Over the years the expatriate population in Singapore has been blooming. There can be a lot of challenges for a foreigner living in Singapore especially with managing the finances. Here are the things you have to know as soon as you land in The Lion City of Asia.
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Quick Facts on Singapore
Population: 5.535million (World Bank, 2013)
Major language: English, Malay, Tamil, Standard Mandarin
Currency: The dollar (SGD, $ or S$)
Time zone: GMT+8 Hours
If your employer is not going to handle your accommodation you have to know the types of properties which you can rent. There is nothing much to fuss about if you have enough cash to give your landlord as a deposit for a month or two, however if you are tight on the budget here are some tips for you.
Take time to shop around. Look into various internet sites, ask your friends and colleagues, go to open houses and ask agents. Give yourself at least a month to look into various apartments that may interest you and imagine living in the place. Compare the places before creating a short list at the end of the month. By giving yourself enough time, you won’t be pressured when finally deciding. Consider your lifestyle, workplace, and preferred amenities. Search on Facebook forums to know what other expats have to say on the places you are eyeing. You can also search on EasyRoommate. There are rooms under $1,000 offered in the site.
Know the Real Price
When you know the right price, it will give you the boost of confidence needed to negotiate with landlords. It is not enough to ask people you know on how much they think apartments are. Agents are also not a hundred present reliable, and so are the classified add.
For the most accurate listing of prices, you can look for the Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) lists of leases. You won’t just see the prices; you can also see some information such as the location of the apartment, the size, bedroom, accommodation capacity, and the monthly rental. You can get an idea on how much other tenants are paying for a similar apartment.
Poor Quality Listings may Mean More
If you are really trying to look for cheaper apartments, don’t waste time looking through more than 50,000+ advertisements of premium condos. If there are a lot of people competing for one apartment since many have been hooked by the advertisement, it is most likely that the landlord will not give you are space for negotiation.
The quantity of photos does not change the quality of an apartment. The apartment with one photo may end up better than the other. Give it a chance, get in touch with the agent and ask for more photos, information and other things you think might be personally important.
Use an Agent
A lot of Singaporeans think that using an agent is a bad idea, but if it means that you have a good negotiator and a financial adviser at your side, then it beats the downside. We have to admit that unless you work in the real estate business, the agent knows more than you do so let him/her do the work.
Another advantage is the agent can drive you around to apartments that you might get interested in. You can save time, money and effort going to various apartments. Be vocal and make sure the agent knows your allotted budget for an apartment.
Choose the One you Need
We have to admit that a lot of apartments offer extravagant facilities such as jogging tracks, pools, semi-professional gyms, and many others. Since you want to save your money, don’t fall in love with facilities that you are not even going to use much.
There is a good chance that you already have a bank account way back home, but it is still more convenient to have a local one. Choose between POSB or DBS, OCBC and UOB. You can make bank transfers easier as their ATMs are easy to locate. In case you need to transfer money back home, ask these local banks if you’re they can transfer it to your bank in your country.
Singaporeans use credit cards sparingly, and you should too since you are living in one of the most expensive cities in the globe. You have to make sure that your cards are paid in full and on time to keep your credit score in good shape. You can link your Singaporean bank account to your credit card so it will be automatically paid off each month.
Foreign currency spending
To save up money, use your credit card when spending abroad. Some cards such as the UOB Visa Signature card gives a 5-cent rebate every time you reach the minimum requirement of expenditure in foreign currency.
Mobile data plan
Singapore has three telcos, SingTel is being the most expensive, M1 and StarHub are the cheaper. If you are going to stay in the country for 2 years, you can apply for a plan, yet some expats still apply for a plan despite staying for less than two years as they can transfer it to another subscriber. If you would rather take over someone’s plan, you can search the Expats Forums and fins someone who is about to let go of a plan. All you need is a proof of local residence. If you are not into calls and your job does not require it, you can just get a prepaid plan.
You can choose among SingNet, M1, StarHub, MyRepublic and ViewQwest. They all provide superfast fibre-optic and broadband connections.however if you are going to stay for less than 6 months, you may choose between MyRepublic or ViewQwest as they have pay as you go plans available for expats.
Join expat organizational groups and forums to keep yourself updated. Some expats you are about to return to their country after staying for a long time may offer some of their things up for sale. Visit theExpat.com and InterNations to get the hang of living in Singapore and find other expats who can relate to your situations.
On the other hand, you don’t have to sacrifice much of your luxuries to survive in Singapore. Cash Mart offers loans for foreigners. Visit Cash Mart or give them a call, and the friendly staff will be ready to assist you through the process.
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