Although the housing and medical expenses in Singapore are already considered more affordable than living in most developed countries such as the United States, living in Singapore still has its fair bit of challenges for a family with young children.
Cost of living
When we were planning for a child in 2010, many were excited for us, yet there were also well-meaning friends who cautioned us about the increased expenses to come. We nodded in agreement not knowing how challenging it would actually be, until the rubber meets the road in Dec 2011, when our first child was born. Though the medical expenses were affordable because of the possibility of using our Medisave to pay off a large portion of the delivery expenses, the antenatal, postnatal, maintaining of our child and family expenses were fast drying up our savings.
Similarly, John a 34-year-old Math Educational Specialist for Primary School children and a father of two girls (3-year-old Phobe and 9-month-old Chloe) finds challenges in managing the cost of living in Singapore. He explained that the daily expenses such as on their milk powder and diapers and their medical expenses are high. When asked how he has been coping with the financial stresses, he shared that with the expenses that high, there would be no way to cope and stopping at two kids would be more than a must for survival than anything else.
While we used to hear how some parents in the past would hurry couples to settle down and have children, it doesn’t seem to be the case for many of our couples today. Parents today are concerned if their children can now afford their own HDB flats and if they can manage their finances with a child or two coming their way. One such example is Ruth, a 29-year-old mother of two boys (3 and 8 months old).
When she was pregnant with their second child, her parents were not celebrating just yet, as they were more concerned about how they would manage two kids with their less than generous income and the rising cost of living in Singapore. Ruth shares that her family copes with the challenges in cost by adjusting their expectations and desires. They choose to frequent places that are much nearer home and accessible by public transport.
As a parent, I would want my children to enjoy their childhood and not be caught up in the rat race within the education system. While I can try to ensure that time is more meaningfully spent with my child at home, letting him play freely and creativity, it is still a challenge to not worry about how my child will manage with the pressure of learning his A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s, and the need to catch up with the “supposed” developmental milestones among his peers when he enters pre-school or kindergarten.
At the same time, with the competitive demand for childcare or kindergarten centres in Singapore (given the long waiting list for each centre), I am also worried if there is a place nearby our home where he can study in the future. With competition like this, it is hard to tell a parent not to worry about their child’s education.
Written by Yvonne Chee.
Stay tuned for part II, as we talk about The New Budget, and how it affects families with young children.
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