What’s the Cost of Raising a Child in Brunei?

28th March 2018
cost of raising a child - mother and child sunset photo

So you got the candlelit dinner and music planned out for the missus. Everything goes well and one thing leads to another. The next morning you wake up, go about your morning, give her a peck on the cheek and head to work. All the while, your little troops have been deployed and are marching towards their target! A month or so later, you both find out that you both going to have a new addition to the family soon! Suddenly it dawns upon you: How much is the cost of raising a child in Brunei?

Let’s face it, most couples want to have kids sooner or later while some simple cannot stand the rug rats. Regardless, caring for a “mini-me” you’re bringing into this world takes at least a little bit of planning. If you play everything by ear, you’ll likely fall short both financially and in managing stress. In the news a while ago, a local woman resorted to stealing to make ends meet; only to face heavier burdens from a fine. From the article, her being at a young age of 23 and caring for not just 1, but 3 children, also didn’t help the situation.

So how would you calculate the cost of raising a child? As usual, we’ll just break them down into smaller bits!

Cost of raising a child – Factors

Now, I don’t have kids (yet) and these are just my learning and observations. Plus it’s a great excuse to put some research in before it really dawns on me in the future. And friends with kids cropping up all around us are great resources to learn from. So what things do you look into when planning for your little one? For the most part, it takes some old-fashioned budgeting to benefit in the long run. Remember, it’s not a financial sprinting contest; you need to sustain and even grow this budget over the years! Looking at the situation from friends with kids, here are some things that are a must for child care, particularly babies:

1. Milk and Food

Obviously, kids need sustenance to grow and the always-advocated best option for babies is the mother’s milk. But if the mum doesn’t produce enough, you’ll have to resort to baby formula as the next best thing. And let me tell you, to write this post, I went around the supermarkets and the price of baby formula blew me away. $20 for a small tin?! These things are expensive! No wonder there are people willing to make fake formula to scam a quick buck!

But here’s the silver lining! As they grow older, you have the option to cook special food for the toddlers or simply let them adapt to your diet.

2. Diapers

There’s a reason babies are always meme’d as “poop-making machines”. It’s because they are and the most convenient way for cleanup is to let them wear disposable diapers. While there was news where the Bruneian Government were providing 12 months worth of diapers to newborns and breast-pumps, I could not find any information on their official channels. But according to a friend who recently gave birth, the nurses give you your goodies immediately when you discharge with a hushed undertone of “These are gifts from His Majesty. 😶”

But do you think your baby is only going to wear diapers for only 12 months? Of course not! The popular brands (or so I assume) costs upwards of $12 per bundle of 44 or something like that. If your little tyke goes through 4 a day, that’s 11 days worth so it’ll cost $36 or more per month. Sure, I saw diapers that cost $7 a bundle; and if it performs the way it looks, you’d get the same effect sellotaping kitchen towels to your infant.

3. Clothes

If you’ve looked at the price of the clothes the little kids wear, you’d probably have been surprised by how expensive they are! Combined with how fast they grow out of the clothes, it’s no surprise that parents sometimes get clothing that’s slightly bigger so they could grow into it!

One trick is to just use hand-me-downs from relatives or friends. As long as the clothes are in good condition and are comfy for your child, it takes many costs out of the equation, right? Again, I have to say these things are expensive; One t-shirt for me could probably make 5 baby clothes and yet it costs about the same as one!

4. Medical expenses

A lot of people in Brunei overlook this aspect when planning to have children. You’d think “Meh, Brunei has free medical care!” and not need to plan for this but there are some situations that require you to pull out your wallet. For instance, if you want a private room so that the tired mum can rest more peacefully, it’s not free!

For the kid, it’s similar. Public hospitals and clinics are basically free, but if you want faster service and go for private clinics, that’s not covered. So it’s more of a personal preference. So, if it’s important to you, factor it into your budget.

5. Education

Another thing that’s free in Brunei is public education. Government owned schools are free for citizens but like many things, quality differs between schools. There are some good ones and a few that are notorious for having students that are troublemakers. But I digress. Main point is: many parents nowadays prefer sending their kids to private or international schools like JIS, ISB and so on. And obviously, they’re not free!

If you’d like your kids to take up some sort of skill such as music or the arts, those are additional costs you have to bear in mind. Not only that, if you’re thinking of supporting your child all the way to overseas tertiary study, then that’s an extra B$120k~ (for a 3 year UK degree plus living expenses) you can look forward to spending.

6. Miscellaneous spending

Other things to consider are stuff like:

  1. Preparations like beds, bottles, chairs, baby-proofing the house,
  2. Confinement,
    Note: Certain cultures have certain practices such as a confinement period for the new mother. There are some additional costs with these traditions that shouldn’t be overlooked.
  3. Birthday parties,
  4. Giving allowances,
  5. Vacations,
  6. Non-essential food i.e. junk food,
  7. Additional fuel due to transporting to and from school.

Cost of raising a child in other countries

A little digging around tells us that cost of raising a child has been increasing around the world. I believe this is due to economic improvements which translates to more jobs, higher salaries and therefore ability and willingness to pay for your kids. The cost of raising a child all the way up to completing tertiary education (or around 21 years old) for some of the countries of the world are:

  1. Singapore – At least SGD 340,000
  2. Malaysia – RM 400,000 to RM 1.1 million
  3. Australia – Around AUD 400,000
  4. United States – USD 233,610
  5. United Kingdom (up to 18 years) – £ 150,000

Why does this matter?

It’s just a little bit of information for us to have an idea of the costs overseas if you were to include paid medical and education costs. And to be frank, if an aspiring parent wants to go for the “best of everything” then the cost of raising a child in Brunei can easily reach a value similar to Singapore. Best of everything means pay for everything, after all.

[Updated] Summing up cost of raising a child in Brunei

A few people have chimed in with some interesting comments. One says:

Could be as low as $3-$5 per day (if the child belongs to a really poor family) total $1,095-$1,825 per year.
to an average of $8-$12 per day. Total $2,920-$4,380 per year.
A pampered child would cost about $18-$50 per day. Total $6,570-$18,250.

And another commented:

Rough estimate puts me at $16-$20 a day for my kid; private school and extra learning 3x a week, swimming lessons twice a week. This includes food, clothing, holidays, toys etc and college savings I guess put it near $800-$1k a month mark. If we don’t go on holidays and just eat in. Maybe $600 per month mark is just nice.

One interesting point brought up was about whether the costs increase as kids grow older:

Babies are expensive and whatever you think you will save after the diapers and milk goes will end up paying for school.

If I were to give an estimate from the data we have, I’d say on average, a family can spend around $350 on a baby/toddler per month. This is considering the use of low/mid-range items. So in a year, that’ll be around $4,200. Assuming you spend 5% more every year that goes by, over 18 years you’ll be looking to spend $118,000 on your child on average.

Obviously, this amount is not “one-shot” but it’s an eye-opener for young couples that starting a family is not free. Nor is it even cheap considering weddings cost a bomb!

What if the parents can’t support the child?

Surprisingly there are people who insist on having kids even when they’re not financially fit for more. Or some are just not well off when the bundle of joy came into this world. Take the lady in the news for example: regardless of their reasons, they had 3 kids which they could not support and resorted to drastic means. But luckily, the Bruneian government has special scheme under JAPEM to support these families. If you know anyone in need, be sure to point them the right way.


The more I dig into the cost of raising a child, the more I’m glad we decided to take our time. The extra expenses per month and additional stress really seems counterintuitive to me. There’s a saying here: “Anak itu rezeki” in Malay which translates to “Children are blessings“. Many parents vouch for it but I’m not convinced! Nonetheless, there will be a time when I’d have to “be a man” and “do the right thing”. God, I hate social expectations.

Whilst raising a child in Brunei is seemingly cheap for citizens, there will be times you have to make the call: go for free or go for more? If you picked the latter then better have a solid plan to save up and invest so you have the required amount when you need it!

When I can find solid numbers to back it up, I’ll update this post with figures but for now, we’d just have to settle for estimates. Those of you with experience and kids, how much do you think you spent on them on a monthly basis?

You have a parasite. … Don’t worry. Many women learn to embrace this parasite. They name it, dress it up in tiny clothes, arrange playdates with other parasites.

– Dr. House

(Visited 1,102 times, 1 visits today)