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Advice wanted for a first-time mover (UK to Singapore)

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London24
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Advice wanted for a first-time mover (UK to Singapore)

Post by London24 » Mon, 14 Jan 2008 11:13 pm

Hi there,

This is my first post to the forums, and have very much enjoyed reading everyone's input into various topics about relocation. I'm in a situation at the moment when I have a chance to move to Singapore this summer (through a different company than the one I currently work for) and just wanted to ask a few questions to people who have been through this before, to get some advice to make it all as smooth as possible! I'm planning on moving in July/August this year, and am currently in talks with an agency, with interviews and a short visit hopefully taking place in April (when I'm also planning to meet with a couple of estate agents etc, I hope!)

1. My current salary in UK GBP is circa £24,000 plus benefits, and I'm expecting that my new role will be similar, probably with a small increase. In the UK this allows me to rent my own, small flat, which is relatively modern. Will I be able to afford something of a similar standard in Singapore? I'm not in need of swimming pools, porters, etc. It would just need to be clean, and 1-bedroom (2 bedroom if I can stretch)

2. Relating to the above, what kind of areas in Singapore are likely to be in my price range? I realise my salary, being at the lower end, is likely to limit myself to only a handful of areas, so it'd be helpful when searching for somewhere...

3. As difficult as it is to say, I was wondering what the general costs of living would be like compared to the UK. I live a fair distance out of the centre of London at the moment, so commuting in, and travelling in general costs me a lot (6-7 GBP for a days unlimited travel). Food-wise, I don't eat out much, and I don't smoke or drive (Do not own a car and have no plans to own one abroad!)

Any advice you could give on the points above would be greatly appreciated. It's more to see whether I have a totally unrealistic idea of how much it is going to cost out there, and whether I am setting myself up for a failure! I am going to try and save up some money to help me get started once I'm there, as I settle into things.

As an aside, what is the most economical way of flying to Singapore? Are there any cheaper airlines that leave from London?

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts,

T.

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Post by ukdesigner » Mon, 14 Jan 2008 11:50 pm

first of all congrats on your first post!

in answer to your questions:

1. You might struggle to get a condo unless you don't mind sharing or unless you don't mind living further out. HDB's - which most singaporeans live in, are cheaper but it all comes down to location, location, location. I based my choice on where my office was and tried to get the straightest line on the mrt. Depending on distance will determine time to get in in the mornings etc etc. I also think you might struggle finding a 1 bed. Most here are a minimum 2 bed (I might be wrong but sms wll have a better idea on that one) or even 3 bed. They tend to work things differently here. Basically they work it on rooms which includes the lounge and I think kitchen (is that right?). You could spend about $3000 (approx £1000) on a condo on your own further out. It all depends on what you want. You do have to factor in several other things like air con maintenance and travel but they're not overly expensive here, certainly way less than the £6-7 a day you are currently spending.

2. Again this'll depend on where your office is. There'd be no pint living in east coast if your office is all the way in the west. Although Singapore isn't massive it'll still take quite a while.

3. Cost of living really depends on you. You can easily live on that salary here and still enjoy going out and having a few drinks and dinners, although maybe not to the posh places. Alcohol is pretty much on a par with London so there's no real saving there. Wine is far more expensive than in the UK.

I moved here last year and would certainly recommend it. I didn't move from London but the cost of living here is far cheaper than the UK and the low taxes certainly help.

Regards flying you can fly with quite a few. Emirates, BA, Sing Airlines etc etc. I'd personally take a direct flight but that's just me. You just have to keep an eye on who's got the best deal. You need to decide whether sitting in an airport for 4 hours is worth paying £50 or £100 less.

Hope that helps you some.
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Post by London24 » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 12:40 am

Hi there,

Thanks for your input, its much appreciated!

I would rather my own place than sharing, at least in the first year - but that said, I don't mind living a fair distance out, as I already do that in London and actually quite like the distance between where I want to "rest" and where I want to go out, etc. But am I right in thinking I would be looking for some type of condo (in terms of property type?) I'm presuming the other main types are the "serviced apartment" type, which will be well out of my league!

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Post by durain » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 12:50 am

having a place on your own would probably cost about S$2000/month at the lower end of the market. tenancy contracts are usually 1 or 2 years. Service Apartment would cost you a bomb so you can cancel that out!

since you got a lot of time before starting in singapore, maybe it is a good idea to goto singapore to scout out the place. nothing beats first hand in experiencing singapore.

for cheapo airfare, you just have to plow the internet. checkout www.ebookers.com, www.lastminute.com, www.expedia.co.uk, etc.

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Post by ukdesigner » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 12:56 am

A condo is basically a flat with a swimming pool and in some cases a gym and a tennis court.

An HDB is a housing development board property. These are far more affordable but come without the pool, gym etc etc.

Most expats live in condos but the trend is changing somewhat now as condo prices are climbing quite drastically. HDB's are both clean and affordable and are well serviced by either bus routes or MRT's. Hawker centres are always close by as are small shops.

Some people apply a stigma to HDB's but to be honest I don't see it. As long as the place is clean and the location is where you want it to be then it should be fine.

There is one advantage to sharing. You do get to meet people straight away. It'll stop you from feeling either lonely or even out of your depth. I share and have found it much easier than I initially anticipated. I am used to living on my own but have found that not only do they help you adjust but makes you feel settled in. That's my tuppence anyway! :) :)
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Post by ksl » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 2:41 am

Some people apply a stigma to HDB's but to be honest I don't see it. As long as the place is clean and the location is where you want it to be then it should be fine.
Many expats cannot see the daylight for the for the trees, they have to be like the majority..its was like that back in the late 60's too, even the soldiers didn't know how to mix, at that time, although one of ours spoke fluent Malay, because his father was a diplomat in Malaya and Katmandu.

I personally would advise you to mix with locals, if you really want to learn about Singapore, like I do myself. In fact that's were the real cultural experience is found.

I really don't understand the isolation of expats, and why they should feel lonely, unless, its their first time away from mummy, true many do have difficulty, to become independant, if they manage it at all.
There is one advantage to sharing. You do get to meet people straight away. It'll stop you from feeling either lonely or even out of your depth. I share and have found it much easier than I initially anticipated. I am used to living on my own but have found that not only do they help you adjust but makes you feel settled in.
That's funny my neighbours who are Chinese, and the rest in the block are segregated from their own races in accordance with HDB policy, but I find them all okay...my neighbours are great...when I moved in I did the rounds, with one of the neighbours to meet everyone!

There are many Brits and Irish living in Singapore, in the local areas, so you would never have a problem, with anything.

In fact, those poki hen huts they build in the UK are the same as the condos here, so you may feel like home :P , I escaped from the prison environment back in the 80's, never to go back, into a cage, thank you very much...I have around 148 sq meter, which suits me just fine, buying it was the right, way to go! Even though it is on a 99 year lease!


So you would never get me in a condo, for that kind of money....I went to visit a Singaporean in River valley, and I was shocked how small, it was for the money he paid....No thanks HDB are a very good size, and worth every penny...and there are 50 meter swimming pools at the sports centre anyway..

For your allowance, you would have no problem in the HDB area, you can get a 3 bedroom for 1800$, although prices are moving up in the HDB too.

It is a much cheaper way of living than the expatriate way of life, in many ways, if your not on a package, that's how you must live! No hardship for me, quite the opposite, and the extra cash is working!

SMS you should be able to rent at a premium by now, and retire :lol:

OP, seems like 24K for London is pretty damn sick too, Although I've heard that the majority are supplemented, with welfare :lol: What a state of affairs that government is in!

Now they have lost so many data discs, even i worry, and i've been away for almost 40 years! You will love it here, with all the blood sweat and tears, working hrs for some!

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Post by durain » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 3:47 am

let's put it this way about condo vs HDB comparing or equivalent to the UK...

condo - private apartments. you get a caretaker, security guard, swimming pool, gym, etc.

HDB - council flat. but they are not for freeloader like in the UK. HDB are clean and safe, and dont even think about doing your pee in the lift as it will detect it! you can even get HDB that has 2 floors in a high rise block.

i think most expat live in condo because they can afford it or the company is paying for it.

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Post by London24 » Tue, 15 Jan 2008 4:58 pm

Thanks for the advice guys - has made it a lot clearer when I look for properties on the internet. I'm probably going to try and go down the HDP route, from the sounds of things.

In terms of a scouting visit, I'm going to try and stay for a fortnight when I head over for interviews (2 months time) so that I can firm up some potential areas to live in, and get a feel for the place.

Thanks also for the PM, KSL - I can't reply at the moment as I haven't made enough posts to allow the feature, but when I can, I will!

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 16 Jan 2008 1:04 pm

ksl,

Yeah, I reckon I could probably get 2.5K for my 5 room (4 bedrooms). That's double my mortgage payment! Only got about 72K left on the mortgage anyway or about 5 years give or take. Thinking about keeping it after we move back stateside but a lot will depend on the property values. I'm already up over 100K in the current boom. It's been free lodging as I'll get it all back including my interest at this rate plus some.

London24,

I've been in my own HDB flat since 1999. There are several caucasians here now although I was the first in our estate. We have, as ksl said, a community pool only a 15 minute walk away. We also have, at the same pool a track as well. I have ample bus services and am only 15 minutes away from the North-East MRT or the North South MRT. Excellent transport links. While I'm way out in Serangoon North I can be in Dhoby Ghaut in 25 minutes using a bus & mrt.

I have no regrets about living in an HDB. It's no worse than a condo - truth be known. You are in Singapore and it doesn't matter if you live in HDB and swim in the community pool or condo pool. There are those that will pee in both of 'em! I'm a farmboy who hates cities anyway so what to do....... :?

If you've have the company paying for your housing, fine, get the best you can get out of 'em. If they give you an allowance and let you live where you like, unless you just like to burn money, HDB is the way to go. If you have to pay your own housing, HDB is the way to go. Course, if you are one of the types that likes to wear the tags on your clothes on the outside then condo is the way to go. :D

durain,

You sure use the term security guard loosely....... They are usually more interested in domestic workers found here or sleeping :P
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 London24 » Mon, 21 Jan 2008 5:53 pm

Thanks a lot to you all for your responses and helpful advice, its good to know there's a decent resource like this to ask questions that tend to get "sugar-coated" by employers and estate agents, etc!

Looks like the HDP is the best option for me - I'm not fussed about a long commute, its the quality of life I'm going for over being around the corner from my office!

I'm definately going to head out in March/April to have a scout around for potential areas to live in, and try and view a few things so that I can see what I can get for my money.

No doubt I'll have some questions nearer the time!

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