Singapore Expats Forum

Salary vs Living Expenses

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

Botchan
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Salary vs Living Expenses

Postby Botchan » Wed, 07 Feb 2007 8:25 pm

I have come across an opportunity to relocate from the UK to SG. The job is a positive step up in terms of career progression and would give me valuable experience for the future but when converted to GB £ the salary on offer is substantially less than I am on now. This in itself is not enough to deter me as the attraction of living and working in a location like SG is quite high. My wife and I are very internationally minded and enjoy travel and experiencing other cultures. However, the question that I would like to pose to you is would an annual salary of S$70000 be sufficient to support us and our 2 year old son? we have very modest needs but at the same time do not want to move half way around the world to find ourselves on the breadline.

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Postby David91 » Thu, 08 Feb 2007 1:24 am

To give you a local yardstick, S$3,000 would be considered a good monthly salary. So the answer to your question is a very simple one. If you are prepared to integrate into the local population, you can live very well on double the good local salary with savings sufficient to pay for travel throughout the region when holidays come along. But if your expectations are to live an ex-pat lifestyle with a condo and accompanying conviviality, then you might find little left over at the end of each month. "Breadline" is in the eye of the beholder.
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Postby SouthKiwi » Sun, 18 Feb 2007 10:00 am

I have recently been looking at cost of living in Singapore (just spent 10 days there).

Whilst locals can survive on average salaries, you need to consider that a S$70k salary will result in nett take home of approx $5,400.00 per month. That’s the good news -tax is lower than UK.

Add to this rent – you’d be lucky to get something decent for less than $3k. Electricity at $300 to $500 per month, insurance, travel (assuming you don’t get a car), food etc . . . . plus all your establishment costs - you’ll be hard pushed to live relatively comfortably and have money left over to take advantage of Singapore’s location and to travel.

My advice is to do more research, go to Singapore for a week or so, live in low cost budget hotel (<$60.00 a night) and take the “holiday”

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Postby lost_canuck » Sun, 18 Feb 2007 11:00 am

70,000 won't leave you on the breadline and although condos can go for huge monies here, you could consider a HBD flat, which means there is no pool, or tennis courts, and such, and the rents are much cheaper.

Also we payed $120 for utilities last month, because we don't turn on the AC except when we go to bed, this includes gas/electricity/and water (PS you pay a fee for every toilet in the flat) so less bathrooms are better.

And I would say you could almost forget about getting a car unless you are willing to pay over the top, a cheap car here is considered to be $50,000 and then you have to get insurance/tax and a gas at more $1.30litre (approx).

My husband was offered lower that his UK salary to which he held out for more and ended with 30% raise.

If it is a UK company you should argue for more money on the fact that the local sales tax (equivalent to VAT) is set to rise to 7% (currently 5%), it will cost your company less for you to work in singapore because of lower employers taxes, and it is a bit unfair to expect you to take a pay cut and let them send you half way around the world.

Also be sure they cover a moving and medical expenses, it is very expensive here to see the doctor and they should supply accommodation for your first month, until you find somewhere to live, and give you a moving grant which helps you set up home. ie paying deposits (Utilities $500, Phone/Cable $300) and you will have to pay 2 months deposit on the flat. Plus furniture and you will probably have to cover your air con maintenance.

And of course clothes, cause it is freaking hot here compared to the UK *lol* and the clothes are cut to asian sizes, so if you are broad in build clothes are going to be hard to find.

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Postby David91 » Sun, 18 Feb 2007 3:29 pm

Hmmm. . . .

". . .you’d be lucky to get something decent for less than $3k. Electricity at $300 to $500 per month."

What is something decent? After competitive bidding, I recently let out my brother-in-law's EA which is five minute's walk from the MRT and the beach for $1400 a month. Depending on the area, you can easily pick up 4 and 5 room HDB flats for $1100+. And we spend an average of between $70-80 per month on all the utilities. I really don't know what industrial processes you would have to be operating to spend $500 on electricity alone.

"you could consider a HBD flat, which means there is no pool, or tennis courts. . ."

As I sit in my HDB flat, I have a major swimming and sports complex just round the corner with local gyms and badminton courts within easy walking distance. Why pay a fortune for a condo which, more often than not, has poor facilities, when the public facilities are usually much better?

There seems to be a certain lack of balance in the advice about the real Singapore.
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Postby Sinvan » Tue, 27 Feb 2007 12:56 pm

You are right saying "location". It might be difficult to go to your office during rush hour from opposite side of the city. Also, it depends on your life stile. HDB could be cheaper and even bigger, but overcrowded and if you go to bed earlier, noise from neighbors might be bothering.

Is it correct that during certain time of year there are more apartments available for rent and price is lower?
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 27 Feb 2007 3:21 pm

'fraid I got to agree with David on this one. I find HDB flats quite okay generally speaking. So much so I bought a resale 5 room one 7 years ago. I also have a sports complex about a five minute walk from home. I am from a northern climate but have spent 25 years here using ceiling fans and naught else. My Utility bill with 6 adults (water & power) averages around 210/mo. I don't have a car (have owned 3 here over the years) as I find it's an absolute waste of money and frankly time as well. It's only slightly faster from door to desk and about 10 to 15x more expensive, not counting the aggravation of driving here. See some of the other threads on that.

My flat is 1300 sq/ft which is considerably larger that the average condo with a 3K+ monthly rental. Oh, the noise in condo's is just as bad as HDB Flats and the residents pee in the pools just the same (the residents are not all expats by the way). Another thing, if you have a maid, your maid will not be allowed normally into the pool (don't ask) but at the local sports complexes no problem so she can actually join the kids in the pool.

Day to day costs of living in Singapore

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Postby David91 » Tue, 27 Feb 2007 6:08 pm

Sinvan wrote:

"It might be difficult to go to your office during rush hour from opposite side of the city."

Absolutely not. The total journey time on the MRT East-West is less than one hour, i.e. whichever side of the city you come from, you should never be on the MRT more than 30 minutes to get into the central areas. Similarly, the North-South MRT line is quick and efficient. During the peak times, buses run every few minutes in the dedicated bus lanes on all major routes. Public transport in Singapore is very efficient.

"HDB could be cheaper. . ."

No, it is always cheaper by the square foot.

"and even bigger,"

It is almost invariably bigger than the more modern condos. Some of the older condos are more generous (and cheaper).

"but overcrowded"


hahahah— you obviously haven't been into some of the piled-up boxes that masquerade as the new condos.

". . .and if you go to bed earlier, noise from neighbors might be bothering."

All those who live in flats can be unlucky with their neighbours.

Let us please have less ex-pat prejudice about the public facilities here in Singapore. For those who want to live in a bubble as insulated from local life as possible, there will be a premium to pay. For the rest of us prepared to integrate into the local communities, life is inexpensive and pleasurable.
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 27 Feb 2007 8:29 pm

David91 wrote:
Let us please have less ex-pat prejudice about the public facilities here in Singapore. For those who want to live in a bubble as insulated from local life as possible, there will be a premium to pay. For the rest of us prepared to integrate into the local communities, life is inexpensive and pleasurable.


Hear, Hear! I'll drink to that! :cool:

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refreshing to hear this!

Postby t1c52002 » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 12:35 pm

I must say that it is refreshing to hear all of your comments as my husband and I are contemplating a move on just my salary alone which is $65k US. From the sound of it it seems like we can live pretty okay depending on our vices. I mean for us, we want to be integrated with the locals (whether they want us is another story!) as you would think living in another country is the point of this.

Just one last confirmation - for couple no kids, $65K annual US should be fine to have a decent time over there?

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 1:19 pm

The majority of the island's inhabitants are Singaporeans. The figures from the Singapore Board of Stastics shows the average family salary in HDB flats is around $4500 SGD/mo. They seem to live okay and the numbers and types of cars in the lots indicate a pretty decent lifestyle. This translates to less than 60K sgd per year or 40K USD. (That figure of 4500/mo is household income and not per capita or per working adult).

Obviously, if you want to eat steak and drink booze like a fish all the time it won't be enough but otherwise you can live pretty darn good on around 100K/year.

With your salary you won't have any US taxes to pay (80+K/year income earned abroad exclusion) and very low taxes here - Maximum tax rate is only around 20%. For a couple on a single income like your you tax bill would be in the neighbourhood of SGD7000 for the year. There is no withholding here so while the tax has to be filed by the same 15 April deadline, you won't receive your tax bill until August-October. It will be in a single lump! So you would have to budget for this in order to not have any unnecessary shocks.

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salary vs living expenses

Postby hello_20 » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 11:58 pm

Hi t1c52002,

Cost wise, don't worry if you live outside the popular districts. Furthermore, if you choose to live in so the called public flats (HDB) you could save in your rent quite abit. That goes for where you eat too. You can get a decent meal at the so called hawker centers or food courts. Cars are very expensive here. Can believe the locals would pay so much to own a car.

The local people here are friendly. Like anywhere you live, you will find the good and the bad... I find Singapore pretty safe and friendly as compared to many of the countries I have worked and lived in.

Cheers.

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Great to hear!

Postby t1c52002 » Sat, 17 Mar 2007 12:13 am

Not sure if anyone has this reference, but is the cost of living comparable to San Francisco? We lived there very well and in a nice neighborhood and we were able to get by on $65K US total.

For us the most important part is the traveling which we want to do once a month around the region. Fortunately for us we have friends who we can crash at in each country so only cost would be airfare.

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salary vs living expenses

Postby hello_20 » Sat, 17 Mar 2007 5:37 pm

Hi there,

Don't worry the amount you have is sufficient. Everyone here have been providing you with very helpful information. You will need to decide how much you wish to set aside in your budget for rent, transport... holiday travels around the region.

I have friends who make less that what you have stated and have lived in Singapore for a while. I all depends on your lifestyle. Review your expectations and make your decision.

You can count on the expat community here. Everyone is very helpful and have most likely experience what you are going through before. Hope this info helps.

Cheers.


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