Think living in Singapore is expensive? You could be enjoying your time on the Red Dot for a lot less if you avoid these mistakes.
International money transfers and payments are part of expat life, but they don’t have to cost you extra.
Most Singapore banks like DBS offer free, same-day transfers to any bank in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, the UK and US via iBanking.
Or, compare options on MyCurrencyTransfer.com. Always consider rates and transfer times before making your final choice.
NEXT: Not using the right kind of accounts →
Signing up for a Singapore-based bank account or credit card can help you stretch your dollars and enjoy better perks.
But how do you pick the right one? Visit MoneySmart to compare different account packages from Singapore banks and credit cards.
Look for an account or card that complements your lifestyle. For example, if you dine out frequently, Citi Cash Back Card offers up to 8 percent cash back at all food and beverage outlets globally. Meanwhile, theatre-goers should check out the OCBC Arts Credit Card, which entitles you to a maximum of 20 percent off ticket prices for local and international productions.
NEXT: Overdoing the “expat” lifestyle →
Instead of opting for a condo near Orchard Road, Steve Douglas, co-founder of taxation specialists SMATS Group suggests living in a more local community.
“Rent in areas that are not overly popular with expats, as these are are usually cheaper and offer a more culturally immersive experience without compromising on quality or space,” he says. Research potential neighborhoods; view listings on Rent in Singapore, 99.co, Property Guru. Ohmyhome also connects potential tenants or buyers to homeowners for free.
Pro tip: Budget around 30 percent of your income for rent each month.
NEXT: Not sorting out your taxes →
“As no tax is deducted from earnings in Singapore, it is easy to spend the tax portion and then get behind when it falls due,” Steve explains.
While you can ask for instalments, the full amount must be paid if and when you want to leave Singapore, which can drain your savings.
In addition, putting it aside ensures that you live off your net pay and adjust your lifestyle to suit, says Steve. He recommends factoring in any accommodation and school fees paid for by an employer, too, as it will have tax consequences.
NEXT: Not figuring in the REAL cost of living →
“Stealth taxes” are a big surprise for most expats, becauase they impact the retail price of some food items, cars, cigarettes and alcohol. Additionally, families often experience “sticker shock” at the price of international school fees, especially with expat packages dwindling, says Derren Joseph, a partner at Hayden T Joseph CPA.
If your family has a limited budget, public schools may be an option to consider. The Ministry of Education (MOE) conducts the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS) for non-citizens who wish to enrol in local primary schools, secondary schools and junior colleges.
NEXT: Paying fees to move funds →
By Muneerah Bee, The Finder (Issue 280) / Updated August 2019
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