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Housing allowance...is this reasonable

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morphic
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Housing allowance...is this reasonable

Post by morphic » Fri, 12 May 2006 1:23 am

I am on the verge of agreeing to transfer to Singapore for the bank I work for. The "package" includes a housing allowance of S$4500. I was wondering if that would be enough for a good, fully furnished apartment in a good area, with 2 bedrooms. According to a real estate agent I called, this housing allowance is quite low. And looking at the S$6000+ for 2-bed condo's in the "prestige" section of this site's property board, I can see what he meant. So I was wobdering if anyone had an opinion on this? Thanks.

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Mary Hatch Bailey
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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 7:10 am

It would help to know:

Are you single?

Is there a geographic location you need to be close to?

Will you need to be doing any 'entertaining' at your flat?

The range in Singapore is huge. S$4,500 can in no way be considered 'low', but if you had 3 or 4 kids I'd say go back and ask for more...

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Vaucluse
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Post by Vaucluse » Fri, 12 May 2006 8:06 am

Wait until Eric hears about this one . . .

I'd disagree, Mary. I think it is a generous amount - a housing allowance is supposed tom be an aloowance, not complete funding.

For a two-bedroom flat the choice is yours, really, as this city is very small and if you live 2 km further from the city centre and pay $1000 less . . . No biggie.

But then, might as well ask for more, though it's not necessary.
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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 8:36 am

Vaucluse wrote:Wait until Eric hears about this one . . .

I'd disagree, Mary. I think it is a generous amount - a housing allowance is supposed tom be an aloowance, not complete funding.

For a two-bedroom flat the choice is yours, really, as this city is very small and if you live 2 km further from the city centre and pay $1000 less . . . No biggie.

But then, might as well ask for more, though it's not necessary.
Yes we must all suffer the Dutch Diatribe! :)

I guess if they are looking for a 2 bedroom, they must be single, but I think it begs the question as your housing allowance should be adjusted accordingly. And since when did it become expected to come out of pocket for housing?.

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Post by Jmarie » Fri, 12 May 2006 10:52 am

Yeah, if he's looking for a 2 bedrms apt. then i don't think he will fit 2 or five kids in there mary, i guess that he or they don't have any kid/s.
Anyway, S$4500 is enough to get a nice apt here of cause like mary said it also depend on where u prefer to stay. for example in east coast the rent is much cheaper than city area. i pay S$3000 for a penhouse of 3 bedrms + big balcony.
and another thing never tell a real state agent ur exact housing butget, always tell them less :wink:

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Post by Vaucluse » Fri, 12 May 2006 12:08 pm

Mary Hatch Bailey wrote:
Vaucluse wrote:Wait until Eric hears about this one . . .

I'd disagree, Mary. I think it is a generous amount - a housing allowance is supposed tom be an aloowance, not complete funding.

For a two-bedroom flat the choice is yours, really, as this city is very small and if you live 2 km further from the city centre and pay $1000 less . . . No biggie.

But then, might as well ask for more, though it's not necessary.
Yes we must all suffer the Dutch Diatribe! :)

I guess if they are looking for a 2 bedroom, they must be single, but I think it begs the question as your housing allowance should be adjusted accordingly. And since when did it become expected to come out of pocket for housing?.


Ah, you see - diplomats only get an allowance, a percentage of the rent - generous, but a percentage.
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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 2:54 pm

Eric from the Netherlands wrote:I agree with vaucluse, housing allowance is an allowance, doesnot perse mean it covers all (It can though).

Back to OP's question, you won't get an appartment on the premises of Istana for that amount of money, but 4.5K can easily give you a good quality 2 bedroom condo in prime area if that is what you are looking for.

Try another real estate agent, this one clearly was only interested in his fee to be as much as possible.

There's zillions of agents here, so just try an few and do some viewings when here.

You could first stay in a serviced appartment for a few weeks or a month and do your viewing here.

Where is your work location? Will you drive yourself or will you not get a car? How long do you want to travel maximum?

We / I could give you options if we know a bit more on this.

Eric
Here's what I know. When we moved out here with a big American company all those years ago we were give a certain amount of $$ to apply to rent. Our housing allowance. Mr. Bailey's pay was docked for the amount it would cost for similar space in the States. At that time the rent in Singapore was 3 X what our equalization number was. I'm not exaggerating. If we found a place cheaper, we could split the savings with the company, but there was a limitation: they wanted their families in a certain level of housing. Same thing for home leave. The ticket was for business class, you could not trade it in and keep the rest (although some companies will allow this). They wanted their families in business class, end of story.

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Post by Cheekybeek » Fri, 12 May 2006 2:57 pm

I wish someone wanted me in business class.

We have no housing allowance, I'm sure there are other expats who don't either.

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 3:07 pm

Yes, yes I know. Vaucluse was the one that said it wasn't supposed to be complete funding -- when in fact that is not the case. We can not generalise here, I just presented another side of the story. It varies from company to compnay, employee to employee.

Eric, you are right, all shapes and sizes -- but I said and believe S$4,500 is enough if the assumption is correct and we are talking about a single person. I'm on the record.

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Post by dot dot dot » Fri, 12 May 2006 4:03 pm

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Last edited by dot dot dot on Thu, 18 May 2006 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 4:27 pm

Eric from the Netherlands wrote:OP said 2 bedroom in a good area, which I find hard to judge. So I am hoping ot hear what area he / she prefers and other criteria like old or new, big size or small size, highrise or not, full facilities or not, large complex or a small development etc etc.

I know beautiful places in east coast for less than 2000, but also beautiful places in Orchard for 10000. Both are good areas.

Eric
Don't forget the 'fully furnished' part of the original post. Sounds like they are here very short term. This really limits the selection but $4,500 is more than enough either way. I think they need a new agent and I think we would need a lot more information before we could supply any real advice.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 12 May 2006 4:49 pm

Mary Hatch Bailey wrote:Here's what I know. When we moved out here with a big American company all those years ago we were give a certain amount of $$ to apply to rent. Our housing allowance. Mr. Bailey's pay was docked for the amount it would cost for similar space in the States. At that time the rent in Singapore was 3 X what our equalization number was. I'm not exaggerating. If we found a place cheaper, we could split the savings with the company, but there was a limitation: they wanted their families in a certain level of housing. Same thing for home leave. The ticket was for business class, you could not trade it in and keep the rest (although some companies will allow this). They wanted their families in business class, end of story.
Let's see where that would put you. You've been on this board near to 2 years now, give or take 6 months. At that time it was BH10Y which would have put you here around '93 which was the heydays of Expat BIG packages prior to the Financial Meltdown of '97. As I understand from your posts, S/O is now on his own. I wonder if that "big American Company" is still giving out those kind of packages or have they, like most other "BIG MNC's" been trimmed down to more realistic amounts?

I am not doubting you for a moment as I've watched things change over the past 2+ decades too and fro several times. including the mass exodus during the '84 crunch when 60K oilfield related expats left for other parts of this region. How relevant are the figures today? I know for a fact that most engineers (at a minimum of 7-10K usd salary base) are only getting between 1500-3500 sgd today as a housing allowance.

Yeah, there used to be that thing of putting on the ritz as it's known where this was supposed to impress the locals. But in today's day & age I don't think it's such a big deal anymore. Just my thoughts........
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Fri, 12 May 2006 5:42 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
Mary Hatch Bailey wrote:Here's what I know. When we moved out here with a big American company all those years ago we were give a certain amount of $$ to apply to rent. Our housing allowance. Mr. Bailey's pay was docked for the amount it would cost for similar space in the States. At that time the rent in Singapore was 3 X what our equalization number was. I'm not exaggerating. If we found a place cheaper, we could split the savings with the company, but there was a limitation: they wanted their families in a certain level of housing. Same thing for home leave. The ticket was for business class, you could not trade it in and keep the rest (although some companies will allow this). They wanted their families in business class, end of story.
Let's see where that would put you. You've been on this board near to 2 years now, give or take 6 months. At that time it was BH10Y which would have put you here around '93 which was the heydays of Expat BIG packages prior to the Financial Meltdown of '97. As I understand from your posts, S/O is now on his own. I wonder if that "big American Company" is still giving out those kind of packages or have they, like most other "BIG MNC's" been trimmed down to more realistic amounts?

I am not doubting you for a moment as I've watched things change over the past 2+ decades too and fro several times. including the mass exodus during the '84 crunch when 60K oilfield related expats left for other parts of this region. How relevant are the figures today? I know for a fact that most engineers (at a minimum of 7-10K usd salary base) are only getting between 1500-3500 sgd today as a housing allowance.

Yeah, there used to be that thing of putting on the ritz as it's known where this was supposed to impress the locals. But in today's day & age I don't think it's such a big deal anymore. Just my thoughts........
It wasn't all about impressing locals. It was about making a family comfortable so that the contract would be finished sucessfully. So that the employee could do the job he/she was hired for well and without a lot of whinging at home. It also showed a level of commitment to parallel or competing companies in the region.

Are they still doling out the big packages? I doubt it, but when we moved here in '94 (so close SMS!) Singapore was still, technically speaking considered a 3rd world country. I believe that changed in 1997, but I could be wrong. I know it seems crazy when compared to other, 'real' third world countries -- but there it was. It all plays into the compensation package, the hard ship factor, etc... We were actually on the downside of the tippity top of the expat pyramid -- in otherwords, someone we know was unofficially sent to London before we moved, and as far as I know -- they've been trimming the fat ever since.

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Housing allowance

Post by morphic » Fri, 12 May 2006 6:14 pm

Thanks for all the responses. Very useful.

I will be here with my wife, so there will be two of us. And the assignment is expected to be atleast two years, the f/f thing was that i don't want to buy furniture and then leave it behind in the event that i do only stay two years. If 10 years that wouldn't matter, but it would be a waste for just 2/3.

We are hoping for a small number of big rooms rather than a large number of small rooms, 1300+ sqft, big balcony, leafy etc. New or old doesn't matter. And a 20-30 minute commute (walking plus train) would be fine; won't be buying a car. I will be working close to the Ritz Carlton Hotel....a few mins from the Esplanade.

Especially hoping for good insulation from neighbour noise. What worries me about places with wooden or marble flooring is that noise from above could get annoying, so hoping for a top floor.

I geuss I was hoping for a better allowance/package, but my employer seems to have a like it or lump it attitude, their packages are standard, or so they say.

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Post by dot dot dot » Fri, 12 May 2006 6:47 pm

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Last edited by dot dot dot on Thu, 18 May 2006 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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