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Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 3:14 am
by Castello
Hello all,

My wife looks like she will be offered a role in Singapore.

I had a couple of queries I was hoping you could answer:

- As a UK Chartered Accountant with 10 years experience do you think I could find a job when I arrive using a spouse visa? I have heard scare stories about finding work and with a young child would be concerned that I could not find a job to support us.

- The salary of my wife's role is not finalised, I would expect around $8-12k per month. If I could not find a job do you think this would be enough to support us both and our child?

Completely appreciate everybody's spending habits are different. For sake of argument we would look for an average 2 bed apartment with pool and we are not overly extravagant. I'm conscious SG has a high cost of living and would worry if I could not get a job for say a year we could not afford to get by.

Thanks for your help

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 3:45 am
by bgd
Lots of local accountants here so it may be a challenge unless your UK experience brings something different to the table.

Your wife's salary range should be ok depending on lifestyle, unless your child is school age. Education is expensive and don't expect to find a local place, you are likely looking at International Schools.

Sg is expensive for accommodation, cars, education and alcohol. The rest isn't so bad. And the good news is that rents are down from the highs of years back.

If you can't find work life can be pretty tough on a trailing spouse. That's pretty dependant on personality and interests. I've seen people thrive and also marriages fail or couples leave Sg due just to this.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 10:14 am
by ProvenPracticalFlexible
8k tough, 12k no problems. A bit of a simplified answer. But as said above your biggest worry would be school fees. How old is your child and would there be any kind of expat package to cover those?

Job hunting for spouse is all about networking and all that I've seen succeeding in have taken a pay cut and get employed in small expat-PR run companies. But that's the way to get in and over time build more personal networks. Now of course that people don't have BBQs and parties that networking doesn't exist.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 3:42 pm
by sundaymorningstaple
My advice is simple. If your family cannot survive decently here on a single income, you would be better placed remaining at home. Otherwise, it's going to be miserable and might actually ending being a negative experience and earning power while you are here. There are NO guarantees. This even moreso considering the world economy due to the pandemic.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 8:09 pm
by malcontent
Just getting one child enrolled at the British Tanglin Trust school here can cost you up to $50,000 for the first year and $45,000 subsequently. That alone could could easily exceed the annual rent on a 2 bedroom condo unit (at least in the outskirts of town).

If you don’t expect your child to hit primary school age while you are here, there are local private kindergartens that are open to foreigners, provided there is space, and would only cost hundreds per month instead of thousands!

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 9:54 pm
by PNGMK
I wouldn't do it unless this is a step level change required position for your wife (i.e. if she does this she is next in line for VP).

There may be work for a UK CPA here as there is a shortage of those and some MNC's and clients need them but it will be tough to get going.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Sat, 07 Nov 2020 11:35 pm
by malcontent
Agree, I wouldn’t do it either, unless the company is at least covering housing & school costs at a minimum. Locals have access to subsidized government housing and nearly free schooling, which you as a foreigner are ineligible for - it is not a level playing field.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Mon, 09 Nov 2020 4:07 pm
by PNGMK
I should add that the accounting field here is dominated by cheap blow-ins from SE Asia EXCEPT where a specific certification (like GAAP) is needed. Finance is slightly more diversified but standard book keeping / accounting is a low income field.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Tue, 10 Nov 2020 8:45 pm
by Castello
Thanks all for the responses, this is very helpful.

Just to give a bit more background, our child still has a few years before going to school, so would be nursery/nanny fees to consider.

I would not be looking for a book-keeping role and would be seeking a more senior finance type role. I appreciate that to get my feet in the door I may need to take a small step down when looking for a job.

My wife is a dentist, therefore it is not really a step level change. Although private dentistry in Singapore certainly seems to offer a far more interesting range of work than the restrictions of the NHS.

My big concerns are whether I could find a job and if not, whether we could have a decent standard of living on one salary.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Tue, 10 Nov 2020 10:52 pm
by malcontent
If you are coming from more of a financial manager/controller type role, and have the experience/credentials required for that, there are some well paid positions at the larger multinational companies here. The challenge is that these companies normally don’t look outside, but fill senior finance roles from their internal ranks. You will probably need to network really hard and be a bit aggressive with HR departments to get consideration. Depending on the company and what you bring to the table, it is possible to land a position with a 5 figure monthly income (you might even be able to negotiate a limited expat package, but that’s getting tough nowadays).

With both you and your wife pulling in 5 figures monthly, and given the low income tax rates here, you’ll be just fine. In fact, I know a few dual-career couples like this who tell me they are better off financially than they would be back in their home countries.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Tue, 10 Nov 2020 11:23 pm
by malcontent
To your other question, whether you can have a decent standard of living on one salary in the $8-12k range... that very much depends how you define a decent standard of living. As with most places, it’s not the high cost of living, but the cost of living high.

You can rent a whole HDB apartment here for $1.5-1.8k monthly, take the bus/train daily for $60-80/mo per person, and spend the same or less on food than you do now, if you go local. You can also employ a full time, live-in maid for around $1k per month - they can babysit, cook, clean, iron, etc... and kindergarten fees will be around $300/mo at a decent local private kindergarten. All of that should be affordable on one salary.

Moving from an HDB to a condo will probably be the first priority in terms of lifestyle upgrades, and that will add at least $1k additional monthly, assuming you don’t mind living in the outskirts of town. Adding a used car to the mix will add at least another $1k monthly. Things do add up quickly here!

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Wed, 11 Nov 2020 11:10 am
by PNGMK
I'm a little surprised Singapore is hiring foreign non-specialist dentists as there was not a shortfall to my knowledge. Is she aware of the registration requirements? While not onerous they are compulsory.

https://www.dentaljobs.com.sg/working-i ... a-dentist/

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Wed, 11 Nov 2020 11:12 am
by PNGMK
I would start networking right now in the UK for a job in Singapore. There is still a pretty big old boys network for Brits here and there is probably enough of a need for a UK trained finance expert with particular domain knowledge to find a job. I'm an engineer and where I work we have a few Brits in our project finance and company finance region roles.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 12:43 am
by Castello
Thanks again for the above, this is reassuring. I appreciate that everybody's spending habits are different but it is helpful to know that it seems like we could get by until I found a job.

Re. the dental registration - that has caused some difficulty in the past. Another role fell through because of registration issues that were out of our control.

Re. networking - Do you have any tips? I've been talking to everyone that we know who has worked there or has friends/family that have.

Re: Spouse Visa / Salary Query

Posted: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 9:02 am
by PNGMK
Castello wrote:
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 12:43 am
Thanks again for the above, this is reassuring. I appreciate that everybody's spending habits are different but it is helpful to know that it seems like we could get by until I found a job.

Re. the dental registration - that has caused some difficulty in the past. Another role fell through because of registration issues that were out of our control.

Re. networking - Do you have any tips? I've been talking to everyone that we know who has worked there or has friends/family that have.
1. Dentist Registration looks straight forward as per the link I sent (assuming your wife has the quals).

2. LinkedIn mate. That's the only way to move forward at present. Also any professional societies you may be a member of, the Freemasons (I assume you've done your degree and they are a big network here for your end of high street) and churches etc. Don't discount professional societies - I'm a member of a small one here for engineers and we routinely get requests in for "Do you know a dogsbody for a great job in Timbuktoo for a Million pesos a year?" type thing....

3. Costs. We are in a weird deflationary cycle here because of the pandemic, while wages are not going up and employment is creeping up costs (esp rent) are actually going down. It's a good time to move and secure a long term residential lease.