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Home » Business, Economics and Money Making

Singapore In Retrospect : IT Professionals on the Move!

Submitted by on Wednesday, 16 April 20085 Comments
Singapore In Retrospect : IT Professionals on the Move!

A couple of days ago, while browsing some internet blog posts, I saw a blog entry relating to FILIPINOS moving to Singapore to work. Entitled, the-best-filipino-software-developers-are-headed-for-singapore. and can-pinoy-software-companies-stop-the-exodus-to-singapore. , the excerpt talks about mass exodus of Filipino IT Professionals to Singapore. Though I wasn’t surprised on the blog saying most of the IT professionals are moving to that direction, the blog was posted early 3rd quarter of last year – 2007 . Indeed, this issue has been there for quite sometime now and has been around for years already not just in singapore but also exodus of nurses and engineers to US and European countries where money pay is much way better! I knew a lot of good friends now who also work in Singapore. I remember an old college classmate who is a Microsoft evangelist earns now a whopping $5000/month or a P150,000 ($5000 * Php30) per month for a multinational British Bank. With that still excluding other company perks, medical and leave credits. More than a dozen of my other friends and former officemates are already in Singapore too with starting salaries in the range of Php100,000 and above. Who doesn’t want that either? But thinking all the fuss around in my head, I started to rekindle and take time to research. How much is the cost of living in Singapore? What is it in Singapore that makes it a sought after country to work for ? What makes singapore a best place for professionals anyway? Let’s have a brief retrospect.

According to cost of living index analysis of Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Singapore is one of the top 14 expensive cities around the world (** this is as of March 2007). Interestingly enough, it is even more expensive than New York City which on Top 15. Philippines is on #123 List. On this site, Focus Singapore, It says that the cost of living in Singapore is among the highest in Asia but this should come as no surprise as Singapore offers state-of-the art facilities for education, shopping, excellent sports and recreation facilities just like what is seen on western countries. Since I’ve been there for like 3-4 times, I can really vouch for their clean city, the array of multinationals dwelling the cosmopolitan, the efficient MRT stations and the scenes around the bustling nightlife which are all very exciting for the newbies. Prices of food, clothing and transportation are all reasonable and the living conditions are the best in Asia as the inflation rate is comparatively lower than that of the other countries. Singapore, a tiny nation with a diverse mix of cultures and hardworking people always strive for excellence. From my last visit, I tried to ride on the MRT – EZLink  and witnessed these young crowd where I saw their piled books and eyeglasses! And then at one time, while taking a Mcdo happy meal, I glanced upon this 60-70 yr old woman (maybe as old as my grandmother), sweeping the lobby entrance of the restaurant. This is what makes Singapore – a hard working people. When one has finally decided to settle down in this country, it becomes necessary to chalk out or even have an estimate of the expenses against the income which you are going to earn. For an average young  Filipino professional who had just secured a well-paying Singapore job, this might be a dream come true for them. For a European wanting a change in culture and weather, this country meets the expectations. But let us not make it in a hurry as this can be a great factor in making a decision while making a foreign country your home maybe for some period of time or lifetime! You have to jot down your priorities in life and make a detailed costing of the expenses to put forth for your future reference. But as a guide, let me enumerate some of the digits….

  • Housing cost: A condo apartment size 1600 sq feet – 3bedrooms in the city would normally cost you around $4000 per month. That is Php 120.000. Yes believe me!!
  • An apartment size: 1500 – 1800 sq feet 3 + 1 rooms located at the outskirts of the city would cost you $2500 per month or Php 75000. And to find one these days is really hard. I just heard from my former officemate who works for a multinational bank there that even rental units of the businesses have increased too in addition to condo units – like nearly about 50%? I said, hey, it’s a huge multiplier! To save money,  they decided to transfer to HDB units which costs much about 20-40%% cheaper than condos. Housing costs depend on the location as well as the facilities available and the extent of furnishing done in the apartment.
  • Transportation costs for a month of daily taxi usage is $400 or Php 12000 whereas if u travel by the MRT they would come up to $60-$70 or Php 1800-2000 a month.
  • Education costs for an international school per child for one month would be $600-800 or roughly around Php 24000.
  • Food cost could account for $800 a month (eat in + groceries) or Php 24000 for a family of four (which this could be less).
  • Expenses on utilities such as water, gas, electricity including the running of the air conditioner come upto $250-$280 (*30=Php 8400) a month.
  • If you indulge in eat outs and going outs with your family your expenses could run upto $500 – $800 a month or more or less P24000. For a meal of four at the road side you would spend no more than $25 (* 30 = Php750).
  • Your monthly expenditure on information resources such as Magazines, newspapers, cable TV, internet, books, phone charges bill could run upto $400 or Php 12000.
  • The cost of a car would be + $90,000 or Php +2,7000,000 (yes very expensive!!!) and above for a brand new Japanese or European family car and a Club Expenditure on membership implies – $1500 to $4000 per year for annual non-transferable membership.
  • Other expenses like a pack of 20 cigarettes cost $5.80 (* 30 =Php174) , a bottle of wine – a good quality one would cost $60.00, an hour at the internet café would cost you $6.00 (*30= Php80- but broad band is much cheaper there).
  • Certain luxury but essential items such as mobile phone costs $400 (* 30 =Php12000: Try Singtel or StarHub as they are the once known there) + about $30 (Php 900) a month for subscription, Home computer costs $1500 (* 30 =Php 45,000 *** there are some cheaper computer outlets out there in sim lim area in singapore).
  • Laptop costs $3500 (* 30 =Php105,000) whereas a TV set would cost around $800 (* 30 =Php 24000). Another important tip is to check out with your employers the medical benefits and insurance coverage because this is really important. A former officemate once told me that she used to have her tooth pasta done on a good clinic and her cost summed up to Php18000 just for one tooth. Really expensive!

So for one to be able to negotiate a good asking rate from a given job offer, one must calculate these things and one must do a good research not to overrate or underrate oneself on the process. Back in 2006, my first time in singapore was really surprising because while strolling around the metropolis, i just found more than 5 of my college classmates, friends and former colleagues were there as well!!! (but im sure there are still even more to think that — it’s already 2008). What a reunion!

But as for me, I’ve been really contemplating for a while if ever I will work in Singapore even if I hold a very good job at the moment. I even have my EPEC or what they used to call Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate ready at hand so anytime I could fly and sift for work if I really wanted to but I guess I should remain calm in doing so. I may be getting less that what most of my friends in Singapore earn as of this moment but there’s something about the Philippines that made me stay this long. I know the urgency for me to search for a Singapore job now since my one-time issued EPEC (yes they just issue it one-time) will be forfeited soon if not gotten used for until Nov 2008. But who knows what my future brings? If I have given the same opportunity – as some of my friends have been offered then right and good. But in the end, if  you can find companies based on the Philippines that offer very competitive salary then much better. At least you don’t have to sacrifice to leave your loved ones behind or adjust to the succumbing pressures from the Singaporean or Expats bosses and the like or more so, maybe adjustments to food and foreign living. But if you think you are ready to face all these difficulties and adjustments then it’s your right to do so. After all this is a matter of life’s personal choices. If you’re happy to see  your former colleagues and office mates again and that would make you even a whole rounded person then go for it. Pinoys in general or even other nationalities for that matter are naturally looking for happiness and greener pasture. The Philippine government may be trying its very best to retain local talent but it can’t be blamed for the exodus of not only these talented IT professionals but also nurses, doctors, engineers and alike to work in foreign lands. Migrating to work and sifting for a greener pasture have been there for centuries. These things happen for a reason and these facts are what globalization is all about.

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