Quasi Geoarbitrage

Geoarbitrage basically means relocating to another city/country in order to take advantage of the lower costs in that city/country. However, it may not always be practical to uproot yourself to another location because of friends and family ties, your career and the prospects of facing new risks.

However, many of us actually carry out some form of quasi geoarbitrage sub-consciously, which is to travel to another city/country in order to take advantage of the lower costs in that city/country. Many Singaporeans head to Malaysia or more specifically, Johor Bahru, over the weekends. A short holiday in Malaysia is also not uncommon to us.

Do note beforehand that all goods brought into Singapore are subject to 7% GST levied on the value of the goods, which may include cost, insurance and freight (CIF) plus other chargeable costs and the duty payable (if applicable). Travellers are granted GST import relief on new goods purchased overseas and brought into Singapore for their personal use. 

Time spent away from SingaporeValue of Goods granted GST relief
>= 48 hours$500
< 48 hours$100

Also, Some of the common items that travellers can bring into the country from Malaysia for personal consumption only are in the following table

What are some of the geoarbitrage opportunities?

Eating is one of the top favourite pastimes for Singaporeans. Good food and good bargains makes it a compelling reason to head across the causeway for meals.

Besides eating, most Singaporeans head to Johor Bahru for groceries shopping

Topping up petrol is also a must-do before returning to Singapore. Assuming a Toyota Camry with petrol tank size of 70L and travel in with three-quarter tank filled, topping up to full (17.5L) will save about $24.50, not factoring in station discounts, loyalty card discounts and credit card offers. It could be less, but just saying.

Buying everyday wear such as clothes and shoes may be considerably cheaper as well.

How much savings is it worth your money (not time) before you decide to make your way across the causeway? A good gauge will be to compare against the most expensive way of getting across, by driving.

Entry / Exit driving cost via Woodlands Checkpoint

Cost (by car)Details
$1Departure from
Woodlands Checkpoint
$6.70 (RM20)Road Charge to
enter Malaysia
$1 (RM2.90)Causeway Toll
FreeReturn from
Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex (JB)
FreeReturn from
Woodlands Checkpoint
$8.70Maximum Cost

Entry / Exit driving cost via Tuas Checkpoint

Cost (by car)Details
(5am – 10am)
(3pm – 11pm)
$2.50

(11pm – 5am)
(10am – 3pm)
$1.30
Departure from
Tuas Checkpoint
$6.70 (RM20)Road Charge to
enter Malaysia
$2.50 / 1.30
(RM7.50 / RM4)
Causeway Toll
FreeReturn from
Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ Complex (JB)
(5am – 10am)
(3pm – 11pm)
$2.50

(11pm – 5am)
(10am – 3pm)
$1.30
Return from
Tuas Checkpoint
$15.50Maximum Cost

In order to make it worth a geoarbitrage your return trip, you should plan to save at least $15.50 before it makes it worth your while.

How much do you usually save on a good trip like this?

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