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When to cease relocation negotiations

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Somers
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When to cease relocation negotiations

Postby Somers » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 1:17 pm

For more than two months now, my husband has been negotiating with his company over a relocation package to Singapore. He understood from the beginning that this was to be a local position, but he still wanted the company to pay for relocation from the United States. The most recent offer included one-way tickets for two adults and two kids, $800 airline fees for our belongings, four weeks in a Serviced Apartment and $4,000 USD for settling-in costs.

Because the company would not move our belongings and relocate our dogs, my husband politely said no thank you. I've also encountered several expats who vehemently agreed we deserve more and to fight for additional perks.

So here is where I wonder when enough is enough. My husband and I make a combined base income of $380k SGD (and that's not even counting our bonuses and stock). Even if we don't receive expat perks like housing or education, I still think our employers are generous and - if we are disciplined - we can work, enjoy life and save money in Singapore.

Am I completely off base here? Or is my husband right in pushing for more perks? Quite honestly I just want resolution as to whether we're relocating or not.

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Postby BoroBoy » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 1:49 pm

Did your husband request the move or did the company ask? Not sure about pets, but furniture shipment used to be the norm but I know two people in the past year who work for large MNCs and requested a move to a different country and all they got was economy flights and accommodation for a few weeks.

If the company asked your husband then you should ask for the full relocation package, inc shipments, per diem for a month, plus a lump sum for misc expenses.

If your husband requested the move then I would say it seems in line with belt tightening seen in most companies and take what you have been offered.

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Postby PNGMK » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 2:15 pm

Relocation is negligible in the total sum of things if you're out here for 3 years. The norm in the oilfield is for the firm to pay it, but claw it back if the employee bails in less than 3 years.

However the bigger issue is rent! Whose paying that? If you're looking for a US style home you could be paying S$16,000 per MONTH!

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Re: When to cease relocation negotiations

Postby nakatago » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 2:18 pm

Somers wrote:Am I completely off base here? Or is my husband right in pushing for more perks? Quite honestly I just want resolution as to whether we're relocating or not.


It's a completely subjective evaluation. If your husband thought that it wasn't worth it, the only things that would have you doubt that decision are unseen variables.

Just to throw some ideas around: mid-to-long term stability in the US vs Singapore, quality of life for the whole family, net money made, perceived value...those sort of things.

So, I guess now subsequent posts would be pointing those out; e.g. rent (by PNGMK).

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Postby Somers » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 3:57 pm

In regards to housing, I told my husband we could just find a place with the rental money we'll earn from our house in the U.S. Granted, we would definitely wind up in a smaller place, but I'm thinking the whole point of moving abroad is to experience a different culture and lifestyle.

And yes, education is another money pit, but putting both of our kids in an International School would be slightly more expensive than their current day care in the States.

I understand that we will lose money in the short-term and I'm ok with that. I feel this is an investment into raising globally-aware children and building international work experience. If we were to get higher-education degrees, we would be spending a lot more!

Unfortunately, my husband's mindset is very kiasu. He just found out that a new hire from the U.S. received a better package to relocate to Singapore, so now he's digging in his heels even further. Blah.

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Postby PNGMK » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 4:01 pm

Somers wrote:In regards to housing, I told my husband we could just find a place with the rental money we'll earn from our house in the U.S. Granted, we would definitely wind up in a smaller place, but I'm thinking the whole point of moving abroad is to experience a different culture and lifestyle.

And yes, education is another money pit, but putting both of our kids in an International School would be slightly more expensive than their current day care in the States.

I understand that we will lose money in the short-term and I'm ok with that. I feel this is an investment into raising globally-aware children and building international work experience. If we were to get higher-education degrees, we would be spending a lot more!

Unfortunately, my husband's mindset is very kiasu. He just found out that a new hire from the U.S. received a better package to relocate to Singapore, so now he's digging in his heels even further. Blah.


Is there a company HR manual that covers this? At some point though HR or his boss will pull out and pick someone else.

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Postby Somers » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 4:54 pm

Maybe this is evil and subversive, but a part of me is wishing his potential APJ boss will find someone else and this whole back-and-forth will end. The kicker is that this position has been open for more than a year because 1) they can't find local talent to take on this job, and 2) they are apparently too cheap for expat talent. They are also under serious crunch time because they need someone to assume this role before the Christmas holidays.

I think what's fueling my husband's obstinacy is that the head of his U.S. department likes him and has been pushing Singapore to provide a better package. But if the U.S. higher-ups wind up getting their way, I'm concerned he would then start his APJ career with potential bad feelings.

Anyway, based on current expat trends, should we accept what's on offer or is he right in pushing for more? It seems the responses so far have been mixed.

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Postby durain » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 6:51 pm

for relocation, they should provide a container to ship all your stuff to singapore. pets are usually on your own expenses.

yes, you will probably loose money initially but what you cant buy is the experience.

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Postby PNGMK » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 7:05 pm

Somers wrote:Maybe this is evil and subversive, but a part of me is wishing his potential APJ boss will find someone else and this whole back-and-forth will end. The kicker is that this position has been open for more than a year because 1) they can't find local talent to take on this job, and 2) they are apparently too cheap for expat talent. They are also under serious crunch time because they need someone to assume this role before the Christmas holidays.

I think what's fueling my husband's obstinacy is that the head of his U.S. department likes him and has been pushing Singapore to provide a better package. But if the U.S. higher-ups wind up getting their way, I'm concerned he would then start his APJ career with potential bad feelings.

Anyway, based on current expat trends, should we accept what's on offer or is he right in pushing for more? It seems the responses so far have been mixed.


If his AP boss is Chinese I wouldn't take the job anyways. HOWEVER as the job has been open for a year the AP boss's KPI is sinking fast.... could your husband be strong enough to take the AP boss job? Then there'd be a lot less issues with perks. There are still plenty of full benefits expat positions (although it has dried up in some industries) - dependent on level.
Last edited by PNGMK on Tue, 15 Oct 2013 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby beppi » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 7:09 pm

Somers wrote:He just found out that a new hire from the U.S. received a better package to relocate to Singapore,

It is a psychological fact that one's happiness is realetd not to absolute wealth (i.e. how many $ you have or earn) but relative to the people around you (i.e. somebody earning $200 in a place where all others have $100 is happier than somebody earning $10000 when others get $20000).
I guess your husband wants to be able to see the move as a positive thing. Yes, you can call that Kiasu if you wish.

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Postby nakatago » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 8:57 pm

A question I ask myself when the options are, ahem, less than ideal: "What are you willing to live with?"

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Postby JR8 » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 9:57 pm

Somers wrote:In regards to housing, I told my husband we could just find a place with the rental money we'll earn from our house in the U.S. Granted, we would definitely wind up in a smaller place, but I'm thinking the whole point of moving abroad is to experience a different culture and lifestyle.


I disagree with this thinking. You should not consider 'offsetting'. If you own a home, and you rent it out when you're away, well it's like running a small business (stressful) and is entirely your own business. I mean, you wouldn't expect a higher package if you were a renter at home, would you, so don't plan for the reverse?

The whole point of moving abroad is:
- To get promoted
- To make a ship-load of money
- To then go back home having leap-frogged your domestic peers career-wise.
- To experience and different culture, and travel the region.

Somers wrote:I understand that we will lose money in the short-term and I'm ok with that. I feel this is an investment into raising globally-aware children and building international work experience. If we were to get higher-education degrees, we would be spending a lot more!


Don't do it. Unless the children are 13+ it'll leave little or no impression on them.

Somers wrote:Unfortunately, my husband's mindset is very kiasu. He just found out that a new hire from the U.S. received a better package to relocate to Singapore, so now he's digging in his heels even further. Blah.


Ah, so you're local, and want to go home?

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Postby beppi » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 10:16 pm

JR8 wrote:The whole point of moving abroad is:
- To get promoted
- To make a ship-load of money
- To then go back home having leap-frogged your domestic peers career-wise.
- To experience and different culture, and travel the region.

Wishful thinking - except the last point.
Reality is that, though you might have a higher status (and pay) while abroad, you lose your contacts and career path back home.
I've seen more cases where the home office had no real use (and position) for a returnee than otherwise!

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Postby JR8 » Tue, 15 Oct 2013 11:16 pm

Maybe in your field.

In mine, trading, we were in 3-4 time zones each day, so things ran 24hrs a day. Tokyo would hand over to SG, to London (who'd call you up at midnight at home lol), to NYC.

In London are 'Bank of Goldman/Morgan/Merrill' going to ask a 25 year old to set up the back-office for a new trading operation? No, of course not, heheh ...

As a parallel, this is what happened to Leeson. He was sent away to create his own empire (just those he reported to, understood nothing of the markets he was trading).

But that's the kind of challenge you get (or, I got). Go back home having run an entire 'Middle Office'... that kind of experience/knowledge/exposure, it's worth $

So this might be 'wishful thinking' [your instantly dismissive starkness is so Teutonicly* quaint you know] to you. But it was reality to me, and within my industry.



* Please prescribe me corrective lessons, if I happened to spell that incorrectly.

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Postby Somers » Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:41 am

Nope...I'm not local, but I am genetically Asian. I was born and raised in California, but my relatives live and breathe the kiasu mentality. My husband on the other hand is German and he feels his loyalty entitles him to a package better than a new hire's. (Beppi, you got it exactly right.)

His AP boss is actually Australian, but now my husband is plotting to see if he could report to someone higher up the food chain. (sigh)

On my end, I am currently doing a two-week project in Singapore, and I love my extended team here. Unfortunately, I have regional-agnostic duties, and all my boss can do - should my husband ever agree on his relocation package - is get me a work visa and MAYBE tax equalization.

I am also stunned at how never-ending the work can be. In California, I usually start my day at 5:30 a.m. and I'm done by 3 p.m. Here in Singapore, I start at around 6 or 7 a.m. to deal with U.S. and APJ colleagues. Then in the early afternoon, the emails from Europe start coming in; before I know it it's the early afternoon and the U.S. folks are back on line.

@JR8, I hope you're right that taking on work that spans three continents will one day bring in lots of $$$!


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