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Singapore > Articles


Choosing an Apartment and Getting Around Singapore - Some Tips for Expats

Posted on Tuesday February 19, 2013 (02:11:07)

by Alexandra Sheehan

Life as an expat is full of new experiences. Meeting new people, exploring a new place, tasting new cuisines. You exist in a state of constant euphoria and wanderlust as you float amongst the new foreign fairyland.

There is a dark side, the logistical side to planning a big move overseas. Your euphoric existence is clouded over with the worries of finding a place to live, getting around, and figuring out how to assimilate your life as the new kid on the block (or in the country). Referencing this guide to the logistical side of settling in and getting around in your new expat life in Singapore can help to make your transition smoother and stress-free.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Expat Salaries in Singapore - A Basic Primer

Posted on Saturday February 16, 2013 (18:03:39)

When moving to Singapore, it’s always helpful have an idea of the salary benchmark for your industry, job function and years of experience so that you know your worth in the labour market. This information can provide you with a good idea of what to look out for during a job search, when making career decisions, or when negotiating your remuneration and benefits.

Firstly, if you are a foreigner looking for work in Singapore, you may want to know the basic pay structure here. Being one of the most advanced Asian economies, many will be surprised to find that Singapore does not have a minimum wage law. However, one of the most impressive policies that the government has come up with is the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a sort of compulsory savings scheme for employees which can be used for retirement, medical expenses and other expenses such as property purchases and investment purposes. In short, your employer will contribute 16% of your salary to this account and from your monthly salary; the employee will commit 20% to this account. This means that if your company promised a monthly salary of $5000, you will receive a take home pay of $3200 and on top of the $5000 your employer will input $800 into your CPF. The bad news is that CPF is a compulsory savings tool meant for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents only.   more ...

Hong Kong > Articles

Hong Kong

Pollution in Hong Kong - What Expats Should Know Before Moving

Posted on Friday February 15, 2013 (18:06:00)

The name Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor.” There is an old joke that when a plane landed at Kai Tak, Hong Kong’s former airport, and the pilots opened the doors, they would look at each other and one would say, “If it’s not you and it’s not me, this must be Hong Kong.” The harbor’s fragrance is no longer a pleasant one, and now, sadly, air pollution in Hong Kong is a common complaint as well.

For the good news first, Victoria Harbor waters have been notoriously high in E. coli bacteria for decades resulting from the practice of dumping raw sewage into the harbor after minimal filtration. Thankfully, the sewage treatment system (Harbour Area Treatment Scheme) installed in 2001 on Stonecutters Island now provides chlorination and other processing to remove most of the bacteria and other pollutants before discharging the wastewater collected from much of the city to the harbor. By 2014 the remaining raw sewage from other parts of the territory will also be piped to the treatment facility.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Cost of Living Tips for Expats in Singapore

Posted on Thursday February 14, 2013 (18:06:43)
Singapore Central Business District (CBD)
Singapore, the little red dot, has definitely risen up the international ranks in many ways—amongst its accolades includes being one of the world's most liveable cities, Asia’s most ‘network-ready’ and number one for ease of doing business. It's also no wonder that the 710 km² island is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

According to the Wall Street Journal, living in this small city costs about 42% than New York – topping London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual cost-of-living survey showed that a European city – Zurich – is still the world’s most expensive, with Tokyo as the runner up and Singapore now listed as the world’s 9th most expensive city.   more ...

Hong Kong > Articles

Hong Kong

Lack of Living Space in Hong Kong Homes - What To Expect

Posted on Thursday February 14, 2013 (17:01:00)
A congested side street in Kowloon
In our previous article on the cost of living in Hong Kong we note that the annual living quarters allowance for US government expats in Hong Kong is a range around $100,000 (US). This translates to a monthly rate for rent/utilities of $7K to $10K, which would provide luxury living in most parts of the US and many large cities worldwide. That doesn’t mean, however, that the apartment will provide luxury amenities in Hong Kong. This rent will typically provide an apartment with a living area in the range of less than 2,000 sq ft in high-end areas in mid-levels, Parkview, South Island, and Discovery Bay. Floor space provided at this rate will be higher in Western, Kowloon, New Territories, and outlying islands.

What do these apartments look like?   more ...

Switzerland > Articles


A Drive Around Lac Léman in Switzerland – the West Side

Posted on Wednesday February 13, 2013 (22:26:58)
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
by Nancy Bach

In other parts of the world, it is known as Lake Geneva. But the Swiss and French know this lovely glacial lake as Lac Leman. I like to call it that so it's not confused with Geneva Lake, Wisconsin! Its southernmost tip is at Geneva Switzerland; then it stretches up to Lausanne and curls to Montreux. In summer the beautiful blue waters are dotted by sailboats.

In autumn the hillsides are redolent with the aroma of vineyards yielding their bountiful crops. In winter icy blasts whip lake waters up over the banks, creating ice statues of trees and benches. And in spring the glorious wildflowers and fields and mountains beyond the lake are direct from the triumphant ending of "The Sound of Music."   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Want To Work In Singapore? Read Our Job Hunting Tips First!

Posted on Wednesday February 13, 2013 (16:09:48)

Singapore reports an average 2 percent unemployment rate and enjoys a vibrant job market despite some economic headwinds blowing in from some of the largest global economies in the world. With the nation being ranked number 1 as the best place to do business and the top Asian country for its quality of life (Worldwide Quality of Living Index 2010), it is no wonder it was ranked the best place for wealthy expats in a recent survey by HSBC Bank. Around 76 percent of the expats living in Singapore claimed they have experienced a better quality of life after relocating here. Moreover, low income tax, a high standard of living and a largely English-speaking environment makes it appealing and easy for foreigners to live and work here. So, if you don't mind the hot and humid weather all year round, a work environment that rewards the hardworking but neglects work-life balance and trying your luck to work here despite government measures to tighten up on foreign labour, here is a list of how you can go about navigating your way to your first job on the "little red dot".   more ...

Hong Kong > Articles

Hong Kong

How to Estimate Your Cost of Living in Hong Kong

Posted on Saturday February 09, 2013 (18:18:09)
Hong Kong coins
The good news is that Hong Kong is not one of the top ten most expensive world cities for expats, at least according to Economist Intelligence Unit which provides regular reports on cost of living in the world’s major cities. The bad news is it’s very close. In fact, a different assessment by Mercer rates Hong Kong as 9th in the world for costs for expats behind Tokyo, Zurich, Moscow, Luanda, N’Djamena, and several others. These two agencies and various others assess cost of living by looking at the prices that an expat family will pay for typical goods and services compared to similar items in other key cities.

Often some of these costs will be subsidized by a sponsoring employer, so it’s valuable to dig deeper into the cost elements broken into several categories rather than look just at a single number. The US Department of State provides a frequently updated assessment of typical living costs and publishes cost of living allowance (COLA) data used for calculating additional compensation given to employees working in US posts in foreign countries. It’s a handy reference with current information so it is frequently used by US and other companies as a starting point in calculating allowances for expat employees.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Expat Childcare in Singapore

Posted on Saturday February 09, 2013 (17:22:21)

Child care is a significant concern for many parents, especially in families where both parents work. You can find a variety of childcare options and facilities in Singapore, and while citizens are eligible for a certain amount of subsidisation in health care as well as child care, foreigners and expats usually need to pay full fees for all types of child care services. Let’s get an overview of how child care works in Singapore.

Care for New-Borns

Childbirth is a life changing event for the parents, and as such, many parents, especially new parents, opt for a confinement nanny to help during the first few months of child birth. The first few weeks after birth involve a strict regimentation both for the mum as well as baby. This includes a healthy and nourishing diet for the mum, enough rest for both, and a host of other dos and don’ts.   more ...

Switzerland > Articles


A Drive Around Lac Léman in Switzerland – the North and East Sides

Posted on Friday February 08, 2013 (23:11:35)
Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) in the evening
by Nancy Bach

Views from the heights of Lausanne looking south to the lake with the surrounding Alps, in the crisp, clear Swiss air are impressive. City businessmen sponsored construction of the Sauvabelin Tower, with a 100-foot climb up a circular wooden stairway to make the views even better. Breathe in the tranquility; you may never have this opportunity again.

Lausanne, of course, is the home of the IOC, International Olympic Committee, with an interesting museum, worth a visit. Each January Lausanne is home to the Prix de Lausanne international amateur dance competition. We missed it during our one year in Geneva—wish we could get a do-over!   more ...