>> Congratulations and welcome to the forum! Below is my 2 cents.
I have just been informed that my company will be opening up a new office in Singapore and I have an opportunity to do my diligence and request a salary adjustment + ex-pat package (with the ultimate move occurring mid-year 2013 - so pretty soon).
> I did company relocations, the first time I took the offer on trust and only realised when I got there that I was being grossly underpaid (this was pre- the web being generally available). Thereafter I had HR do the calculation for me to demonstrate what cost of living I’d expect. There were tables published by one of the big HR consultancies, so you could see if you were on say $x in country A, the equivalent in country B was $y. I expect such things still exist. What you’d also get was a pre-relo visit, so you’d meet ‘your team’, and get a feel for the place, before you made your decision on the offer.
I currently make over $300,000 US Dollars per year and I anticipate that I will be able to request both a salary adjustment (base) along with a separate ex-pat package to account for the increase in the cost of living.
> Well, that should enough to keep you in beer and pizza I’d have thought.
The way it worked at my old place was they aimed to pay you enough so you could afford a similar lifestyle to that which you had ‘at home’. The trick was to make a persuasive case for why the relo represents a promotion, and based upon that get a salary hike. They would generally have a fixed sum p.a., but it was allowances where you could really ratchet things up.
I currently reside in a city in the US, but it is a fairly inexpensive city -- so after looking at condos
in District 9 at places like the Ritz and along Orchard, I'm a bit shell shocked (with the average price of a 3-4 bedroom condo
running $10-20k per month +)
> But, if I may, that is a bit like visiting NYC’s Madison Avenue, and wondering why the rents are high. You also need to consider that Singapore is like ‘The Switzerland of Asia’ due to it’s enduring stability, so it's a small place and a lot of people who want to live their together with their billions.
What I would ask you though, is why would you want to live on Orchard Road? It is noisy and packed, and dirty. Could it be that it is one place you know about and so are seeking ‘security via familiarity’. Don’t take that wrongly, I understand it, and I made what I’d now consider a mistake by living just off Orchard (D9) my first time in SG.
We have a good lifestyle here in the US and I want us to have at least an equivalent lifestyle if not better in Singapore. After all, I am uprooting my entire family to move across the world so I believe we ought to have a better lifestyle for the move. So here are my questions (I am a complete newbie to this):
1) What is the best place to live in Singapore for US families? I've heard District 9 or 10 is the best but I wanted to solicit others' opinions. Assume money is no object (but I don't think my company will be paying $20k per month for a condo.. maybe $10-15k)
> IMHO D.9/10 can be very ‘expat ghetto’. You’ll get a much more ‘real’ experience moving just a few train stops away. I don’t know where your office would be, but I’ve also come to see the value of geographic proximity making it harder to make a mental disconnection. There’s an old expression; living above the shop.
2) Alot of the condos I have seen - the nicer ones - are uber modern. Very "cold" looking. Are there particular condos which are modern but still warm? Kid friendly? Nice amenities? I'm not against a bungalow, but I'm a little wary of living in a house immediately after making the move.
> There are some things to consider. For practicality they won’t tend to use carpet in SG, usually tile or polished stone. The windows almost always have UV film on them, to stop your possessions being destroyed, but this does give a very flat/cold light. In my experience they repaint interiors frequently, but cheaply. So in most cases that means in white throughout. All in all it’s practical, but no it’s not going to make for good photos when standing empty.
3) What is the best International School
and/or montessori school in Singapore? Any recommendations?
> Can’t help re: this.
4) What is the best club or clubs for US ex-pats to join? How much does it cost?
> There is the American Club. IIRC you pay membership (or you co does) and then an annual sub on top of it. I’d seen club membership included and dealt with by HR, in expat packages.
5) How do people get around? Should I seek an allowance for a rental car or just make an allowance for cabs for me and my family?
> The public transport is pretty world class. Schools often have shuttle-buses to collect/drop-off pupils. I’ve never owned a car in SG and never missed it.
6) How much of an adjustment and ex pat package should I request? I'd rather err on the side of more than less.
> Well, how long is a piece of string? As I wrote above, get your HR to make their offer and justify how they’ve arrived at it.
Thanks all in advance. I'm sure I will have more questions...
> Fire away!