasonably controlled over the years, hence it is a lower rate
  • Water prices Increased 30% from $2.15 to $2.74 per meter cube before GST
  • Electricity prices Increased from 40% 15 cents to 25 cents per kWh

Marriage Registration fees

  • Probably one of the strangest and funniest ones. While marriage is definitely encouraged, the $16 price increase was not well received by people.
  • For locals and PRs, price increased from $26 to $42
  • For foreigners, price increased from $128 to $380

Healthcare costs

  • “It is cheaper to die than to fall sick in Singapore” – This quote kind of sums up the level of costs associated with treatment in Singapore
  • Private and Public hospital beds now cost upwards of $1,000 per day in a B1 ward and without insurance, you are pretty much unable to get the best care

Singapore. The 1990s vs Present day (Image Source: AsianUrbanEpicentres)

10 Prices that went DOWN


  • You may be skeptical about this, but in the 1990s, there were early versions of data plans which were on the 2G network
  • Unlimited data plan decreased 35% from $151 (1995 adjusted for inflation, PacNet) to $98 (M1)

Tech gadgets

  • No doubt, across the world, manufacturing activities and technology has become advanced, hence driving costs of production down
  • A mobile phone price has decreased from over $3000 for the first Motorola version to only around $600 mid-range Samsung Galaxy Series
  • A PlayStation PS4 now costs around $350, whereas, in the 1990s for a PS1, it would have cost close to $800 (adjusted for inflation)


  • There used to be only Taxi Cab options available with each ride costing above $15 to $20 for a distance around 10km
  • Grab, Ryde, and the ComfortDelgro app has changed the scene drastically, connecting a mass of drivers with riders, which now costs between $10 to $15 for the same distances above

Plane tickets

  • Plane tickets have been on the decline ever since technology (Skyscanner, comparison sites) and Budget Low-frill carriers stepped into the game
  • Used to cost between $1500 to $2000 for even short-range flights in the past, but now cost between $300 to $500 for the same distances

Hotel prices

  • Hotels overseas often constitute one of the biggest parts of travel expenses in the past, but similar to plane tickets, have been on the decline since technology stepped in
  • Used to cost at least $300 a night in a decent hotel, now with Airbhb, we are able to book an accommodation with less than $100!

Newspapers & Books

  • Used to cost between $1.50 for a set of newspapers, now on social media, they are free and also allowing access to a broad network of various worldwide coverage (eg. CNN, BBC etc) for a grand total of $0 (FREE)
  • Books used to cost between $10 – $20 for a new one at POPULAR, but these days with e-readers like Kindle and mobile phones, digital copies can be easily bought for around $5


  • Remember the old days of buying CDs of Backstreet Boys, Westlife, and MayDay? Yup even if you wanted to listen to one song, you had to buy the whole album costing you around $20
  • Now a monthly subscription for Spotify or Apple Music costs in the range of $10 per month but gives you access to the entire world’s collection of music

Buying overseas imported goods

  • This is a really game-changing one. Back in the day, there were almost no options to get imported items. But with the advancements in online shopping and drop-shipping, this opened up many doors for us to get goods online.
  • Now it is not uncommon to use websites like Airfrov or even EZBuy to import goods bought online from US Amazon or China Taobao with shipping fees of around $5 for small items.

Brokerage fees

  • Those were the golden days for fund and brokerage houses. To buy a stock, you had to dial up your banker or fund manager and ask him/her to make a trade and pay hefty fees
  • Also, lot sizes were reduced from a minimum of 1,000 shares to 100 shares that you can now buy for retail investors
  • Nowadays, everything is done online with each trade charging between $10 to $25 or even lower fees for regular saving plans

Access to knowledge

  • Back in the day, I fondly remember Encyclopedia salesmen going from door to door and my parents actually bought a whole set for me
  • But a few years later we were searching and ‘googling’ online for things we wanted to know
  • The internet is the key to the future. It sounds very cliché but it is indeed very true, it’s time to leverage its power!


Ultimately, the world is always changing. While it is true that inflation really sucks and is picking up at a more aggressive pace, the 80s and 90s Singaporeans should also have grown up with the Internet and witness its early potential. It has shown that software democratizes and ultimately, you will have to learn to fight inflation in your own way.

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About Kenneth Lou
Co-founder of Seedly. Passionate about helping people make smarter financial decisions.
You can contribute your thoughts like Kenneth Lou here.

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