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Newbie in need of advice regarding job offer / budget

Post by ray_scotland » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:29 am

Hi Folks,

I'm Ray, and I'm new to the forum and hoping to get some guidance, sorry for such a long post. :)

This afternoon I was offered a job in Singapore. The role will be Sales Manager of an Oil and Gas service company. The company is based on the west coast and I'd be initially managing a small team of local Sales Engineers and travelling often around Asia-Pacific.

If we go for the move, there will be my wife and I, plus our two year old Daughter relocating from Scotland.

I'm weighing up the offer on the basis that this will be our sole income. My wife intends to work, as she does now, but can't quantify this until such time as she begins work.

The package on offer is as follows:

Salary $150k
Performance Based Bonus $25k
Fuel Allowance $6k
Comprehensive Health Insurance for the 3 of us.
Mob/demob airfares from/to Scotland
2 months accommodation whilst home hunting

This would equate to a monthly income, after tax, of around S$13,400

I've reviewed a lot of information on this site, and many others, to put together a budget and try to establish if we'd have a comfortable lifestyle:

Rent: $5,000pm - Nice, but not overly lavish, 3 bedroom condo in districts 5, 21, 22 or 23. Jurong is a possibility. Shared pool / facilities. Near MRT.

Car Lease with insurance: $1,800pm - Standard saloon, company requirement to have a car.

Playgroup / Nursery: $700pm - Based this on website for 'My First Skool'. No requirement for westernised curriculum etc.

Petrol / Parking / Toll Charges: $600pm

Groceries - $500pm - Would aim to cook at home 4-5 nights a week.

Holiday / Short Breaks - $500pm - We would aim to explore more of South East Asia, probably making use of budget airlines / mid-priced hotels.

Socialising - $400pm - We're both in our early to mid 30's, but neither of us are party animals since becoming parents.

Annual airfares to return home - $350pm put aside

Gas / Water / Electric - $300pm

Clothing / Activities / General Goods for little one - $200pm

Eating out - $200pm - Hawker stands / food courts with somewhere a bit fancier once in a while.

Cable TV - $60pm - Cartoons and EPL games required

Broadband - $50pm

Mobile Phone for my wife - $35pm

Home Contents Insurance - $50pm

Leftover at the end of each month would be approximately $2,600 (20% of take-home pay) as 'disposable' income, and any savings / investments / one-off purchases would have to come from that.

Based on your experiences of Singapore, would it be possible for you to advise on the following?

Is the package on offer on the low side for my circumstances and for such a role in Singapore? I am 33 at present and have 16 years’ experience, 8 of which were in similar roles. It is comparable to my current package in Scotland pre-tax and much better post-tax (23% uplift). If we take the plunge and move, it will be for the experience, rather than for money, but it would be good if the deal on offer is fair. Although I feel that this is an opening offer with some room for negotiating, I also don't want to come off as greedy and blow it.

Is my budget realistic, or have I under/over-estimated anything? Unless my wife works, we might be slightly stretched, but less so than we might be if she were to stop working in Scotland.

Thanks in advance for your help. :D

 



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Post by curiousgeorge » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 8:27 am

Hi Ray,

You'll be far, far better off than most of the population in Singapore, expats included.

And I think you'll manage to rent at around $3000 to $3500 for a decent 3-bed "lakeside" condo in D22/D23.

But you didn't budget for your maid ;)

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Post by brian_singapore » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 8:56 am

I think your utilities and monthly groceries are a bit on the low side. If you do budget for a helper, bear in mind you'll need to factor your costs based on 3 adults and 1 child.

For reference, I arrived start of this year with wife & 2 small children (aged 1.5 and 3.5) plus helpers. We started out with utilities around $600 / month. After 8 months of adjusting to the heat and humidity we're down to around $475. We now only use Aircon at night and don't have it on during the day.

For reference, our groceries were running us around $1200 a month. But this also included diapers and formula for our youngest.

But I think your package will let you have a very comfortable lifestyle here.

One word of caution, we've found the work week here is incompatible with the western daycare method - i.e. one parent drops the kid off and goes to work late the other picks the kid up leaving early. If your wife does go to work, you will likely need a helper.

One last thing I didn't notice covered is primary schooling. I don't know if you intend to return home before your child is ready to start elementary school or if your planning on depositing your children into the local school system. There is an active thread at the moment documenting some parents difficulty getting places in the local school system and International Schools are expensive.

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Post by singapore eagle » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 9:08 am

The above posts have the main points for me: rent too high; groceries too low; kids can be expensive.

We have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old and the amount of money that they can eat up continues to astonish me. For example:

- although you've got the My First Skool fees about right, you may well visit them and find you're not impressed with the place. Then you'll look at other centres and find the one you like most is over $1,000 per month;

- nappies, formula, children's clothes and even toys/books are all very expensive here;

- the climate in Singapore isn't such that you just let your kids play outside all day. So you end up signing the up for different clubs/classes to keep the busy. These cost $40 to $80 a week/lesson.

Nonetheless, you'd have to be quite profligate to spend more than you earn. I'd say this is a definite goer for you.

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Re: Newbie in need of advice regarding job offer / budget

Post by the lynx » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 9:26 am

ray_scotland wrote:Hi Folks,

I'm Ray, and I'm new to the forum and hoping to get some guidance, sorry for such a long post. :)

This afternoon I was offered a job in Singapore. The role will be Sales Manager of an Oil and Gas service company. The company is based on the west coast and I'd be initially managing a small team of local Sales Engineers and travelling often around Asia-Pacific.

If we go for the move, there will be my wife and I, plus our two year old Daughter relocating from Scotland.

I'm weighing up the offer on the basis that this will be our sole income. My wife intends to work, as she does now, but can't quantify this until such time as she begins work.

The package on offer is as follows:

Salary $150k
Performance Based Bonus $25k
Fuel Allowance $6k
Comprehensive Health Insurance for the 3 of us.
Mob/demob airfares from/to Scotland
2 months accommodation whilst home hunting

This would equate to a monthly income, after tax, of around S$13,400

I've reviewed a lot of information on this site, and many others, to put together a budget and try to establish if we'd have a comfortable lifestyle:

Rent: $5,000pm - Nice, but not overly lavish, 3 bedroom condo in districts 5, 21, 22 or 23. Jurong is a possibility. Shared pool / facilities. Near MRT.

Actually $3000 or 4000 pm is doable for condos in Jurong West area.

Car Lease with insurance: $1,800pm - Standard saloon, company requirement to have a car.

No idea. Need others' input.

Playgroup / Nursery: $700pm - Based this on website for 'My First Skool'. No requirement for westernised curriculum etc.

Seems pretty legit.

Petrol / Parking / Toll Charges: $600pm

If you live in a condo, parking is normally provided together. If HDB (public housing), it will be about $95 pm. If commercial building (your office), it depends on whether it is provided for free or you have to pay on monthly basis between $150 to 300 pm. Might need more for the petrol. Toll (it is called ERP here) charges only apply if you are travelling closer to the city centre, which is probably not in your case on daily basis between work and home in west side.

I'd say revise that to $1000 pm.


Groceries - $500pm - Would aim to cook at home 4-5 nights a week.

If you're going for European ingredients and European household products, it will be a premium and no, $500 pm will be too little for a family. Put it at $1500 pm. If you are content with Asian ingredients, maybe $750 pm will work. I used to live by myself and I don't go for European premiums and it is already $500 pm!

Holiday / Short Breaks - $500pm - We would aim to explore more of South East Asia, probably making use of budget airlines / mid-priced hotels.

You mean you plan to travel for holiday every month? Well SEA is cheap enough but a return ticket for one adult to say, Hanoi is already $200.

Socialising - $400pm - We're both in our early to mid 30's, but neither of us are party animals since becoming parents.

Seems legit. Target airport duty free shops for your alcohol.

Annual airfares to return home - $350pm put aside

No comment.

Gas / Water / Electric - $300pm

This will work if you don't use air-conditioning 24/7. Depends on how well you can tolerate the humidity here.

Clothing / Activities / General Goods for little one - $200pm

No comment.

Eating out - $200pm - Hawker stands / food courts with somewhere a bit fancier once in a while.

A meal for two on a date night in a fancy place already cost $200. That if you're doing just once a month. Hawker is so cheap, you can actually do that for regular meals (healthy or not, it is a different matter). A bowl of fishball noodles cost only $3.

Cable TV - $60pm - Cartoons and EPL games required

No comment.

Broadband - $50pm

Seems ok.

Mobile Phone for my wife - $35pm

If your wife requires mobile broadband on the go, the minimum for post-paid plan is $50. If she stays at home all the time and use your house's broadband for her mobile, this is ok.

Home Contents Insurance - $50pm

No comment.

Leftover at the end of each month would be approximately $2,600 (20% of take-home pay) as 'disposable' income, and any savings / investments / one-off purchases would have to come from that.

I'd advise you to determine the fixed amount to save per month, and then only spending the rest of them. That's usually the better finance management strategy. Get salary, pay debt first, then save, then spend.

Based on your experiences of Singapore, would it be possible for you to advise on the following?

Is the package on offer on the low side for my circumstances and for such a role in Singapore? I am 33 at present and have 16 years’ experience, 8 of which were in similar roles. It is comparable to my current package in Scotland pre-tax and much better post-tax (23% uplift). If we take the plunge and move, it will be for the experience, rather than for money, but it would be good if the deal on offer is fair. Although I feel that this is an opening offer with some room for negotiating, I also don't want to come off as greedy and blow it.

Is my budget realistic, or have I under/over-estimated anything? Unless my wife works, we might be slightly stretched, but less so than we might be if she were to stop working in Scotland.

Thanks in advance for your help. :D
That's a good job you did there for your budgeting. But I can assure you, your monthly salary put you in better position than most migrant employees (husband-wife surviving on one income of $7000 pm).

By the way, have the mentality that your wife will never be able to work in Singapore and budget accordingly. Looking at the bright side, you will never need a helper and sacrifice the precious space in your house for your live-in helper.

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Post by JR8 » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 9:52 am

>2 mos accommodation whilst flat-hunting
The task seems to take as long as the free accommodation lasts. But after a month you will be utterly sick of your temp accommodation, and there is no reason why you should not have found a suitable home within that month [it is not that unusual for an organised person, with their mind set, to do it in even just a week].
Note also that your employer will indulge you re: going off flat-hunting when you arrive, but I expect if you’re still taking half-days off to flat-hunt, into month 2 their patience will be wearing thin.
--- See if you can get that 2nd month converted instead into a ‘relocation allowance’ for buying stuff you will need that that does not come with your condo. Fridge, washing machine, beds, sofas... etc? You don’t mention freighting stuff so this would make ‘double-sense’.

>Rent: $5,000pm - Nice, but not overly lavish, 3 bedroom condo in districts 5, 21, 22 or 23. Jurong is a possibility. Shared pool / facilities. Near MRT.
There is no need for such a high budget. A quick search reveals buckets of 3-bed condos at say $3k. And scores below say $3.5k. Negotiate successfully and you should have little problem getting 10% off (the same condos seem to come up again and again in the listings, and that’s an invite to bargain). So if I were you I’d set a budget of say $3k, and be looking at places up to $3.5k. If you’re viewing at a condo with several listings, go in ‘hard-ball’.

>Car Lease with insurance: $1,800pm - Standard saloon, company requirement to have a car.
Why is it a requirement? Cars are hugely expensive, and a lot of people can do without them. I’d see if you can get your allowances with a cash alternative, i.e. car allowance, and if not used to lease a car paid out in cash.

>Is the package on offer on the low side for my circumstances and for such a role in Singapore? I am 33 at present and have 16 years’ experience, 8 of which were in similar roles. It is comparable to my current package in Scotland pre-tax and much better post-tax (23% uplift). If we take the plunge and move, it will be for the experience, rather than for money, but it would be good if the deal on offer is fair. Although I feel that this is an opening offer with some room for negotiating, I also don't want to come off as greedy and blow it.

Hard to say directly, as it’s impossible to gauge precisely what your job is back home, and what it’s worth here. But I can say that to entice your family to uproot and move over here the offer should ideally create a first impression of being ‘generous’. I.e. if you worry it’s maybe not going to be enough then odds on it isn’t. The ‘generosity factor’ comes in on the headline number, not in how it all figures out post-tax. SG has low tax rates but that is incidental to the offer, not grounds for the employer to offer you less.
6 months in, never mind the 5-10-30yrs some regulars here have done, your stint/package is no longer going to be about ‘the experience’, it’s very much going to be about the money. Don’t undersell yourself at the outset, not least as your starting package will dictate further raises etc in future, and this ‘once-off total reset of remuneration’ won’t happen again when you get here.
IME when negotiating a package. The headline salary is difficult to negotiate (it’s derived from BU/Dept budgets), but what can be added/negotiated is allowances. Particularly useful if they’re allowances you can cash in. But this is just IME.


p.s. Welcome to the forum!




--- Just checked the utility bill that arrived this morning. $108. That's for our 3-bed condo. We don't use air-con as that is '$$$-fighting-the-tide'. Most of the $108 is probably down to the floor-standing fan in the bedroom and the other in the study, together essentially on 24hrs a day and doing the job required perfectly adequately.

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Post by brian_singapore » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:19 am

JR8 wrote: --- Just checked the utility bill that arrived this morning. $108. That's for our 3-bed condo. We don't use air-con as that is '$$$-fighting-the-tide'. Most of the $108 is probably down to the floor-standing fan in the bedroom and the other in the study, together essentially on 24hrs a day and doing the job required perfectly adequately.
The difference between your bill and my bill is definitely the aircon... plus a little bit of frequent washing machine (2 small children) thrown in for good measure.

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Post by bgd » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:36 am

[quote="JR8"]>2 mos accommodation whilst flat-hunting
The task seems to take as long as the free accommodation lasts. But after a month you will be utterly sick of your temp accommodation, and there is no reason why you should not have found a suitable home within that month [it is not that unusual for an organised person, with their mind set, to do it in even just a week].
Note also that your employer will indulge you re: going off flat-hunting when you arrive, but I expect if you’re still taking half-days off to flat-hunt, into month 2 their patience will be wearing thin.
--- See if you can get that 2nd month converted instead into a ‘relocation allowance’ for buying stuff you will need that that does not come with your condo. Fridge, washing machine, beds, sofas... etc? You don’t mention freighting stuff so this would make ‘double-sense’.

[quote]

Took 2 days to find my current place so it can be done quickly. Easy if you’ve been here a while.

Most people I know, me included, don’t get the first place right. My advice would be to take your time and view a lot of different places to try and find something that will work for you as a family. Use the experience of living in provided accommodation to help you decide what works and what doesn’t. Housing stock here is very different from Scotland. Don’t be taken in by the flashy interiors of new condos, build quality, despite initial appearances, is often of poor quality.

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Post by ScoobyDoes » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:47 am

Ray, most of your figures look pretty well sorted except, as others have said, your rent can be cheaper and include "white goods."

Try to find a condo suitable for your wife and family, not you, meaning within walking distance to good public transport, pre-school and a Fairprice. This was how we set up on arrival and whilst my wife didn't like spending more for our apartment compared to another we looked at, she in the end came to realise my planning was right and she was much happier with the convenience of the location for her.

Car lease is in the ballpark and definitely worth budgeting for with a 2yr old and a job out West, which I assume could be Pandan or Tuas where public transport is a bit tricky. You have an option to buy, best second hand, which works out much cheaper but you'll likely need to step in with a 50% deposit in cash.

I think for pre-school you should look at a $800-1000 level but this slight increase can be balanced off by what I think would be a lower petrol & parking bill for you.

Depending on your thoughts of how long you might stay, you might want to see if the company would be prepared to fork out something in a few years for schooling. It is very tough getting space at local primary schools and it could be an only option is International. The Canadian Int'l out on the West side runs at roughly S$2000/m the last time I checked but all in, it would likely be a bit higher.

In short, we're both from a similar mould and I would say on your planning and expectation you should do fine. I'm heading to Scotland in a couple of weeks for a quick trip home and I know it's how you acclimatise to the weather that will determine much of what you get up to, and what you get out of the posting. For me now, it's how my face falls off in the cold and wind.
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Post by CaptainBullus » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:07 am

Hi. Looks like most of your points have been answered, but as someone living in the West I'd say you're about right. The 3bed condos in our new development go for S$3300-4600.

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Post by Addadude » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:11 pm

Ray, I'll pipe in here and say that you are exactly the kind of newbie poster that we appreciate here. You've clearly done your research and identified particular questions that are relevant to you and your family's specific requirements. Which is why you've got all these excellent, detailed responses. I only wish other new posters would follow your example.

A few points:

ScoobyDoes is spot on. As you're gonna be the one working all day, the condo issue is of most importance to your wife and child. (Ok, at 2, your kid won't be too bothered either way!). So, take your time (one month is plenty) and find a place and location that ticks as many boxes as possible for you. Don't just stick to Jurong - places like Clementi, Pasir Panjang or even Holland Village will be quite doable, especiallly if you have a car. And they might be more pleasant environments for your missus. (Not that Jurong is necessarily unpleasant, you just might find it a bit too 'industrial'...)

If the car is a MUST as far as your company is concerned, then, to me, they should be the ones paying for it via a car allowance and it shouldn't be coming out of your income. You might want to negotiate on this point.

Finally, as others have said, depending on your eventual length of stay, schooling might become an issue. International Schools are stupidly expensive here (and assuming you don't want your nipper to go through the local schooling process - if you can even get into a reasonably close local school in the first place), so you will need to see if the company will financially support you.

Overall, the deal you are being offered will afford you a pretty decent lifestyle here. And it will be even better if your better half manages to get a job too.
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Post by x9200 » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:23 pm

brian_singapore wrote:
JR8 wrote: --- Just checked the utility bill that arrived this morning. $108. That's for our 3-bed condo. We don't use air-con as that is '$$$-fighting-the-tide'. Most of the $108 is probably down to the floor-standing fan in the bedroom and the other in the study, together essentially on 24hrs a day and doing the job required perfectly adequately.
The difference between your bill and my bill is definitely the aircon... plus a little bit of frequent washing machine (2 small children) thrown in for good measure.
I can provide a mid range figure: 1 small kid (washing / drying 3-4 times a week), 2 adults, 1 small aircon for 8h overnight, lot's of electronics running round the clock, 3 fridges, gives ~$250.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:47 pm

x9200 wrote:
brian_singapore wrote:
JR8 wrote: --- Just checked the utility bill that arrived this morning. $108. That's for our 3-bed condo. We don't use air-con as that is '$$$-fighting-the-tide'. Most of the $108 is probably down to the floor-standing fan in the bedroom and the other in the study, together essentially on 24hrs a day and doing the job required perfectly adequately.
The difference between your bill and my bill is definitely the aircon... plus a little bit of frequent washing machine (2 small children) thrown in for good measure.
I can provide a mid range figure: 1 small kid (washing / drying 3-4 times a week), 2 adults, 1 small aircon for 8h overnight, lot's of electronics running round the clock, 3 fridges, gives ~$250.
I own a 4 BR HDB with 7.5 adults in it. (the .5 is a 7 yo) This means the washing machine and dryer is used virtually every day for a load or two (dryer less so, if the weather is good - then gala poles work) Usually running all day on Sat & Sunday to finish up. Major electrical draws are dryer/washer/2 40+ inch FS TVs (one Plasma) both ~ 12 hrs/day & normal fridge. One Desktop iMac, 2 notebooks and stereo equipment. Single casement 8k btu aircon only about 4 hours, maybe once a month for the computer room (converted balcony) if working in there on a Sunday afternoon. Ceiling fans in all BRs & Hall, other standing fans. Two instant water heaters for showers. Power runs around 30% more than national average for 5 room HDB. Water bill due primarily to number of people there is 50% more than national average for that flat. Total bill averages around $230/mo (without aircon). Add $35/mo for Bottled gas for the stove, so looking around $265/mo utilities.

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Post by ScoobyDoes » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 3:46 pm

Addadude wrote:Don't just stick to Jurong - places like Clementi, Pasir Panjang or even Holland Village will be quite doable, especiallly if you have a car. And they might be more pleasant environments for your missus. (Not that Jurong is necessarily unpleasant, you just might find it a bit too 'industrial'...)

Around Jurong East and Lakeside are okay but it can be a bit of a hike to "facilities" and a supermarket without transport. A 2-yr old, pushchair, shopping and a bus don't necessarily mix especially, as we know, taxis disappear at the first sight of rain.

You're right that Clementi and Pasir Panjang are alternatives but I get the impression Holland V. is a bit expensive. Other options are Toh Tuck/Jln Jurong Kechil or, my original haunt at the Choa Chu Kang MRT and nearby Yew Tee.
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Post by the lynx » Wed, 29 Oct 2014 3:53 pm

West Coast is a lovely area too.

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