Expat packages are one of the reasons that executives originally considered taking positions overseas. It wasn’t seen as an attractive thing to be far from their home country, extended family and friends. What made these packages attractive were the seemingly endless perks that could include housing compensation, school fees for their children, paid trips to their home country once or twice per year and perhaps even a driver or live-in household staff.
Though these packages are on the decline in the last few years, as worldwide talent and education begins to catch up with the demand at big companies, they are still somewhat common in Singapore. And perhaps for good reason. Singapore is rated the world’s most expensive city for 2015, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In order to justify accepting a job far away from home, in a city with an ever-increasing cost of living, most companies need to offer the best in remuneration.
When considering an expat package offer, one thing to keep in mind is this: you want to ensure that the compensation will allow you to have the same, or better, quality of life than you would at home.
You have a better chance of landing a lucrative expat package if you are being transferred abroad by your current job. After all, part of the reason these packages are offered are to entice key staff to take these positions, where top-level talent is needed to expand companies.
If you are in negotiations with your company to receive an expat package, here are some things to think about during the process:
What You Might Be Offered
A prime package might include moving expenses that will cover relocating everything you own in shipping containers to your new home city. Rentals are often included and it’s not unheard of for the allowances to cover dwellings costing several thousand dollars per month.
A rental car or company car might also be included if your office is not downtown. Education for your children and prime medical and dental insurance are key items that most parents will consider non-negotiable parts of a relocation package.
What to Avoid
If you manage to land a lucrative expat package, be careful of localisation clauses that will allow your company to shift you into a local role after your initial contract is complete. This could cause real financial issues for you if you’d like to remain in Singapore.
International school fees can be astronomical. Could you see yourself placing your child in the local schools if you can’t afford the private institutions? Local packages also do not cover visits home to see extended family or the responsibility for repatriating you to your home country once you decide to move on. Will you be able to afford to relocate yourself, your family and all of your worldly good after your stint in Singapore?
You might want to try to negotiate a clause for what happens after the initial stint if you love the job and want to stay in Singapore.
What to Negotiate On
Though you don’t want to be too pushy, there are some things you might want to negotiate on if you feel they are important or will directly affect your quality of life:
- Utility Bills – These can run several hundred dollars per month if your spouse and children are at home and running air conditioning in the Singapore heat most of the time. Some employers will negotiate with you on the bills.
- Private Driver – If you have a long commute to your office or often take clients out for dinner or other events, you might be able to negotiate for a diver. After all, you can work in the car on the commute to and from the office and treat clients in better fashion than taking them out in taxis.
- Extra Leave and Visits Home – Many expats consider regular visits home to see friends and family extremely important for staving off homesickness. Many employers of expats are sensitive to this and might be open to providing extra leave time and covering expenses for these necessary visits home.
When negotiating an expat package, take the time to mull over what is most important to you and choose those things to negotiate for. With the right package in place, you may find that your years abroad become some of the most most delightful and memorable of your working life.