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Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

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beebu68
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Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

Postby beebu68 » Tue, 25 Jun 2013 4:19 pm

My hubby just accepted a job transfer to SG last week. He will be visiting SG for a few days in July and the entire family will move in Aug. We have two children, age 2 & 5. His company will not provide school or housing allowance, so everything is on us and seems to add up quick!

Since we only have 6-8 weeks before the move, look for a place to live and school, I'm a little overwhelmed. Are we better off finding a temp Service Apartment/housing until we settle then look for school and move near the school, or are we better off bitting the bullet and just pick a more centrally located neighborhood for a one year lease and move in a year if needed?

I heard commute is crazy during rush hours. I'm not too fond of the idea of busing my child for 45min to an hour each way to school. Ideally I'd like to live walking distance to the school (not sure which yet), but that'll mean hubby will have a long commute.

As for schools, I'm looking for a school that's nurtures creativity, critical thinking, social skills, love for learning (not learn to memorize), and genuinely care for the students. Parent involvement would be a plus. My son will turn six in 2014, so I'm assuming he'll be entering k2? What's a good option for a 2 yo (3 in 2014)?

Any advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Re: Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

Postby zzm9980 » Tue, 25 Jun 2013 4:38 pm

>His company will not provide school or housing allowance, so everything is > >on us and seems to add up quick!

I sure hope he's making at least $240k/year SGD for even a remotely comparable lifestyle to what you have now. Where in the US are you from?


>>Are we better off finding a temp Service Apartment/housing until we settle >then look for school and move near the school, or are we better off bitting >the bullet and just pick a more centrally located neighborhood for a one year >lease and move in a year if needed?

Find a Service Apartment for one month. Don't rent anything sight-unseen. If this is on your own dime also, there are cheap-ish Service Apartments in the vicinity of Paya Lebar MRT. The address will be on Geylang Lorong 40, 42, maybe 44. This is important: You don't want a Service Apartment on a Geylang Lorong in the mid 30s or lower in value. The costs will be lower, but they're often really hourly motels with working girls nearby. Where I pointed you to is decent though, and should be maybe $3k a month.

After that, are you going to enroll in the public school system or private school system? This goes back to the husband's pay. If a private school, then get a place convenient near the school. Note that private schools run on average $3k/month.

There are whole forums dedicated to public schools. As a foreigner, you may not know where your kid will be assigned. I'd just rent a place centrally for a year and then spend a lot of time figuring out how the system works and where your kid will be placed. You'll be able to make a better decision then.


>I heard commute is crazy during rush hours. I'm not too fond of the idea of > busing my child for 45min to an hour each way to school.

It's crowded, but busses and trains are efficient. 45 mins gets you from most of the island into the CBD. Where is his office?


> As for schools, I'm looking for a school that's nurtures ....

Sounds like you're leaning towards private. Again, what's your budget for all of this? I hope you've thought that through, because I'm a bit surprised a company would pay a sufficient salary to cover the life style you're looking for, but not give housing and/or school allowances.

Just guessing and throwing out numbers since I don't really know what type of lifestyle you'd expect, but I would say you're looking at least $4k/month rent for an average 3bedroom condo you'd like, and then at least $3k/month for school for the first kid. Theres some kind of discount in most private schools for the second kid, but that's a few years away and let's just say it's $2k/month. You're now at $9k/month before any other expenses. At that salary level, you'll be paying at least 6-7% to Singapore, and income above that level will be over the US earned income exclusion, so you'll be making quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS in the 25-30% range.




beebu68 wrote:My hubby just accepted a job transfer to SG last week. He will be visiting SG for a few days in July and the entire family will move in Aug. We have two children, age 2 & 5. His company will not provide school or housing allowance, so everything is on us and seems to add up quick!

Since we only have 6-8 weeks before the move, look for a place to live and school, I'm a little overwhelmed. Are we better off finding a temp Service Apartment/housing until we settle then look for school and move near the school, or are we better off bitting the bullet and just pick a more centrally located neighborhood for a one year lease and move in a year if needed?

I heard commute is crazy during rush hours. I'm not too fond of the idea of busing my child for 45min to an hour each way to school. Ideally I'd like to live walking distance to the school (not sure which yet), but that'll mean hubby will have a long commute.

As for schools, I'm looking for a school that's nurtures creativity, critical thinking, social skills, love for learning (not learn to memorize), and genuinely care for the students. Parent involvement would be a plus. My son will turn six in 2014, so I'm assuming he'll be entering k2? What's a good option for a 2 yo (3 in 2014)?

Any advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Postby beebu68 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 2:58 am

Thanks for all the helpful info! Hubby will be working near Ruffles. The schools that were recommended to us are SAS and UWC. I'm not sure if they have a spot for my older child in either of those school. Hubby will be contacting them today or tomorrow for more detail. If those schools are full, which schools are good alternative?

Hubby also mentioned that we will only bring the essentials over since we don't have repo assistance. What are the must haves that we need to bring vs buying new at SG?

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Postby Dert42 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 3:18 am

Hi!

I have an almost identical situation to yours, but I'm farther along.
Take all I have to say knowing I actually haven't done most of it, but this is what my experiences and research have turned up.

My wife and I have a 5.5 year old and a 1.5 year old.
We move in 15 days.

My company paid to send my wife and I over to interview schools and find an apartment. They also paid to fly all 4 of us over (business class omg yes), Movers to send all of our stuff over in a seacrate (6-8 weeks in advance) and an aircrate(2 weeks in advance).
The also paid for a relocation agent for us, whom was very helpful.
If i had my choice, i wouldn't of shipped any of our furniture and would of taken a lump sum to buy new, but it wasn't an option.
My move is a permanent transfer, so they wouldn't pay for school or housing. Instead I negotiated a very high salary.
I have no desire to have a car here. It's crazy expensive and after visiting for a week, it's not at all necessary. The MRT is very nice, fast, cheap and efficient.

Housing: I just signed our final tenancy agreement today.
Our budget was 3-4k SGD a month.
I wanted a 30min commute to work or less. I'm lucky in that my office is just a bit outside the actual CBD.
Didn't want the kid's commute to school to be very long either.
Despite advice to the contrary found on this board we wanted a condo so we could have the amenities that come with it.
Namely a pool. We swim whenever we can here at home, which is not often due to the weather, so we believe we will actual use it enough to warrant living in a condo.
We found many in our budget, but they were all on the far eastern side and didn't meet my commute wishes. Also they were old and small.
We upped the budget a bit and landed in a condo near Kembangan station. Ended up at $4300 a month. 1400 sq feet. 9 years old with a nice pool and a few minutes from the MRT station. My commute will be closer to 20min and my son's bus ride around the same.
I don't think you'll be able to book a condo much more then 3-4 weeks out without paying for it.
Also you will need 1st month's rent to hold the condo. Then 2 months worth of rent for deposit.
Then if the rent is around or under $4,000 you will need to pay some amount of commission to your real estate, i think up to 1 month's rent.
Since ours was at $4,300 we didn't have to pay that. Additionally because of the way payroll works, i won't get paid til late august at my company. So I need money for August's rent too.
On top of all that there is a few hundred dollar stamp tax to pay to make it all legit.
So you can see you need a ton of cash just to secure a house.

Temp housing:
It's crazy expensive. We visited a place that was reasonable, but it was a craphole and was really musty. We're planning on staying at a nice one for 5ish days while our stuff is unpacked.
I would try and limit this since it's so expensive. You'll find it between $300-$500 a day for a decent place. My company offered up 30 days of temp apartment or $14,000 cash. I took the cash.
If my seacrate is late, we'll sleep on air mattresses for a bit.

Schooling:
We will probably eventually make it back to the USA. So we wanted to go with an American school so my kids wouldn't be all out of whack on a different curriculum.
I read bad things about the locals schools in terms of you don't get much choice where they go as a non-resident. Several schools we contacted had a waiting list for K2.
We ended up at Stamford American School. Just about the most expensive i think.. but it's really really nice from the tour we had. And most importantly they had room in K2.
So they are really expensive. Just under 3k a month for tuition, technology fee, food, bus. On top of that you need like 10k for application and registration fees.
Then you need first tuition up front. that was like 15k. And in a few months the next semester is due.
So I can't endorse the school, but i can say it's very impressive and they had room for our K2 student. School starts in August.

So you can see it costs a ton of money just to move here. When i found all this out and took it back to my company, they had no idea. I'm the first they've moved to Singapore.
So they ended up giving me a giant retention bonus to pay for all the deposits and stuff. On top of those costs i mentioned above, you will have other deposits to make, contracts to break at home with phones and cable etc.
Losses on cars, houses etc.

So your husband needs a heck of a bonus, or a really high salary to just help you move in.
Note that on the high salary I did negotiate, we can’t afford to send our 1.5 year old to a school. My wife intends to stay home with her for a while and then try for a job. She has multiple degrees and certifications in the brokerage industry revolving around compliance. We’re told she shouldn’t have a problem getting in somewhere.

Hopefully this was helpful. This forum is useful. Use the search feature to see if your questions have already been addressed.
Good luck!

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Postby beebu68 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 5:34 am

Dert42 - thank you for sharing your research and experience. Wish you a smooth move and transition! Have you looked at other International Schools before deciding on Stsmford or is that the only school with k2 vacancy? Would you mind to share which neighbor you signed the lease with? 20 min commute to school/work sounds very tempting. Also can you share the company and cost for sea and air crate please? Thanks again for all your help!

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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 8:07 am

beebu68 wrote:Thanks for all the helpful info! Hubby will be working near Ruffles. The schools that were recommended to us are SAS and UWC. I'm not sure if they have a spot for my older child in either of those school. Hubby will be contacting them today or tomorrow for more detail. If those schools are full, which schools are good alternative?

Hubby also mentioned that we will only bring the essentials over since we don't have repo assistance. What are the must haves that we need to bring vs buying new at SG?


I have no advice on schools except it's rather interesting that your husband's salary will be in the range that could cover tuition there, but the company will provide no relocation assistance whatsoever. That's just... bizarre. Companies receive tax benefits on assistance provided vs salary. It's in their interests to give you 15k/month salary and 5k assistance for whatever vs 20k salary. But whatever, I trust you understand the costs you're getting yourself into.

He's right, buy what you can in Singapore and throw it out when you're done. It's very expensive to move things, the humidity can destroy a lot, and then you'd have to move it back when your done. The electrical system is different. Unless your device specifically says 110-240v, don't bring it (basically anything larger than small computers, laptops, ipads, etc). You'll probably be most shocked/annoyed at the lack of toiletries and the costs of the ones that are here.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 11:29 am

zzm9980 wrote: That's just... bizarre. Companies receive tax benefits on assistance provided vs salary. It's in their interests to give you 15k/month salary and 5k assistance for whatever vs 20k salary.


That is not correct. Any expenses paid to an employee are normal tax deductible expenses to the company. Doesn't matter how I compensate you.

The only benefits I see are in housing where the individual gets a tax break. But for the company, an expense is an expense is an expense.

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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 11:47 am

Strong Eagle wrote:
zzm9980 wrote: That's just... bizarre. Companies receive tax benefits on assistance provided vs salary. It's in their interests to give you 15k/month salary and 5k assistance for whatever vs 20k salary.


That is not correct. Any expenses paid to an employee are normal tax deductible expenses to the company. Doesn't matter how I compensate you.

The only benefits I see are in housing where the individual gets a tax break. But for the company, an expense is an expense is an expense.


I can't find it now of course, but I read that if a company gives a housing allowance to an employee who maintains a residence back in the US, the company receives further tax breaks on that payment. I've heard similar about educational reimbursements also.

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Postby Dert42 » Wed, 26 Jun 2013 10:43 pm

We ended up within 3 minutes walking distance of Kembangan station.
We saw 2 condos in that immediate area and would of been happy with either one. Well.. i hope we'll be happy with the one.
But even 2 more stops on the east line has great condos that were in our price range.

We looked at several schools, but the first question was do they have any room. If the answer was no, we didn't really give them any more thought.
I am more then impressed with Stamford so far. But reminder: we haven't actually attended yet. Just gave them a bunch of money and toured.

I can't recommend a Moving Company. And I have no idea how much it costs. My company is covering that directly for me. The Moving Company that loaded our stuff is local, and the company handling the international shipping of it so far is incompetent. So I can't recommend them.


As for the benefits the husband's company is offering.. if they haven't done this before, then they are clueless.
My company has moved people, but not to Singapore. So unfortunatly i was a guinney pig, and we learned a lot and the moving policy is being rewritten now. Don't be afraid to ask for things that make sense.

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Postby Chantikki » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:36 am

beebu68 wrote:Thanks for all the helpful info! Hubby will be working near Ruffles. The schools that were recommended to us are SAS and UWC. I'm not sure if they have a spot for my older child in either of those school. Hubby will be contacting them today or tomorrow for more detail. If those schools are full, which schools are good alternative?

Hubby also mentioned that we will only bring the essentials over since we don't have repo assistance. What are the must haves that we need to bring vs buying new at SG?


Other schools to investigate might be Stanford American, Chatsworth, Canadian, ISS, OFS, Australian, also for preschool some of the Eton House preschools in the city area are quite good (but finish at age 6).

Clothing here can be expensive and far less choice than at home. Go crazy at the summer sales.

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Re: Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

Postby Chantikki » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:43 am

zzm9980 wrote:>

Sounds like you're leaning towards private. Again, what's your budget for all of this? I hope you've thought that through, because I'm a bit surprised a company would pay a sufficient salary to cover the life style you're looking for, but not give housing and/or school allowances. a good option for a 2 yo (3 in 2014)?



About 50% of kids in International School have parents who pay the school fees themselves. So most companies pay enough for you to send your kid to school even if they don't give you a package.

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Postby BedokAmerican » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 8:43 am

As far as getting housing goes, I agree a temporary unit is best to start. When searching for a long-term rental, the process will be much different than in the U.S. condos/apts don't have leasing offices. You rent from a private owner.

For example, in the States, if you're in an apartment and your dishwasher or washing machine or air conditioning breaks, call the leasing office and they'll send someone to your place to fix it that day or the next day free of charge. (At least that was my experience as a renter there.)

In Sg, automatic dishwashers are rare. But if you have a problem with something, you've got to arrange repairs yourself. Try and work something into the lease that says how much you'll pay if something major goes wrong. For instance, our hot water heater went bad so we paid the first $150 and the owner "paid" the rest. The catch was that we had to pay the whole thing $1,600 and the owner said to deduct it from next months rent. This might sound like no big deal (and it wasn't), but something major and more expensive could potentially set someone back and make them temporarily cash poor if the owner takes this attitude.

Also, ask lots of questions beforehand. The word "furnished" means something different to everyone. Are the appliances functional? When was the last time the A/C was serviced? How do they define an oven? (Some say a little toaster oven is an oven!) The type of stuff Americans take for granted shouldn't be taken for granted here.

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Re: Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 8:59 am

Chantikki wrote:
zzm9980 wrote:>

Sounds like you're leaning towards private. Again, what's your budget for all of this? I hope you've thought that through, because I'm a bit surprised a company would pay a sufficient salary to cover the life style you're looking for, but not give housing and/or school allowances. a good option for a 2 yo (3 in 2014)?



About 50% of kids in International School have parents who pay the school fees themselves. So most companies pay enough for you to send your kid to school even if they don't give you a package.


Such a high figure surprises me. Most of the foreigners I know and work with have their company paying for it. I don't doubt some pay their own way, but that % is surprises me.

Also, how many are well-to-do locals or PRs vs actual foreigners moved here for work?

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Re: Family of 4 moving to SG from USA in AUG

Postby Chantikki » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:40 pm

zzm9980 wrote:
Chantikki wrote:
zzm9980 wrote:>

Sounds like you're leaning towards private. Again, what's your budget for all of this? I hope you've thought that through, because I'm a bit surprised a company would pay a sufficient salary to cover the life style you're looking for, but not give housing and/or school allowances. a good option for a 2 yo (3 in 2014)?



About 50% of kids in International School have parents who pay the school fees themselves. So most companies pay enough for you to send your kid to school even if they don't give you a package.


Such a high figure surprises me. Most of the foreigners I know and work with have their company paying for it. I don't doubt some pay their own way, but that % is surprises me.

Also, how many are well-to-do locals or PRs vs actual foreigners moved here for work?


i believe that was a statistic from UWC and only foreigners go to this school. We came 7 years ago and even then our company no longer did packages, just generous salaries that covered school and rent. many of my friends are in the same boat. Do you have children in an International School?

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Postby Chantikki » Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:42 pm

BedokAmerican wrote: Also, ask lots of questions beforehand. The word "furnished" means something different to everyone. Are the appliances functional? When was the last time the A/C was serviced? How do they define an oven? (Some say a little toaster oven is an oven!) The type of stuff Americans take for granted shouldn't be taken for granted here.


We once negotiated an oven and got a toaster oven! hehe (not funny at the time :0 ) Yes, take nothing for granted.


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