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Making the decision of moving to Singapore

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Making the decision of moving to Singapore

Post by SwissKrista » Wed, 22 Sep 2004 4:13 am

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My husband-to-be and I have been reorganized out of our department in a software development company and have been asked to move to Singapore.

As a consequence, we both are evaluating transfering from Switzerland to Singapore and we both have received offers from HR today that we will need to study over the next few days.

We don’t really know much about standards of living in Singapore, so I would be grateful for any information you might be able to give us. I am looking for things like:

- what would be the rent of a two bedroom flat in a nice area
- what would be transportation costs (we have been told it is prohibitely expensive to own a car)
- what would be the weekly food shopping bill
- what would be the average cost of lunch and/or dinner out
- what would be the price of a pint of beer in a bar
- how’s the medical care provided by the company paid for by Autodesk
- how does pension schemas, unemployment benefits work in Singapore (if at all…)

Any hints that you think might be useful or areas that we should really watch out for are really appreciated.

I am about 3 months pregnant (which does not really help the decision either), so if there is anybody out there that has gone through pregnancy as an expat in Singapore and might have an insight into what that means, please feel free!

Thanks for all your help - it is greatly appreciated!

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Making the decision to move to Singapore

Post by Bubbles » Wed, 22 Sep 2004 7:28 am


Wow, huge questions there. But I'll try, but I'm sure lots of the others will tell you differently. I did live in Sing for eight years though.

1. Flat in a nice area, two beds.....Oh, could be anything from about 3k am month to 10k or much more. What do you need? Swim pool? Maid's room? Gym? Quiet? Centre town or country? On this site there is a link to property rental, or I'm sure someone in the bizz will contact you when they see this post from you. Nice areas are very subjective. I liked Holland, but I must admit it was because lots of other expats lived there and that's where I went after we moved there, now however, I would not automatically choose it as it sort of cuts you off from local mates a bit.
2. Transportation? What do you mean? From your home country to Sing? Or in Sing as in public transport? Taxi's are everywhere, and not sure how much surcharge is, when you get in, How much guys? Cheapish though. You are right about the cars. Three times the price of UK. Hideously expensive. MRT tube is wonderful, clean punctual, but long walk from most expat condos and it's hot hot hot weather there.
3. What do you eat? Don't let them kid you, food is expensive unless you eat only locally.....hawker centres everywhere to eat, and wonderful and clean and very very reasonably priced.
4. Again, what sort of restaurants do you like? They have everything under the sun, cheap to ridiculously pricey. A meal in a Hawker centre for two is easy to get for say ten bucks. Raffles or somewhere posh would be 100 at least.
5. a bar, at least 10 bucks, in a hawker or local centre, don't know, is it about 5 guys? All bars are expensive. Wine by the bottle is stupid price.......about 16 to 20 bucks at least.

The others I don't know, sorry. But I'm sure some of the above points will be corrected by the others, but I tried.

You'll love it though, honest. Smashing place.

SG female

Re: Making the decision of moving to Singapore

Post by SG female » Wed, 22 Sep 2004 10:09 am

Depends how'd you like to live - If you want to bunk in with the rest of us locals, you can live pretty cheaply.

1. The rental of an entire two bedroom HDB (government) flat would cost an estimated $700-800 per mth. You can meet up with a housing agent and bargain a lower cost if you'd like. They're mostly about 80sqm in size.
2. Most locals take the public bus, mrt (trains) and lrt (feeder trains). It can cost you from 60c to $4 per trip.
3. If you shop for food at the local supermarts/wet markets you can get stuff for pretty low cost. Depends on the amount you buy, but I usually get my stuff from Shop and Save, and a tray of 6 slices of bacon costs $2, a tray of 4 frozen dory fish costs $4, a can of baked beans $1, a tray of eggs used to cost $1 (now raised due to the current bird flu in Malaysia), a mega pack of chicken wings $5... etc
4. The cost of lunch and dinner depends on your budget. You could easily get a full meal of chicken rice at $2.50-$3 or go to a posh restaurant for a meal that costs from $15-50.
5. No idea how much is a pint of beer, Bubbles ought to be right about that.
6. No idea how much medical they will provide for you, but if you visit a local clinic, you should expect to pay $25 - 35 for a regular flu check (with medication).
7. Not sure for this either.


Post by Guest » Thu, 23 Sep 2004 4:23 pm

No unemployment benefits at all. So keep some money aside for the flight home!

Pension scheme for foreigners will be dealt with by the company - make sure they give you a good deal - at least same% comparison. Check the mercer website for cost of living.

Alcohol is expensive, but you wouldn't want to drink too much - the humidity will double the hangover.

As for pregnancy, Singapore has one of the best hospitals - even better than UK. However, nothing is free -you'll have to pay for checkups, the ward and even for an epidural (about $150). There is a lot of good post natal care as well - to bring you food, clean your place etc.

As for maids, you're looking at about $650 pm - which is very handy when you have a baby. Otherwise, lots of childcare centres springing up for small babies - you're looking at $1200-1500 pm


Swiss -> Singapore

Post by Danii » Fri, 24 Sep 2004 3:03 am


I wrote this in the afternoon already, but obviously the moderator deleted it because I named another expat forum.
I am Swiss, will soon move to Sing and could help you on a few things.


In the same boat..

Post by emma » Fri, 24 Sep 2004 8:48 am


Emma from Sydney, Australia here. We are sort of in a similar situation. My husband has been offered a job over there and it seems to be a pretty good package, but it's so hard to tell until you factor in the cost of living. We have a one-year-old daughter and were planning to start trying for another baby soon, so the obstetrical care over there is something we are very interested in. I have been told that it is excellent, but to make sure you are covered by the company with medical insurance.

Some people have told me you need a car to get around, especially if you have small children, otherwise you can end up a bit isolated and it gets difficult to get anywhere. Would that be true? I thought cars were really, really expensive to own there?

Also, are we kidding ourselves if we think we can get a nice 3 bedroom place for 2,500 a month? And if we don't get a car, where would be the best place to live if you were in our situation? My husband would be working at Raffles Place. I want to be able to be able to walk into town with the stroller go and meet him at lunchtime, but I also want to be near a park. I'm asking the impossible, aren't I?

And sorry, one more question. I keep hearing about these two areas: Holland and East Coast. How different are they? Can I walk into the city from Holland? (I know I can't from East Coast!)

Thanks... and sorry for just lobbing in with more questions instead of answers!


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Post by mm » Fri, 24 Sep 2004 9:07 am

Yes, cars are very expensive here - likely much more so than in your home country. However, that being said, many people own one. If you are getting a 'transportation allowance' as part of your package, then it could be enough to cover your payments or at least make them much more reasonable. We bought a used car for the main reason that we have twin babies and it is difficult, if not impossible, for me to use public transit if I am by myself with the babies. I can't hold two of them in a taxi safely, couldn't dream of getting on a bus with the two of them and a double stroller, and many of the MRT stations do not have lifts to get to the trains, so I cannot get access to them. If you shop around, you can find a good deal on a used car and the financing rates are good and you can finance for a longer period of time as well.

Now, if you just have one baby, I would think you could get around using public transit quite well and without any major inconveniences. Also, if you have a toddler who can walk and a baby you would likely be able to do OK with the public transit system - though it might be a challenge some days!

As far as the question of walking into town from Holland Village - no, you would not be able to do that - at least not to the Raffles area. (You might be able to walk to Orchard Rd., but even that would be quite a long walk.) However, there are plenty of interesting shops & cafes to walk to within Holland Village, so if you lived there without a car at least you would have places that are easy to get to during the day. The Botanic Gardens are also close to HV and you might be able to walk there depending on where exactly you lived.

As I do not live in the East Coast, I am not certain of rental rates there, but I do hear you can get good rates. I would guess that $2500 could very well get you a nice 3 bedroom place there. HV is likely a bit more expensive, but you could likely find something in that range as well. It seems to be a renter's market these days, so you should have good possibilities in many locations.

Hope my info helps - good luck with the decisions!

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Making the decision of moving to Singapore.

Post by Bubbles » Sat, 25 Sep 2004 1:01 am

Hi Emma

And thanks mm, lots of what you said I agree with.

This is to Emma.

Holland Village is a great place. Lots of shops and good Cold Storage supermarket and it is the main place in Singapore where Expats live. Ask anyone where most live and that's it. It also has good pubs, again mostly expat. You feel at home there. Lots of locals too, so a good mix. The areas to live spread around the village for about two or three miles..Holland Road, Farrer Road, Adam Road, Portsdown Road, Dover Road etc. Those are the main areas with the condo's which expats favour. Also, there is, further out, The British Club area, Swiss Club and Dutch club areas, all mostly bungalows and houses, but not strictly true. Large old fashioned beautiful Singaporean 'Black and White' houses in these areas too, but v. expensive.

OK, I will be honest here. You CAN find accomodation for $2500 but you will be pushing it. I am not sure what you will get, maybe a much smaller place, or perhaps a house. I think this will rule you out of any of the newer condos, with the pools, gyms etc. That is not to say that you could not get somewhere, but maybe not in Holland Area, well, not as much of a place as you would get further out.

East Coast is an up and coming area, but much further out. Lots of parks out there, and of course, the sea is near. However, be warned, it's not the sea as you and I know it. No waves, very warm, but not clear and sparkling like other areas. The water is very safe, controlled of bugs etc, but processed so sometimes it's a bit like swimming in opaque water. Though very clean. And for little toddlers the weather is very warm so too many times on the beach isn't such a good idea. I have to say that most expats do not spend too much time on the beach with the kids, perhaps at weekends, so unless you like the beach areas, it's not such a big attraction living near there.

It would be very very difficult to walk into Raffles from either area. Almost impossible really as the traffic is so heavy, pollution and weather very heavy sometimes, and anyway, taxis are good. The Botanic Gardens is a beautiful area, but not really for tiny kids, although they may now have a play area. To be really honest with you, parks are not somewhere you take your kids all that often as the weather is so hot. To walk from Holland Village into downtown Sing is possible, about a two or three mile walk, but again, alongside very heavily trafficked roads. Never any quiet walks between those areas. The only way you can meet hubby at lunch really is to go by taxi, especially if you're planning on getting pregnant as it would be too much and too far otherwise.

The buses, mrt's and all forms of public transport in Sing is great, cheap, clean and always on time. But, very crowded. Mostly. It is almost impossible to get a taxi at about 3.30 to 4.30 when kids out of school or if it rains, when everyone jumps into one.

Cars are ridiculously expensive, but mm is right, most companies who take you out there give you either a car deal or a no interest finance deal where you can afford to buy one. No worries about losing out with depreciation when you go to sell it also, as cars hold their value.

Pre and antinatal care is wonderful in Singapore, but be warned, it is VERY expensive and be sure that your company will cover you for this. They may not do so. Especially if you go out with just the one child, and they know this when they take you or hubby on. It's not happened to me, as hubby's company would have paid pregnancy care, but I do know of other women it has happened to. Company just refused, and said, well, why not return to homeland....and the people had not looked into the small print of contract, because yes, it was there in black and white.

There are many other options in accomodation you could follow. I would, myself if I returned, consider HDB, local housing schemes, but that is because I know Singapore so well, and I am now older and have many friends there. However, there is no way I would have when I'd gone out first, as I had little ones and I was all at sea about going, very homesick etc and I needed to be around my countrymen, and that meant living in the expat areas, going to expat clubs....etc. I know, when I look back now I could slap myself, but I still realise that I needed it then and people move on. With a tiny one and perhaps one on the way, maybe you should look carefully about where you stay.

There are links on this site to good agents. Or, why not just post a new thread asking something like, 'I have $2500, can anyone find me something in Holland or East Coast?'

My choice would definitely be Holland Village though, as I still love it there, and Wala Wala the pub is great, the hawker centres are good, and you can get anything there. Mind you.......not cheap.

Try not to be put off, I only speak as I find, after eight years stay out there, and two or three visits a year, I still feel Singaporean, even though I'm Welsh.

Can I be an honourary Singaporean you lot?

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Post by Pal » Sat, 25 Sep 2004 3:35 am

Hey Bubbs, thanks for your informative post!

To Emma:

Do give us a try, I'm sure we can find you the right home :)
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go to better future

Post by go to better future » Sat, 23 Jul 2005 11:00 am

Many Malaysians working in the Singapore regard the meritocracy and equality is on ideal level.

There are also those who experienced discrimination due to difference on nationality and race. Overall, Singapore has better image than our country.

Brain drain is inevitable when we have unequal or unfair treatment of a group of people regarded as different from the ruling group. It is tantamount to banishing them to second-class citizen, except that it was at acceptable level.

This preferential treatment inadvertently segregated the citizens although it started with noble notion of creating equality in terms of economic parity. Unfortunately, this system has since been abused.

When the mistreated felt that they "do not belong" to the country, loyalty becomes secondary importance.

There are also many factors contributing to brain drain not only unbalanced policy. As the standard of living in Malaysia is rising but our economic income is stagnant, this has forced many to venture overseas to find money.

There are also many who studied abroad refuse to return home as the condition of better job prospects, better life in foreign countries and earning power is more appealing than here.

On the first step to rectify this discrepancy is to eradicate corruption and the abused NEP. I believe the effect would be great.

The NEP has nurtured malay businessmen under the government umbrella - very different from the law of the forest that prevails in the actual business world. This has made them less viable in times of harsh economic conditions. Except for a few, the NEP has failed to cultivate malay businessmen in the acquisition of responsibilities, business skills and attitudes.

If the NEP fails or have not achieve its objectives after more than 20 years, it is not the people fault but the government.

Look at how only some have always benefited. Seems like there may be some who will hide behind the reasons of NEP to grow even wealthier while the real target people of NEP existence remains more-or-less status quo.

Summary: Affimative action is a negative sum in the end. In the end everyone loses.

There is nothing equal in Singapore but rather a carefully projected image of a decent society where harmony and equality are abundant to be seen everywhere.

Opinions are good but too much negative will only consume you. From now, lets change our attitude of whining but instead voice out a solution of your own.

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Post by Ahmed_europe » Sun, 24 Jul 2005 3:45 am

If I come to Singapore, what is the best way to get an appartment for me? Around 50-60 square meters, much would it cost a rental per month?

And when yiou write $, is that US dollar or Singaporean?

I am coming to Singapore on 2nd September and will stay til 18th of September. I am coming to get information before I come second time to settle down...I want to check first would mean to me a lot to get contacts and to talk some people who went through that before me.

I would be very grateful if someone from you would take a 30 mintes to meet me during that period in Singapore and to talk to me.

Thanks and wish you only the best...

Ahmed, Slovenia
I need help to settle down in Singapore

best advice

Post by best advice » Mon, 25 Jul 2005 11:25 am

Get your company to pay for a Serviced Apartment for the first 2 to 3 weeks while you look for a long term apartment.

Don't sign on the dotted lines till you've looked around a bit and decided on the most convenient area within your budget.

Best to get a place within 10 minutes walking distance to an MRT station if you're not getting a car.


Post by location » Mon, 25 Jul 2005 11:36 am

On the East-bound line

Astoria Park condominium, right next to the Kembangan MRT station

On the West-bound line

Queen's condominium, close to the Queenstown MRT station

May be others around . . .


Post by Guest » Tue, 26 Jul 2005 1:02 am

Do in these areas a lot of foreigners live?

Does anybody know how much does it cost an appartment of size around 60 square metters (equipped one)? There is no need to be precise...its just around....I dont that 500 SG dollars per month or is it 1.000...or is 2.000 etc.?

And when they offere appartments, do they usualy offer empty one or with furniture? Here in Europe no rules about that....some rent it with furniture, some without furniture...depends on....


Post by lotsa » Tue, 26 Jul 2005 9:40 am

foreigners living in condos throughout this island.

Most people prefer to live close to where they work so as to save on travelling time and cost.

Yes, you can rent partially or fully furnished or even without any furniture. It's your choice. Price vary accordingly to amount of furniture provided.

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