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Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

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maybeSing2017
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Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby maybeSing2017 » Wed, 03 May 2017 11:15 am

Hello;
Newbie here. Looking to move to Singapore from North America, we are considering an offer, cash component is ok, but after budgeting, we are a bit worried if we'll save much after paying for int'l schooling. Curious if recent expats were able to negotiate a local+ package, especially for kids. Please excuse if this topic has been beaten to death, as I wasn't able to find a 2016/17 post that specifically got into education allowance.


It's also proving a tough decision for us as we are used to a very generous full insurance package where I currently work plus excellent mat/pat leave...all which are pretty thin in the package presented to me.

Thanks for the wisdom of the crowd he
Last edited by maybeSing2017 on Fri, 05 May 2017 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Wed, 03 May 2017 11:30 am

It's unlikely a local package will include an education component as this would then have to be offered to all locals at the same level as you! You should look for housing and car allowances and ensure the total pay is sufficient bearing in mind the cheapest American school (ICS) is around USD25,000 p.a. per kid. Remember income tax is considerably lower here but you are liable for US income tax above the FEIE (foreign earned income exclusion - currently $102,000 I think).

I have an Australian colleague paying for four kids at AIS though and he claims that he is ahead cash wise because of tax but Australians if none tax resident pay no tax in Australia.

Medical costs here are manageable. Don't stress too much about that.
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby maybeSing2017 » Wed, 03 May 2017 11:39 am

Thanks a lot for the note. Yeah the school fees is what really scares us, especially if we have a 2nd.

I am receiving a relocation (one way) package. Nothing more...and the group healthcare program is also not much to write home about, lots of gaps and we'll need a top up plan for maternal cover...so another 10,000 sgd?? bucks is what i am thinking.

I am wondering if MNCs are flexible about these things around the edges.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Wed, 03 May 2017 12:44 pm

maybeSing2017 wrote:Thanks a lot for the note. Yeah the school fees is what really scares us, especially if we have a 2nd.

I am receiving a relocation (one way) package. Nothing more...and the group healthcare program is also not much to write home about, lots of gaps and we'll need a top up plan for maternal cover...so another 10,000 sgd?? bucks is what i am thinking.

I am wondering if MNCs are flexible about these things around the edges.


Yes if they want you they will adjust. It depends also on whether you just want to see this as something to do for a few years (which might cost a little) or whether it's a complete change of life forever. Honestly American's are severely handicapped in the global workplace due to the IRS rules and lack of decent healthcare back home... An Aussie can reside overseas for decades, pay not tax and get on a plane back home for free medical care anytime.
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby lagimoana » Wed, 03 May 2017 11:05 pm

We are on a local package, with one-way relocation. My husband negotiated the salary package upwards, so that we could afford International School fees. But I wish we had negotiated education + lower salary.

School fees increased between 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, by $1.5k across the board, from what I've seen. Hopefully his salary also increases, but it's not guaranteed and he works in a sector where no bonuses or increases have been handed out in recent years :(

I'm not sure how old your child is - preschool is considerably cheaper than primary.

With maternity care, if your wife prefers water birth or natural birth, these seem to be less supported options here :( I think only a couple of hospitals can offer water births.

The International Schools here are not worth the price tag - you would not dream of paying the same amount of money in the U.S. We came here from Australia and the Australian International School is nearly $40k per year for our 11 year old. It scores worse on the nationwide school tests (we call it NAPLAN) than our local, free public primary & secondary schools.

The local private school in Sydney where my son is enrolled for high school, is only $25k/year. It is far better than the Australian International School.

It's price gouging :( The schools have seen an opportunity to charge parents whatever they want, knowing that the local schools are nearly impossible to get into (and also fairly intense) and that expats have no other option. Awful awful stuff.

If you're a U.S. citizen you at least get preferential entry to Singapore American School which is arguably the best on the island and one of the few where you wouldn't feel too much rage over paying the fees.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby maybeSing2017 » Thu, 04 May 2017 7:57 am

Thanks again for the detailed and very open responses and information.

I hear the local schools, at least some are mixing their approaches a bit to not be so intense...at least a few friends I met recently who have their kids in local schools (after becoming pr) said so.

We didn't quite realize the quality of education is not as stellar as the fees :), but that makes sense...hopefully the new int'l schools that the government has approved/planning to approve (based on news reports) will start impacting the supply/demand imbalance. I read that there are two new schools that are not so focused on best in class facilities, but more Western style academic program.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 04 May 2017 8:38 am

maybeSing2017 wrote:Thanks again for the detailed and very open responses and information.

I hear the local schools, at least some are mixing their approaches a bit to not be so intense...at least a few friends I met recently who have their kids in local schools (after becoming pr) said so.

We didn't quite realize the quality of education is not as stellar as the fees :), but that makes sense...hopefully the new int'l schools that the government has approved/planning to approve (based on news reports) will start impacting the supply/demand imbalance. I read that there are two new schools that are not so focused on best in class facilities, but more Western style academic program.


New Int'l schools? No, it's not happening. I know someone very well connected in this field and the gahmen here sees International Schools as a necessary evil and not a core business. As for price gouging (a fair charge) I would suggest you avoid 'for profit' schools. Sing American is a not for profit school.
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 04 May 2017 8:47 am

maybeSing2017 wrote:Thanks again for the detailed and very open responses and information.

I hear the local schools, at least some are mixing their approaches a bit to not be so intense...at least a few friends I met recently who have their kids in local schools (after becoming pr) said so.

We didn't quite realize the quality of education is not as stellar as the fees :), but that makes sense...hopefully the new int'l schools that the government has approved/planning to approve (based on news reports) will start impacting the supply/demand imbalance. I read that there are two new schools that are not so focused on best in class facilities, but more Western style academic program.


My son is just finishing up in Secondary at a local school. It's been good for him and he is relatively well educated and has a rounded education. He might not have gone on a left wing lesbian funded surfing trip to Bali every year like some International Schools do and he hasn't been in a lot of drama but he is qualifieid enough I think to get into a careeer making program at a tertiary institution.
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bro75
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby bro75 » Thu, 04 May 2017 8:54 am

The SG government is starting to realise that there is a need for a more affordable International School to continue being able to entice more foreign professionals to work here.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sin ... at-8735252

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby lagimoana » Thu, 04 May 2017 9:05 am

Just be aware too that none of the extra curriculars are offered at the cheaper schools, because of a lack of facilities.

If your kids are like ours, and play a winter and summer sport each, plus a musical instrument/school band, etc., you will have to find opportunities to play, outside of school. Which carries its own costs. We arrived last week and I enrolled my son into a basketball club straight away (because it's his obsession and he was upset we left Sydney) and it's over $1k for a 12 week program.

It's true that some of the local schools are less intense, but regardless, to get a place at any of the local schools, children need to take the AEIS exam in September/October, and very few expat children are offered places in schools for the following year.

There is a FB group I am part of, called Expats in Local Schools or something, and they collected information last year, after the AEIS was finished and the offers were made. It is quite depressing to look at their info. There is no other info to look at, as the MOE does not release the test papers, results, or entry criteria. Your child simply goes in, sits a test for a few hours and the leaves. About a month later you get a yay or a nay.

You get no choice - the MOE simply offers you a place at a particular school and you take it or leave it. It is usually close to where you are living, but not necessarily your neighbourhood school and you may have to travel. So anecdotally, people say that choosing your home address carefully can help. Choosing to live close to a school that you know is more relaxed, historically gets low PSLE scores (primary school leaving exam), might mean that your child is offered a place at that school, if the year are successful - because it is not popular with locals, anyway.

Kiasuparents is a great site - their forum also collects info about school results - how hard/easy it is to get into most schools for locals (and therefore, which schools to avoid living close to, for expats).

Good luck. Education is very important to me - if my son goes to university and studies pure math, he will be he fourth generation of my family to do that.

So we are a bit kiasu ourselves, and not exactly slouches when it comes to academic achievement.

But I prefer the Finnish model over the Singaporean one, and I'm not sure I want to put my kids in an environment where learning is far more about work than discovery. It should be a balance between the two, I think.

Every time somebody raved to me about how good the schools in Singapore are, I just smiled and nodded politely. In my opinion, it is not really the case at all.

Negotiate a place at SAS for your child or stay in the U.S., is my honest advice.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 04 May 2017 9:51 am

bro75 wrote:The SG government is starting to realise that there is a need for a more affordable International School to continue being able to entice more foreign professionals to work here.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sin ... at-8735252


yes, one site up for tender but in the meantime I know of a few that are going to have to close when their lease expires. Plus the bullshit 3+3+3 year lease offers no long term security.
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maybeSing2017
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby maybeSing2017 » Thu, 04 May 2017 10:46 pm

lagimoana wrote:Just be aware too that none of the extra curriculars are offered at the cheaper schools, because of a lack of facilities.

If your kids are like ours, and play a winter and summer sport each, plus a musical instrument/school band, etc., you will have to find opportunities to play, outside of school. Which carries its own costs. We arrived last week and I enrolled my son into a basketball club straight away (because it's his obsession and he was upset we left Sydney) and it's over $1k for a 12 week program.

It's true that some of the local schools are less intense, but regardless, to get a place at any of the local schools, children need to take the AEIS exam in September/October, and very few expat children are offered places in schools for the following year.

There is a FB group I am part of, called Expats in Local Schools or something, and they collected information last year, after the AEIS was finished and the offers were made. It is quite depressing to look at their info. There is no other info to look at, as the MOE does not release the test papers, results, or entry criteria. Your child simply goes in, sits a test for a few hours and the leaves. About a month later you get a yay or a nay.

You get no choice - the MOE simply offers you a place at a particular school and you take it or leave it. It is usually close to where you are living, but not necessarily your neighbourhood school and you may have to travel. So anecdotally, people say that choosing your home address carefully can help. Choosing to live close to a school that you know is more relaxed, historically gets low PSLE scores (primary school leaving exam), might mean that your child is offered a place at that school, if the year are successful - because it is not popular with locals, anyway.

Kiasuparents is a great site - their forum also collects info about school results - how hard/easy it is to get into most schools for locals (and therefore, which schools to avoid living close to, for expats).

Good luck. Education is very important to me - if my son goes to university and studies pure math, he will be he fourth generation of my family to do that.

So we are a bit kiasu ourselves, and not exactly slouches when it comes to academic achievement.

But I prefer the Finnish model over the Singaporean one, and I'm not sure I want to put my kids in an environment where learning is far more about work than discovery. It should be a balance between the two, I think.

Every time somebody raved to me about how good the schools in Singapore are, I just smiled and nodded politely. In my opinion, it is not really the case at all.

Negotiate a place at SAS for your child or stay in the U.S., is my honest advice.



Thank you v. much. Your views and insights have been extremely helpful. We are still sorting through the maze of information.

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 05 May 2017 9:19 am

FYI to home school you need MOE permission. It is a viable alternative though when you consider that homeschooling two kids is equivalent to earning a US$50,000 salary. Hire a maid (or two) to push all the housework onto and set up a strict schedule with the kids. I have a friend who is doing this with her "wild child" and it's astonishing how well the little rat bag is responding to her mother saying "now is school time, this is serious, your friends are at school now and so are you" as she sits her down at her study table and begins 6 hours of work with her.
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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby lagimoana » Fri, 05 May 2017 10:24 am

I don't think you need an exemption for an expat child on a dependant's pass - am I wrong about that?

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Re: Has anyone been able to negotiate local+ education allowance offer?

Postby lagimoana » Fri, 05 May 2017 10:26 am

maybeSing2017 wrote:Thank you v. much. Your views and insights have been extremely helpful. We are still sorting through the maze of information.


No worries. I'm sorry that the flood gates opened on you. Singapore has been my obsession for the last month as I try to figure out how we're going to survive here. So I end up brain dumping all over people at any opportunity. 8-[


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