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Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 7:28 am

malcontent wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 12:00 am
Wd40 wrote:
Sat, 16 Jul 2022 10:43 pm
To me, the most critical question you have to ask yourself is what you are looking to gain from your stint in Singapore. Usually there are 2 different routes
1)You are looking at SG as an expat destination. Want to work here for a few years and you are here for the money, the experience or whatever. But you dont call this a home. You know where your home is and eventually you plan to go back. Singapore is awesome if this is your goal. You dont need to learn a new language, you dont need to buy a home or car or develop any kind of materialist or emotional attachment to this place. You enjoy your time here living like a long term tourist then you go back to whereever you came from, and you pretty quickly forget about Singapore, even if you lived here for 3-4 decades.

2)You are looking for a place to immigrate to. You come from a place where you dont really plan to go back to and retire. You are shopping for a new passport to settledown, build your house, grow your family and retire. Then Singapore is a horrible choice. You are better off to go to another developed country which still takes in immigrants.
There are also those who start out #1 and end up #2… whether by choice or by circumstance. I’ve now spent half of my life in SG, but still feel perfectly at home in the US (just spent the last 3 weeks there). And, I just got my EP renewed for the umpteenth time.

To your point - - Singapore is a great place to make money, not spend money. So if you can swing it, spend your peak earning years here and sacrifice your lifestyle, then leave Singapore to enjoy what you’ve earned — where you’ll get way more bang for your buck. It can be a win for you and a win for Singapore as well — to shed that dead weight.
To be fair, this isn't really unique to Singapore? I would say it's true in the USA and UK as well (and probably every country that has a main city/commerce hub). Go to work in NYC, Bay Area, or London and then move out/back once you've made what you need.

For families with kids, I think Singapore is cheaper than those three (or at least the two US ones). Although maybe for expats with kids in int'l school it is more here (if school fees not covered). For the local kids, school fees here are very affordable. Obviously it depends how one lives, as all of these locations can be very expensive or not that bad.

Net-Net, I would think it's a coin flip on whether you may be able to save more in USA over 10-20 year (peak) period working/living in other large metro areas (not NYC, Bay Area) than you can here? Earnings opportunity should be comparable and some costs will be lower (especially if have a public school system you think is decent). I guess in any city it will depend on what your exact skills are, the opportunities there, and your network. After a decade of work, the range of what you earn is a lot more dependent on you than market averages.

Of course, if you are comparing SG to a rural area or even a smaller city (1 million or so people), there are a lot more opportunities here. But that is also true of the 3-5 million metro areas in the US (more opportunities and more costs).

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 7:44 am

Wd40 wrote:
Sat, 16 Jul 2022 10:43 pm
To me, the most critical question you have to ask yourself is what you are looking to gain from your stint in Singapore. Usually there are 2 different routes
1)You are looking at SG as an expat destination. Want to work here for a few years and you are here for the money, the experience or whatever. But you dont call this a home. You know where your home is and eventually you plan to go back. Singapore is awesome if this is your goal. You dont need to learn a new language, you dont need to buy a home or car or develop any kind of materialist or emotional attachment to this place. You enjoy your time here living like a long term tourist then you go back to whereever you came from, and you pretty quickly forget about Singapore, even if you lived here for 3-4 decades.

2)You are looking for a place to immigrate to. You come from a place where you dont really plan to go back to and retire. You are shopping for a new passport to settledown, build your house, grow your family and retire. Then Singapore is a horrible choice. You are better off to go to another developed country which still takes in immigrants.
Good points. I think rockstargirl has a few more years to try 2) here if she wants, and subsequent life changes could tip the scale (although not guaranteed)? I guess it's a balance of the lifestyle here vs what's available elsewhere (and what one prefers). But in line with some of your prior posts (or maybe they were others in similar spot), it is always easier to make a move earlier and establish oneself in their new home when younger (work, social, culture, etc).

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by malcontent » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 10:42 am

NYY1 wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 7:28 am
To be fair, this isn't really unique to Singapore? I would say it's true in the USA and UK as well (and probably every country that has a main city/commerce hub). Go to work in NYC, Bay Area, or London and then move out/back once you've made what you need.
Agree, but the difference is, over there you’ve got cheaper options in the surrounding areas; here you’re stuck. You’d have to cross the border to Malaysia to get that kind of savings.

My daughter will be going to college in the US starting fall of 2024, so I have started scoping out options for my son to complete HS in the US in 2025-2026. My daughter is aiming for a UC school, so I’ve looked at high schools in SF, LA and SD areas.

For the SF area she would be at UC Berkeley, so it looks like the best high schools nearby are in the Moraga/Orinda area to the East. For LA/OC it would be La Cañada/Fullerton, and for San Diego the best high schools are in the North and Northeast. These are all top notch public high schools that are comparable to SAS and are FOC. That is a big chunk of savings. I’ve also started scoping out single family homes in these HS districts. It is similarly expensive, but you get a whole lot more for your money than here. This is where you need a large measure of self control, because you get so much more for your money… it is really tempting, especially when it comes to cars.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 11:40 am

malcontent wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 10:42 am
Agree, but the difference is, over there you’ve got cheaper options in the surrounding areas; here you’re stuck. You’d have to cross the border to Malaysia to get that kind of savings.
Yes, but what I mean is for a US person the decision on Singapore shouldn't be about how much money can I have saved at the end of peak earnings period (Earn Potential - Costs of each region). I think comparable earnings and possibly lower costs can be had in various US major metros (non NYC/Bay Area). Singapore has to win on something else (you've listed a few elsewhere). The same applies for anyone that just wants to work somewhere and then return home to a low cost area. Of course, you need to be able to work/stay in each country as well.

malcontent wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 10:42 am
My daughter will be going to college in the US starting fall of 2024, so I have started scoping out options for my son to complete HS in the US in 2025-2026. My daughter is aiming for a UC school, so I’ve looked at high schools in SF, LA and SD areas.

For the SF area she would be at UC Berkeley, so it looks like the best high schools nearby are in the Moraga/Orinda area to the East. For LA/OC it would be La Cañada/Fullerton, and for San Diego the best high schools are in the North and Northeast. These are all top notch public high schools that are comparable to SAS and are FOC. That is a big chunk of savings. I’ve also started scoping out single family homes in these HS districts. It is similarly expensive, but you get a whole lot more for your money than here. This is where you need a large measure of self control, because you get so much more for your money… it is really tempting, especially when it comes to cars.
Yeah, if you can get a public school you are happy with, it is a substantial savings. It costs via the house but hopefully you can recover this when you move on. I don't know any of those areas well enough to comment. Unfortunately, I think the general movement of public schools in US has been downhill but if you can find one that works that's all that matters (either still in good shape/policy or meets your needs).

I do agree one thing on Singapore (or any Asian metro area) is whether the family members view housing as a constraint / trade-off. For many, a 5-room HDB or 1,000 - 1,500 square foot condo is all that's needed. By Western standards, that's probably not a lot of space for people in this earnings range. But for local (or other Asians), the housing size here is fairly normal and more is just a waste.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 2:29 pm

When I think about opportunity and costs (not really factoring lifestyle differences), I kind of group things as follows.

Group 1: NYC, SF Bay Area (would also include London and previously HK but probably not now).

Group 2: Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Seattle, Miami, Washington DC.

Group 3: All other US metro 1 million+ population (apologies to anyone that is offended).

Perhaps I will put Los Angeles and Boston as 2a and the other US cities in this group as 2b. I would probably put Singapore and the top couple Canadian and Australia cities in the broader Group 2 as well (although I don't really know for the Canadian/Australia cities) if we are talking about global immigration options for a range of people here.

Of course, in any city someone can be doing great or struggling. I.e. after 30 years many in Group 3 may be happier or in a better position than those who chased the prize in Group 1.

I guess one other advantage of the US (for US resident) is that you can freely move around within the different cities if desired (or needed to do so due to job/industry changes)? For Singapore, I would say the option to work in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, or Shenzhen is also there. For some, this will be just as attractive as any of the other Group 2 cities (all countries), and for others it may have zero or negative value :D

Someone could also chime in on the broader UK as an option (i.e. outside of London). There is also the issue of visa staying power if one is not a citizen or permanent resident (or whatever terminology) of the targeted country.

Interested to hear what others think and open to comments.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by MOCHS » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 4:47 pm

I’m more curious about the Nordic/Scandinavian countries with their free(?) healthcare and parental leave that can go all the way up to 52 weeks depending on the country. Their taxes should be high as well.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 5:38 pm

MOCHS wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 4:47 pm
I’m more curious about the Nordic/Scandinavian countries with their free(?) healthcare and parental leave that can go all the way up to 52 weeks depending on the country. Their taxes should be high as well.
How about New Zealand (if talking other 5-10 million population countries with nature/space but perhaps fewer or different opportunities)?

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by Wd40 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 6:17 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 7:28 am

To be fair, this isn't really unique to Singapore? I would say it's true in the USA and UK as well (and probably every country that has a main city/commerce hub). Go to work in NYC, Bay Area, or London and then move out/back once you've made what you need.
...
You are right. I just want to say that my post was in the context of OP who is already in Singapore for 6 years, so it is kind of a bird in hand. Not everybody can freely move to the US. For Asians, it is relatively easy to move to Singapore. After Singapore I think the next options are all quite difficult Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada.US takes the cake in terms of H1B visa and the lottery system.

So, with that context, I would say if you already in Singapore and all you are looking in just the convinience, Asian weather and money and then you just go back home, then by all means keep the bird in hand.

But if your aim is to actually settledown, then the risk of taking the plunge to another developed country is worth it.

For me at the age of 42, I dont feel it is worth the risk now to move to a developed country and buy expensive real estate there, pay high taxes and live the life with cold winters etc. I just dont have that ambition. I would rather just cruise in Singapore, as long as it allows me.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Sun, 17 Jul 2022 10:34 pm

Wd40 wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 6:17 pm
You are right. I just want to say that my post was in the context of OP who is already in Singapore for 6 years, so it is kind of a bird in hand. Not everybody can freely move to the US. For Asians, it is relatively easy to move to Singapore. After Singapore I think the next options are all quite difficult Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada.US takes the cake in terms of H1B visa and the lottery system.

So, with that context, I would say if you already in Singapore and all you are looking in just the convinience, Asian weather and money and then you just go back home, then by all means keep the bird in hand.

But if your aim is to actually settledown, then the risk of taking the plunge to another developed country is worth it.
.....
Gotcha, I understood your post more than what I had replied to (and hence the subsequent comments by all that followed).

For others here and another developed country, the UK did open up a Visa Programme for certain universities, of which NUS and NTU are included. I haven't mapped out all of the different visas and periods, but generally I was under the impression that the UK route to permanent residency is easier. Realize this may not be applicable for all (i.e. those that came to SG with a degree already), but it may be relevant for those educated here when one needs to make a bet on where they can stay/settle long-term.

Also wasn't 100% sure how much of a difference this programme made vs. applicants with this education/skill level (i.e. could have got visa in UK no problem anyways).

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-61628740

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by malcontent » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 8:41 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 2:29 pm
When I think about opportunity and costs (not really factoring lifestyle differences), I kind of group things as follows.

Group 1: NYC, SF Bay Area (would also include London and previously HK but probably not now).

Group 2: Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Seattle, Miami, Washington DC.

Group 3: All other US metro 1 million+ population (apologies to anyone that is offended).

Perhaps I will put Los Angeles and Boston as 2a and the other US cities in this group as 2b. I would probably put Singapore and the top couple Canadian and Australia cities in the broader Group 2 as well (although I don't really know for the Canadian/Australia cities) if we are talking about global immigration options for a range of people here.

Of course, in any city someone can be doing great or struggling. I.e. after 30 years many in Group 3 may be happier or in a better position than those who chased the prize in Group 1.

I guess one other advantage of the US (for US resident) is that you can freely move around within the different cities if desired (or needed to do so due to job/industry changes)? For Singapore, I would say the option to work in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, or Shenzhen is also there. For some, this will be just as attractive as any of the other Group 2 cities (all countries), and for others it may have zero or negative value :D

Someone could also chime in on the broader UK as an option (i.e. outside of London). There is also the issue of visa staying power if one is not a citizen or permanent resident (or whatever terminology) of the targeted country.

Interested to hear what others think and open to comments.
Are you suggesting that London, Tokyo and NYC are in a different league… and Toronto and Sydney are more comparable? Oooh, that might offend some folks who have an overinflated perception of Singapore, but I don’t disagree.

I work for a US multinational, and despite the majority of employees being located in a low cost midwest town (far outside any major metro) my counterparts there are paid similarly, even on an after-tax basis. In fact, entry-level positions enjoy significantly higher pay on an after tax basis compared to here (in Singapore it’s a steeper curve as you progress). It is tantalizing to think about moving back, I believe the savings on COL would probably reach 6 figures in less than two years. I will get the chance to prove this out in a few years when my kids go to college in the US.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by smoulder » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 8:48 pm

^ sounds like stingy behavior here might be contributing to lower pay scales as compared to the US?

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 8:58 pm

malcontent wrote:
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 8:41 pm
NYY1 wrote:
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 2:29 pm
When I think about opportunity and costs (not really factoring lifestyle differences), I kind of group things as follows.

Group 1: NYC, SF Bay Area (would also include London and previously HK but probably not now).

Group 2: Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Seattle, Miami, Washington DC.

Group 3: All other US metro 1 million+ population (apologies to anyone that is offended).

Perhaps I will put Los Angeles and Boston as 2a and the other US cities in this group as 2b. I would probably put Singapore and the top couple Canadian and Australia cities in the broader Group 2 as well (although I don't really know for the Canadian/Australia cities) if we are talking about global immigration options for a range of people here.
...
Are you suggesting that London, Tokyo and NYC are in a different league… and Toronto and Sydney are more comparable? Oooh, that might offend some folks who have an overinflated perception of Singapore, but I don’t disagree.

I work for a US multinational, and despite the majority of employees being located in a low cost midwest town (far outside any major metro) my counterparts there are paid similarly, even on an after-tax basis. In fact, entry-level positions enjoy significantly higher pay on an after tax basis compared to here (in Singapore it’s a steeper curve as you progress). It is tantalizing to think about moving back, I believe the savings on COL would probably reach 6 figures in less than two years. I will get the chance to prove this out in a few years when my kids go to college in the US.
I'm not sure where I would put Tokyo. To me, NYC, Bay Area, London, and HK (at least previously) are different in that they attract [more of the best] global talent. Tokyo has expats but for all intensive purposes it is a Japanese city. Same for Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, etc [as Chinese cities]. I guess I also left Tokyo off the list because it is not really an immigration destination for most that are likely here.

If you put a gun to my head, I may also put Los Angeles and Boston ahead of Singapore. For some of the same reasons that I think they attract a bit more people from all over the world. LA's industry/business environment is a bit different so it may depend exactly what one is doing. For Boston, there is obviously a large education/research hub there. Singapore's edge will be more for those that call Asia home [and SG does attract people from all over the world]. I do believe Singapore is [at least] on par with or slightly ahead of the other Group 2 cities listed (US, Canadian, and Australian), although people can quibble over this based on industry, etc. Given the HK situation, it's still a bit TBD of what happens and how places evolve over the next 10 years.

I understand your US multinational comment and situation. This is also why the education track has never been as key there either. Regionally there have always been good things available without the need to have graduated from Harvard, etc. The net-net of Income vs Costs can be just as good as anywhere. If there is a trade-off, I believe it is mobility and the general talent pool around you. Sometimes that doesn't matter much on getting stuff done on a day to day basis. But it is a consideration.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by malcontent » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:31 pm

smoulder wrote:
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 8:48 pm
^ sounds like stingy behavior here might be contributing to lower pay scales as compared to the US?
I think they might be a bit more generous in the US (sometimes needed to attract talent to a small midwest town), but more in-line with local pay norms here.

At the present time, entry level positions at my company start at around S$4-5k per month. Back when I started 25 years ago it was closer to $2-3k per month. I think this is fairly typical, plus my employer throws in a few fringe benefits that are not typical here. Entry level positions in the US are US$75-80k per year, but it’s flatter curve as you progress.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by NYY1 » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:47 pm

malcontent wrote:
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:31 pm
At the present time, entry level positions at my company start at around S$4-5k per month. Back when I started 25 years ago it was closer to $2-3k per month. I think this is fairly typical, plus my employer throws in a few fringe benefits that are not typical here. Entry level positions in the US are US$75-80k per year, but it’s flatter curve as you progress.
Are these technical roles? Or more like a general Business Degree (with major/function)? S$4-$5k per month seems normal for some of these, the US$75-$80k seems high, although it depends on exactly where they came from (which school). I believe some US uni starting salaries also got a decent bump in the last two years (inflation and tight labor market), which could be skewing things.

Lastly, do you think the total US benefits received per month are in excess of the 17% employer portion of CPF on the SG based salary? I assume there is healthcare (or at least some subsidy) and various savings plan matches, etc in the US? I guess one con is that you can say the US healthcare is a benefit received / company expense that has to be paid but for all the cost it doesn't get you much more (just a more expensive good there vs. nearly anywhere else).

Generally, I know the starting pay in US is higher. This was a few years ago but I thought nominally they were about the same, then the exchange rate to common currency created a fairly large differential. Difference may narrow if you can land something like McKinsey, Goldman, Google, etc.

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Re: Pros and cons of living in Singapore for near future

Post by malcontent » Mon, 18 Jul 2022 11:46 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:47 pm
malcontent wrote:
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:31 pm
At the present time, entry level positions at my company start at around S$4-5k per month. Back when I started 25 years ago it was closer to $2-3k per month. I think this is fairly typical, plus my employer throws in a few fringe benefits that are not typical here. Entry level positions in the US are US$75-80k per year, but it’s flatter curve as you progress.
Are these technical roles? Or more like a general Business Degree (with major/function)? S$4-$5k per month seems normal for some of these, the US$75-$80k seems high, although it depends on exactly where they came from (which school). I believe some US uni starting salaries also got a decent bump in the last two years (inflation and tight labor market), which could be skewing things.

Lastly, do you think the total US benefits received per month are in excess of the 17% employer portion of CPF on the SG based salary? I assume there is healthcare (or at least some subsidy) and various savings plan matches, etc in the US? I guess one con is that you can say the US healthcare is a benefit received / company expense that has to be paid but for all the cost it doesn't get you much more (just a more expensive good there vs. nearly anywhere else).

Generally, I know the starting pay in US is higher. This was a few years ago but I thought nominally they were about the same, then the exchange rate to common currency created a fairly large differential. Difference may narrow if you can land something like McKinsey, Goldman, Google, etc.
Not technical… a general business degree is preferred but not absolutely required.

In the US… not Ivy League or even top schools, mid-range for the most part, but for my division a minimum 3.2 GPA is required (3.0 for most other divisions). In the US, my employer has a 1:1 match on 401(k) contributions up to 6%, and on top of that they kick in an additional 3, 4 or 5% depending on age and seniority (not a match, just a grant). I guess if you consider the employer FICA contributions of 7.65% it will equate to roughly 17%. If you choose HDHP, they also kick in some HSA money. The healthcare plans in the US are like gold plated compared to here — you’ve got a MOOP on each plan without any cap, and they fully cover eye correction, dental, pregnancy and birth. The only downside is you have to pay something out of your salary monthly, but it’s not much for HDHP, and you can cover your whole family.

Over here we have a 50% match on up to 6% of our salary in the form of an ESPP, we get an extra 10% SRS contribution for salary above S$6,000, and we get some flexible spending money that can spend on healthcare (tax free) or leisure (taxable) or add more insurance… but it’s the junky insurance typically offered by employers here (low 5 digit caps on how much they will pay out). If I were to get anything serious, presumably I would have to return to the US and sign up for Obamacare.
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