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What housing options do people get with expat packages?

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poodlek
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What housing options do people get with expat packages?

Postby poodlek » Fri, 24 Jun 2011 8:45 pm

I'm just looking for a little perspective here. Our situation is we've been here a year living in a 3 bedroom condo chosen and paid for by my husband's employer. They recently have stated that they're moving us to a two bedroom unit in the same estate, to make room for more employees as my husband's "salary to living expense ratio" is too high or some other BS. That's neither here nor there, but today I got to look at the unit we're to move into and it's pretty ridiculously tiny. If it were just a matter of losing a bedroom it would be fine, but we're losing the laundry area, where I spend half my day (it seems) since my son was born, and there isn't a single closet in the whole place. Also, the master bedroom is barely big enough for the bed and the second bedroom has furniture that is fixed into the wall (!) so there is literally no space for our son's cot (never mind all the other junk an infant apparently accrues).

I had the thought that our condo is much ritzier than we need, and we could find a place more spacious for the same or lesser cost to the company. What is the best way to broach this with them? What do other companies offer their FT in terms of housing arrangements? I understand that if they just fork over a housing allowance my husband will be liable for taxes on it- is there anything else I should be wary of? What will be their most likely objection to giving us a choice of where to live?

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 24 Jun 2011 9:31 pm

The vast majority don't even have an allowance any more. Consider yourselves lucky.

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Postby poodlek » Fri, 24 Jun 2011 10:16 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:The vast majority don't even have an allowance any more. Consider yourselves lucky.


Hm. So no real negotiating power you figure? Even if we found a cheaper place?

I don't suppose we'll be suffering, but we'll be giving up a lot in terms of comfort just to live in an estate that has nice gardens and several pools that we never use. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but his job is discomfort enough! :D

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 24 Jun 2011 11:07 pm

If they are still giving an allowance, then there is always room for negotiation or compromise. It's just fine tuning it so as to not rock the employer's boat nor tip your canoe over! :wink:

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2 vs 3 bed

Postby JonOfArimathea » Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:56 pm

Correct - as someone new out here who has been spending the last 3 weeks househunting, I can see what you mean.

There is a big difference between "typical" 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom condo units. Typically:

- Kitchen facilities are a lot less (having an oven becomes a rarity).
- Less space for laundry facilities.
- Overall living + dining space is usually much smaller.
- Total square feet in going from 3 bed to 2 bed seems to go from ~1000 to 600-700.

Your best bet would be to ask the employer whether or not they would pay the same price for a different unit of your own choosing (as the proposed 2 bedder), and if so, go off hunting to see if you can find an 'atypical' 2 bed place which has a bit more space.

Otherwise I'm afraid it's welcome to the delights of a world on an inflationary warpath!

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Re: What housing options do people get with expat packages?

Postby x9200 » Wed, 29 Jun 2011 9:58 am

poodlek wrote:I had the thought that our condo is much ritzier than we need, and we could find a place more spacious for the same or lesser cost to the company. What is the best way to broach this with them? What do other companies offer their FT in terms of housing arrangements? I understand that if they just fork over a housing

The packages vary very much so nobody can give you any reasonable answer here.

allowance my husband will be liable for taxes on it- is there anything else I should be wary of? What will be their most likely objection to giving us a choice of where to live?

I see one possible problem: the company may just rent a number of apartments (long term) to accommodate people like yourselves so giving you some hard cash allowance will only increase their costs if they are not able to terminate the lease. If this is not the case I would just insist on a cash equivalent (for the 2BR flat). 10-15% of lost (tax related) is IMO worth the freedom of having a choice.

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Postby QRM » Wed, 29 Jun 2011 10:30 am

We asked for a lump sum payment, and we choose where and how we want to live. That way we are not at the mercy of the employers should we decide to move jobs or they decide they want to move us.

I thought you get taxed on housing anway.

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Postby Balnald » Fri, 15 Jul 2011 11:49 pm

Company pays for apartment enough for 3 bedroom1400 square feet only 2 of us so ok but agree they are small

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 16 Jul 2011 12:31 am

small? By what reckoning? Back home where size is no problem cause you have ample land? I have a 4 bedroom flat that only has just over 1300 sq/ft. It's a bigger flat than most 5 room flats. Of course it's 25 years old too, newer once as considerable smaller and nearer to condo sizes. condo's are normally smaller as the developer is trying to milk as many units out of the ground space as is available.

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Postby Balnald » Mon, 18 Jul 2011 9:25 pm

Sorry SMS, my first time living in a "flat" but seems kinda small, being a fatty does not help of course.......... And we seem to have a huge balcony (ground floor) which is included in the size quoted.....normal house is in perthshire Scotland (middle of nowhere) which is three times the size for tuppence hap penny, no point in selling as could buy nothing in Singapore

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Postby poodlek » Mon, 18 Jul 2011 10:52 pm

Balnald wrote:Sorry SMS, my first time living in a "flat" but seems kinda small, being a fatty does not help of course.......... :lol: :lol: And we seem to have a huge balcony (ground floor) which is included in the size quoted.....normal house is in perthshire Scotland (middle of nowhere) which is three times the size for tuppence hap penny, no point in selling as could buy nothing in Singapore


Yeah someone mentioned recently in another thread that condo developers use planters and balconies to fluff up the square footage. Pretty lame, esp considering mine is a two bedroom that's only 800sf! I've jerry-rigged some awesome laundry drying racks out on my planter, condo rules be damned! We're getting used to it, and counting down the months we have left. If we were going to stay longer I think we'd definitely have to fight harder for a bigger place, but it's not worth it at this point. Keeping in the forefront of our mind that once we leave we will have enough money to pay cash for a house and live for a year back home. Snowboarding, summer on the lake, hockey, campfires, etc. THANK YOU SINGAPORE :-)

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 18 Jul 2011 11:32 pm

Balnald wrote:Sorry SMS, my first time living in a "flat" but seems kinda small, being a fatty does not help of course.......... And we seem to have a huge balcony (ground floor) which is included in the size quoted.....normal house is in perthshire Scotland (middle of nowhere) which is three times the size for tuppence hap penny, no point in selling as could buy nothing in Singapore


I came from a nice large farm/house in Maryland and lived in old British Military housing here for the first 15 years. (nice and large/spacious as well as having 14 foot ceilings) I've been in my flat for around 14 years now and have gotten used to it (well maybe 'used to it' is a misnomer). The flat does seem larger now that it used to but that probably because I was also a fatty until 3.5 years ago when I was some 29kg heavier. :wink:

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Postby richie303 » Wed, 20 Jul 2011 12:12 pm

I wish I got my condo paid for me! I have a 1250 sqft (including massive window sills and planter etc) and it costs me in excess of $4000 pcm, that money would be very handy indeed!!

What about saying to the employer to increase your husband's wage (including a tax re balance) and find your own property you are happy with? I imagine that you would be able to find a property at the same value of the 2 bed property a little further out with much more space! and being from Perthshire your husband is more than likely accustomed to a commute!


Good luck!
Richie - East Coast Superbabe...

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Postby poodlek » Wed, 27 Jul 2011 9:47 pm

richie303 wrote:I wish I got my condo paid for me! I have a 1250 sqft (including massive window sills and planter etc) and it costs me in excess of $4000 pcm, that money would be very handy indeed!!

What about saying to the employer to increase your husband's wage (including a tax re balance) and find your own property you are happy with? I imagine that you would be able to find a property at the same value of the 2 bed property a little further out with much more space! and being from Perthshire your husband is more than likely accustomed to a commute!


Good luck!


Perthshire? I've never even heard of it... (edit to add: I see, the other poster is from Perthshire. Maybe I'll check it out one day :-) )In the end, as SMS noted we decided it would rock the boat too much to really insist on what we wanted, especially since in this time another person in my husband's department asked for the same thing, was approved for a certain amount, found an apartment and signed an LOI and was told the day of move in that his approval got nixed by a higher-up who got uppity...it's way too much to explain, but in the end the situation is we're getting the heck out of that company and Singapore in a few short months, and counting our blessings in the mean time.


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