Hong Kong or Singapore?

SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

I have had interviews for both Hong Kong (ESF) and Singapore schools. Their timeline is to make offers next week.

Wondering what the best place for a family is currently? Considerations:
- Quality of life/ potential to get involved in activities during COVID
- Potential for children to make friends during COVID
- Savings potential
- Anything else!
Would love to hear from any teachers currently there. TIA!
fine dude
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:12 pm
Location: SE Asia

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by fine dude »

Singapore on any day. It's the Denmark of Asia.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Why is it the "Denmark of Asia"? :)
fine dude
Posts: 632
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:12 pm
Location: SE Asia

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by fine dude »

A proactive city-state that knows how to take care of its people, transparent government, competitive salaries for international school teachers, low tax rates, world-class healthcare, extremely safe for families, a highly-educated and skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure, and world-renowned universities and airport.

On the other hand, it isn't easy to land a job at a top-tier school here. You need to be at the top of your game (imagine an examiner / workshop leader with a master's and several years of experience under your belt). Having said that, I wouldn't work at a second-tier school in SG, though. Health insurance for the family will cost a bomb and the housing allowance they offer is meagre.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Thank you this is great!
The package would be roughly 200,0000 singaporean gross as a teaching couple + health insurance. Is that reasonable?
sciteach
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Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2014 7:49 am

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by sciteach »

Singapore was great before covid - but note that it is not a democracy like we are used to in the west. This was more shown in Covid than normal.

For example - it's still illegal (in Singapore) to gather in groups of 3 or more people due to covid restrictions unless you live in the same household.

Singapore is more open to outside travel than HK - which it's still more arduous than other countries but much better than HK which sees opening up to China as more important than opening up to the world.

Singapore has a very low tax rate - which you pay from memory around March from the previous calendar year.

You can work out your tax rate here. Note that if you have multiple kids this will significantly increase you tax burden each year.

https://www.iras.gov.sg/quick-links/calculators

For a single - I used to get around $9K SNG a month before tax with benefits included in this amount. I also got Health Insurance and one flight a year home included. This would be considered a mid-tier pay in general.

Note that the education sector in Singapore is much more financially cutthroat than other international cities. Think of public buses with International School advertisements as an example. This trickles down to how a school runs - where appearance AND finances are concerned.

In Singapore - accommodation can be broken down into 2 different types. Condos (privately owned accom often with nice amenities) and HBD. Although it's technically illegal for us to rent HBD - they are nice enough in general and are much cheaper than condos. Expect rent in a nice condo to cost $1800-$2500 SGD a month and probably $2,500-$4000 a month for a 2-3 bedroom condo.

Living in certain areas (such as Sentosa Island) can add another zero to those numbers.

My knowledge of HK is a bit weaker than Singapore - but note that life is fine for people who get involved in NO POLITICS but HK is moving away from the original one country two systems. I'd not live in HK at the moment and would not live in Singapore during covid (specifically with stronger restrictions). However - they are only my opinions which everyone normally has 1 of.
Banter1584
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:29 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by Banter1584 »

I have lived in both but only worked in Singapore, where I am currently based. Both places have their pros and cons but on the whole Singapore edges it, in terms of political stability, pollution, lower taxes, lower cost of accommodation (yes rent is cheaper here!) and its policies towards COVID.

However, Hong Kong has better food, more things to do and in your situation getting an offer from an ESF school you will get some of the best packages in the world ( I know people who work there and other supposedly "leading schools in HK) . Bear in mind the taxes in HK are slightly higher as well as the cost of living so all in all you will earn the same. Please check if the Hong kong school fees for your kids are taxed, as they are in Singapore around 15% of the total fees.

For your family the 200000 SGD gross would provide a comfortable lifestyle and I would consider that a mid tier salary, for Singapore. There schools that pay better but those are generally much harder to get into, one follows the American system, and the 2 or 3 others follow a more British/IB system.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Thanks so much for the balanced replies. How does the taxation of school fees work in HK and Singapore? A tax percentage of the value?

Could we save on these salaries (2x ESF or the 2x 100k in Singapore)?
Banter1584
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:29 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by Banter1584 »

That is dependent on the lifestyle that you would like to lead.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Hi,

The million dollar question, haha! We would like a nice but not extravagant lifestyle I guess. A nice 3 bed apartment with amenities for the kids. The ability to go on some holidays when things open up to neighbouring countries, and going 'home' in the summer.
Here we have swimming lessons and other activities for the children, we eat out every once in a while and we are an active family so we like getting out and about. At the same time we are not going to high end restaurants, into designer clothes etc.
We will be giving up a great pension plan here, so the aim of saving is to offset that to some extent.
fine dude
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:12 pm
Location: SE Asia

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by fine dude »

A good pension plan for a teacher couple is hard to beat, especially if you get subsidised healthcare after retirement. If the 200K is inclusive of housing, it is an average teacher-couple salary. Post-taxes and rent, and some travel included, one'd bank at least 40 - 50K USD a year.
PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Response

Post by PsyGuy »

It depends on housing.

For your first two criteria than hands down for a family, SG. As for savings it depends on your housing. If theres no housing benefit included, a 3LDK is going to be crazy expensive such that savings will be negligible. HK normally would be the same but with expats leaving HK and other factors housing will likely be less expensive than SG, thus improving your savings opportunity. In addition while SG is better in regards to your first two criteria, these factors arent absent from HK either. Youre kids will make friends in both places and will have comparable social experiences and lifestyle costs will be very comparable between both locations. They have different pros and cons but they balance themselves out on quality of life factors.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Thanks so much for weighing in! The 200k in Singapore is inclusive of housing. We were told that 4000 Singaporean would get us a nice 3 bed apartment with good facilities in a good area? We would also be taxed on 2 kids school fees. There is an end of contract bonus. no 13th month.

Sounds like a great option. :) Hoping for an offer!
PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Reply

Post by PsyGuy »

@SEA_Bound1

Youre looking more at SGD$6K than SGD$4K which is SGD$72K/yr. Add up the taxes and other COL for your described lifestyle and I dont see you beating out your pension.
SEA_Bound1
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Hong Kong or Singapore?

Post by SEA_Bound1 »

Hi,

I don't think we can match our pension plan unless we go somewhere very lucrative, but either those destinations are not appealing (middle east, I have already lived there) or they are tier one schools that I have applied to and not been selected for interview (NIST etc.). I am OK with not matching pension potential if I can live comfortably and save. Is it realistic to save the USD amount someone above suggested (40-50k)?
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