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Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby BBCWatcher » Mon, 16 May 2016 10:21 pm

It's a big decision to cut one's gross income by about 54% (it would appear), so I'm asking rather sensible questions (one would think!) about whether such a decision would be irrevocable. If an international relocation yields happiness, fantastic, but one ought to have high confidence it will for this price. Expressed another way, roughly speaking you could chop about 30% off your career and still retire with an equal standard of living when comparing these two financial arrangements -- retire at age 53 instead of 65, roughly speaking. Or the difference between starting a family and not. This is a huge financial difference requiring serious thought, and I would give it serious thought.

Are there people miserable in Singapore? Oh yes, I'm afraid so. (Didn't Singapore rank at or near the top in terms of the world's most unhappy people in a recent survey?) By the way, I don't think we should be claiming that Japan is "homogenous" compared to Singapore. That made me laugh.

I'm one of the forum members who has lived and worked in both Tokyo and Singapore. As it happens, I like them both, and I like scores if not hundreds of other cities around the world. Home is where I (we) make it, and there are many lovely places to make it. Maybe in neither one of these cities!

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 6:20 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. There are not any pre-qualifications to join this site other than a valid email address. Therefore we have locals who earn 2000/mo and expats who earn 750K/pa. and everything in between. What may not be good for you may be the most another has ever earned. And all are considered expats.


You are right. I guess a couple of years ago 750k would be a big sum for us, but perhaps is not very convincing now. Most of positions advertised on LinkedIn or other sources have offers like 500k per month and I haven't seen many that would offer higher than that...

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 6:27 am

JR8 wrote:
MariaT wrote:Thank you for your advice. I have already looked on quite a lot of threads and pages with property to get more or less an idea.
I wonder how realistic my story sounds... A lot of threads indicate that $7500 is above the average and yet many people tell it's quite tight. It makes me think that this offer is not good at all.


So out of $7.5k/mo income, what have you budgeted for rent? This is a pretty reverse way to consider things [IMHO]... but might highlight anything egregiously out. And above the rent/$, the rough location, size/bedrooms, HDB or condo - just as a starting point.

And don't consider a 2nd job and income yet, you need at least initially to be comfortable surviving on just the one. Not least because the expats job market in SG is under heavy and increasing pressure.

p.s. Agree with ^SMS. That is precisely why you see people who say your offer is great, and others who are concerned it might limit your options. It's almost solely non-SGns here, but like SMS says from across the income spectrum. But if you ask/research on a forum with many local SGn posters they of course might well suggest $7.5k is like winning the lottery. But a locals housing needs and expectations are often very different to an expat, as might their $/lifestyle be.

- FWIW I cross-relo'd from Tokyo to SG, though long ago now. As did one other regular on this board. So hopefully we might be able to offer some direct experience-based perspective :)


Regarding 7.5k, it's a monthly salary. There are no additional money for relocation of housing, so rent is supposed to be paid out of 7.5k. Which we leave us with, let's say, roughly 5k per month. Plus, while I'm writing with you guys the employer came up with having commitment for 2 years in a contract that entails penalty if you leave. Well, the guy wants to protect himself...
The point that the government tighten the expat job market is alarming. Perhaps it's partially a reason why we spent seven months applying for jobs (and we are not the last people on Earth when it comes to qualifications) and receiving only one offer. :?

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 6:31 am

BBCWatcher wrote:Would you be putting your Japanese immigration status in jeopardy with a relocation to Singapore? Could you get back into Japan easily if you decide you don't like Singapore? Or would this be a one-way ticket out?

I disagree with the pessimism about Japan upthread. Japan has very little immigration and a shrinking working age population. That should add up to plenty of long-term opportunities for younger workers. It's also still the world's third largest economy, and size is helpful in terms of protecting against global economic shocks. Let's also keep in mind that Tokyo does not represent all of Japan any more than Manhattan represents all of the United States. Even Tokyo isn't like Tokyo when considering Tokyo's Ogasawara Islands (小笠原群島).


Answering your question, yes, we won't have troubles going back to Japan since there is Japanese passport in place.
Regarding your comment about Japan, yes, it's a great country but extremely homogeneous, with a very strong culture where you will never fit in. I'm not sure I want to feel like an outsider all my life. Believe me, after 7 years it's a valid point)

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 6:35 am

JR8 wrote:
BBCWatcher wrote:Would you be putting your Japanese immigration status in jeopardy with a relocation to Singapore? Could you get back into Japan easily if you decide you don't like Singapore? Or would this be a one-way ticket out?
I disagree with the pessimism about Japan upthread. Japan has very little immigration and a shrinking working age population. That should add up to plenty of long-term opportunities for younger workers. It's also still the world's third largest economy, and size is helpful in terms of protecting against global economic shocks. Let's also keep in mind that Tokyo does not represent all of Japan any more than Manhattan represents all of the United States. Even Tokyo isn't like Tokyo when considering Tokyo's Ogasawara Islands (小笠原群島).


Lol - you do come out with some, er... surprising stuff. Perhaps you missed her comment [my bold]? -
MariaT wrote:Yes, taking a position in Tokyo sounds like an option although they require two year commitment before any sort of internal relocation. Meaning that I have to mentally survive additional two years...


They want out, so Japan's economic future doesn't figure. And they haven't mentioned any immigration 'status' [like PR etc] beyond working there.
And no, of course, Tokyo isn't all of Japan, but it is where they live and work! And Japan IME is a really quite homogeneous country (esp for expats).

And your suggested solution, they move to a remote Pacific atoll - utterly brilliant, I'm sure no one else had thought of that, least of all the OP! :lol:

''''Tired of living in SG? My advice is to move to a remote and probably uninhabited atoll 600 miles away, which just happens to be SGn territory'''' :lol: :roll:


Ahaha) Straight to the point. Btw, we have Japanese passport in place so no problem for us. But you got the point, I don't want to feel like an outsider next years to come although I understand the culture and speak the language. I just had enough of it in past 7 years)

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 6:45 am

BBCWatcher wrote:It's a big decision to cut one's gross income by about 54% (it would appear), so I'm asking rather sensible questions (one would think!) about whether such a decision would be irrevocable. If an international relocation yields happiness, fantastic, but one ought to have high confidence it will for this price. Expressed another way, roughly speaking you could chop about 30% off your career and still retire with an equal standard of living when comparing these two financial arrangements -- retire at age 53 instead of 65, roughly speaking. Or the difference between starting a family and not. This is a huge financial difference requiring serious thought, and I would give it serious thought.

Are there people miserable in Singapore? Oh yes, I'm afraid so. (Didn't Singapore rank at or near the top in terms of the world's most unhappy people in a recent survey?) By the way, I don't think we should be claiming that Japan is "homogenous" compared to Singapore. That made me laugh.

I'm one of the forum members who has lived and worked in both Tokyo and Singapore. As it happens, I like them both, and I like scores if not hundreds of other cities around the world. Home is where I (we) make it, and there are many lovely places to make it. Maybe in neither one of these cities!


You are right regarding your thoughts about income. At first sight it didn't look much but now it, yes, it's a big cut. As I mentioned above, 7.5k per month seemed quite a good offer but again, it has minimal payment for bonuses and puts a limit to be there for the next couple of years.
Regarding you second point, yes, obviously every country has its core population with its own culture etc. But let's be honest, Japan will top them. If you live here for a couple of years, on your expat package, it's all bright and beautiful. If you are local, and your stay here comes to 7 years you see and know things due to time and experience. It is homogeneous compared to Singapore and Hong Kong. Or, let's say, it has a very limited amount of foreigners half of whom come here to watch anime and play video games all day long. You are always an outsider in Japan, was and will be no matter how much you speak Japanese or follow traditions. And Japanese people will remind you of it as well. All I'm saying I have been here for a loooong time, and I want out. It's not a thought of one week or one month but of past few years.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby x9200 » Tue, 17 May 2016 7:13 am

MariaT wrote:Regarding you second point, yes, obviously every country has its core population with its own culture etc. But let's be honest, Japan will top them. If you live here for a couple of years, on your expat package, it's all bright and beautiful. If you are local, and your stay here comes to 7 years you see and know things due to time and experience. It is homogeneous compared to Singapore and Hong Kong. Or, let's say, it has a very limited amount of foreigners half of whom come here to watch anime and play video games all day long. You are always an outsider in Japan, was and will be no matter how much you speak Japanese or follow traditions. And Japanese people will remind you of it as well. All I'm saying I have been here for a loooong time, and I want out. It's not a thought of one week or one month but of past few years.

You may get very disappointed placing too much hopes in Singapore for the change you are looking for. There are many foreigners, true, but most of them come and go severing any closer relationships you manage to develop. Also the local culture is not that receiving for the Western foreigners and the cultural differences are rather substantial. Perhaps not to the degree you see in Japan, but you also have to factor in heaps of daily cultural annoyances (work and every day culture) you are probably not even aware at this point. After a honeymoon period that typically lasts 0.5-2 years you will start seeing many things very differently.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby nakatago » Tue, 17 May 2016 7:40 am

x9200 wrote:
MariaT wrote:Regarding you second point, yes, obviously every country has its core population with its own culture etc. But let's be honest, Japan will top them. If you live here for a couple of years, on your expat package, it's all bright and beautiful. If you are local, and your stay here comes to 7 years you see and know things due to time and experience. It is homogeneous compared to Singapore and Hong Kong. Or, let's say, it has a very limited amount of foreigners half of whom come here to watch anime and play video games all day long. You are always an outsider in Japan, was and will be no matter how much you speak Japanese or follow traditions. And Japanese people will remind you of it as well. All I'm saying I have been here for a loooong time, and I want out. It's not a thought of one week or one month but of past few years.

You may get very disappointed placing too much hopes in Singapore for the change you are looking for. There are many foreigners, true, but most of them come and go severing any closer relationships you manage to develop. Also the local culture is not that receiving for the Western foreigners and the cultural differences are rather substantial. Perhaps not to the degree you see in Japan, but you also have to factor in heaps of daily cultural annoyances (work and every day culture) you are probably not even aware at this point. After a honeymoon period that typically lasts 0.5-2 years you will start seeing many things very differently.


@MariaT

Japan may be homogenous and its people xenophobic but at least it's possible for a gaijin to settle down there.

Singapore has institutionalized racism and its size just exacerbates problems related to housing, employment, immigration and racial issues.

Your mileage may vary of course, as there have been success stories. Come to Singapore if you want, even if it's only to have a taste but it will be naive to think that it will be the end of your journey and you can live happily ever after. Come and have a taste but have an escape strategy in the likely event that things don't pan out.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby PNGMK » Tue, 17 May 2016 9:18 am

I would personally consider HK over Singapore if I was trying to escape Japan. I'd also put into the mix Oman, the UAE, London, NY. I assume your DH must be in finance or similar?
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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby BBCWatcher » Tue, 17 May 2016 10:07 am

I'm afraid I agree with the recent posts at least. Tokyo and Singapore have different forms of homogeneity, but the word fits both (and many other places for that matter). Singapore is a much smaller country -- about 1/20th Japan's population and about 1/500th Japan's land area -- so homogeneity in several forms is impossible to avoid. (The whole country is only about 1/45th the size of the Kanto region as another point of comparison. It's small!) Singapore is "the world's only shopping mall with a seat at the United Nations," and unfortunately there's some truth to that.

Does your or your spouse's employer offer the opportunity for an overseas assignment posting? That'd be great.

Another financial consideration that comes to mind is social security (government pension) and other parts of social insurance (disability, survivor's). Japan has such a system, and presumably you've been contributing to the Japanese system (national and/or employees' system) for several years already. It's not the world's most generous system, to be sure, but you've contributed into it, probably quite a lot at your income levels. As I understand it, under present law at least your contributions to date would yield nothing if you make no further contributions. You haven't met the minimum vesting period, as far as I know. You'd also fall out of disability and survivor's insurance. Work in Singapore wouldn't count toward the minimum vesting period since Japan and Singapore don't have a social security treaty. (Singapore doesn't have social security treaties with anybody.) Work elsewhere, in a treaty country, would count ("totalization" in treaty parlance). From what I've been able to determine Japan has social security treaties with the following countries: Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, the United States, Belgium, France, Canada (excluding Quebec for some reason), Australia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, Switzerland, and Hungary. Italy, India, and Luxembourg are going to be added to the list soon (if not already done). If you go to work in any of those countries and contribute into those systems then, assuming non-trivial contributions, you can still hit the minimum vesting period. You could collect pension benefits when the time comes from both Japan and the other treaty country (or countries), depending on your work and contribution history. Check all that, of course, but such considerations properly ought to be part of your financial equation. I'd hate to see you lose about 54% of your gross income and all the contributions you've made into Japan's social security system if you can avoid it.

Note that it is possible to continue making voluntary contributions into the Japanese national system from overseas. Sometimes that makes financial sense, but it takes a bit of careful study to figure that out. My best guess is that it wouldn't in your situation, that (not to put too fine a point on it) you're screwed if you exit now and don't work in a treaty country (and/or in Japan) in order to hit the minimum vesting period or at least get much closer to it so you can "top up" with voluntary contributions. And the minimum vesting period is scheduled to change, which should help, although that's not a given. (It's tied to the next GST increase, last I heard.)

Another factor I'll toss into your consideration matrix is schooling. If you plan to have any children, Singapore can work -- it's a nice place for kids in many ways (except when the Indonesian fires are burning) -- but schooling is very expensive and/or placement is very difficult here. Japan is quite different that way, and so are other many other countries.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 17 May 2016 10:37 am

x9200 wrote:You may get very disappointed placing too much hopes in Singapore for the change you are looking for. There are many foreigners, true, but most of them come and go severing any closer relationships you manage to develop. Also the local culture is not that receiving for the Western foreigners and the cultural differences are rather substantial. Perhaps not to the degree you see in Japan, but you also have to factor in heaps of daily cultural annoyances (work and every day culture) you are probably not even aware at this point. After a honeymoon period that typically lasts 0.5-2 years you will start seeing many things very differently.


Your post reminded me of an incident that occurred in the past. My wife and had packed up the place and had two days left to go in Watten Estates before returning to the USA.

We had been there eight years. We knew our neighbors a little bit but not a lot. On our last day, my Chinese neighbor next door came over to wish me goodbye. He said that I had been a good neighbor and that I was a good man. He then said that he regretted being so stand offish and not making friends with me. It was his culture he said, and it was a mistake.

I thought this very honest from this man... and I agree... it was unfortunate that he waited until my last day in Singapore to come forward.

I do hope Brah will chime in on this thread. He knows a lot about the transition from Japan to Singapore.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 12:41 pm

PNGMK wrote:I would personally consider HK over Singapore if I was trying to escape Japan. I'd also put into the mix Oman, the UAE, London, NY. I assume your DH must be in finance or similar?


Just got back from HK btw. You are right, it can be also an option but we haven't looked for jobs there since our focus on Singapore. London & NY are also good but again nobody is interested to hire foreign workers from the street (the same is pretty much about Singapore).
He is in IT sales.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 12:58 pm

BBCWatcher wrote:I'm afraid I agree with the recent posts at least. Tokyo and Singapore have different forms of homogeneity, but the word fits both (and many other places for that matter). Singapore is a much smaller country -- about 1/20th Japan's population and about 1/500th Japan's land area -- so homogeneity in several forms is impossible to avoid. (The whole country is only about 1/45th the size of the Kanto region as another point of comparison. It's small!) Singapore is "the world's only shopping mall with a seat at the United Nations," and unfortunately there's some truth to that.

Does your or your spouse's employer offer the opportunity for an overseas assignment posting? That'd be great.

Another financial consideration that comes to mind is social security (government pension) and other parts of social insurance (disability, survivor's). Japan has such a system, and presumably you've been contributing to the Japanese system (national and/or employees' system) for several years already. It's not the world's most generous system, to be sure, but you've contributed into it, probably quite a lot at your income levels. As I understand it, under present law at least your contributions to date would yield nothing if you make no further contributions. You haven't met the minimum vesting period, as far as I know. You'd also fall out of disability and survivor's insurance. Work in Singapore wouldn't count toward the minimum vesting period since Japan and Singapore don't have a social security treaty. (Singapore doesn't have social security treaties with anybody.) Work elsewhere, in a treaty country, would count ("totalization" in treaty parlance). From what I've been able to determine Japan has social security treaties with the following countries: Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, the United States, Belgium, France, Canada (excluding Quebec for some reason), Australia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, Switzerland, and Hungary. Italy, India, and Luxembourg are going to be added to the list soon (if not already done). If you go to work in any of those countries and contribute into those systems then, assuming non-trivial contributions, you can still hit the minimum vesting period. You could collect pension benefits when the time comes from both Japan and the other treaty country (or countries), depending on your work and contribution history. Check all that, of course, but such considerations properly ought to be part of your financial equation. I'd hate to see you lose about 54% of your gross income and all the contributions you've made into Japan's social security system if you can avoid it.

Note that it is possible to continue making voluntary contributions into the Japanese national system from overseas. Sometimes that makes financial sense, but it takes a bit of careful study to figure that out. My best guess is that it wouldn't in your situation, that (not to put too fine a point on it) you're screwed if you exit now and don't work in a treaty country (and/or in Japan) in order to hit the minimum vesting period or at least get much closer to it so you can "top up" with voluntary contributions. And the minimum vesting period is scheduled to change, which should help, although that's not a given. (It's tied to the next GST increase, last I heard.)

Another factor I'll toss into your consideration matrix is schooling. If you plan to have any children, Singapore can work -- it's a nice place for kids in many ways (except when the Indonesian fires are burning) -- but schooling is very expensive and/or placement is very difficult here. Japan is quite different that way, and so are other many other countries.


First of all, thank you very much for such a detailed and constructive feedback. I do really appreciate it.
Secondly, yeah, I know that Singapore is small, I have been there... but my counterpoint will be 1. I don't necessarily hang out in the all areas of Tokyo (only a couple of favorite districts), 2. Inland travel can be substituted by Singapore's closeness to the neighboring countries.
Regarding pension, the idea was to contribute to the Japanese scheme (and, that's why 7.5k at the beginning doesn't convince me at all). HB has a Japanese passport, so here the story is different. Regarding me, the scheme will change to 10 years from 2017. Otherwise, I have to apply for lump-sum. You are totally right that we need to consider these questions. Maybe 3-4 years age we could go for 7.5k to Singapore but now we have some things to lose and 7.5k seems rather a "no go" offer.
Thirdly, my spouse's employer (as well as mine) is very big company with offices all over the world. The point is, as it always happens, he is too valuable at his position here so they are not interested in moving him somewhere else (he has already raised this topic of relocation within his company). Another thing is that international assignments are like a lottery. You never know when you can get one)

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby MariaT » Tue, 17 May 2016 1:16 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
x9200 wrote:You may get very disappointed placing too much hopes in Singapore for the change you are looking for. There are many foreigners, true, but most of them come and go severing any closer relationships you manage to develop. Also the local culture is not that receiving for the Western foreigners and the cultural differences are rather substantial. Perhaps not to the degree you see in Japan, but you also have to factor in heaps of daily cultural annoyances (work and every day culture) you are probably not even aware at this point. After a honeymoon period that typically lasts 0.5-2 years you will start seeing many things very differently.


Your post reminded me of an incident that occurred in the past. My wife and had packed up the place and had two days left to go in Watten Estates before returning to the USA.

We had been there eight years. We knew our neighbors a little bit but not a lot. On our last day, my Chinese neighbor next door came over to wish me goodbye. He said that I had been a good neighbor and that I was a good man. He then said that he regretted being so stand offish and not making friends with me. It was his culture he said, and it was a mistake.

I thought this very honest from this man... and I agree... it was unfortunate that he waited until my last day in Singapore to come forward.

I do hope Brah will chime in on this thread. He knows a lot about the transition from Japan to Singapore.


I do hope Brah will come here to give his input)
Your story sounds very familiar. My neighbors even don't say hi when bumping into each other in the elevator. Maybe they will regret about that later on.

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Re: Job consideration in Singapore from Tokyo - please advise

Postby BBCWatcher » Tue, 17 May 2016 1:38 pm

MariaT wrote:1. I don't necessarily hang out in the all areas of Tokyo (only a couple of favorite districts), 2. Inland travel can be substituted by Singapore's closeness to the neighboring countries.

See the conflict? ;)

Singapore and Tokyo aren't materially different in this respect.(*) They're both excellent bases from which to explore Asia. If you want to go explore Asia then go do it! You don't have to move your household and cut your income ~54% to go explore Asia. They both have international airline-served airports. (Actually, Tokyo has two.) Of course it helps to have some more money to be able to afford such explorations.

(*) One difference: it's not actually fun to pack a passport and clear immigration (twice each way) just to go a few miles north to golf or to ride a horse, or to take a short ferry ride south. You don't have to put up with that nonsense from Tokyo. You can ski and you can surf without packing a passport, without clearing immigration and customs, and even without a plane ride. We can't do that.


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