Saturday, September 26, 2015

Moving from Bangalore to Singapore - Stage -I: Go- No Go Decision

Stage I- Decision- Go - No GO: Moving from Bangalore to Singapore

Parameters of decision:

  1. Kid's Education at Singapore
  2. Overall expenditure and savings
  3. Work Culture

Kid's Education at Singapore: We have a 5 year old school goer. With a plan to move around for 5-6 years and return to ‘settle down’, it was important to have the continuity of the syllabus. We zeroed in on two syllabi: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or ICSE.

Three schools made the shortlist: DPS (CBSE), Global Indian International School (GIIS) (CBSE) and NPS (CBSE).

Upon inquiry, DPS asked our daughter to repeat the standard –I again. As per the date of birth criteria, she needed to be born before 31 Mar, 2007. She was born in July. DPS was a straight strike-off because of this arcane criterion.

With GIIS and NPS to choose from, a different factor came into play. The metro line on which the schools were and whether it connected the office location in Singapore. As it were, my office was in Shenton Way. The Green Line connected the office, GIIS and the airport. This was important because we had decided not to purchase a car for a smaller duration stay at Singapore and hence dependency on the public transport was high. In addition, while comparing the school charges, we discovered the school bus charges differed if we stayed within or outside the 3 KM radius of school. Green Line cut across the 3 KM radius of GIIS. Curriculum and associated charges were also reasonable while comparing the International schools in Singapore.

Overall expenditure and savings:  We listed down the factors which will affect this decision:

Rented fully-furnished 1-BHK apartment: Each of these four words had a reason. Rental, of course. We had no intention to take citizenship or permanent residency in an island called the Red Dot on the map. Nor did we intend to invest in real estate in Singapore. Fully-furnished made sense because we wanted to move in and out easily. 1-BHK would suit our family size. Family security while I traveled outside Singapore, necessity of easy availability of friends of a 5 year old in a new country and culture, and amenities along with the flat were reasons we decided to opt for an apartment rather than a landed house.

Salary and savings: I had a simple benchmark in India. (My HR friends vehemently oppose the benchmark in public but secretly agree with it.) In India, salary offers have three parameters: years of relevant experience (the word ‘relevant’ is abused as used as per convenience), pedigree (means where one had his/her education and which degrees), and what technology or field of work is major in the experience portfolio. Putting it straight with an example: if one is an Engineer + MBA- both from “tier-1 (which varies widely as per internal definition)” institutes with a “relevant” work experience of 10 years in regular technologies, then ₹ 2.875 Lakhs (average of ₹ 2.25 to ₹ 3.5 Lakhs) per annum multiplied by the 10 years of experience equalling ₹ 28.75 Lakhs per annum would be a likely salary (cost to company) around the middle of the bell curve. Of course, the fixed and variable components vary between 70:30:: Fixed:variable or sometimes 80:20 depending on how one negotiates.

In Singapore, there is a similar benchmark. Same person above is likely to draw SGD 16000 (average of a range between SGD 14000 to SGD 18000) multiplied by 10 years of experience equalling SGD 1, 60, 000 per annum. Now, let’s stay on this number. It implies the person would draw around SGD 13, 333 per month. This is the income.

Let’s breakdown the expenditure (in approximate numbers per month):
1. House Rent= SGD 3000
2. School fees= SGD 1500
3. Groceries and household expenses= SGD 800
4. Utilities = SGS 200
5. Transportation= SGD 500
6. Miscellaneous= SGD 500
7. Taxes: Extra (hovers around 5-10% of the income)

A total of around SGD 6500 per month. This gives a saving of SGD 6833 approximately. Depending on the exchange rates, one can calculate the amount of ₹ saved in a year. So, yes. It makes brilliant business sense.

This is where we decided to move and adapt to the work culture in the new place.  I will cover the experience in the next blog.