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Expat Package Proposal for US Exec

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movingtospore
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Postby movingtospore » Sat, 06 Apr 2013 2:08 pm

Definitely go visit SAS. We aren't even American and we love it. Plan to spend an hour or so there.

It is is huge, but the primary and intermediate schools are smaller. They manage the size well, and are very, very good and helping new children adjust.

There are some grades where they can be just full though. However no harm in asking.

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Postby Hannieroo » Sat, 06 Apr 2013 2:38 pm

I think this is the time of year when most schools do their contracting for next year. If you contacted a school like SAS a month ago and they had no places the story can change very quickly with a whole load of people shipping out. And the people shipping in don't 100% know their destination yet or are only at the very start of their research so you could be well ahead of the game there.

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Postby colio » Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:01 pm

ivysmom: schooling wise you may also want to consider Stamford American International School which is a great deal more central than SAS. SAIS has a brand new $60m campus & is being touted as a "super school". It has new everything & academics are very good also.. Google it & you will find some interesting news stories on it.

It's small yet growing. The younger classes have about 22 per class shared with 2 teachers, so student to teacher ratio is 1:11. My daughter started there a few weeks ago & loves it even though we are not from the US.

In regards to a few other things.. I'm unsure of the health insurance system in the US, but the system in Singapore is nothing like what we're used to back home in Australia. They hardly cover anything in Singapore so I had my company agree to covering direct medical bills up to a certain amount each year.

In regards to what to bring from home.. this was a huge focal point for us when we were relocating a couple of months ago.. most people had advised us to bring as little as possible. You've already seen the posts that most places will come standard with all the whitegoods you need, so no need to bring those. But in terms of furniture, people were saying not to bring them because it would limit our choices of properties. So we got rid of nearly everything & now we totally regret it. We moved into a spacious new condo here (4.5 BR) which came with whitegoods & nothing else. So we ended up having to buy everything. To limit our start-up costs & because we are not going to live here forever, we went the IKEA route, so everything is pretty cheapish looking & we had to buy things that we wouldn't have had to if we brought our own stuff. We miss our nice dining table, entertainment unit, beds, bedside tables, office desks, etc..

In terms of where to move to, I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to BKK. I travel there often for work & although I love it, cannot imagine living there with our young kids. I think the same applies to KL, which I also visit regularly. Singapore really is the best for families with young kids. Safe, clean, lots of things to do, easy for kids to settle in.

As for groceries, I hear this a lot from Americans.. try living in Australia.. we find most groceries cheaper here apart from some brands. But in many cases, those brands can be easily replaced by local ones that are just as good quality if not better. Things that are more expensive here than in Oz are beef, beer, liquor (we get around this by buying ours at Changi airport where it's so much cheaper than back home), Australian wine & of course, Vegemite (but I'm guessing you won't really care about that one!).

Good luck with your negotiations & relocation..

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Postby ivysmom » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 7:50 am

Thanks, Colia, with every new post I learn something. We do intend to take a look at Stamford and the location is certainly appealing since I'm thinking we'll want to live East Coast (no office there yet so my husband could set up wherever he wants to and proximity to the airport would be excellent...oh and the beach too) :D It will be interesting to compare SAIS and SAS.

That is a very interesting post about the furniture. My husband is lobbying HARD to take little and either buy inexpensive furniture or rent it (he would also be happy to leave our house furnished but unoccupied so we wouldn't even have to deal with it, but that seems a little unnecessary), but I'm not convinced. I think my kids would miss their own beds (as would I, I've heard beds in Asia are smaller) I'm not sure it would feel like home without some of our things (maybe 1/2?). Q: do you mind me asking what it cost, ballpark, to IKEA furnish your whole place? We want a 4 bedroom 2500-3500 sq ft place and that sounds like a lot of furniture to me.

That's an interesting point about the wine -- do you pick it up at the airport on business trips? I haven't looked it up, but I imagine you can probably bring a few bottles in at a time without duty (or low duty)? We are so used to great, inexpensive wine that that will certainly be an adjustment, as will not having easy access to boutiquey, craft beer (can you find a good IPA in Singapore?) I digress...thanks for the info!

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Postby Hannieroo » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:18 am

I don't know about Asian beds but Ikea are euro sized. What they call a queen, you call a full. A king is a US queen. A super king is a US king. Ikea do do a super king sized duvet but I haven't seen a sheet, a pillow or duvet cover in that size. We brought our super king but it's going to have to block the balcony window to fit in. Small price to pay for my own bed but quite a few of the places we viewed would not have fitted it in.

We did buy part for the the first time. It made life so much easier, we had the house up front so I knew exactly what to send and what to store and we were in from the first night. We've done hotels and Serviced Apartments before and whilst okay and certainly comfortable it does make you feel in transit for longer.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 11:11 am

The biggest problem with western sized beds are the lengths. The Asian condos have smallish bedrooms and the extended lengths will often mean going around the bed sideways unless you can somehow measure the bed layout in the prospective unit to see if you will actually be able to move about comfortably.

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Postby BillyB » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 11:59 am

ivysmom wrote:Thanks, Colia, with every new post I learn something. We do intend to take a look at Stamford and the location is certainly appealing since I'm thinking we'll want to live East Coast (no office there yet so my husband could set up wherever he wants to and proximity to the airport would be excellent...oh and the beach too) :D It will be interesting to compare SAIS and SAS.

That is a very interesting post about the furniture. My husband is lobbying HARD to take little and either buy inexpensive furniture or rent it (he would also be happy to leave our house furnished but unoccupied so we wouldn't even have to deal with it, but that seems a little unnecessary), but I'm not convinced. I think my kids would miss their own beds (as would I, I've heard beds in Asia are smaller) I'm not sure it would feel like home without some of our things (maybe 1/2?). Q: do you mind me asking what it cost, ballpark, to IKEA furnish your whole place? We want a 4 bedroom 2500-3500 sq ft place and that sounds like a lot of furniture to me.

That's an interesting point about the wine -- do you pick it up at the airport on business trips? I haven't looked it up, but I imagine you can probably bring a few bottles in at a time without duty (or low duty)? We are so used to great, inexpensive wine that that will certainly be an adjustment, as will not having easy access to boutiquey, craft beer (can you find a good IPA in Singapore?) I digress...thanks for the info!


You can only bring in 2 litres of wine at a time - duty free - provided you've spent at least 2 days out of the Country and aren't coming from Malaysia. I've found it pretty difficult as a frequent traveller to build up any substantial supplies, other than hard liquor, with those restrictions.

Wine also has a large mark-up here - you'll pay a minumum of S$50-70 for something like cloudy bay in a store, and in bars it can range from S$70 - 120 - enough to sober you up! (it costs 10 GBP in the UK)

Furnishing something of that size could range from 10-15k if you do it on a budget, or upwards of 50-75k if you go for more bespoke furniture.

In my experience, king size beds can vary - i believe the US have all sorts of different size king beds for example - so make sure you double check before ordering anything as i've had an issue in the past with mattress size being the wrong size for the bedframe. Get everything in writing and double and triple check and confirm everything!

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Postby offshoreoildude » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 1:06 pm

Try buying wine in bulk - much cheaper by the case. The Singapore SPE meets in a wine bar on Clarke Quay called 'Rubicon Reserve Wines' and I've bought it by the case there much cheaper than anywhere else by the bottle.
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Postby ivysmom » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:22 pm

That is good to know you can buy by the case. I should also investigate shipping wine to Singapore -- dear friends own a winery so we can get really good wine for very little, perhaps with shipping and duty it would end up being the same cost as buying the pricey stuff!

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Postby JR8 » Wed, 10 Apr 2013 12:23 am

ivysmom wrote:That is good to know you can buy by the case. I should also investigate shipping wine to Singapore -- dear friends own a winery so we can get really good wine for very little, perhaps with shipping and duty it would end up being the same cost as buying the pricey stuff!


Could maybe consider a non-profit 'SGExpat (Or IvysMom!) Wine Club' concept?

Every quarter (?) get a variety of 12 (?) cases sent over as a 'part container' load, for say a starting group of 12 people (?).

Mix them up, so each carton is 1* of 12 varieties (or 2*6). Enjoy at home, discuss here, compare, refine, re-order/repeat.

Don't know if it would be viable. Just a thought... :)

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Postby ivysmom » Wed, 10 Apr 2013 5:46 am

Creative thought, I like it! If we end up in Singapore, I'll put it on my to-do list to investigate.

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Postby colio » Wed, 10 Apr 2013 9:47 pm

ivysmom: Yes, I'd recommend bringing wine in from the US. You pay duty on wine.. works out to be about $S10 per bottle which is really cheap compared to the price you pay for quality wine here. In hindsight, I wish we brought more, we're already nearly through the small supply we brought over here & it's only been 2 months!

If you travel you can actually bring more than the 2 liters in each time, you just have to pay duty on it. But depending where you go & where you get the wine from, it can work out a lot cheaper especially on the good quality stuff. My wife will travel back to Australia every 3 months so the plan is for her to bring back some each time. I'm sure not enough, but at least something!

Yes, we were totally caught out by the bed sizing situation. We brought our mattress in from Australia as it's a very good one. We just had no idea the bed frames here were a different size! So right now our mattress hangs off the frame that came with the place!! Haha, it doesn't look great but we are making do until we make the decision to either get a custom bed made or buy another mattress locally.

In terms of furnishing a place through Ikea.. check out their online catalog .. google Ikea Singapore.. as has been said, you can go cheap/budget or you can go with the more expensive stuff, or somewhere in between.. haha, call me Captain Obvious!

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 11 Apr 2013 9:37 am

colio wrote:as has been said, you can go cheap/budget or you can go with the more expensive stuff, or somewhere in between.. haha, call me Captain Obvious!


Actually "somewhere inbetween", that's not too easy in Singapore. It goes more like this:

Cheap Cost/Really Crap Quality
Not so Cheap/Crap Quality
Not so Cheap/Slightly better than Crap <- Ikea
Really atrociously expensive/The Quality you expect from the West

Ikea furniture is really the only 'sweet spot' of value for money here. Unless you're here long term, I wouldn't bother buying any better, but that's just me.

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Postby ivysmom » Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:10 am

From everything I've read, that sounds about right zzz (though I like your characterization best :D

It wouldn't work for necessities, but I wonder for certain things if it's viable to buy furniture during our travels (in Thailand, for example) and have it shipped to Singapore. I imagine lots of people do that (or think to do that and then realize it's too expensive?)

The bottom line is it's probably easiest to bring the stuff we really need. I assume that if we found a furnished place (or negotiated with a landlord to furnish it) the furniture would be pretty grim.

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Postby Hannieroo » Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:20 am

I know a fair few people who have bought stuff in this region and shipped it to the UK or the States so to ship it to SG should be even easier. I don't think it's hugely expensive and the store you buy from can usually do it.

Although for expensive pieces I have heard some woods (maybe mangosteen?) do not do well out of their native climate. I do not know if this is true or not and I have stuff my Dad shipped from HK in the fifties that has lived in all sorts of climates with no problems.


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