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Looking for Typical Expat Living Expenses for family w/kids

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FutureCEO
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Looking for Typical Expat Living Expenses for family w/kids

Post by FutureCEO » Sat, 27 Dec 2008 10:40 am

I am evaluating my Expat Contract and need a bench mark for monthly expenses incurred by a family with similar characteristics.

For reference, I am US national and have been offered a contract by my MNC to move my family (wife and 2 kids under age 11)to Singapore for 3 years as an Expat. I am a low level Exec reporting to a Division President. My boss' 2-up manager is my company's CEO.

Finally, my monthly Housing allowance is SGD 12,000 per month so I anticipate renting a 4-5,000 sq ft, 5-7 BR bungalow or semi-detached home.

Can someone help me with estimating montly expenses for the following?

Utilities (Water/Gas/Electric):
Petro for Comapny Car (20 min daily drive):
Food (for family of 4):
Garden Maintenance for Bungalow home:
Parking expense (for 2 cars):
Cable TV:
Broadband Internet:
Typical Medical Expenses (for family):
Mobile phone (1 phone):

Is it standard for Expat contracts to cover living expenses (yard maintenance, utilities, internet, cable TV, etc?

Finally, what kind of one time expenses should I expect? I am aware of the following:

Utilities (GIRO): SGD 150 for Semi-D; SGD 250 for Bungalow
TV License: SGD 110 per TV
Dirver's License (Basic Theory/Registration): SGD 11.25

Is there a connection fee for?:

Cable TV:
Landline Phone:
Mobile Phone:

Thanks in advance for your help and information.

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road.not.taken
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Re: Looking for Typical Expat Living Expenses for family w/k

Post by road.not.taken » Sat, 27 Dec 2008 6:16 pm

FutureCEO wrote:I am evaluating my Expat Contract and need a bench mark for monthly expenses incurred by a family with similar characteristics.

For reference, I am US national and have been offered a contract by my MNC to move my family (wife and 2 kids under age 11)to Singapore for 3 years as an Expat. I am a low level Exec reporting to a Division President. My boss' 2-up manager is my company's CEO.

Finally, my monthly Housing allowance is SGD 12,000 per month so I anticipate renting a 4-5,000 sq ft, 5-7 BR bungalow or semi-detached home.

Can someone help me with estimating montly expenses for the following?

Utilities (Water/Gas/Electric):
Petro for Comapny Car (20 min daily drive):
Food (for family of 4):
Garden Maintenance for Bungalow home:
Parking expense (for 2 cars):
Cable TV:
Broadband Internet:
Typical Medical Expenses (for family):
Mobile phone (1 phone):

Is it standard for Expat contracts to cover living expenses (yard maintenance, utilities, internet, cable TV, etc?

Finally, what kind of one time expenses should I expect? I am aware of the following:

Utilities (GIRO): SGD 150 for Semi-D; SGD 250 for Bungalow
TV License: SGD 110 per TV
Dirver's License (Basic Theory/Registration): SGD 11.25

Is there a connection fee for?:

Cable TV:
Landline Phone:
Mobile Phone:

Thanks in advance for your help and information.
Not sure I can give you any definitive answers here, but maybe just shed a little light. Your housing allowance is generous but, depending on where you live -- I wouldn't count on a big (7 bedroom, large garden) bungalow unless you're willing to go very far a field. Taking that into consideration, your utilities can range anywhere from $1,200 - $500. Of course if you never turn the airconditioning on it will dramatically effect your utility bill.

$100/week for gas in the car give or take.

Groceries from Cold Storage (again very hard to estimate) $500/week. There are cheaper places, there are more expensive places. If you eat a lot of beef, enjoy wine and American cereals -- look out.

Garden maintenance depends of course on the garden and can often be negotiated to be included in the rental. A small semi-D can be $100/month, a very large garden well over $1,000/month.

We have 5 cable boxes and most channels, as well as broadband and I think our cable bill is under $200 (it's on autopay and I don't pay very close attention to it).

No parking expense at home but if you drive around the CBD and park in Orchard area car parks, you'll need $50 - $100 on your ERP cash card per month.

Medical is a tough one. Neighborhood clinics are dirt cheap. A medical exam for sports at the Woodlands clinic is $15. However a blood test downtown can be $500. Generally, it is much cheaper than in the US.

You're going to need more than one mobile phone. So many deals and packages out there -- plan on spending an hour figuring it out and bring your passport and EP. Prices arer reasonable, I just signed up for a $5/month unlimited calls to the US package.

Rental contracts can include a wide variety of things (gardening, air/con maintenance/pest control are the most typical. Utilities and cable, are almost always on the tenant in a bungalow.

As far as one time expenses go, just get ready for there to be an overwhelming, unexpected amount. Moving is always expensive: trash cans, handymen, bed linens, end tables, extention cords, paint, lightbulbs, etc... You'll be at IKEA and the DIY every other day. I can't remember the last time we paid a TV license...

Yes, there is definitely a connection fee for phones, cable, etc... They are very professional and require very little lead time. Moving day usually means all these people showing up at one time or another.

Have you figured out school? That will greatly influence where you live I suspect. Don't forget to budget in the kids school commuting costs as well. Good luck!

FutureCEO
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Post by FutureCEO » Sun, 28 Dec 2008 12:59 am

Thank you Road Not Taken. Your information is very handy.

My wife and I did a "look-see" trip in Nov 2008 and found several homes as describled that met our needs. Apparently, prices have come down a bit. The tuition for international private school is covered in full by my company.

Are ther any others out there with information that can help me. The more information I have, the better prepared I will be in the negotiations with my employer.

Thanks again Road Not Taken.

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road.not.taken
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Post by road.not.taken » Sun, 28 Dec 2008 8:37 pm

Glad to help. Don't forget the budget in the cost of the bus to and from school. It's not free and most employers don't cover it.

Capex101
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Post by Capex101 » Thu, 01 Jan 2009 6:29 pm

I just arrived a week ago and I will give you what insight I can:

1. My moving allowance for moving from the US to Singapore was $90k USD, broken down as follows:

$40k - moving my stuff, temporary living, meals
$16k - furniture allowance on arrival
$35k - Misc, including moving my pets, new appliances (220V), and all the other things you have not thought about.

Of the $40k, I will only need $20k. Of the $16k, I will only need about half. Of the $35k, I will use it all. It is hard to describe how much stuff you will need to spend money on here when you arrive - so try to negotiate a very loose "misc" allowance.

2. Monthly expenses: $12k (S$) for a house is fine for what you are looking for. But consider a smaller place for the same price - for $12k you can get a massive house with room you don't need or want to cool. My "deal" gives me about $22k USD in expenses per month, $8k USD goes to rent and the balance is COL allowance, elec, cable, phone, "mobility premium", car, gas, cost to keep US house up, and misc. I will come out ahead in the deal - but not by as much as you would think. If we became more "local" and were here beyond 2 years we would need a lot less - but for a short stint your costs will be high.

3. Cost of living: As a previous post said, if you drink wine or like good beef or want US foods, bring lots of money. My wife and I can pretty well down a bottle of wine a night - at $7 no issue. That same bottle of Aussie white is $22 USD here. The US govt uses a figure of 36% increase (on disposable income) as a COL for govt expats. That is probably correct - if you don't drink!

4. Tell your wife you will not go to Ikea. Ever.

5. Bring a gas grill - or two - or three - no gas canisters.

6. Bring lots of cash to get started - at least $2k USD.

Got a bit off-topic but hope this helps.

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DIY

Post by Capex101 » Thu, 01 Jan 2009 6:39 pm

Road not taken,

Re-read your post, comments on expenses on arrival spot on. You mentioned DIY: I need a leaf blower, a ceiling fan, a good extension cord; I need a Home Depot. What is the closest thing here?

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 7:12 am

Nothing here even remotely close. Lots of small mom & pop shops so some hand only lighting & fans, other misc bits & pieces. For the hard to find there is a Hdwr store in Shaw Centre on 4th(?) floor called the Handyman Centre and there is Handi-Fix for other easier/normal purchases and are located around Singapore (chain). The links, as well as others, can be found on my links page below.

I've used both extensively, and the Handyman Centre for around 25 years now.
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

smayrhofer
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Post by smayrhofer » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 10:36 am

$500 a week for groceries. Holy crap - what do you guys eat?? ;)

Gotta say, reading this post is a quick way to make me feel seriously jealous.

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Post by smayrhofer » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 11:37 am

I'm willing to bet they can afford to buy one.

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road.not.taken
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Post by road.not.taken » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 7:59 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Nothing here even remotely close. Lots of small mom & pop shops so some hand only lighting & fans, other misc bits & pieces. For the hard to find there is a Hdwr store in Shaw Centre on 4th(?) floor called the Handyman Centre and there is Handi-Fix for other easier/normal purchases and are located around Singapore (chain). The links, as well as others, can be found on my links page below.

I've used both extensively, and the Handyman Centre for around 25 years now.
Philip at Handyman is a prince among men and has gotten me out of many a tight fix. The added bonus is that he is within walking distance. The Handyfix (?) at Marina is pretty good as well. Spoacious and full of good stuff. Handyman is the best though (where else can you buy, orange past wax, a sink stopper and a saber?) I just hope he stayes there, there has been so much turnover in the Orchard area.

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kaseyma
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Post by kaseyma » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 9:09 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Nothing here even remotely close. Lots of small mom & pop shops so some hand only lighting & fans, other misc bits & pieces. For the hard to find there is a Hdwr store in Shaw Centre on 4th(?) floor called the Handyman Centre . . . .
Agree with this.
Only place where I could find reverse cabinet hinges.
The guys behind the counter there are really helpful.

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Zeenit
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Post by Zeenit » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 9:22 pm

The most frustrating thing I found a a trailing spouce is I needed my husband to be around or go with me for anything that needed his signature( as A DP i am invisible..........Getting cable, adding me to the bank account.......the list goes on and on the first month of set up............So free time as well.

BTW, we had a good real estate guy that did as much as he could for us......but still TIME, is important.
Zeenit

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Post by cbavasi » Fri, 02 Jan 2009 9:34 pm

Zeenit wrote:The most frustrating thing I found a a trailing spouce is I needed my husband to be around or go with me for anything that needed his signature( as A DP i am invisible..........Getting cable, adding me to the bank account.......the list goes on and on the first month of set up............So free time as well.

BTW, we had a good real estate guy that did as much as he could for us......but still TIME, is important.
really? i set up house here while my husband was still finishing up in jakarta and was able to do cable, internet, phone, mobiles, tv license, maid transfer..etc. just had to provide photocopies of his work permit & passport (i literally had about 20 sets from past experience). i even did all the rental stuff without him being here - just had to initial and sign as me for him. was all pretty straightforward.

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