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Allowances and what to ask for?

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nn27
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Allowances and what to ask for?

Post by nn27 » Wed, 26 Jan 2011 4:04 am

I've done a lot of searching around here on the forums, and found some varied responses. I've had interest expressed to me to relocate, and what I am trying to figure out is what is typical to ask for. Besides my salary, I would expect to request a relocation allowance (from Canada), but what else? Medical insurance? Housing/car allowance? Flights? I imagine there is some negotiation once I tell them what I want, but I also don't want to ask for too much and scare them off. I gathered from the forums that typical relocation allowance is about $5K if you're single, $10K if you have a family. Should that include the time that you are in transition (looking for a place, staying at a serviced apt or hotel)?

As far as salary goes, should you include the AWS into your salary, or is it really a bonus (may happen, may not)?

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Wed, 26 Jan 2011 7:44 am

The problem is, there is nothing typical anymore. The 'Expat' package is going the way of the Dodo. Ten or 15 years ago it was not uncommon to get:

Housing allowance (often normalized)
Settling Allowance (lump sum help with moving costs)
Utilities
Home leaves
Yearly shipping allowances
School fees
Car allowance
Temporary accommodation while you wait for your shipment/permanent housing

Now, it's all too common to hear that just a straight salary is paid. Certainly you have an HR department that can at least provide some data points? Are you the first 'expat' they'll have? Be careful if this is the case, they tend to look at the national averages and norms here when cooking up their formulas, and not what your other countrymen are doing. When my friend moved here in '92 their housing allowance was $2000/month. They were the first expats for their US based company and the HR person thought they were being generous since the average Singaporean paid $1500 at that time. For two years they had to live out in the heartlands when all their friends had housing allowances 5 times that and could afford to be near school or downtown. The moral of the story is not to try and live better than the locals, but not take a huge step down in lifestyle when you move here. It's a delicate balance. Good luck.

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Post by QRM » Wed, 26 Jan 2011 8:43 am

Ask for everything and then trim it down during the negotiation, you can also try asking for:

Club membership
Compensation for having to sell you recently purchased car in your home country.
If you have kids would they pay for the school Q jumping fees which is $160,000 per kid now.
International medical insurance as opposed to local insurance which means you can go to any specialist around the world.
Business class flights for family.
Business class flight for you during working trips, these days the norm is economy flights for all staff on flights lasting less than 3 hours.
They cover the duty on importing of your wine collection.
Firm covers all your international tax accounting cost.
Confirmation if you do get a 13th month bonus and what is it based on.
Confirmation they have no issues if you become PR.

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Wed, 26 Jan 2011 9:23 am

I didn't want to list all that out, seems so over-the-top, but yes ~ it was certainly common back in the day and some still have all those perks.

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Post by nn27 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 3:28 am

thanks for the responses. So I guess the norm is to ASK for everything, knowing that the employer will negotiate afterwards. Club memberships and wine duties seem over the top to me, but I hadn't even considered the car situation. A valid point.

When you say back in the day - do you mean 10/20 years ago, or just before the economy went down a couple years ago? Because Singapore claims that it is bouncing back from that and experiencing a lot of growth.

Is it best to state the items that you want with their value or without? What I mean is, should I ask for "relocation allowance" and let them offer me something, or state "relocation allowance of $X"? Dealing with different cultures and how they handle offers is something that I am just barely touching on, so an insider's view would be much appreciated. thanks!

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Post by JR8 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 3:49 am

You forgot 'Home leave', annually, business class for the family.

Ah yes those were the days.

To the OP, it's a toughie. When I moved like this my co (big big MNC) had done their research and made an offer. It was really take or leave it. One time I rammed them on the salary because I know they needed me more than I needed it and I made a precise case as to why they were wrong with their numbers.

So, I'd suggest if your co routinely sends people abroad then they should have some idea what they are doing, and they'll offer you what is on the table. If they don't have that track record, then they might need to be 'coached' in what is normal. But as others have said, the full expat bells and whistles are few and far between between these days (even 15 years ago they were a dying thing, and people were being hired as 'local' rather than expat, and 'going local' as an alt to leaving)

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Post by nn27 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 3:58 am

hmmm, this is a division of a big MNC, but the difference is that I am not currently hired by them. It is an outside hire, but there has been enough interest expressed that I know that they need this in Singapore and do not have the people locally.

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Post by JR8 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 4:37 am

When I did moves like this, HR relied on global remuneration consultants. I.e. specialist in telling them what to pay.

If yours is also a MNC they should also know, ballpark. But it doesn't harm seeing how wide the lines on the court go...

Like I said though the 'fixtures and fittings' were as stated with me, it was only the salary, title and grade that was negotiable.

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Post by QRM » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 9:54 am

I know this is stating the obvious but its all a game of chess and poker face, if you come over all easy and say no problems I will swim over to Singapore, they will think you must be crap/desperate.

If you give them a long list of what you want, without being a knob ie very professional, depending on your new role, if its in sale, they will see you as an impressive negotiator and think you will be an asset to the firm.

Do your home work first, asking for pole dancing stage in your corner office might be pushing your luck but you never know.

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Post by Emilou » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 10:30 am

Ive managed quite a few international assingment around the world. the main thing is that you should not be out of pocket or reduce/increase your status for an international move. You should be able to live at the same standard of living as you did back home without being out of synch with the locals.

If it is a short term assingment - less than a year the usual would be:

Return flights at begining/end plus home leave of one return flight per 3-4 months
Shipping paid or excesses baggage allowance
Fully paid accommodation, including utilities (usually Serviced Apartment)
Medical - cigna or equivalent
your home country salary remaining the same plus a local perdiem (daily allowance) - depending on your grade this could be anything between $50-150 per day
Tax assistance, pre asingment medical, cultural orientation, Work Permit support,

If its an expat or longer term assingment - as above with exception of:

home leave every 6 months rather than 3-4
Serviced apartment for 6-8 weeks plus house hunting support and monthly allowance (could be anything between 3-8K per month depending on level or family size

If you are localised

This is a whole differnt situation - id suggest you review the current market via some local employment agencies to see what is a reasonable salary expectation for your level and experience within your industry

but you need to ensure you get:

Tax advice (home and host country)
full employment pass and residency support
one off relocation allowance (you might need to buy furniture etc)
shipping and support back home to compensate for break of contract for your house, car, phone, memberships etc

Dont forget there are also usually some kind of claw back - ie if you leave the firm within x months you have to repay the relcoation costs your company incurred - be careful with this!

Good luck

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 11:02 am

Nice post Emilou! +1
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 nn27 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 1:08 pm

both great posts, and gives me a lot to consider. Of course I want to go to Singapore, but don't want to appear as though I'll settle for less than I'm worth. Being my first time relocating, I want to make sure that I'm asking for the right things, and I think based on this feedback, I'm not over the top or out of the norm.

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Post by JR8 » Thu, 27 Jan 2011 4:13 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Nice post Emilou! +1
I was going to say the same thing.

At my MNC Home Leave was annual, but even that was hard to take...

Tax advice is a good one. My tax returns were done by D&T. When you relo abroad things get complicated. For example my first US tax return was the size of a phone directory... there is simply no way I could have prepared that on my own.

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Post by Emilou » Fri, 28 Jan 2011 9:57 am

youre all very welcome - i hate hearing the relocation horror stories!!

i relocated happy in the knowledge that something would go wrong, something would frustrate me or something would get broken/lost/delayed..

and yes, it did - but if you expect it then its easier to live with!!

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