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Property Rental for Self Employed

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NealV
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Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby NealV » Wed, 13 Feb 2019 7:45 pm

I am a self employed US citizen looking to rent a condo in Singapore will I spend about half of my time.
Is it possible for a foreigner to rent a property with a passport as identity or is some type of long term pass required ?
Most passes for temporary residency seem to be employment based. What options does a self employed individual have other than relying on a tourist visa ?

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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:08 am

If you are self employed and planning on conducting business in Singapore, you will need to be registered with with ACRA with a business entity and your business entity will need to apply for an employment pass for you from MoM. You will then have legal residence status.

You cannot simply come over, rent a place, and start working. You say "spend about half of my time" in Singapore. Whether you spend less than or more than 183 days in Singapore will affect your tax status, and at 183 days, I don't think you'll qualify for the US earned income exclusion and will end up paying taxes in both places.

If your intent is to simply rent a place for six months out of the year and not do any work in Singapore... well... there is no provision to do that in the Singapore regulations, else Singapore's population would swell to 50 million as every Tom, Dick, and Harry from the sub-continent, China, and Indonesia would all decide they want to live in Singapore.

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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby NealV » Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:45 pm

Hello Eagle,

Thank you for your response. I probably should have qualified "self-employed". I am a writer, not a business owner.

So my real question is whether a foreigner can lease a property in Singapore?

Or is it only possible to rent a property with a Pass or PR ?

if the later, would I still need to establish myself as a business "sole proprietor" as a writer, and follow steps to request an employment pass for myself? What if I was not actually earning... as in during the research phase of a project ?

Are there any pass types for non employees? I have reviewed the EntrePass , but that does seem a fit for a writer / artist either....

Thank you

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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby Addadude » Thu, 14 Feb 2019 2:44 pm

Strong Eagle covered it. Unless you are a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, you will need an EntrPass/employment pass/work permit to lease an apartment. Simple as that I'm afraid.
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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 14 Feb 2019 7:31 pm

The others have it almost correct but there are people who still use Singapore as a base and have for many years (although they are a dying breed - literally mostly older folk). They normally rent a room (as they can't hold a full tenancy) and travel in and out around the region a lot.

VN, Thailand, the PI and Malaysia are popular stay overs and you can get 90 days on entry in Singapore as a US citizen. At some point you may be told you are doing visa runs and have a short visa given so it's not a permanent solution by any means.

In my opinion the best country right now to locate in this area appears to be Vietnam or the PI. The PI has some particularly attractive low cost visas which give residency. VN appears to be allowing 90 day visa runs on a back to back basis for many expats I know there. Malaysia is also lenient I understand. Singapore WILL track you though and you may find your stay here curtailed. Indonesia unfortunately only allow 60 days which is too short IMO for visa runs and Camb/Laos/HK etc are messy and/or expensive. Taiwan is an option as well - some offshore oil workers I know use it as a base but not much english is spoken there. Battam appears to have a resident population of older drunk Aussie men who must have some way of getting a permit to stay there so perhaps some research will show the answer.

If you have the wherewithal there are a few expensive options that you could consider such as using a yacht to go from point to point or potentially buying into a business as well. IF you have that much cash I'd add India and Sri Lanka to potential locales. Some friends also teach part time to get visas in countries like Thailand and Japan. That's not really an option for Singapore.

One major headache will be opening a bank account out here as well. A whole separate topic. Having a work visa ALWAYS helps in that regards.

The whole "digital nomad" culture is based on exactly this type of thing. They will be more up to date than we are.
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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 14 Feb 2019 10:34 pm

NealV wrote:Hello Eagle,

Thank you for your response. I probably should have qualified "self-employed". I am a writer, not a business owner.

So my real question is whether a foreigner can lease a property in Singapore?

Or is it only possible to rent a property with a Pass or PR ?

if the later, would I still need to establish myself as a business "sole proprietor" as a writer, and follow steps to request an employment pass for myself? What if I was not actually earning... as in during the research phase of a project ?

Are there any pass types for non employees? I have reviewed the EntrePass , but that does seem a fit for a writer / artist either....

Thank you


In the world of Singapore, even creative types have to eat... therefore, you are either in the country as an investor or as a working stiff, starving writer or otherwise.

I'm serious when I said that Singapore's population would rise to 50 million if foreigners could rent/lease property in Singapore without legal residence. Lots of people with lots of money in the region who would like to do exactly what you want to do... use Singapore as their residential address with no connections otherwise. Singapore flats, condos, and semi-D's would be stuffed with corrupt Indonesian generals, Chinese businessmen on the take, and Indians trying to use Singapore as a way to gain a PR into yet another country.

If you are serious about Singapore, and you earn your living as a writer, then I'd consider setting yourself up as a full time resident. You could form a sole proprietorship, a private limited would be better, and demonstrate your ability to earn a living, pay some Singapore taxes, and be of value to Singapore. You'd be hard pressed to rent an affordable place for six months anyway as most leases are a year to two years. An Entrepass is not your thing. My SWAG is that if you can demonstrate income and experience, you might be successful in your application, as you wouldn't exactly be displacing too many budding Singapore writers... much different than coming in as an IT tech or accountant.

I'd second what PNGMK said about being a stateless, wandering minstrel, except that Thailand has been getting their act together and cracking down on overstayers... even my wife got whacked at BKK for flying into the country one Sunday after already being there for 93 days in a year. But crossing into Laos at relatively remote spots for a visa run is good, too, as automation hasn't reached some points.

I also know a British couple who bought a house in Batam city center and remodeled it. Very nice, it was. I can only guess what strings they had to pull to own it. But I can offer you a couple of anecdotes about the challenges you may find. First, they bought a car, but no expat in their right mind will drive their own car in Batam... you'll be a hard target for corrupt police should anything untoward like an accident, happen. Therefore, you will always have a driver at your beck and call.

And second, they moved from Singapore to Batam. Had all their furniture in a container shipped across. They shipped immediately before Christmas. They didn't get their stuff delivered until March. Why? Because, in the meanwhile, there had been local elections and a power change. Their "agent" didn't know who to bribe to get the container safely through customs until the new pecking order had been shaken down.

Finally, Kuala Lumpur may be your best bet, because, as PNGMK said, Malaysia tends to be "lenient", aka, not paying attention. I rented an apartment at KL Sentral for 18 months. It was a condo unit owned by a German woman as an investor. The entire building (and all the surrounding buildings) is filled with such units... owned by foreigners and leased out to anybody by local real estate agents. No work permit required to rent but must be rented in the name of a company... a minor inconvenience.

I flew in and out of KL at least 60 times during those 18 months, even rode my motorcycle back and forth to Singapore a few times, and nobody ever once asked me how it is my passport is chock full of entry stamps into Malaysia... every week... every few days, even. But technically, I should have had a local company sponsor and a work permit. I could have been pulled aside at immigration and questioned, and sent back to Singapore. But, I wasn't. In fact, things were so loose, I'd pick up 3 or 4 bottles of scotch at duty free when I came in... for my friends... not once in 18 months did anyone at customs ever look into my duty free bags to see that I was violating my allowance. KL is an interesting place... everything sort of half works.

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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby NealV » Fri, 15 Feb 2019 8:03 am

Eagle, PNGMK,

Thank you again for the responses. You have certainly given me a lot of good information. The clearest option appears to be, to setup a company, deposit funds into the business and pay myself a salary for which I would be subject to Singapore tax. This should qualify me as an employee of my business and allow me to apply for an employment pass. I may be over simplifying.....
Do I have the option of renting a unit in SG as a business before I obtain an employment pass?
Or, until I obtain the pass my options are to sublet a room (a possibility) or short term rentals.

How does being an investor change things? When you say investor, do you mean as in purchasing a property....or a business investor? Does purchasing a property (which appears to be limited to condos for non citizens) gain one a pass for entry ?

PNGMK, when you said PI were you referring to Philippines? (I am used to seeing PH) I have spent a little time in PH and Thailand. I have much more of asia to explore, and see SG as good launch pad for travel. KL may be another option Eagle...but I have bombarded with negative information regarding Malaysia, some of which may have been highly exaggerated.

In regards to Visas, tourist stays, I am never one to overstay my welcome. My intent is likely to be back and forth between SG and the US on four week intervals, so my stays would usually be around 30 days or less at a time. For personal reasons, I do still prefer a place to call my own when I am here as opposed to short terms or living out of hotels. I am not sure if this type of entry/re-entry is more acceptable, or could eventually be frowned upon and my re-entry denied.

Thank you both for you insights and the fascinating histories!

Neal

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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:32 am

KL should be on your list for sure. I've had friends thrown out of Singapore who have relocated there with no issues at all on a long term basis, there is a fairly large 'black market' community from what I've seen (i.e. a lot of folk living semi legally). The PH/PI is also a strong contender and much lower cost than KL apparently. Jakarta has a reasonably large contingent of black market residents as well - I believe though they have to buy/bribe someone for a kitas (permit) to stay.

As fo your plan above about companies and EP - there is a whole thread on it. It's not so simple. You need business plans etc and the business does need to be real. The days of just putting 100k into a co bank account to get an EP on the salary your draw down are gone I believe.
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Re: Property Rental for Self Employed

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:43 am

Personally if I had to leave Singapore I would consider in no order Chiang Mai (Retirement Visa), the PI (retirement visa) or Malaysia (Melaka or Penang - My Second Home Programme retirement visa). Melaka probably #1 preference as I have a son in Singapore and driving down would be far cheaper for visits. I also like Melaka and there have been a number of Old Singapore Hands (old school civil servants from the UK and Europe who stayed on post independence) who have retired there and it worked well for them. Melaka is an 'open city' - quite possibly the most liberal city in the region for arts, culture and open mindedness.

I don't want to go somewhere I'd have to make 3 month visa runs. The cost is one thing but the disruption would be unbearable.
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