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Potential Expat

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Potential Expat

Postby expat2015 » Mon, 13 Apr 2015 4:07 am

Hi All -

I am new to this forum which I stumbled upon when googling about Singapore. Hope, I could use your collective expertise to get some clarity

My wife and I are both originally from India and have US citizenships with 2 kids (ages 13 and 9), both born and raised in US. My company is planning to expand their operations in Singapore and is offering me a relocation package (S$160K per year + bonus + relocation expenses) to move to Singapore by end of this year. The office is in the City Hall area. Due to the close proximity to India, this offer is seriously tempting for me. My questions are:

1. How much does it approximately cost (per month) for the following Items for a family of 4 - assuming I stay in suburbs with 30 minutes or less commute each way
- 3 bedroom apartment rental
- Utility cost - Electricity + Natural Gas + Water + Cable + Internet
- Public Transportation cost
- Monthly Grocery expenses (we typically eat out couple of times a week)
2. Assuming there are no other income sources, what would be my taxes for both Singapore and US?
3. How is the typical work culture in Singapore compared to US?

Appreciate your honest feedback

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Re: Potential Expat

Postby JR8 » Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:25 pm

Rent is hugely variable here, almost exponentially so in proximity to the city-centre. That said the place we rent perhaps matches your specs, 3-bed, 'zone 2', c30mins to City Hall, built about 5-7 years ago so modern. 'Full condo facilities' (pools, BBQ pits, ent/party rooms, small gym etc etc), and that's as near as matters $4k/mo. You could probably use that as a benchmark. You're going to have a job finding that kind of spec (i.e. for similar) below around $3.5k (just my quite informed gut-feel!). The sky is the limit to the upside, primarily driven by moving in closer to the 'Zone 1' Orchard/Holland D9/10/11 areas.

>>- Utility cost - Electricity + Natural Gas + Water + Cable + Internet

Utilities are refreshingly good value here. Mrs.JR8 takes care of that side of things so I can't be precise, but AFAIK ours run to about $120/mo. (note: we don't have cable, non-local TV gets enjoyed via the internet for 'free'). The big variable can be in air-con use, which is regarded as expensive. We've acclimatised (intentionally) and so don't use it. We have a floor-standing fan in the living room, one in the bedroom, and I have a desk-fan in the study. That electricity is in the above. If we were going to be using air-con in 3 bedrooms for say 10hrs a day, don't know, maybe an additional $500/month just for that? I've seen some people say they spend $1k/mo, to presumably refrigerate the entire unit, perhaps all day... which sounds like 'fighting the tides' all day every day to me.

>>- Public Transportation cost

So reasonable, and such a tiny country, that I don't even consider the monthly cost.

- Monthly Grocery expenses (we typically eat out couple of times a week)

This is another highly elastic one. If you shop and eat as the locals do then it's inexpensive. If you maintain a US grocery list, and want air-flown USDA steaks, and all the same brands as home it's not cheap. Again you could almost say the sky is the limit... but that's live Maine lobster + Wagyu beef territory. We have a middle-route of buying most of what we need, that fits our tastes, from the local chain NTUC. Then for the things you can't find in your local NTUC (eg. finer meat, seafood, non-regional fruit+veg, home-country specialities etc) getting them from Cold Storage downtown. I specifically go downtown about bi-weekly for my 'fix' of stuff I can't buy locally in NTUC. Stuff like, pate, pickled herring, good smoked salmon or gravadlax, quality cheese, sausages, salami, Serrano or Parma ham, a few craft beers, specifically western veg (as and when required), such as shallots or fresh western herbs. Small things too like say a jar of sandwich pickle, whole-seed mustard, and of course a jar of Cranberry come Xmas. So for cost I'd reckon 80% from NTUC, 20% from Cold Storage. You can look at their websites to get a feel for their prices.

- 2. Assuming there are no other income sources, what would be my taxes for both Singapore and US?

For SG, you can estimate it on
For the US, no idea. I'll leave that to others who file US taxes...
[Consider checking your package includes tax preparation for both countries. Modest cost to them, and a huge weight off your mind].

3. How is the typical work culture in Singapore compared to US?

That would depend on who you work for. Not only nationality, but industry. Since you mention your move would be part of increasing presence here, I'd hazard a guess a lot of the work culture will be passed down directly from HQ. [I previously worked for a US investment bank here, and that's how it was for us]. Expats by definition perhaps, have something of a burning ambition that you might conclude is relatively lacking from many locals, at least in part due to the very deep welfare state. Even the climate culturally feeds into it I suppose. Perhaps at that level it'd be one to consider over a few beers :)

Something potentially quite significant you haven't mentioned is children's education. That can be $$$ (expat schools/US curriculum? etc). That also feeds into proximity of schools vs your home, and hence housing costs. That is probably something to consider further, likely school-fees, so you can ensure you have it factored into your overall budget and hence offer.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Potential Expat

Postby expat2015 » Mon, 13 Apr 2015 4:59 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply JR8..

Yes, your place pretty much matches my specs. The 4K ballpark figure is certainly helpful and gives me some guidance (though it's higher than what I was expecting)

Interesting tip about the ac usage. I would prefer to wean out the ac usage right from the beginning rather than cranking up 500 - 1000 a month.

I am pleasantly surprised about the utility and the transportation costs. Better than my expectation..

Yes, my company is US based and I hope the same culture prevails

Good observation by the way - I intentionally skipped kids education to discuss it as a separate thread. That's a main point of contention between me and DW, particularly about my teen's middle school. I will be posting them once we have our questions clear.

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