Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moving to Singapore from India : Questions Answered !!

Thanks to my readers in 2011 who ask me questions via email or comments. I try to respond to as many as I can and to my best of knowledge.

There is this one particular question which I get asked in different ways. Look the following! :

Question 1) : I am Mr. X salary offered to me is SG$6000/month
  • What will a 1 Bed Room condo, in a reasonably close by area, cost?
  • Should I take an additional 10% margin over the numbers posted in your 2010 blog for 2012 cost of living?
I am paid close to INR 120,000 pm (After Tax and monthly saving of 40,000) in India do you think the salary offered in SG, I can meet a similar/better life style with the similar savings?

Question 2)  Is it enough for us to live comfortably with that salary in Singapore as we do live a very sophisticated and comfortable life in Chennai/Bangalore/Mumbai/Pune !.

My Answer :   First of all there is no simple answer to these questions!. But I will try to make your decision simple as I have gone through similar stage in my life when I was moving to Singapore. What you need to is to  breakdown your questions in to different logical ones rather than defining them like 'Comfortable' , 'Similar' or 'Reasonable' !!.

Most important is to understand that moving to a new country is your decision and you are trying to do this for your better prospects in life/career. You are moving to Singapore because you decided so and not due to the fact that you could not move to USA/UK or Australia!!. Once you are clear in your mind about the objective of moving to Singapore. The questions related to money part can be sorted out quickly.

Now coming back to comfortable salary and maintaining similar lifestyle as in your present country/city.

Questions you need to ask yourself :
  1. What is present Salary + Perks ?
  2. How much do I spend today per year ?
  3. How much do I save today per year ? Yes per year makes more sense!
  4. In my current occupation/job, what is my growth potential ? 
  5. What is my current lifestyle ? here are some examples!
    • I go and party every other week
    • Play a game or Swim everyday
    • My kids go to some activity every other day and that costs more than 30k INR p.a.
    • I like to travel every 2 months and spend INR 1 Lac on each trip
    • My Grocery bills in India goes up to INR 30k p.m.
    • I enjoy driving and have 20 Lacs worth car which I drive!
Does above questions makes you more confused? Should not !! ..In fact these are the questions which will put value against the terms like 'Comfortable', 'Sophisticated' etc .

Now coming back to moving to Singapore from India. The biggest question readers ask is "How much I would be able to save if I get $xxxxx.xx Salary ?".

This depends on following lifestyle options you will choose to when you start living in Singapore! :
  1. Accommodation : Condo or HDB, 2 BHK or 3 BHK ..Remember there is no 1 BHK!
  2. Grocery : From Fairprice(a branded Shop in Singapore) or from Mustafa only. Indian Vegetables only or will have local ones.
  3. School : Local or Indian International or US/AU International.
  4. Transportation : Local Public Transport(Bus,MRT) or Private Car or Taxi!
  5. Activities : Club Membership, Gym, Swimming etc
  6. Outside Food : Indian or Local or International Cuisine.
  7. Recreation : Going to Pub, Movie every week, Fine Dining every 2 weeks!
  8. House Maid: DIY or Keep one! . Singapore has given an excellent choice in this area but it sets you back by $700 pm.
I hope this gives you more insight into Singapore Lifestyle!. Also comparing lifestyle in India and Singapore is different when it comes to overall facilities. Singapore is an International country with most sophisticated and modern facilities to offer but with a cost. So if you think that you can maintain similar lifestyle as in India, please do some comparison based on above questions and you will get a fair answer yourself.

Most of the time we calculate cost of living for basic necessities only like Accommodation, Grocery, School etc. You need to consider that when you start living in for longer duration(within 2 months infact!) you would need other things as well in life to live 'Comfortably' :)

You surely need to define the most important question of all, that is "Savings per year". If you keep this goal very clear in mind and with realistic calculations(they are still approx!). You will be able to meet your goal fairly good. Remember don't keep savings goals on per month basis rather on per year basis. This makes life easy!

Best of luck for your moving decision to Singapore and Happy New Year 2011!. 

Please email me on the above email address and I will respond
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cost of employing maid in Singapore

Many people ask me this question ..How much does it cost to keep maid in Singapore ?

The best thing about Singapore, which many people envy who live in Australia or USA / UK is able to keep Domestic worker(often called as 'Maid') here in Singapore with not much of a cost. Many people like this in Singapore as it is allowed govt. It works out very well and quite cost effective compared to what you get in USA/UK/Australia!!.

Maid Nationality : This is the first question comes in your mind when deciding about the FDW in Singapore. I would suggest to go for Philippino, as we have experienced their work and they are good. If you are planning to bring maid from your own country like India or Malaysia, agents help in that too. I would still prefer getting a FDW who is already in Singapore as it helps a lot as they are aware of surroundings and culture.

Salary : Monthly salary is $340 or more depending on experience and maids nationality. You need to work out with the maid and agency to agree upon mutually.

FDW Levy : Please refer to this "Work Permit Information(FDW)" by MOM. It is very good source of information. A Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) levy of $265 (normal) or $170 (concession) is payable every month.

Agency Fee : Agencies will charge somewhere between $300-600 for getting you the FDW. It is negotiable as they try to adjust that with maid's salary too sometimes.

Agency Loan : When the FDW is directly coming from their home country. A loan is generally there of about $2000-2500 which maid generally clears using her salary. You can mutually decide how the maid and agency would recover this from their salary.

Things to get for maid before getting her home : This is an important task. You need to make sure that the maid is comfortable at your house, as she will be working for you. These are the following things we bought/arranged for her :

  • New Mattress - $50
  • A separate room for her to sleep- as we had 4 room flat.
  • Basic Toiletries
  • A small cub-board to keep her belongings.
Food for maid :  This was nothing different that what we are eating. As we prefer eating Veg at home, we had mutually agreed with her before signing the contract that she will have eat the veg Indian food at home. Mostly maid are fine with it as long as it is agreed before.

Indian Cooking : This was the huge surprise for us!. Our maid learned the Indian Cooking in just few weeks and she was able to cook most of the dishes. You need to give them in writing the ingredients once and show few basic things. They generally are good cook and learn quickly.

It is important to understand that maid is away from family(from wherever they come from) and it takes some time for them to get adjusted to new environment. As I have spoken to many friends, mostly all of them have good experience about maid in Singapore. Make sure that you get a maid from a agency which is known to you or your friend that way you can trust them well. Agencies also help you to resolve some conflicts in case you have with maid and helps you get a replacement if the maid decides to leave for some reason.

You need to make them understand your rules at home and they generally follow that strictly.  If you have kids, you need to be careful and make sure that you have make them understand about all things you want them to take care about kids. Keep all your valuables safely and never assume everything is going to be 100% perfect. As the laws in Singapore are very much followed, maids are aware that they need to be lawful and within MOM guidelines.  

Disclaimer : All above is based on my own experience and you need to apply your own judgement before employing maid. Also refer to Ministry of Manpower for any queries you would have.