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Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

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ibrahimo
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Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by ibrahimo » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 1:55 am

So today I received an offer and recently I read a lot of websites regarding living in Singapore. On paper the offer looks great(to me at least) compared to what I earn now and it offers a better career perspective. Last few days I/we were determined to accept the offer and move from the EU to SG. However, I am having some second thoughts especially after reading some (dated) threads on some forums :? So I was hoping some of you could give me some advice :) Sorry for the long post :oops:

Current situation
Living with my wife, toddler and parents in a nice house. Combined income is around 2 x EUR65K (ex bonus / income tax ~30-40%). We have no problems paying our bills and can live a pretty good life without any worries and can go on holidays etc. Honestly, we could continue on living like this forever :oops: although job security is not a given these days... and at some point we need a new challenge don't we :lol:

Life in SG:
So I received a S$190K ex bonus offer and relocation expenses will be paid. Salary is considerably more than what I earn now. Wife is trying to find a job as well (started a bit later) but of course no guarantees that she will find something (soon). Our kid will come with us and hopefully (probably after my wife finds something) one of or both of my parents will follow us. After reading some websites I made a list of the following expected expenses (as an assumption for 4 persons me/wife/toddler/1 parent):

3 BR condo (D9-11) $5000
Daycare $ 1200 including bus and after 1.5 years / School $2000 (found a school @ 20k annual fee + perhaps some extras?)
Utilities, TV, internet, mobile etc $1500
Groceries etc $2500
Eating out (we don't go out much though) $ 700
Taxis and MRT (for commuting) $ 500
Health Insurance for all $? (got to check if the company insurance is sufficient)
Extras (entertainment etc) $1000

Health insurance is still a big unknown for me and not sure what it would cost if the company insurance is not sufficient (and what is sufficient?)... Here I am just used to that all bills (including dentist) are paid by the insurance (ex own risk of EUR 200-300 a year).

Initially I thought the budgets would be more than sufficient and based on this I think we can live a decent life on just 1 income even with the four of us. However, I have been reading that it can be quite "difficult to survive" (even for 2 persons with1 or 2 kids) with such income and I have been wondering what I am missing. Threads are a bit older, so prices probably even went up a little?

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance for your time :D

 



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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by zzm9980 » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 10:37 am

You're not missing anything. Some peoples expectations on life are different than yours. The people who find it quite difficult to survive on such a salary honestly probably made a lot more than 65k x2 euro back wherever they came from.

Rents have come down dramatically in the past few-six months. I just got a 3 Bed penthouse condo for about 25% less than what it would have cost 6 months ago, in a good area.

Your utilities/Internet/TV and groceries bill estimates seem extremely high. You can get fast Internet for $40-60/month, typical mobile phone for $55-75/month per line, etc. Not counting A/C, your power bill probably won't break $150. Double that if you use the A/C every night while sleeping and sporadically a during the day. Groceries hard to say, since I don't know what you eat. It *could* cost that much if you go to the high end butcher and eat foie gras every day.

For four people and a kid, your eating out bill sounds about right assuming you go out about once a week to mid-level places.

If you use taxis most days, that sounds right. If you use MRT most days, that is way high. Of course, depends where you work.

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by JR8 » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:07 am

Hi Ibrahimo, and welcome to the forum!
Firstly I’d say that having second thoughts just as things are coming together is entirely natural. It’s like that final bolt of adrenalin before a challenging SCUBA dive or parachute jump, it serves to ready you, happens right on cue every time, and though not always pleasant it is fleeting and happens for positive reasons. In this case it is making you consider ‘all aspects’ of your move one last time, which is natural, and good.

http://forum.singaporeexpats.com/viewtopic.php?t=101985" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
‘Where should I/we consider living?’

http://forum.singaporeexpats.com/viewtopic.php?t=89846" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
‘Cost of living comparison’

ibrahimo wrote:So today I received an offer and recently I read a lot of websites regarding living in Singapore. On paper the offer looks great(to me at least) compared to what I earn now and it offers a better career perspective. Last few days I/we were determined to accept the offer and move from the EU to SG. However, I am having some second thoughts especially after reading some (dated) threads on some forums So I was hoping some of you could give me some advice Sorry for the long post.
Current situation
Living with my wife, toddler and parents in a nice house. Combined income is around 2 x EUR65K (ex bonus / income tax ~30-40%). We have no problems paying our bills and can live a pretty good life without any worries and can go on holidays etc. Honestly, we could continue on living like this forever although job security is not a given these days... and at some point we need a new challenge don't we
I’m not quite sure how to consider the current income. (E130k + bonus) – tax?
That’s say S$200k pre-tax basic [ http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/con ... EUR&To=SGD" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ]
but assuming it’s pre-tax, the post tax basic figure at say –35% is S$130k equivalent.

ibrahimo wrote:Life in SG:
So I received a S$190K ex bonus offer and relocation expenses will be paid. Salary is considerably more than what I earn now. Wife is trying to find a job as well (started a bit later) but of course no guarantees that she will find something (soon). Our kid will come with us and hopefully (probably after my wife finds something) one of or both of my parents will follow us. After reading some websites I made a list of the following expected expenses (as an assumption for 4 persons me/wife/toddler/1 parent):
Your wife jobhunting from Europe will face the usual major hurdles of a) she’s not here to be interviewed; and even more so, b) any employer doesn’t know that she will in fact move at all, and she hasn't a visa yet that allows her to work. So it’s a bit ‘chicken and egg’, if she doesn’t make the commitment to move, why should they make the leap-of-faith of a job offer.

ibrahimo wrote:3 BR condo (D9-11) $5000
Daycare $ 1200 including bus and after 1.5 years / School $2000 (found a school @ 20k annual fee + perhaps some extras?)
Utilities, TV, internet, mobile etc $1500
Groceries etc $2500
Eating out (we don't go out much though) $ 700
Taxis and MRT (for commuting) $ 500
Health Insurance for all $? (got to check if the company insurance is sufficient)
Extras (entertainment etc) $1000
You can use the above links to try and refine a budget; perhaps you’ve read them already, it’s hard to tell.
First up though, why D9-11? This is a common trap, when faced with the unfamiliar, it is natural to seek the security of the known of living right smack in the middle of town. I wouldn’t want to live in D9-11 even if I could afford to (said from the perspective of having previously lived in D9), and SG is small enough and has good enough transport that there is no need to. You get a lot more for your $ by broadening your horizons. Particularly given a toddler and accompanying grand-parent you might find not being right in the very middle of town offers more and in many ways. Again, refer to the links at the top.
re: your line-items:
Housing, rather a moot point until you’re sure on a representative range of condos.
Daycare, just a thought but can’t the accompanying grand-parent provide that?
School, what age is the child now? Sounds like a heck of a lot for an infants school, but I don’t know. Does the job offer cover future school fees?
Utilities: Man that’s some budget! I doubt ours are more than perhaps $200/mo. Running air-con is the biggie for some. If you want home to be a 24/7 fridge then yes that is expensive, but I don’t think I know anyone who actually does that. Some people just use air-con at night in bedrooms, others not at all. You might be surprised how you acclimatise, such that a few windows left ajar, and a floor-standing fan here and there, provides enough ventilation/cooling. The last couple of weeks there has been a daytime low of about 24C and I keep threatening to have to go and put a sweater on, it’s relatively freezing to me.
Groceries: Good heavens! Depends on your tastes/habits, but I cannot really imagine how one might spend $500pw. How did you derive that figure?
Eating out: Hard to estimate this one. But the figure is quite possible if you like quality dining.
Taxis/MRT: One persons commute by MRT might be very roughly $100. Add occasional MRT for the others and that would still allow a generous taxi budget (considering you say you don’t go out much).
Health insurance: No idea what it costs here. Many expats have this provided within their contract. Seeing a local doctor is not expensive. It is when you are referred to private specialists that the bills can add up.
Entertainment: I’d suggest this is also a generous figure. Maybe you should also consider holidays, which might total less than your current outlay ex-Europe.

ibrahimo wrote:Health insurance is still a big unknown for me and not sure what it would cost if the company insurance is not sufficient (and what is sufficient?)... Here I am just used to that all bills (including dentist) are paid by the insurance (ex own risk of EUR 200-300 a year).
As above. And, can’t answer until you know what is offered.

ibrahimo wrote:Initially I thought the budgets would be more than sufficient and based on this I think we can live a decent life on just 1 income even with the four of us. However, I have been reading that it can be quite "difficult to survive" (even for 2 persons with1 or 2 kids) with such income and I have been wondering what I am missing. Threads are a bit older, so prices probably even went up a little?
Any thoughts? Thanks in advance for your time
I’m sure you can live a very decent life on that sum, “difficult to survive” isn’t even going to come into the equation! No idea what people who suggest that do to find it a struggle. To your advantage, you don’t mention owning a car; that can be a significant expense.

Have a run-through the linked ‘Where to live’ list. That will help focus your thoughts, and also make giving you quality feedback easier.


p.s. One other thing that comes to mind. If you are transferring with the same employer, will they maintain any payments to your existing social security/pension?
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by Primrose Hill » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 1:11 pm

Welcome. Welcome. Whether you can live on a 2*EUR65 which makes that EUR130 is a rather subjective question. I know after living in London for so many years EUR130k combined is a tight stretch for us. different strokes for different folks, right.
Like JR8 said, look beyond D9-11 or the borders of those. Though saying that I had friends whereby their family never settled and packed up and left after 9months leaving behind Dad. They lived at Ang Moh Kio and one of their gripes were where they lived in comparison to their friends and schools - 2 kids went to SAS and the other to TTS.
I know friends that have signed leases for penthouses in Interlace for $7k per month, that was mid-2014 and another a decent sized 3bed condo (limited facilities) in West Coast area for $2k per month. Utilities seemed rather high. We sleep with the a/c and uses the a/c a lot but that's about $400-$500 per month. Internet and mobile phones are about $62-$72 per month.
I use a combo or taxis and mrt and your figures seems rather high.
Food wise - I have no idea. There's 3 of us and I say we probably spend abou $800-$1000 per month. The higher figure is when we shop exclusively at Market Place. But caveat, we do not have a live-in helper and we have given up on eating red meat, so its chicken and tons of fish.

$190k just for you is enough. Tax here is 15% not 40%. Wife will need to find employment when she is here. It's difficult to find work from Europe. Once you guys are here and you have your EP, your wife will be on DP and she can easily get a LOC and work that way.

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by Addadude » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 2:51 pm

ibrahimo wrote:Our kid will come with us and hopefully (probably after my wife finds something) one of or both of my parents will follow us.
If I were you I would not automatically assume that your parents will get a long term visitor pass. If that is a deal breaker, consider this carefully.
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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by curiousgeorge » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 3:08 pm

Do it! :D

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by nutnut » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 5:51 pm

I think your figures are probably fair, I think that the amount will be sufficient to live, but, it's unlikely you will be able to save a huge amount if that's what you are intending. Also, bear in mind the contingency savings you will need to establish.

If you are not sure and you are uming and ahing over it, then don't do it! It's not the be-all and end-all to move to Singapore, frankly, it's not that special a place. I loved living there, but, frankly there are things I don't miss (anti-foreigner sentiment and unfriendliness of the place)

As Addadude said too, don't expect your folks/inlaws will get long term visit passes, it's not necessarily guaranteed anymore, 4 years ago, I'd say it would be ok, nowadays it's not confirmed.

Good luck in whatever you do.
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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by Tanuki » Tue, 20 Jan 2015 9:26 pm

Before you commit anything, you want to fully understand what your entitlements are when you decide to leave Singapore and go back to Europe. No matter how excited you might be to live in SE Asia, that wears off in time as you develop a rhythm. You may stay forever and you may decide to bail in a year. Make sure you know what it means in both directions first. I didn't do that very well and will have to move myself back.

Otherwise, I think the folks have offered answers to your questions pretty well. :D

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by ibrahimo » Wed, 21 Jan 2015 6:35 am

First of all, thanks everybody for your advice and suggestions. It really helps a lot, although I still have a lot of doubts in my mind :P I will try to address all the things that everybody mentioned :)

- General things
The current salaries I listed are indeed all gross pre tax, so on paper it seems like a good deal if you only look at my part and the increase. Next to that, it is a great opportunity career wise as there are no (and never will be) such opportunities here. It is another employer so it is hard to get extra allowances (so unfortunately no school fees). So I did find the job from Europe, that is why we were hoping that my wife also had a chance to find a job. But perhaps I was just lucky.

- Parents
Very important thing that was mentioned is the ability to bring parents. I read this page:http://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/ ... fault.aspx and I actually didn't see a lot of requirements except for the salary requirement. Anything else that would prevent them from getting a LTVP? And is there a way to confirm whether or not they can get one?

- condo
I choose D9-D11 because of the school and office (CBD). School is right on the western-edge of D11 so finding a place that is <10km of school and ~45-50 min from the office is quite hard (assuming google map is correct and is the optimal time). D6/D12 and perhaps D21 could be an option but it has to right on the correct spot to meet both criteria, although I haven't done much research on D21 yet. I will do some more research here :) Initially I thought the east coast would be a really nice place, but that is impossible because of the school's location. Basically the distances to both school and CBD are the most important requirements.

- Finance
I kind of based my budget on this thread http://forum.singaporeexpats.com/viewto ... 15&t=89702 and another I can't find anymore (a US lady having the same concerns :P). On second thought, I think the groceries can be a lot less (we don't need western brands/food that much), but still a toddler can cost a lot of money, but yea estimation might be a bit high... The utilities expenses I took from the other thread and added a little bit extra airco and inflation :? ... Same goes for commuting while the topic starter has a car, so I thought my costs might be even higher. And yea no car for us if we go to SG. I believe public transportation is similar to HK and we are perfectly fine with that :)

- Others
Another thing that got me worrying (but forgot to mention) was mentioned by JRB. As it is a new employer I would have to arrange social security / pension myself. Which can be quite hard even if I could shave off a good S$2k from the expenses. Also the contingencies mentioned by nutnut... Obviously it would be a different story if my wife finds a job as well or get expatriated by her current employer, but that is an IF. Same goes for IF I get a decent bonus (which is pretty ok based on the last 3 years). An option could be that I go first, but I am sooooo attached to my little kid =P~ and of course my wife as well :oops: O:)

I wasn't aware of the anti-foreigner sentiment and unfriendliness or at least not at the level it could be troublesome. Btw, we are Asian, so perhaps that helps or not... which is also a reason to considering moving to SE Asia, as most of the family live in China.

Most blogs I've read also mentioned that they had a lot of doubts but were glad they just went for it (just do it). Just about a week ago I also had this just do it attitude, but now I received the offer I get back to my former self i.e. if in doubt don't do it... just this time I'm really :???: :?

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by bro75 » Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:46 am

LTVPs for parents are not guaranteed. What is on the official website are the minimum requirements to be able to apply. Approval is on a case to case basis and the criteria is opaque. I can only assume that higher salary, qualifications, position all go toward higher approval chances.

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by ginger_bread » Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:52 pm

To apply for LTVPs you'll need a company sponsor. (Read the documents required section)
This would probably be one of the biggest hurdles.
You'll need to rely on your future employer to be willing to sponsor them.

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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by kwy » Sun, 01 Feb 2015 5:20 pm

You are young,
It's a great career move, ( you said).
If you don't come to Singapore, will you always regret it?

It's not a life-time commitment. It's a great city to live in. It's also a great experience to live in Asia if you are Asian yourself and have always lived in the west.
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Re: Moving to SG - Having second thoughts...

Post by maneo » Sun, 01 Feb 2015 6:03 pm

ibrahimo wrote:Btw, we are Asian, so perhaps that helps or not... which is also a reason to considering moving to SE Asia, as most of the family live in China.
By all means, you should come.
Think of Singapore as China-lite (i.e. clean, orderly, etc.).

You also could have a lower food bill if you could shop at places like Sheng Siong and Giant.

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