Sunday, December 07, 2008

Money Transfer to India from Singapore..

Many people use Electronic Money Transfer services to transfer money to India from Singapore. I though of sharing my experience with everybody here. This will help you to make an informed decision about the services generally offered in Singapore and also I hope my experience in dealing with these parties helps.

Primarily I have been using two services

Above services requires DBS Bank Account in Singapore. I would prefer DBS Savings bank account due to lower charges from them. Also understand that in Singapore every bank has Savings and Checking bank account seperatly, as in India we know that this is typically bundled together. So when you open an Savings bank account, you don't get a cheque book and also the deposit is lower. For availing cheque book facility, you need to open Checking Account and that has more deposit(typically SGD 3000 or more). The other option when banks offer checking account with no deposit is when you deposit your salary with them every month!

This is a ICICI Bank service. They offer to transfer money electronically in 1 day to most of the Indian Banks who have Electronic clearing facilities. I found the service very good and reliable. They offer HTTPS security too. Most of the cases the money is transferred to the Indian bank in 2 days(it all depends when you initiate the transaction from Singapore!).

Although their exchange rates sometimes looks better. The website is managed by and does seem very professional to me. Many times I have found that after entering the login details, you are taken to the first page and when you click for says you are logged out!. This typically happens on weekend's :) .. I am not sure whether other customers have also faced this problem. Again I am not very comfortable with dealing with money transfer services which are outsourced by HDFC to someone else. Not sure why HDFC is doing this.

The other good option to deal with this international money transfer is to have bank account with some of the International Banks like Citibank, HSBC or DBS etc(but again DBS may not have branches all over India). This way your money transfer is instant.

I have personally used Citibank and found it very good. As the Money is transferred instantly to my Citibank Account in India.

Most of the people are looking for better rates while transferring the money, that's why they look for these 3rd party services like money2india, quickremit, western union etc. But I guess it is better to deal with one bank and do transactions with them.

For example for today although Yahoo Currency rate shown is INR 32.52 for 1 SGD. Money2India is offering INR 32.20 and Quickremit is INR 32.19!. So it does not make difference which one you use. So it is better to use some good internet service which is reliable and offers support in case some issues. I believe in that case using your own bank is always better!

I hope you find this information useful!.

Please let me know if you know any other good services to transfer money to India from Singapore.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Terror Attack in Mumbai

This is very shameful act by some people on Mumbai, India. If I were to write something to say on this ..I would copy my favorite Actor Amitabh Bachchan in his Blog here

It is so very true that there is not point in being resilient at this stage. We all must act and do something about it. The first thing come in my mind is to make sure that every Indian Vote for their party rather than somebody making proxy votes and then we get a govt.

Its more than 45 hours now and the operation is still on. It is really disgusting to see all this our country.

I Salute the Security personnel who are fighting against this terror.

I hope everything is ok in coming hours. God Bless India.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reader Mailbag # 6 : Cost of Living in Singapore and others!

Hi Sandeep,

Awesome information you have posted here. I am negotiating an offer with a Big 4 for Singapore. My family size if myself, my wife and kiddo (4 months) to be precise.

What wud be the breakeven that I shud negotiate given ur experience there?

Hi zibbs!,

Thanks for the praise! I have very less information to answer your question. I guess what you are looking for is a good saving potential while negotiating your salary with Big 4(What does that mean?..does it mean PwC, KPMG or MS or somebody else!). Any way I guess you need to do a detail analysis of what you are saving in your home country and what would be the saving potential when you start earning and spending in Singapore. This is the most critical part in decision making to move from your current location. 

Also the role you will be getting in new location also matters a lot. It also depends what are your opportunities in current location if you change there itself. So you need to drive the decision based on many factors than just money. If your intention is to just make money than your decision making is more easier. 

So think carefully and let me know if you have specific question in mind which I can really answer with some data. Remember that what you will be saving in first year of living in Singapore and what will be the saving in 2nd year and so forth will be quite different as you start living here your needs starts growing same time as your child!


Sandeep, Good work Keep it up Does the HBD flat have TV ?
regards -manish

Well yes most of the HDB flats on rent I have seen will have TV set. Although it will be CRT one and may not as good as your specification sometimes. If you are lucky you will get a 29" TV too!. So whenever you are looking for a HDB/Condo flat make sure that your essential list is ready on which you do not want to compromise at all...e.g. Good TV, Fridge, Washing Machine, Cooking Range, Wardrobes, Sofa Set etc ..As repair service is quite expensive depending upon the part change required. You need to make sure that all the things in the rented flat are looking good(not too old!).

I need to know how to invest in MF through SIP from USA? I have Suvitha account in Citi Bank in India. Will it be possible to buy through the account? How will i be able to submit the Pan Card details? Or do i need to get the NRE account? Please suggest in detail about this. Iam new to this and need help. Is this the right time to start MF(SIP)?Any particular fund?Please kindly suggest.Thank you so much.... 

I guess investing in MF while an NRI in USA the rules are different by many AMCs. You need to check that. Citibank Suvidha account is for Indian Residents not for NRI as far as my knowledge goes. You need to have an NRE or NRO account in order to invest in MF in India. Also PAN card and KYC is must now a days. 

About your other question whether this is a right time to invest in MF in India. I am not quite sure about right timing. But I believe in some strategy which you can read here : 

I am not a Financial advisor, so I am just writing what I feel like and also do myself. You are welcome to comment on my blog!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Test post from Windows Live Writter

Its been long time I have not been posting anything. This is mainly due to busy schedule in work and also some personal commitments.

I plan to start my posting again starting this week. So was thinking of trying some blogging tool for a change!. So here I am trying Windows Live Writer.

This looks cool!. But need to explore more with this ..So adding a picture below : 04102008(001)



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to move your blog to your own domain ?

Simple ..Use Google !. I have been using blogger for more than 2 years now since I started blogging. I was thinking about creating a domain for my blog and the day I thought about hosting it on a domain other than, I had many questions in my mind. How will I do this ? What will happen to my current blog ? How much will it cost ? What about privacy ? How will I move contents of my current blog to new website ? etc etc .....

Well..Google made everything easy. I could setup my new domain and move(or I should say re-direct) my current blog contents to new url. The entire process took just not more than 10 minutes. Also your good old address remains valid too!

Google and has simplified all this process for you. Blogger creates your domain with and also hides your personal website information as a free service(which I guess generally cost extra!)

Your current blog gets redirected to the new url and all gets rolling smooth in just 30 mins. Wow I was impressed. Things which I was thinking would be complicated are made simple. So if you are thinking to have your custom domain to host a blog or want to convert current one..give it a try ..all you need to do is to think about a good name for domain and keep credit card ready to pay for $10 fees for 1 year!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Run away Mutual Fund Broker : MF Service

Today I see this message on MF Service website :

Check the website : to see what they are saying.

You can imagine the fate of the Mutual Fund Investors with They are left with no choice but watch good portfolio at and sell their funds later when it reaches in profit or their objective is fulfilled. The Website no longer updates the latest NAV value.

This is pathetic customer service behavior by Times Group by saying "As part of our business strategy".

They need to be more sensitive to their customers. They should have at least have the NAV updates happening to make sure that the investors are not left with other methods to figure out their portfolio value in order to transact. Now the investors are left with following options :

  • Maintain portfolio at Moneycontrol or Valueresearchonline
  • Sell MF from timesofmoney at earliest opportunity
  • Always do business with AMCs directly.
  • AMCs have much better transition plans if they change their business strategy !
Do you have anything to say ?


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel from Singapore to KL in Train : Economy Trip !

Recently we did a train journey from Singapore to KL using the KTM Train. We were exited to travel by train first time outside India!. In India I have traveled almost entire India by Train and it was good experience overall.

For traveling from Singapore to KL via train you have 2 options to book your travel :
  1. Using the internet via the URL :
  2. Goto the Malaysian Railway Station in Singapore
So for those who would like to book Singapore-KL Ticket for their onward journeys and not in Singapore, using internet is good idea as you get e-tickets!.

Many people ask this question on Yahoo Answer or on other forums about purchasing Singapore-KL ticket in Malaysian Rinngit(MYR). Well this is very much possible using the Internet website, but not the complete journey fare!. So to discover this economy path we did our booking in 2 steps(Again the entire hassle of booking in 2 steps is only worth if you have many people traveling!) :

  • Booked Johor Bahru To KL Ticket on Train # 12: EKSPRES SENANDUNG MALAM
    • This train departs from Singapore and goes till IPOH
    • When we did this journey it departs from Singapore @ 22:00
    • Booked this ticket in MYR
    • So the deal is that whenever on Internet you specify a From Location within Malaysia, the fare is in MYR,whereas if the departure location is Singapore the fare is in SGD. The fare is same always, just the currency changes :)
    • For example the fare for 1 adult for Johor Bahru to KL was : MYR 37.00 and if I book Singapore to KL ticket using the same website and same train # 12 the fare shown is SGD 38.00 :) - Internet is smart and flips the currency when you are going from Singapore.
    • So the website is smart - Now the other option to save money is to Book 2 tickets - 1 from Singpore to Johor in SGD(which is SGD 6.00). Well the website do not allow you to do that!. They knew that passengers globally are smart too and would do this.
  • So now for Singapore to Johor Bahru Ticket
    • You need to visit the Train Station located in Singapore personally(or you can ask your dear friend in Singapore to do that for you!)
    • Well here is another catch. Now this is something I did not find on internet when searching for the similar information and that's where icare2share :)
    • On the ticket counter if you ask for the Singapore to Johor Bahru Ticket the person at the counter knows your intentions!. So they do not allow you to book this SG-JB ticket more than 1 day in advance - smart huh!
So there you go ..You have bought 2 tickets for the complete Singapore To KL(read as SENTRAL KUALA LUMPUR on the KTM website) on almost 50% discount. For example if have 10 friends going to a Singapore to KL Trip on Train - look at the savings !

10 SG to JB Tickets : SGD 60.00(approx MYR 144)
10 JB to KL Tickets : MYR 370.00

So the total is MYR 544 instead of SGD 380(approx MYR 908). There u go! ...You have saved MYR 364 which is decent money in Malaysia to enjoy with - figure out what you can do with this savings on your trip to Malaysia!. Well as already mentioned, the savings are good only more than 4+ passengers are traveling together.

No comes the hard part of playing this game! - Which is saving money and loosing your sleep!.

When you board the train at the Singapore station, you need to goto the seat which is given on the SG To JB ticket!. Which could be compartment L1(first from the engine) and your JB To KL ticket could have alloted you L5 compartment which is 5th from the engine!. So to avoid this choose the First possible compartment in the Train on your JB To KL Ticket and pray! - but most likely the SG to JB ticket would be in L1 ...again no idea how this works.

Train starts from Singapore at 22:00(10:00 pm). It was pretty much on time that day. You need to clear immigration(part1!) at the KTM Railway Station in Singapore before boarding, so to save time and hassle of writing in low light of platform please do fill up the immigration forms before reaching the immigration counters.

After immigration(which is actually just a stamp on your form that you are leaving Singapore by this Train # 12). You board the Train and it starts and roams the entire Singapore for almost 1 hour before reaching the Woodlands Checkpoint!.

You need to get down at the Woodlands Checkpoint from your train(you have an option to keep the luggage at the train itself(unattended!). Do the Immigration at Singapore Checkpoints and get back to your trains(this time don't forget to go back to your Singapore-JB Seat as you are still not in JB). The ticket checker comes sometime in between Singapore to JB journey to check your tickets.

You reach JB at around 23:00(11:00 pm) or so. Once you are at JB, you can get down and walk towards your JB to KL Seat! - Now this is the hard part if your seat before was at L1 compartment and now in L5 compartment...but then you always wanted to save some money for more fun in Malaysia :)

The train journey is good overall with no snacks options @ JB carry something with you. Also our luck was bad the train stopped at JB for more than hour due to crossing of another train(wow this is a single track to KL!). It still reached KL at around 7am in the morning. So it was ok!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sending Photo Diwali Greetings to India !

I just sent Photo Diwali Greetings to my parents and friends in India using Its an excellent service. I have been using their photo printing services regularly since the launch of their website. The Photo print quality was always superb. I always liked their service and user friendly website design(some improvement needed though!)

Sending Greeting card costs just Rs. 95.51 including shipping!. Which translates around SGD 2.80 and USD 1.95 !. If you plan to send greetings to India, this is the cheapest I have ever seen. There are many services in India now offering photo printing, greetings cards etc. The features I liked about are :

  • Simple User Interface
  • Good Credit Card payment service - They are using ICICI Payment gateway now - I am more particular about payment gateways.
  • Prompt Service  - delivery within 4-5 days - They use either Speedpost or DTDC.
  • Fast Photo uploading with simple software.
Improvement Required
  • Once the preview is seen for the greeting card and added to the cart, there was no way out to see the preview again :(
  • Also more options for fonts and custom colour should be provided.

Please let me know if you have experienced any other service which offers good service. It will be of great help to all ! ..Note that they accept International Credit Cards too. 

Enjoy !


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bintan Resorts Island Trip Advisor

Singapore offer many attractions within Island. But still many feel that they need to go beyond Island and try some new places. Which is good thing!. So there are many places around Singapore like Bintan, Batam, Pulao Ubin etc ..

I went to Bintan Island twice recently and the post is much awaited!. So I thought i will share some experience and information so that it helps my readers.

About Bintan Resorts Island
Bintan Resorts Island is just 45 mins away from Singapore via high speed ferry. The Island is part of Indonesia. There are many resorts in Bintan catering to different style and luxary needs!.So you going to a Island with just many resorts around.Bintan Offers good beaches with clear waters. So if you love to relax in a resort style and like to soak yourself in clear sea waters Bintan is the place. Also it offers various food options ..but all this is within the resorts!

Getting there
Bintan Island is just 45 mins away by Binan Resort Ferries(BRF). You need to board this ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. You can checkout the schedule at Bintan Resort Ferry Schedule . The 2 way fare for Adult in Peak period is around SGD 59.20 and SGD 46.20 for child. There is a off-peak fare too which is around SGD 10 less. Ferry is comfortable and enjoyable journey by looking at passing cargo ships!

Booking Resorts at Bintan
This is the most important part of your Bintan Island Trip!. As there many resorts and all have different amenities, one needs to decide the type of vacation and budget and then book the resort. Remember not to go by wonderful photo's shown by the some of the resort brochures.

We stayed at the Villa in Bintan Lagoon Resort. It was excellent option as we had kids with us. If you are a family with kids or few singles together wants to enjoy Bintan Resorts, Villa option offers great facilities like Kitchen, private swimming pool,barbequeue, buggy to go around the resort etc.

Resort Recommendations for Family

Nirwana Resort Hotel

I have been to Nirwana Resorts Hotel. This is good place with moderate budget and still want to enjoy the Island. It offers rooms and suites. Food is good. Even Indian Food is offered here on request and I was surprised with the quality.

Regular Fare :
  • SGD 220 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 270 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 500 for Suite
Internet Fare :
  • SGD 145 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 185 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 300 for Suite
As per my observation around the world, there is not much difference in Superior and delux. So always go for superior rooms. If you still doubt that you are going to mix something exotic, go ahead and take a look at the delux room in the same hotel! Suites to be taken only when somebody else is paying for you ! or you are on honeymoon :)

There are other resorts offered by the same resort this is confusing !. So go checkout the site yourself. These are some of the so called theme resorts like Banyu Biru Villas, Nirwana Beach club, Indra Maya Villa etc ..They all share the similar beach and clear water take your guess!

Bintan Lagoon Resort

We stayed in one of the villas in this resort and it was good experience. This is again pretty similar to what Nirwana Resort Hotel Offers except the Villa stuff. The beach is near by and has good clean water. That was the best part I liked !

Fares :
  • SGD 110 to 220 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 175 to 330 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 400 to 1078 foe Villas - Depending on no of bed rooms, private swimming pool, buggy etc etc.
There are again many offers to confuse, like if you have DBS, Amex card or package with lunch/dinner or breakfast free!

Food is expensive in both the resorts. You would need think as if you are dining in good restaurent in Singapore :)


Visa on Arrival fee is USD 10.00. Can be paid in Singapore Dollars too!

Bintan Island is a great place and you enjoy many things like Water Sports, Golf, Nature etc.

I hope you like this post and please leave your comments to share your experience with Bintan Island ..Well that said Bintan Island offers something else other than the resorts ..that is one of a kind Shopping experience ...which was what i was looking for too will post about that in next post!

Enjoy Bintan!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reader Mailbag # 5 : Cost of Living in Singapore posts!

Sorry for not being able to update my reader mailbag for sometime. Also I would like to request my readers to have more detailed information in case they want a specific query to be answered. This is my best attempt to answer what I feel about the query and should not be taken as it is. Do your own research before taking any decisions.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and get some value out of it. Please feel free to comment and share your experiences with other to help them out!

Will 60000 Singapore dollars per annum sufficient for a couple to live in Singapore and save some pennies for home.....

I believe it is good salary to start with if you are looking for a change and would like to move to Singapore from India. Although as I have said earlier, the cost of living depends on many factors and it is important that you do your own math before classifying anything to good, decent or fair. As that helps you to set the expectations right and no surprises when you land in new country with changing times. Please go through my earlier Reader Mailbags and posts to find more.

Hi Sandeep ,

I am looking for 2 bedroom hdb now , but not getting anything less than 2k.

I do have any details on what rent prevails in which area in Singapore. But if you give more details probably I can help out. I personally feel that rents are coming down a bit in some areas in Singapore. Also rent in any area depends on many factors like renovation in the flat, proximity to MRT, Malls. You need to give some hard try before reaching any conclusion. As I have speak to many people who come to Singapore ..I find that they do give up on searching and settle on something they have found. This happened to me as well. So do some more search and you should be able to find a HDB flat in your budget. ..good luck !

Hi Sandeep,

Thanks to you for so informative blog. Just wanted to know, whats the difference between a Condo,a HDB and Landed accommodation. I also find that people give on rent their single rooms.Is that a common practice in Singapore.

Also what are the central locations in Singapore. Please advise. Regards.

Thanks for reading my posts and commenting. A Condo privately build gated apartment complex with security and also amenities like swimming pool, gym, party hall etc. HDB aparments do not have gated security and other amenities attached to apartment but at same time offer good accommodation and proximity to schools, malls, MRT and Bus stops. Landed property is a row house or a independent India we call it Row House or Bungaow or Villa!

Yes it very common practice to get Single rooms like Master room or 1 bed room by families. It is cheaper and good option if you a bachelor.

Singapore is built nicely all over to provide all amenities to public. By central if you mean the Business District, then it is Marina Bay, raffles place, suntec city, river valley road etc etc ...

Hope this helps!

Enjoy ..Sandeep

Monday, October 06, 2008

Best Medical Insurance Policy for Senior Citizens in India ?

This is a question to my readers(I hope they are reading!). I am looking to compile responses and make a post regarding "Best medical insurance policy for senior citizens in India". Please help me with your responses.

I have read about Bajaj Allianz and National Insurance. But need to know more details from people who have taken and also availed some benefits out of it.

Also I have seen increase in the trend of Health Cards in India now a days. In fact seen some agents trying to sell Health Card from Hospitals than the Medical Insurance Policy. I would try to post some experience on that too later.

waiting for your inputs!

Mutual Fund Investing / Personal Finance when Sensex is < 12000

I generally read regularly to educate myself about Indian Stock Markets and especially Mutual Fund happenings. Read this story "Make Informed Decision". Nice thing to read about. In short what auther is saying that you need to be informed about whatever you are doing in the Stock Market specially as it moves faster than you think!. My strategy for current situation after seeing new Lows for Sensex today is :

  • Stop reading : Yes please do that you will find tremendous simplicity in your life and also stress will be less :). Most of the stories are crap there and the opinions change every minute!
  • Create a Networth Statement NOW : Yes do that today itself. In most cases you would be having 2-3 savings account and 2-3 credit cards, 1-2 loans, 10+ Mutual Funds and probably 20+ stocks !. To create a net worth statement and consolidate all this information will not take you more than 1-2 hours.
  • Stop the SIP in Mutual Fund NOW : This needs to be done asap if not done already. I am not against SIP and also believes in the fact that the market needs not to be timed at all. But when fact is seen on weekly/monthly basis that with more negative news coming from global markets. Our Indian Stock Market is also in a downturn and Mutual Funds are taking the most beating here. So it is wise to stop the SIP now and start investing in the market little later when markets are seen stabalized(after some months of no -ve news or some months of +ve news!). If you are adventours it is worth buying Index Fund as it will go up sharply whenever market moves upword.
  • Make some extra payment towards your loan : If you have not done this before. Start putting little more towards your home loan or car/bike loan now. This will help a lot in long term. There are lot of tools available on Internet to assess the impact of extra regular payments towards your loan.
  • Do not take Personal Loan if you can avoid: This is not the time to take personal loans. Live life in simplicity and defer your decisions to buy something with personal loan if you can.
Update : Fully agree to what Koushik Gala is saying now at GalaTime : This too shall pass

Friday, October 03, 2008

Saving time with Internet Banking in Singapore

I remember my days when I first got my ATM card in 1998 in India from ABN Amro Bank!. Wow.I was so exited I showed it to everybody I met after that for few days !. Well it sounds crazy but now people have more credit cards and ATM/Debit Cards they ever need. ATM / Debit Cards saved lot of time as you would never need to goto Bank Branch to get cash!..also it made people spend more too :)

After that came Internet Banking and that saved more time. Also enalbed us to do more with ease any time any where ;)

So now how this is in differnet in Singapore? here u go ...

Adding post dated Fund Transfers or Payments
  • This seems to me the best feature I have ever seen in Internet Banking after coming to Singapore in DBS iBanking. I am sure it would be there in other banks too. This saves lot of time for me as I can put my Utility or Rental Payments by setting a future date on it and it get tarnsferred on that date! It also enables me to schedule my payment activities in one go.
Setting up Maximum Limit on Transfers
  • This feature for some faint hearted who feel that if they do some automated payments via Internet banking one day due to some software code malfunction bank would transfer all of their money to someone including some more in over-draft!. You could think of this scenario but essentially we need to keep good faith in the system and legal stuff so that Banks and other Institutions can improve their softwares to provide more sofisticated features to their customers. I heard there is a feature too by which you can open an non-transactional Internet Banking account too - that sounds cool!
Pre-defined list of companies for GIRO and Payments
  • Again this is a cool feature which provides you list of most of the companies to which you would ideally pay like - Supermarket, Income Tax Authority, Utility etc. So with few clicks you can select the Payee and do your work quickly.
  • GIRO(It is Inter banking payment facility). Again I hear about this term more in Singapore only. This is what is Electronic Clearing System(ECS) is all about.The best part I found is that when I do a GIRO ..I can cancel the GIRO arrangement anytime by going to my Internet Banking portal. Similar systems are in place in I guess most of the countries. But the feature is only good if it is fully automated. For example ..Indian Railway has excellent online tickting portal but when you need to cancel the ticket you need to visit the counter!
Enjoy Internet Banking!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reader Mailbag # 4 : Cost of Living in Singapore 2008

Hi Sandeep,

we are planning to rent out this house at HDB Bukit Batok, 177 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, Singapore 650177, The rent is SGD 1700/ month, you think it is a good area and a decent rent??


Bijal thanks for commenting on my blog.

Well, as I said earlier in my posts that all areas in Singapore are good in terms of accessibility, food options, grocery, shopping malls etc. So finally it comes to your choice of location in terms of commute to office and how much you want to pay as rent!.

So go ahead if the HDB flat is not too far away from MRT Station - may be 3-4 bus stops is a good idea.

About rent this looks like good rent for 3-4 room house. But again as I lack details in the question, can't comment on that. Again it depends sometimes, some people prefer small but well furnished flats and some prefer bigger flats like 3-4 bedrooms.

Hi Sandeep,

hope all well with you.
Could you please advice in which areas the rent is not high. Am a business men and planning to open a office in Singapore so would like to shell out less funds. I would be moving with my wife. Are the rents payable very month or its taken in advance for 12 months. Are there any security deposits while renting.

Sachin thanks for posting a comment. Rents are payable monthly most of the times unless its a lease(again I have not seen anybody personally doing so). Advance rent depends upon your contract terms, for 1 year rental agreement the advance would be 1 month rent in advance(wow that gives relief if you are coming from India where we pay 10-12 months rent in advance!)

The rent in advance itself is a security deposit. Most of the rent agreements has a clause to for either party to vacate or ask to vacate after 6 months by giving 1 month notice. So need to check the agreement carefully before you sign in.

About rent being high or low in areas in Singapore. You need to search based on your office location and commute time you want to spend. Once you decide on location for example Senkang, Ang Mo Kio, or Tampanies you can try searching flats in those areas and generally rent varies depending upon type of flat and renovation done.


Finally I have moved to custom domain for my blog !

Yes I have been thinking about this for long time!. But was not able to decide about the domain name for my blog. Essentially I was looking for something which means "Sharing". As mostly what I am doing at my blog is about Sharing Information what I have have or gathered. This helps my readers(I hope!).

So finally I decided about the name today while I was traveling in a Bus in the morning.

The name is :

The old blog name : remains too !



Friday, September 26, 2008

FREE VOIP Calls from Singapore and to Singapore too !

You must be searching in Google for "FREE Calls to India", "FREE VOIP Calls in Singapore", "VOIP Calls from Singapore to USA" or "FREE 2 way calls from Singapore to USA" etc etc ...

In this world of Microsoft and Google we want everything free ! .. Although Google Talk/Yahoo Messenger has given us a way to talk FREE by using our PCs. But again this puts us to the restriction of using PC to PC calls only. Well not right ..There is one more service called Fring which allows one to call Mobile to Mobile anywhere in the world just by using the Free WiFi or GPRS!...But we want more ! ..We want the convenience of traditional good old phone to phone dialing without worrying of setup's of WiFi / GPRS or complex setup of some Java based software in our Mobile.

In USA I know my friends were using Vonage to use this so called free calling to international destinations.

So now for Singapore what is the option ? ! ..I did some research and found out this :

  • PC to PC works the best
    • With Internet changing our lives, everybody with laptops and PCs with broadband. PC to PC calls using Google Talk/ Yahoo Messenger / Skype works the best in my opinion.
    • But we loose this option is either of the party is not having PC or not equipped to do the first time setup of installing software, using broadband, buying headset etc etc
  • Fring - Mobile to Mobile VOIP using WiFi or GPRS
    • This works good too in Singapore. As in Singapore we get to use Free WiFi Zones
    • Many Malls have Free WiFi Access
    • Most of the homes will have WiFi
    • I have tested this and it works great. Specially when using the good signal broadband connection at home. As any way you are trying to make FREE calls sometimes only when you are at home.
  • Free or subscription based VOIP Providers
    • There are plenty when you search google like :
    • Some offer free calls back to Singapore or other countries
    • But mostly they have charges like 6/7 cents per min to most of the destinations like India.
    • I am not very comfortable using these kind of services as they are not reliable and involves subscription which is higher or equivalent to what I can get via a Calling Card like Mustafa or others available in Singapore
  • 100% FREE Unlimited Calls to any destination
    • Now this is something worth exploring
    • I did some research in this area and found this company called Nexustel
    • I know few people in Singapore using this.
    • Although I am not sure whether this is legal to use this way in India
    • I called the person to check the details
      • You have to buy 2 VOIP Adaptor - Yes TWO
      • One you install at your home in Singapore with your broadband connection
      • Second you send to India or any other destination in world and install/connect to broadband internet there too
      • Connect normal Phone to the VOIP Adaptor at both ends
      • Now once you are connected, the person in India or any other destination can call the Singapore Nexustel Phone Number and the phone in Singapore will ring for FREE unlimited time.
      • The Cost of 2 Adaptors is I guess in the range of SGD 400-500. So this is the one time investment you are making.
      • There is monthly subscription also. As you will be making use of this VOIP Phone to make calls to Singapore Locally too which is around 2-3 cents per minute.
So with all these options you are set to explore the VOIP world in Singapore!.

Well some points to take care before you jump

  • Always use good company for VOIP as once the subscription is done you are locked with the company if the voice call quality is bad.
  • As we are talking about Digital Voice here, the broadband connection reliability matters most here - any compromise on this will frustrate you !
  • Check the legal terms on using VOIP in your country before opting for any options.
  • GPRS is expensive!
  • Check call rates or plans for calling international destination with your Mobile or land line service provider first to see you get any good plan
enjoy VOIP !

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cheap Phone Calls to India : Airtel Call Home !

Airtel is ringing Singapore NRIs finally!. I have been tracking various players in this pre-paid card business for last 2 years. Airtel and Reliance started their India calling services in USA. But in Singapore we were limited to Mustafa Calling Card(which offers the best rate of 120 minutes for SGD $6.90). There are other pre-paid cards too but most of them will cheat you on minutes and hidden connection charges. I hope Airtel will do its best to get maximum attention from Singapore NRIs.

Check the page for Airtel Call Home for the offer of 70% extra talk time. So for $10 pre-paid card purchased you get 162 minutes of talk time which comes to 6.2 cents per minute. This is great!.

I have been getting marketing calls from some Indian Companies too which offers 7 cents/minute for India calling - both land line and mobile. Which is good too. But we need to remember following points before we jump and take the offer!:

  • Check your local Mobile plans for any offers for FREE IDD rates
    • e.g. Starhub now offers FREE IDD for India too! - so that means you only pay local charges for calling India. Depending on the plan that could be 7 cents/minutes too.
  • Make sure that the prepaid card does not charge any connection fee
  • Check whether it allows PIN less calling - Phoenix Card in Singapore allows that. It makes life easier.
  • When you use prepaid card you also pay the call charges from your landline and mobile. Landline is pretty cheap but mobile means more 7 cents/minute apart from prepaid. So you end up spending 14 cents/minute for a India call.
  • Some cards have different charges for mobile and landline in India.
I know many use Google Talk or Yahoo Messenger for calling India, which is the best option if PC is there on the both sides. But for many occasions we still need some IDD or prepaid card service to call India.


Related Posts

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reader Mailbag #3 : Cost Of Living Singapore 2008

I am getting more comments for the cost of living post and I am making efforts to answer them. Readers please post comments to share your ideas too to help these people in their decision. Again as mentioned earlier, you need to do your own research before taking any decision. As moving from one country to another country involves lot of cost and also other factors like change in job, culture, climate and many other things. Also for most cases the decision once taken cannot be changed very easily in short duration. I am glad that I am able to provide some help in this process. enjoy reading!

Hi Sandeep,

Thanks for the information.

I have got an offer of 5000 SGD per month from singapore. I am bachelor and I would like to know whether this is a good salary or not? I am an S/W engineer having around 4 years of experience.

Please let me know.

Rahul, I like you read the following post of mine here. In my personal opinion SGD 5000 is a good salary to save enough money if you are going to share the apartment with few more bachelor's like you.

Best of luck !


I am a software engineer with 5 years of experience. Recently I got an employment offer from a Singapore based company.

Basic Salary : SGD 2850
Accommodation : SGD 350
Transportation : SGD 100
Meal Subsidy : SGD 150
Customer Services Subsidy: SGD 50

Total Salary per month will be SGD 3500. I am also entitle to AWS in year end, equal to or prorate of 1 month basic salary, upon confirmation of employment.

Q1)Is it a good offer comparing to the Singapore standard ?

Currently I am working in Bangalore,India and drawing a salary package of Rs-8,50,000 per anum. I'm able to draw around Rs-53,000 in hand per month (after tax). I am a newly married and my wife also earns around Rs-20,000 a month. Normally our family expense (rent Rs-10000, food and travel) wont go beyond Rs-22,000 per month.

In Singapore, I would like to go for a HDB flat (minimum 1 bedroom, 1 living room, kitchen and toilet) and I don't want to share the accommodation.

Q2)From the given data, Whats your opinion on my relocation to Singapore? Is the offer financially beneficial for me?

My wife is .net/C#/VB software engineer with 1+ years experience in an MNC.
Q3)Whats her chance of finding similar job in Singapore?
Q4)What salary range she can expect in Singapore ?
Q5)With the double income option, Whats your opinion on my relocation to Singapore?

Please send me your reply to

Thanks and Regards,


A1)As you might know,there is nothing called as Singapore Standard or for that matter India/USA standard when comes to salary package , it all depends on various factors like company you are joining, your skill level, need by the company and your negotiation skills for getting good salary package. You can have an idea about Singapore Wages here :

A2) This is an average salary. You need to define your goals for savings in Singapore as compared to what you are saving in Bangalore. I believe savings of around of Rs.50k(Rs.72k salary - expenses of Rs22k) is considered good in Bangalore. You should consider some other companies in Bangalore or in India to see what is being offered for your exp.+ skills. This will help you to take the decision better.

A3) Yes she can get job with some time of searching.

A4) Salary range could be checked in the report I have provided link earlier.

A5) Yes double income surely helps!

Hope this helps.Best of luck!


I would request readers to comment in more details, in case they are looking for any specific information. This would help me to provide better feedback. Also whatever I write is my personal opinion and cannot be taken granted. DYWR(Do You Own Reseach!)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Reader Mailbag #2 : Cost Of Living Singapore 2008

Hiii sandeep ur blogs have been highly informative and are a great help. i wanted to know about tax filing in singapore and India. Are u required to file returns only in Singaore or also in India how do u manage to do it??? 

Thanks for the comments Bijal. It is a very good question. I believe most of the people who get relocated to the new country from India must be thinking about this. Well the simple answer to this question is that you need to file Income Tax in Singapore as long as you are eligible for it. For more information checkout the informative website : Singapore Income Tax Website. Regarding Income Tax in India. You need to file returns with Indian Income Tax authority and pay the required Income Tax if you have any income in India. This is also applicable for people who have NRI status. 

Now with India providing various ways to file returns electronically it is much easier to file IT returns in India. Please read more about this at : RBI on NRI Rules on Income Tax

Hi Sandeep, many thanks for this information. Really you are doing a great work.I am planning to move to Singapore in Dec 08 along with my spouse. I would like to know more about master room (facilities, area, access to this room, cooking facility etc). Whether cooking is allowed? Thanks 

I assume you are talking about renting only the Master Bedroom out of 3 Bed Room HDB Flat or a Condo. Well generally speaking this kind of arrangement is more suitable for bachelors. But there are couples also who share HDB/Condo flats like this. Generally it requires lot of understanding between 2 parties sharing the flat and also requries some flexibility from everybody who is sharing the flat. The Master Room is the one which is having attached bathroom and toilet. Three bed room HDB flat have 1 Master room with attached bathroom and toilet. The other toilet is either near the Kitchen or having access via the living room(this is mainly true for new HDB flats which are less than 6-7 years old). Whether cooking is allowed or not depends on the owner of the flat. Most of the times the kitchen is well equipped with Fridge, Microwave Oven, Rice Cooker and some utensils too if you are lucky!..Best of luck for your house search !!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Cost of living in Singapore 2008 : For Bachelors / Single !

I have been getting lot of comments from my bachelor readers to find out what is the "Cost of living in Singapore for Bachelors".Most of them will start like this "hi...i have received an offer of S$3050 from a PR firm in Singapore and m thinking of relocating. I'm currently single and would appreciate your advice on whether it is possible to live comfortably on this salary... - Anonymous"

My blog post about "Cost of Living in Singapore 2008" get around 1-2 comments from people asking questions like this. My idea of sharing this information is to give some understanding for people who are trying to relocate to Singapore. I hope they get some idea from these posts. But most important thing to note is that I am not trying to advice here about anything. What I am putting is my frank personal opinion about "Cost of Living in Singapore". As I said before too, this depends on your lifestyle and how you continue to live here in Singapore. Also things might change over a period of time either on -ve or +ve side of it. So please do your own assessment before you take any decision.

With this let me explain about how much an bachelor would need in Singapore $ to live comfortably. Again this would depend now many things like,whether you are sharing the accommodation or not, how much do you spend on lifestyle products like iPhone!, how many times and where do you go out for eating etc etc.

Here is the sample chart to show how much an bachelor will probably spend here in Singapore for living.

  • 4 Bachelors / Singles living together in HDB Flat!
  • Sharing Grocery Expenses
  • Cooking at least 1 meal daily at home !
  • If a single person not living in Shared Accommodation - then the cost increases - But its a matter of preference for many. Remember it is good to live the life the way you want rather than savings some bucks :)

So for a Single it turns out to be very good as they can save good amount of money!. Again in this one needs to add a cost of travel for holidays or back to home country needs to be included. But that another post !

Enjoy Singapore!

Related Posts

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reader Mailbag #1 : Cost Of Living Singapore 2008

In this series I will try to address the questions asked by my readers specially on Cost of Living in Singapore. This helps me to consolidate the questions and answers by me. Also it helps readers to find the answers they are looking for quickly!

The reason of for having this series is that I would like to help readers and want to protect their identity in case they put their email in the comments. Also this is a great way to share ideas !

I am getting an Offer from company to pay me SGD $3000 and rental provided by the company. I have two kids, one goes to nursary and other is neonatal.How it would be to move to Singapore from India and earn some money..plz reply back me on at
- Vidyanath

I would personally avoid to give any recommendations or advice in this case. But at the same time I would like to share some facts so that it helps you to take the decision better.

If you are planning to move to Singapore from India. It is important for you to assess what you are saving there per month and how much is your expectation when you settle down in Singapore after 6 months of moving in. As there are expenses when you move in, so the first year's average savings reduce. I would suggest you to do some fact finding based on your current spending habits and savings per month in India. Also factor your current job and its potential to grow in India.

Nursary costs depends on where you put your kid. The range is between $300(decent one)-$750 based on my research in this area.

hi Mr.Sandeep ...good work ..I have got a offer from Singapore and they are offering me $1200 for housing and $2800 for other expenses. My husband and 2 yr old son will move with me. my husband is a marketing manager and I hope he will get a job in Singapore..I am really confused if I should take up the job ..what do you think ?

I picked up this question from my readers comment too as it similar to what I answered earlier. But this has another important aspect. It happens many times that either of the spouse finds a job and they have this tough question to decide whether to move in with that and then find job for other one later when they land in.

In this particular case again its a tough decision to take. But if you do your research right and plan properly this is something worth exploring. You would get 2 Bed room HDB apt in Singapore for $1200, although it depends on area and how furnished the flat is. Living with a family of 3 with $2800 is tough on budget, but if your spouse is confident on getting job here in Singapore in 3-4 months timeframe. The idea is worth looking at.

Singapore job market looks promising at present. So getting a job if you have right skills in demand is not difficult.

Please refer to following archives for more information on this subject:

Cost of Living in Singapore Posts

Small Savings on Grocery Items in Singapore - 2008

With Grocery taking almost $300-$400 of the monthly budget. It is important that we save on some items which makes sense.

  • Go with House Brand!
    • This is my favorite of all!. I was at the NTUC(FairPrice) recently and found that Detol Hand wash costs around $5+ whereas similar quantity House Brand Anti-bacteria hand wash costs only $2.50+. We always know Detol or some other brand which is shown on TV, but are unaware of simple house brand alternatives!..Check out similar house brand items at Carrefour too ..Personally I like the Jams there !
  • Buy from your favorite Shop
    • This is a no-brainier but it is important that you buy in bulk only from the shop which offers discounts and priced fairly. I am still unable to understand how same brand of Fresh Milk costs $5.20 in One Shop whereas same costs $4.90 in other ;) ..checkout few stores like Cold Storage, Carrefour, NTUC FairPrice etc and you will come to know where to shop more !. My Personal preference is to buy Fruits from FairPrice and Carrefour(whenever possible).
  • Order Online if possible
    • We order the Indian Groceries online in Singapore using website Online Groceries
    • It makes more sense to order online whatever you can specially when you know that the stuff you are ordering is going to be of a same quality as you buy it from the store personally.
    • Specially bulky items like Milk Cartons, Rice , Atta flour etc. As you have lot of convenience to get these delivered at your door step. Saves Taxi trip, queue at Taxi Stand, weekend time !
    • FairPrice also offers Online Shopping
  • Compare prices before you buy some items
    • This is again common sense but we ignore and assume sometimes.
    • A very nice example of Umbrella I had yesterday when I went to FairPrice Xtra at Hougang Point. We bought good quality Umbrella for $2.60(Aluminum frame and light weight) only. I remember buying a similar kind of Umbrella from a local shop for $13 sometime back. Even in Little India I have never seen Umbrella below $5 and they are the heavy ones. Although its a small item, but we keep loosing them sometimes!
  • Make a reserve list for promotions!
    • Always have some items to buy during promotions. Recently I saw promotions of Cock Brand Groundnut Oil for around $7+ whereas same trades at some shops for $10+. So it is a good idea to buy few items from some of the shops which keep offering promotions for the same.
  • Buy cut fruits from Grocery Shops !
    • You are one of a kind who likes to eat Fruit everyday during lunch or in the evening !. If you are lucky to have a carrefour or FairPrice shop near your office. You should buy the cut fruit from them instead of buying from the Fruit stall as the difference makes a lot of sense. Fruit stalls are good for juices!
Happy Shopping in Singapore !

Related Posts

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Financial Freedom on Independence Day ! 15th August 2008

Happy Independence Day to all.

I still remember my days in K.V School when we used to go to school in white clothes for Flag Hoisting Ceremony. The special treat used to be Mooti Chur ke Laddoo !!

On this day I would like to bring an exiting topic. Which is Financial Freedom! I am not a Financial Adviser. I believe we can at least achieve financial freedom by taking small baby steps.

  • Stop signing up for more credit cards
  • Stop taking Promotional Offers on Financial Products in hurry
  • Stop taking personal loans if possible
  • Save and Invest : Remember that just saving is not enough. You must Invest in order to potentially increase your income and achieve financial freedom.
  • Invest in Low cost Mutual Funds : This is interesting as investing in low cost means two things. Either you find a fund which is having less management fees and expenses or Invest in Index Fund. Just now I read this article "The Lost World" on Excellent article which talks about Investing in Index Funds and how they are in India Vs USA. But before you jump look at these figures(taken from :

Open Ended - Equity: Index - one Year Return
Fund NAV (Date) Returns(%) Return as on
ICICI Prudential Index 41.37 (13-Aug) 5.44 8/13/2008
UTI Sunder 467.82 (13-Aug) 4.09 8/13/2008
Nifty Benchmark ETS 459.69 (13-Aug) 3.88 8/13/2008
Franklin India Index NSE Nifty 35.79 (13-Aug) 2.60 8/13/2008
Birla Sun Life Index 45.37 (13-Aug) 2.57 8/13/2008
Principal Index 31.80 (13-Aug) 2.20 8/13/2008
Franklin India Index BSE Sensex 42.56 (13-Aug) 1.91 8/13/2008
UTI Nifty Index 28.56 (13-Aug) 1.85 8/13/2008
Canara Robeco Nifty Index 23.93 (13-Aug) 1.61 8/13/2008
Tata Index Nifty A 27.45 (13-Aug) 1.58 8/13/2008

Note that with same benchmark of S&P CNX Nifty ICICI Pru Index gives 5.44% Yearly Return whereas Birla Sun Life Index Fund gives 2.57% :) This is what author Dhirendra Kumar of the article I linked above is trying to explain.

  • Generate Passive Income : Well this is something needs more thought and planning. It is easy to say but not so easy to implment. I follow this blog regularly and here is one interesting post on Passive Income
  • Start blogging your ideas: Its been more than 2 years I am blogging. It is good to put your ideas and thoughts on a blog. It helps you as well as others.
  • Invest in Stocks directly only if you know :)
  • Invest with Mutual Funds directly with AMCs: This step alone will start saving you 2.25% entry load :)
Enjoy Freedom and your holiday if you are in India !

Monday, August 11, 2008

Indian stock markets on Cruise Control !

Indian markets are on Cruise Control today 11th Aug 2008 !. It seems all negative news are dried up and bulls are back..really ? I don't know for now.

  • Oil prices came down a bit.
  • Inflation is stable! - well people are tired of listening to the same tune..
  • Banks are gaining - ICICI, HDFC are up !
  • Elections are not in near term at least
  • Mutual Funds NAVs are rising slowly
  • IT companies in India are still recruiting
  • Websites say
    • They are still trying to predict level for Nifty and Sensex ! - same guys on TV will say don't try to time the market :)
  • Real Estate prices are still high - I do hear that they are coming down - but not in reality!
With all these, what an average investor is supposed to do ? I don't have an answer. I still feel India will continue to grow and therefore need to be in the market to gain from it. But at the same time I will see stick to my strategy :

Indian Mutual Fund Strategy for coming months - Part I

We still need to more analysis in order to understand how to play in this market.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Invest Online with AMCs Directly, NRI too ! ..SAVE Entry load 2.25%

With SEBI giving directions to AMCs for not charging Entry Load to Investors when they invest directly with AMCs. I have been thinking of doing this for long time but lacking some initiative to do the same !. Well with markets performing not so well for time being. I though it is the right time to try this with at least 1 AMC to see if this really works.

With my best guess I thought ICICI will be the best AMC to start with. With my experience I know that the ICICI is one of the pioneer's in implementing Online services for its customers.

This post is only about how to start investing with ICICI Pru AMC for Mutual Funds. Once I find out about others like Kotak, Birla..I would post about that too. btw till now I have found only ICICIPru, Kotak and Birla offering Online Investment facility. SBI does too, but their process is not 100% online!. Sundaram has tie-up with HDFC, Kotak Securities and ICICIDirect. So that means you need pay entry load of 2.25% !

Steps to start investing online(Purchase, Switch, Redeem) with ICICI Prudential AMC are :

  1. Goto
  2. If you already have a Folio with ICICIPru(Means you had bought Mutual Fund from ICICIPru directly using manual method earlier) then the process simple and can directly goto Step 3.But if you have invested in ICICIPru Fund using ICICIDirect, Citibank, HDFC etc ..because then in that case the Folio is sought of protected and only can be updated by those brokers.
  3. Click on Button "Existing Investor" and follow the form to Invest Online. Don't forget to select option "DIRECT" in the Form. ICICIPru AMC have tie-up's with most of the banks to transfer money using net banking.
  4. For Investor's who are first time investing in ICICIPru AMC. Goto website
  5. Click on link "APPLY NOW"
  6. Click on button "First Time Investor"
  7. There are instructions on this page to follow. But for simplicity, as I have done this I will give the steps here - Assuming you are Investing in ICICI Prudential Index Fund !
    1. Download the Common Application Form
    2. Fill up the form carefully, specially the details of Fund, Cheque No, Bank Details, NRI Checkbox for NRIs etc
    3. Write a crossed cheque of Rs.5000/- in the favor of "ICICI Prudential Index Fund" This is the minimum first time investment amount for ICICI Prudential Index Fund.
    4. Take a blank cheque and cancel it. This is also an requirement for direct debit/credit for AMC. They need another cheque as a proof for MICR Code I guess.
    5. Make sure you correctly write the IFSC(Indian Financial System Code) Code (This is printed on the Cheque normally)- This is required for RBI money transfer process.
    6. Proof's to attach with application - Please go through the application form instructions.
      1. Attested PAN Card Copy - If you are submitting the Form personally at the AMC, then you can show the Original PAN Card. For NRIs this is not a option, so you need to send an attested PAN Card Copy or Self-Signed would also do.
      2. KYC Acknowledgment or Print out after verifying at CDSL Website
    7. Verify all the documents and send by courier/post to the AMCs office in the City where your bank branch is located. This is important as they don't accept outstation cheques.
    8. For NRIs, please make sure to use Registered Post. I used registered post from Singapore. It reached in 5 days to ICICIPru AMC.
    9. The day your form reaches ICICIPru AMC, the first transaction is recorded and you get a Statement of Account in email !
    10. Now you can create a ICICIPru Tracker Account to do Purchase/Switch/Redeem from ICICI AMC without any ENTRY LOAD :)
    11. Steps to create the ICICIPru Tracker Account :
      1. Goto ICICI PRUTRACKER Website
      2. Follow the Activation process by having your Folio Number from account statement and a secret question!
      3. IPIN is generated online and you can create a username/password with Prutracker.
    12. Now onwards you can invest in all ICICI MFs without any entry load :)
The entire process for me took 8 days. Right from sending the Form and activation of Online account.

I will try to find out more about other AMCs and will post the steps for that too.

Happy Investing!