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ajthirst
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Relocation Questions

Postby ajthirst » Wed, 28 Jul 2010 6:48 pm

Hello,

Great forum,

I have recently been offered a PhD position which involves 2 years work in Singapore which I have accepted and now in the process of trying to find out as much as I can about accommodation, visas and living costs and thought it would be a good idea to get some advise from you guys!

First of all I have been in contact with my future colleagues and had a very vague contract sent to me, this outlines that I will receive:

- $2,500 per month
- One-off settling in allowance of $1000
- One-time airfare allowance of $1500
- Medical Insurance

So,

Firstly, is this realistic?

I know that accommodation is very expensive and as I am hoping to move with my partner we are looking for a 1 bedroom apartment within commutable distance to Buona Vista. How realistic is it to find at a price that we could afford?

I am sure that I receive a Training Employment Pass but unsure of how to apply for my partner and what visa she will need. She teaches english and numeracy to adults who do not have formal qualifications or people who speak very little english so could be in a good position. Im sure it would make it a lot easier if she found a job before moving so that we are not struggling for money before we have even started. Do you know which visa she would need, if it is possible to apply for 2 years and also where we could start looking for jobs?

This is a crucial point in our decision making so any advise or help would be greatly appreciated as neither of us has had to relocate before and it would make it a lot easier for us.

Thank You

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Postby beppi » Wed, 28 Jul 2010 10:17 pm

Hi Ajthirst,

Life's full of difficult, but exciting decisions. Here's something to help with yours:
1. S$2500/month is a typical starting salary for a new university graduate. They usually don't have a family and stay with their parents. Then it's enough for some savings. In your case, even if you pinch there won't be any!
2. There are no one-room apartments, in fact no apartments at all that you can afford with that salary (i.e. rent of S$1500 or below). Your options are sublet rooms (S$600-1000 depending on location and fittings) or on-campus hostels. Try for the latter!
3. Your "partner", if that means you're not married, cannot get any visa based on the fact that you are working here. A tourist visa is up to 90 days and she has very low chances of finding a job on that. Unless she has qualities that make her special in the eyes of Singapore employers or the government, she should try to find something before coming here, or stay where she is.

On the other hand, Singapore universities are good and the experience of living abroad is totally recommendable. If you are o.k. with living like a student, I'd say go for it! I started that way at NTU 14 years ago and don't regret.

Good luck,
Frank

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 28 Jul 2010 10:23 pm

Yes, it is realistic. As it's a training visa, you are basically given a stipend plus some allowance. You are here to obtain your doctorate not make a living. Therefore, it's supposed to at least let you break even. As far as your "partner" it will depend on whether it is a legal partnership or not and you should not make your plans around your partner finding a job as under the current backlash against foreigner, it may well be a long period of searching. Finding a position might not be too much of a problem, but getting MOM to accept the premise that the employer "MUST" have a foreigner instead of a local will be a little bit harder. Your prospective employer has to sponsor you partner for an employment pass. No employer, no pass (if MOM deems it).

Ass far as being a English teacher is concerned, good luck. English and Mandarin are the two main languages in Singapore so it might be a bit hard to find a suitable position.

Type Employment Agency +Singapore or Recruitment Singapore into Google. That's as good a start as any.

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Postby ajthirst » Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:09 pm

Thanks for your replies,

It is nice to hear a different side, as I have been in contact with my future colleagues who assured me that it will all be fine and there is nothing to worry about.

It is interesting about how difficult it will be to sort a visa and job for my girlfriend as they have said it would be relatively easy!! I think I'm going to have to do a lot more homework before I can really commit. The fact is both my girlfriend and I (23 and 22 years old) have never been in this situation before and although it is really exciting it also is quite daunting.

As amazing as the offer is, it seems to be very minimal to say that most PhD students I am working with at the moment have families and would not be able to live off the stipend alone. This raises the question why would this program be set up if you barely have enough to get by? If I was traveling alone I would sublet, however as my girlfriend is coming too we would much rather have somewhere a little more to ourselves. This might be a little unrealistic but hopefully we can sort something. We are planning to move late January 2011 so still have a bit of time to prepare and save some money.

I am sure it will be fine, I will be working for A*STAR and will have to express my concerns to them also.

Thanks again

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:35 pm

You can be sure, if you are going to be a A*Star, the figures have been checked out thoroughly. I know the former head of A"Star, Philip Yeo. In fact, I used to recruit for him many years ago, when he was the head of Sembawang Shipyard, prior to joining A*Star. He's now with Spring Singapore. Anyway, they have a bunch of great minds over there.

I think you might have to relook your penchant for desiring your own private living quarters. However, if you go for a rental 3 room HDB unit and not a condo, you might pick up one in the neighbourhood of 1200-1500/month, but frankly, at your ages, I would think about just renting a Master Bedroom (Attached private bathroom) for 800-1000/mo in order to save money. You will still have to sort out her visa if she cannot find a job as she will otherwise only be given 90 days and then the visa runs can get hairy. Do some research using the search function just below the Profile link on the upper right side of this page.

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 8:15 am

ajthirst wrote:It is nice to hear a different side, as I have been in contact with my future colleagues who assured me that it will all be fine and there is nothing to worry about.

It is interesting about how difficult it will be to sort a visa and job for my girlfriend as they have said it would be relatively easy!! I think I'm going to have to do a lot more homework before I can really commit. The fact is both my girlfriend and I (23 and 22 years old) have never been in this situation before and although it is really exciting it also is quite daunting.

Your future colleagues probably do not know any case with the situation similar to yours and haven't got really a good insight to the current job political situation as everything is arranged via Astar HR and likely all the employment passes are quickly and easily approved by MOM.. The emphasis is indeed on your girlfriend. If both your sponsor (AStar) and MOM will not see true relationship behind she will not get social visa (LTSVP). You have to find a way to convince them she is not just your gf but somebody much more important. Employment for her could be even more challenging issue. Just search this forum for girlfriend/gf and LTSVP topics.

As amazing as the offer is, it seems to be very minimal to say that most PhD students I am working with at the moment have families and would not be able to live off the stipend alone. This raises the question why would this program be set up if you barely have enough to get by? If I

Are they all foreign students?

was traveling alone I would sublet, however as my girlfriend is coming too we would much rather have somewhere a little more to ourselves. This might be a little unrealistic but hopefully we can sort something. We are planning to move late January 2011 so still have a bit of time to prepare and save some money.

You should be able to find something for yourself within S$800-1200 budged. Whether you will be delighted with this is a different story.



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Postby ajthirst » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 5:11 pm

Again it is good to hear a different side,

I think it is going to be a very tough couple of months trying to sort this out, I am having a telecon with my supervisor in Singapore and the head of HR in the department tomorrow so will hopefully find out more from them. My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years now and we have both worked hard to get where we are. To be honest it is not really an option to leave her behind so this could be the make or break decision wether I choose to come or not.

The majority of PhD students in the lab are from different countries (Canada, India, China, Germany etc.) and most have spouses and some children. Another option for me would be to spend a few years in industry to earn some money, however this opportunity is a once in a lifetime offer and would struggle to find anything like this again. This is also a chicken and egg situation, because of the recession there are not many jobs going in the field as many jobs require 2 years industry experience or a PhD.

I really do not know what to think anymore, this is a great opportunity as I will be working with some of the greatest minds in the field however can not see myself struggling for 2 years as the PhD will be challenging enough.

Thanks for your opinions, very much appreciated

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 6:09 pm

I don't think anybody here thinks leaving your girlfriend at home is an option :) It is just to tell you about some likely troubles so you can get prepared to face them. If you both already planned to get married perhaps this is also an acceptable solution? With plenty of time to your arrival date this would look natural and solve at least troubles for her longer stay here. Talking to the head of the HR is definitely a good idea.
I agree 2k5 is pretty stretched budget for 2 but it is doable. Why is this for two years only? The package looks like SINGA but SINGA is typically for 4 years. Maybe she can also consider doing her PhD here NIE/NUS/NTU?? Could be less difficult than getting the EP for her :)

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Postby ajthirst » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 6:28 pm

Thanks x9200,

I am undertaking a PhD attachment program where I will spend 2 years at A*STAR and 2 years at University College London. Unfortunately as my supervisor in Singapore only has 2 years left on his contract I need to go to Singapore first. Otherwise I could have stayed and saved a bit of money before coming out.

I have had a chat with my supervisor here today and he is quite sure that I he will be able to apply for more funding this side, so fingers crossed.

Haha, as much as I would like to marry her I don't think that would be the right thing to do. I would also like to do it properly rather than rush it, maybe if it works out I could propose in Singapore (hope she doesnt read this!!). We will be moving in together in September and staying until February and I know this has helped a few other couples convince MOM. A*STAR have also sent me an e-mail saying that they will be able to sponsor her but don't know what this means in terms of visas?!

Oh and also, she is a tutor, teaching english and numeracy to adults that have no formal qualifications or speak very little english to help them find work. She is also very much into her performing arts, acting, singing etc. and think she plans on pushing this in Singapore.

Thank you.

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 7:06 pm

ajthirst wrote:Thanks x9200,
I am undertaking a PhD attachment program where I will spend 2 years at A*STAR and 2 years at University College London. Unfortunately as my supervisor in Singapore only has 2 years left on his contract I need to go to Singapore first. Otherwise I could have stayed and saved a bit of money before coming out.

Ok, so this is ARAP, the pretty new scheme :)

I have had a chat with my supervisor here today and he is quite sure that I he will be able to apply for more funding this side, so fingers crossed.

Good. AStar could be pretty flexible on the Institute's level.

Haha, as much as I would like to marry her I don't think that would be the right thing to do. I would also like to do it properly rather than rush it, maybe if it works out I could propose in Singapore (hope she doesnt read this!!). We will be moving in together in September and staying until February and I know this has helped a few other couples convince MOM. A*STAR have also sent me an e-mail saying that they will be able to sponsor her but don't know what this means in terms of visas?!

Oh, for some reason I thought you would be coming in January. And I agree with you - this is not the proper way but majority of people seem have nothing against this kind of solution. You may take a look at this thread:
sutra471688.html#471688

With AStar sponsorship you may still need some additional proof of your long standing relationship to convince MOM to grant her LTSVP. These could be things like electricity or phone bills issues to both of you. Maybe AStar willing to be the sponsor will be good enough but some kind of proof or indication will definitely help.


Oh and also, she is a tutor, teaching english and numeracy to adults that have no formal qualifications or speak very little english to help them find work. She is also very much into her performing arts, acting, singing etc. and think she plans on pushing this in Singapore.
Sorry, no idea here what would be the chances. She can always consider to start some voluntary work (she has to be on LTSVP and MOM has to agree). This is good for networking and sometimes may show some additional opportunities to get a regular job.

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Re: Relocation Questions

Postby fujiwater » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 8:42 pm

ajthirst wrote:Hello,

Great forum,

I have recently been offered a PhD position which involves 2 years work in Singapore which I have accepted and now in the process of trying to find out as much as I can about accommodation, visas and living costs and thought it would be a good idea to get some advise from you guys!

First of all I have been in contact with my future colleagues and had a very vague contract sent to me, this outlines that I will receive:

- $2,500 per month
- One-off settling in allowance of $1000
- One-time airfare allowance of $1500
- Medical Insurance

So,

Firstly, is this realistic?

Thank You


Hi Ajthirst,

Are you in or around Biopolis? :-)

Your expenses will really depend on how you choose to live.

I earned around the range of $2600 as a fresh Bachelors grad out of NUS/NTU (that was the avg entry level salary at that time, now I think its closer to $3000), and that was more than enough at that time. I'm talking early 2000's here.

Rent is likely going to be your biggest cost bucket. Make sure you comfortably account for it.

I was a foreign student, so no shacking at the parents' for me. 3 of us rented a pretty sweet 3 BR condo close to Bukit Timah for about $1600 (but those days are long gone), so rent didn't work out to more than $600 per pax.

Went out every weekend, ate out practically every evening (hawkers centres on weekdays, nicer places over the weekends), movies, the occasional concert, clubbing every other weekend, trips out regionally 2 or 3 times a year - all of that was perfectly manageable in my approx $2600 salary. Of course, I look back and wonder how I did it!

Of course I didn't save more than a few hundred a month, but when you initially attain financial independence, what do you care? :)

From friends back in Singapore, I know that rents have shot up over the last 3 years (I've been out of the country since 07), but a slowly stabilizing. Other thank rent, I don't expect you to be spending much on any other items, even factoring in inflation. You can either go with an HDB or a private condo.

I understand you are here with your wife, and I assume that you wouldn't want to share an apartment with anyone else. I knew some grad students (couples) who shared a 2 BR apt with other grad students couples, for instance.

If you are at Bio/ Fusionpolis, I suggest you look up nice HDBs at Holland Village - about a 7 to 10 minute walk away, you could also look at Dover, Clementi etc. There a bunch of slightly old condos at Holland V, which are a good option.

I wouldn't recommend you go for a condo, unless they are back to the days of 3BR condos close to the center of town, or you can share a bedroom each. As far as I remember the condos near Bouna Vista (Dover Park View and Heritage View) are a total rip-off, mostly because they are populated with INSEAD students who convert everything into Euros and assume it's a lot cheaper!! This was told to me by a very good friend at Insead :D

ETA: All my costs are for 1 person, but it's not going to double for 2, because you'd be paying rent anyway.
Last edited by fujiwater on Thu, 29 Jul 2010 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Relocation Questions

Postby fujiwater » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 8:51 pm

ajthirst wrote:Hello,

Great forum,

I have recently been offered a PhD position which involves 2 years work in Singapore which I have accepted and now in the process of trying to find out as much as I can about accommodation, visas and living costs and thought it would be a good idea to get some advise from you guys!

First of all I have been in contact with my future colleagues and had a very vague contract sent to me, this outlines that I will receive:

- $2,500 per month


Thank You


If you are joining A Star as a junior research fellow, or starting on a PhD program (i.e. not a Post Doc), your salary / stipend sounds well within the range that I know people got for similar roles. Most people join such programs post-undergrad, so it's pretty much the practice.

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Postby ajthirst » Thu, 29 Jul 2010 9:12 pm

Thanks fujiwater,

Sounds like you had some good times, hopefully we will be able to do something similar!

Yes the position I have been offered is at biopolis which I understand is relatively easy to commute to. Unfortunately we are not married which would make things a lot easier but I would want to do it properly rather than get married in a rush. I will have to a lot more digging if I am going to make this work and maybe use a bit of negotiation but I am not sure how flexible the contract will be.

I have also just thought we would also need to save for our plane tickets home as the contract only gives me a one-time airfare allowance! With every post this seems to get more and more unrealistic!lol

Thanks

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Re: Relocation Questions

Postby JayCee » Fri, 30 Jul 2010 11:48 am

fujiwater wrote:
Hi Ajthirst,

Are you in or around Biopolis? :-)

Your expenses will really depend on how you choose to live.

I earned around the range of $2600 as a fresh Bachelors grad out of NUS/NTU (that was the avg entry level salary at that time, now I think its closer to $3000), and that was more than enough at that time. I'm talking early 2000's here.

Rent is likely going to be your biggest cost bucket. Make sure you comfortably account for it.

I was a foreign student, so no shacking at the parents' for me. 3 of us rented a pretty sweet 3 BR condo close to Bukit Timah for about $1600 (but those days are long gone), so rent didn't work out to more than $600 per pax.

Went out every weekend, ate out practically every evening (hawkers centres on weekdays, nicer places over the weekends), movies, the occasional concert, clubbing every other weekend, trips out regionally 2 or 3 times a year - all of that was perfectly manageable in my approx $2600 salary. Of course, I look back and wonder how I did it!

Of course I didn't save more than a few hundred a month, but when you initially attain financial independence, what do you care? :)

From friends back in Singapore, I know that rents have shot up over the last 3 years (I've been out of the country since 07), but a slowly stabilizing. Other thank rent, I don't expect you to be spending much on any other items, even factoring in inflation. You can either go with an HDB or a private condo.

I understand you are here with your wife, and I assume that you wouldn't want to share an apartment with anyone else. I knew some grad students (couples) who shared a 2 BR apt with other grad students couples, for instance.

If you are at Bio/ Fusionpolis, I suggest you look up nice HDBs at Holland Village - about a 7 to 10 minute walk away, you could also look at Dover, Clementi etc. There a bunch of slightly old condos at Holland V, which are a good option.

I wouldn't recommend you go for a condo, unless they are back to the days of 3BR condos close to the center of town, or you can share a bedroom each. As far as I remember the condos near Bouna Vista (Dover Park View and Heritage View) are a total rip-off, mostly because they are populated with INSEAD students who convert everything into Euros and assume it's a lot cheaper!! This was told to me by a very good friend at Insead :D

ETA: All my costs are for 1 person, but it's not going to double for 2, because you'd be paying rent anyway.



No offence but your information is very out of date as things have changed a LOT since 2007. Your post gives the impression to the OP that life will be fine and dandy with clubbing and trips away easily attainable on his $2500 a month.

Being realistic, it won't.

HDBs in the Holland Village/Buona Vista area are going to be upwards of 1500 a month and throwing in your bills (gas, electric, water, phone) you're going to be spending another $100 minimum so that basically leaves $900 for the rest of the month. Do the 2 of you want to go clubbing and have a few drinks once a month? Ok, say goodbye to another $200 (minimum). Food for 2 people is going to set you back another few hundred (especially if you want to go to a proper restaurant once a week) and that's basically your money gone. So unless you think taking the SBS transit bus over to JB in Malaysia for a day trip counts as a 'trip out regionally' you're not going to be taking any holidays.

If you rent a room in a place and share then you could get by ok, but if you want your own place you've got 2 hopes - Bob and no

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Postby nakatago » Fri, 30 Jul 2010 11:57 am

* A 2+1 unit in Commonwealth/Holland Area (least number of rooms you can rent): $2100
* Typical utilities payment per person per month: $30
* Average cost of food (3 meals a day) for a week per person: $150
* Average cost of a drink in a bar: $15
* The look on your face when you realize your package is not enough: priceless

But for everything else, look at the Monthly Expenses Thread

8-) :cool:


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