What Is An Expatriate Package?
The precise details of an expatriate package vary among companies but the idea is this: if you can get the expatriate package, spring for it. It's a sweet deal. In fact, it is such a sweet deal that it is posing a political problem. Ever-pragmatic Singaporeans are asking: If expatriates get a better financial deal, why don't I emigrate from Singapore and return as an expatriate? Early this year in 1998, a committee was formed to look into this and other dilemmas facing Singapore in the 21st century.
In general, an expat package aims at taking care of the bulk of your major expenses from arrival to departure. Although the following list presents a range of items that might be covered, today's expatriate is increasingly less likely to enjoy so many perks - simply because Singapore's conducive environment, attractive tax rates and burgeoning talent base means there is less reason to give expatriates so many sweeteners to come - many are only too keen to do anyway.
Moving Allowance First, you are paid to pack all your worldly belongings from the other-world to this world. Typically, the amount of space is counted in cubic feet or cubic metres or container boxes. Some expats move their entire household furnishings - anything that is not nailed down or screwed on gets packed and shipped away.
Airfare Depending on your entitlement, this could be business or first class. Some expats pack in a short trip on the way over.
Housing Housing allowances vary but to give you an idea of allowances: the best housing is to be found in districts 9, 10 and 11. Guess who predominate. Yup, expats. In fact, in a large number of condominiums, most of the residents are expats, especially in areas like the East Coast. Housing rentals in these districts range from S$4,000 for a two-bedroom to around S$6,000 for a three-bedroom and up.
Utility Bills In a number of instances, such bills are borne in full by the company. Somehow, there is a belief among expats that without the air-conditioning running, their furniture will grow moldy. (Most Singaporeans live without air-conditioning except when they sleep.) The result is that the utility bill runs to around S$600 a month for a single expat compared with an average of less than S$200 for a Singapore household of four.
Transport Many expats drive rental cars, which cost S$2,000 a month up for a 1600 cc car.
Children's education The major portion of school fees for children are also taken care of. Some companies bear the full total of school fees. International schools in Singapore are well-regarded internationally, in part because of inevitable comparison with the Singapore school system. For our own ExpatSingapore comparison, have a look here.
Medical and dental insurance Medical and dental coverage are often fully covered for the employee and partially for spouse and dependents.
Home leave The idea is that you get a special paid holiday to return to your home country. Some companies allow their employees to cash in the leave.
Expenses home Finally, when you leave, you get to ship your by-now-expanded household of stuff back at company expense. Many expats have a last holiday fling at this stage. Might as well—the household stuff is still at sea anyway.
Note As mentioned before, the above list is undergoing a considerable amount of "down-sizing" or the more politically-correct "right-sizing."