Friday, December 30, 2011

Find your way in the jungles of Singapore shopping malls

Singapore has malls, a lot of malls. At least 188 malls! I know this because I have downloaded SG Malls Singapore By Hereing. This was when I have had hard time to find the stores where my wife could spend her Marina Bay Sands points in Marina Bay Sands mall sugarcoating the casino. I actually first thought to develop an application to show me my way in the large malls of Singapore but then I told to my self "mille, the wheel may already be invented". It was indeed, 2359 media team has probably been lost long before me. They have developed this cool application SG Malls Singapore and already added 188 malls to it with stores including their telephone numbers, website and fax numbers plus interior maps of the malls. And unlike I have planned, they are offering it free of charge on iPhone and iPad.

 So next time you get lost in a Singapore mall and wander around to find thatFood court, Levis store or MacDonalds, you can use SG Malls iPhone application to navigate in increasingly large and horribly layout-ed malls. The application senses location of Nearby Malls, provides a store directory that is searchable by name or category of the store and a map of the mall so you can easily find your way to a store. So no more missing the promotion in a favorite outlet, looking for an information panel to locate a restaurant or let your nature torture you while looking for a toilet. Singapore has mall, a lot of malls and you do not have to worry about getting lost in one.

Where am I? You are here!
The application is developed by 2359media. This is the first mobile application developed by this Singaporean  firm incorporated in 2009 by Wong Hong Ting and Zhou Wenhan.

Free and instant IC Photo for Singapore NRIC and Passports

If you need an IC Photo for Singapore NRIC, Passports or work visa like Employment Pass you may think that you need to spend $7 at a photo booth. Or if you are keen to save you can spend hours with your digital camera and photo editing tools to create some.

Since this December you also have a free and easy to use alternative, a free  iPhone app developed by Tinkertanker.  By using this app, you can take a perfectly cropped picture that you can submit online to Immigration & Checkpoint Authority (ICA).  The application is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch (4th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi and iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

All you need to do is to line yourself up with the guides to make sure you’re framed correctly. Take your own picture (for devices with front-facing cameras), or have someone else take it for you. Your photo will be automatically cropped and resized for ICA's specifications for NRIC/passport photos (400 x 514px). With the guides, you won’t get a letter from ICA that telling you to "show more shoulder" in your photo.[1]

Here is your photo cropped to ICA requirements :)
 [1] - IC Photo for Singapore NRIC and PassportsBy Tinkertanker

What is inflation?

You know Singapore's inflation surprised experts by being up 5.7% in November 2011. Although housing, transportation and petrol prices contributed significantly, a worrying trend was also the food prices, they were up %3.6.

But what is inflation? What are the causes of inflation? Inflation is actually is a symptom rather than the sickness itself. When the amount of money in an economy increases faster than the amount of goods and services, the overall consumer prices rise. This rise is called inflation. 5.7% rise in November 2011 means, a basket of goods which costed S$100 back in November 2010 now costs S$105.7. This is what the rate of inflation is.

For individual goods, the amount of that good plays a significant role. For example due to the floods in Thailand, the amount of rice supplied to Singapore will probably decrease. But since the money chasing it will not decrease fast enough, the price of rice will probably rise. But foe entire goods and services, the inflation, especially in developed economies, is caused by the faster increase in the amount of the money. I say faster because technology and innovation in developed countries increases the amount of goods and services available. So if the amount of money was fixed, the overall prices would decrease. But since they are increasing, you can conclude that amount of money is increasing.

The below chart shows M2 money supply in Singapore for the last 20 years. M2 is money and close substitutes of money (all time-related deposits, savings deposits, and non-institutional money-market funds) since 1996. M2 is a broader classification of money than M1. Economists use M2 when looking to quantify the amount of money in circulation and trying to explain different economic monetary conditions. M2 is a key economic indicator used to forecast inflation. (Source : Money Supply)

You can see that the M2 increased almost 10% from 2010 to 2011 (actually more since December 2011 numbers are not in yet)! So almost %6 inflation tells us that overall amount of goods and services have not increased as fast from 2010 to 2011.

Singapore M2 Money Supply 1991 - 2011
Still, it is early to say that inflation will be horrifically high like this in the future. Below graph for example shows the inflation rate between 1999 - 2010. The average was %1.5 with a single very high year of 6.5%.

Source :

Orchard Parksuites, serviced residences on Orchard Road

Serviced apartments in Singapore are usually used for corporate housing: the fresh expats stay in these apartments before they move to their flats. But serviced residences are also good alternatives for those who would like to experience home-like stay in Singapore while on holiday or business trip. And for some, travelling with children, it may be the only convenient alternative to hotels.

These facilities also have housekeeping services and you basically stay in fully furnished apartments serviced regularly. Especially if you are coming with your family or you are tired of hotel rooms however luxury they are, serviced residences can be a good choice.

Centrally located on the Orchard Road, Orchard Parksuites is a prestigious serviced residence in Singapore operated by Far East Hospitality, hotels and residences arm of Far East Organization. Orchard Parksuites is a few minutes away from the Orchard MRT Station and if shopping is the agenda of your visit to Singapore and you have the budget, it offers a very pleasant stay. It is located opposite ION Orchard Shopping Mall and numerous shopping centres like Lucky Plaza, Wheelock Place and Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre, Lido Cineplex (located within Shaw House Shopping Centre) are near by.

This serviced residence is also good for business travellers since it is quite a short taxi ride away from Singapore's Central Business District and Orchard Road MRT Station is only a few stations away from Raffles Place MRT Station.

Orchard Parksuites
Serviced apartments in this residence are in the high end luxury category offering stay ranging from 1-Bedroom (loft) for 2 people stay, 2- Bedroom and 3-Bedroom apartments to penthouses. It offers a swimming pool and wading pool, a sun terrace with sun loungers and parasols, a gym, hot tub and tennis courts, as well as a sauna and steam room. It also offers a complimentary breakfast served from Monday to Friday only (except public holidays). There are also BBQ pits available for private parties by the pool (on request). Monthly rates are from 10,000 SGD to 26,000 SGD depending on the residence type. Families with budget, professionals on short assignments prefer the place.

Click here for a list of serviced apartments : List of Serviced Apartments in Singapore.

Here are some other upscale luxurious serviced apartments in Singapore

Orchard Scotts Residences in Singapore

Fraser Residence Orchard

Somerset Compass Serviced Residence

Far East Plaza Apartments by Far East Hospitality

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Singapore Management University

Have you known that there was a prison at the grounds of Singapore Management University campus on Bras Basah Road? Singapore and the straits settlements served as the nineteenth-century penal destination for more than twenty thousand prisoners from the South Asian colonies of the British Empire. On 18 April 1825, first batch of penal convicts arrived in Singapore and they were housed in temporary huts along Bras Basah Canal. From 1841 to 1936, four prisons were built by the British to house the convicts, and the Bras Basah was the first prison to be built.

The Bras Basah Prison was a large site used to occupy the open area known as Bras Basah Park (which eventually became the current site of the Singapore Management University). The prison was well known to the local population as "Lau Khaku Keng Kau" (mouth of the old jail) or "Ken Kau" (ankle chains). It was an extensive prison facility back then and occupied three blocks. According to the archival records, there was a prison break on February 13th 1875 involving sixty Chinese prisoners.

Singapore Management University Logo
Singapore Management University Logo

Today, the prison grounds are occupied by the Singapore Management University (SMU). SMU was set up as Singapore's third university in 2000 to provide a different model of university education and the university moved to its current location at Bras Basah in July 2005. SMU has 7,000 students and has six Schools offering undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programmes in Business Management (Lee Kong Chian School of Business), Accountancy (School of Accountancy), Economics (School of Economics), Information Systems Management (School of Information Systems), Law (School of Law) and the Social Sciences (School of Social Sciences). Singapore Management University is the first to introduce American-style pedagogy to Singapore's tertiary education. SMU is also the first to occupy a city campus, joining major cities like London, Paris and New York which all have established downtown campuses. Located in the hearth of the city within the historic and cultural district of Singapore, 4.5-hectare urban campus has six buildings.[1]

Singapore Management University was ranked 65th worldwide by The University of Texas at Dallas Top 100 Worldwide Business School Ranking.
[1] National Heritage Board

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheap short term rentals rooms and apartments in Singapore

If you want to stay in Singapore for short term but long enough, hotel rooms currently priced on average 200++ SGD per night, will be a very costly choice. You can alternatively go for a cheap serviced apartment in Singapore for which you will pay less if you are not looking for a high end luxury. But you have more options: short term rentals sites. The oldest one of these, as far as I know is, Airbnb. Airbnb is basically a global network of accommodations offered by locals. It's a cheaper short term accommodation alternative, especially in big cities like New York, San Francisco, Paris, etc. The site is easy to use, you just enter your destination, check-in and check-out dates and number of guests, then look for a suitable accommodation option. Most of the options are room rental in different types of private housings ranging in price from 50 SGD to 150 SGD. There are still cozy options here, I have seen a Luxury Studio in Singapore for 200++ SGD and a Sentosa 1 Bedroom Suite for 448 SGD per night.

Airbnb may be the first but there are also other new comers. One of them I have recently discovered is Roomorama, a website, co-founded by Singaporean Teo Jia En and Italian native Federico Folcia, in January 2009 — just five months after Airbnb. It offers short term rentals and nightly and weekly apartments, homes and rooms:

"Roomorama is the discerning traveler’s one-stop shop for short-term rentals. Wherever your next trip will be, or wherever your property is, use our online marketplace to connect and transact with hosts and guests who believe in convenient, rewarding and unique travel experiences. With an ever-growing inventory of hospitable accommodations, Roomorama is working to make you feel at home wherever you are."
Source : Roomorama

Roomorama have 2 offices, one is in New York and the other one is in Singapore. The web site provides cheaper short term stay alternatives for travellers while it also provides a convenient medium for people who wants to rent out their own apartment and find existing online classifieds hard to use and inconvenient. Most of the listed options are short term room stays priced nightly.

Other than these 2 options, if you are OK with this type of accommodation, you can also check Wimdu and 9flats.

But be warned, renting out these rooms is technically illegal. According to a spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the government body responsible for private housing,  private residential properties may only be rented out or sublet for six months or more, as 'transient occupiers' could inconvenience other residents.

[1] - Illegal short-term rentals on the rise

How to rent a flat in Singapore without paying property agent fee?

The answer to the question above may look obvious since you can rent a flat in Singapore without a property agent so you can avoid paying a commission to them. But there is a better way. You can rent a unit, a licensed property agent can still be involved and you may do this without paying any agent fee. Here is how.

In Singapore there are two types of property agent involved in the rental transaction: landlord's agent and tenants agent. An agent cannot represent both parties at the same time and cannot get fee from both parties at the same time. And landlord agents also give advertisements to internet and classified ads. All you need to do is directly contacting the landlord agents. By doing these you still do the transaction through a licensed property agent and reduce the risk of scam and will not pay any agent fee. But these people do not advertise themselves as landlord agent so you need to differentiate them out. 1 option is to simply ask. If you have enough time and go through enough people, you can find some landlord agents. You can differentiate many without asking since these guys will ask you whether you are an agent or interested in the property for yourself.

Landlord agent will of course be there to force landlords interest but believe me, most of the tenant agents are also not interested in your benefit anyway so you absence of them does not change much. Still you need to be more careful when no agent is representing you and be sure that you check everything while going into rental. But since there is a licensed agent involved (check agents license before going into any tenancy agreement), the risk is lower.

You can also directly find landlords from online/newspaper classified ads but do this if you really know what you are doing. Rental scams are rare but they still exist in Singapore and you need to be very careful if you are directly dealing with a landlord.

Land for 5000 more Executive Condominiums will be released in 2012

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin has announced that there will be land release for 5000 new executive condominiums (see What is an Executive Condominium (EC)?), a private housing and public housing hybrid popular among higher income Singaporeans. This number is nearly 30% of all ECs launched since their introduction in 1995 (14,600 units and 3000 are on their way). These units are restricted to Singaporeans in their new launch but they can be sold to foreigners when they pass the 10 years old age. They are also subject to income ceiling which was increased from 10,000 SGD per month to 12,000 SGD per month in August 2011. At a time when prices between so-called mass market condominium units and HDB flats are historically wide, they are becoming more popular among Singaporeans who are not eligible to buy BTO flats but also not earning enough to buy private flats.

In 2011 excluding December, 2,855 units of executive condominiums are sold by developers. This was more than 2,535, the number of units released the same period. Executive condominiums are popular because their per square foot prices are 20 per cent less than so-called mass market private flats which fetch average of 1,000 SGD psf. But it is not only priced out private property seekers showing interest. Since resale HDB prices are also up, many prefer to top up for EC with more facilities instead of buying a plain HDB unit.[1]

One thing should be noted that executive condominiums are popular as long as the gap between private housing and public housing prices is wide. If the economic slowdown severes and the gap closes, ECs may not be as popular as they are now.

[1] Demand For ECs likely to hold in 2012

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

25000 more BTO flats will be released in 2012

We have entered 2011 with long application queues for Built-To-Order flats and frustrated new weds repeatedly failing to get a flat since all were oversubscribed, sometime 5-7 times. In 2011, with the new Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, BTO practice is shelved for a while and HDB have started to released record number of flats without waiting for a demand to accumulate. 2011 saw 25,000+ releases, nearly more than the last 4 years combined and according to the HDB, 2012 will also see high number of HDB releases:

"Another 4,200 new flats in 7 BTO projects has been launched by HDB today, following its bumper 8,200 flats just two months ago. The latest launch offers new flats in Bedok, Bukit Panjang, Hougang, Punggol and Yishun. This brings the total number of BTO flats offered in 2011 to 25,200 units. HDB will continue to offer another 25,000 BTO units in 2012."
Source :  Another 4,200 New Flats Launched; 25,000 More to Come Next Year

2012 launches will start in January with 3,890 flats offered in Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Sengkang and Tampines. HDB also signalled that it will look into building more flats in mature towns. Previously HDB was offering new flats only in new towns.

This number is significantly more than 15,000 new weds per year. Newly wed couples are the majority of the first time applicants who had priority up to now. But these numbers show that next year, focus will be shifted to second timers. Actually, Khaw Boon Wan has already wrote about the shift in his recent blog entry:

"There will of course be new first-timer applicants, but their numbers will be below the 25,000 BTO flat supply for next year.  First marriages involving Singaporeans number about 15,000 a year. Currently, we reserve 95 percent of BTO flats for first-timers, leaving only 5 percent for second-timers. Once we have cleared the first-timer queue, we can help the second-timers more. Registration for the current BTO launch will close in a few hours. "
Source : BTO wish coming true?

This development is also very important for secondary HDB market. For who are not familiar, HDB or BTO flats are public housing flats developed by Housing Development Board. Singaporeans can buy brand new flats either directly from HDB or buy used HDBs from owners (resale market). This market is also open to Singapore PRs but both markets are closed to foreigners. 23% of the resale flat buyers are first timers, many frustrated with long queues of new BTO flats or priced out from new flat market (there is a household income limit for new BTO flats). %34 are second timers and %15 are singles. 20% percent of demand came from  Singapore PRs and 8% came from private property owners (Source : Who buys the resale flats?). Since more than 50 per cent of the demand for resale flats come from first timers and second timers, these new BTO flats will remove significant amount of demand from resale market, which is still recording price gains although the transaction numbers are going down.

To save more think about yearly costs of habits

When it comes to saving money, there are many items we spend or waste money without even knowing the true cost especially when their daily or monthly cost is small enough to ignore. For this reason, it is always wiser to look at the yearly cost of items. This may sometime surprise how expensive some small habits even if they do not look that expensive to you at the first glance.

Take an executive who is enjoying a take-away drink from Starbucks every workday morning. Assume that he pays $5 for the drink. By just replacing this single habit with preparing his own coffee in company's coffee machine, he can save $1,000 in a year. If free coffee is not available, he can well switch to kopi tiam, which will save him $900 to him.

Or think about one of the most harmful and wasteful inventions of human kind: cigarette. If you are smoking a package of international brand in a day, you will pay $12 per day for this harmful habit. It may look affordable for you but it adds up to $4380 a year. Even if you are smoking a package for 2 days, it is still a very high $2190. It is very common for a smoker to spend a month or two month salary to finance this single habit alone!

Many simple and easily replaceable habits eat up some bite from your budget and they may add up to thousands if you do not fight with them.

Monday, December 26, 2011

HDB rent in Bukit Merah/Red Hill Singapore

Bukit Merah, meaning red hill in Malay, is a central region location in Singapore. Although Bukit Merah means red hill, Redhill and Bukit Merah are two different areas next to each other. Redhill is the area in the vicinity of   Redhill MRT Station on East West Line while Tiong Bahru MRT Station serves Bukit Merah vicinity. Bukit Merah takes its name from a hill here, which was much larger in the past but later trimmed down to its current size in 1970s.

As of 3rd Quarter 2011, Bukit Merah is the second most expensive place in Singapore to rent an HDB flat with average of 2,650 SGD per month for a unit rental. The area is very near to city center and easily accessible with MRT and bus. A 3 room HDB flat in Bukit Merah (2 bedroom + 1 living room or 2+1) requires 2,000 SGD per month while a 4 room HDB flat (3 bedroom + 1 living roon or 3+1) requires 2,650 SGD per month. A five room flat will require 2,860 SGD per month. All these rentals are median actual transaction prices in the third quarter of 2011.

Below table displays the latest median transaction prices for HDB flats in Bukit Merah as well as the last year same quarter and previous quarter prices. It is wise to check the asking prices against the median prices before going into a rental hunt.

Bukit Merah HDB For Rent Price Trends
Room Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2010 Q-o-Q Change Y-o-Y Change
3-RM $2,000 $1,900 $1,800 $100 $200
4-RM $2,650 $2,500 $2,300 $150 $350
5-RM $2,860 $2,800 $2,630 $60 $230

Bukit Merah HDB Rental Price Trends

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Singapore job outlook bleak in 2012

Since the printed money stopped flowing into Asia by the end of Quantitative Easing (Money Printing) 2 and European sovereign debt crisis became a norm, job outlook in Singapore is getting grimmer every passing quarter. Inflation, which is persistently expected to ease next quarter, is surprising(!) experts every quarter with its increasing trend, exports are recording q-o-q fall every quarter and banking and financing professionals are nervously watching job reductions in western banks.

The trend for financial back office jobs was already mentioned in a previous article in October 2011:
"We heard about redundancies in Hong Kong some time ago, but news of layoffs in Singapore’s financial sector have only hit the headlines recently. 
The Business Times reported that Bank of American Merrill Lynch (BoAML) and UBS have both fired i-bank staff. And other firms like HSBC have confirmed the restructuring of their Singapore business. Although Asian redundancies haven’t been large-scale so far, staff are certainly getting the jitters. 
One headhunter, who asked not to be named, says RBS may make cuts in Asia later this year. Citi too, could potentially slash investment banking jobs given its focus on global transaction services and retail. Another anonymous source tells us that Barclays and J.P. Morgan could make layoffs. Those in client-facing i-bank roles can breathe a little easier though: firings have been mostly in the back office thus far, he adds." 
Source : Back-office jobs under threat at Singapore investment banks
Some comments in the article says that RBS, Barclays and Morgan Stanley has already started lay-offs in Singapore at that time. in late November 2011, bankrupted MF Global's Singapore branch has laid of 80 staff. And later in early December, it was reported that Citigroup laid off 40 staff recently:
"Citigroup Singapore has laid off about 40 employees in recent weeks, The Straits Times has learnt. The job cuts, which included senior positions, have come as the American bank on Wednesday announced it would axe 4,500 jobs globally and set aside US$400 million (S$515 million) for severance and other related costs. 
The cuts here are believed to have come selectively across its investment bank, markets team and private bank. A Citi spokesman in Singapore confirmed on Wednesday that there have been layoffs."
Source : Citigroup Singapore laid off about 40 staff recently
Just a week after these bad news, Morgan Stanley slashed 80 Singapore support staff and offered transfers to India and Hungary. According to the news other banks have back-office relocation on their radars:
"In one of the most sizable redeployments this year, Morgan Stanley is shifting 80 back-office roles out of Singapore, with employees given the chance to move to India and Hungary, according to sources quoted in The Wall Street Journal. The news provides a high-profile illustration of a general trend: Singapore – aided by an appreciating currency – is becoming more expensive just at the time when Western banks are urgently looking to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Back-office recruiters in Singapore have been talking about the relocation “threat” for several months, so Morgan Stanley’s plans come as no great surprise. “Singapore is now a much different place to when it was developing as an infrastructure hub in 2005 to 2007. While costs have risen – both salaries and property – a lot of banks tell me that real estate expenses aren’t too different to India; compensation is the real differential,” says Craig Brewer director, banking and financial services, Hudson."
Luckily as some jobs are moving out of Singapore to India, some jobs are moving from more expensive and regulated places like London to Singapore so the pace of job loss is not so severe now. Read the last paragraph of the news above.

According to The Business Review Singapore, more lay offs may be on the way:
"More worrying still are reports heard on the streets of Singapore by your correspondent that at least 2 international banks are planning net headcount reductions over the course of 2012 - the first in the living memory of many young bankers. 
The reason is that while some more jobs are offshored, in years past they would have been made up for by growth in other parts of the bank. But with global markets and investment banking business also in a hold or dive pattern, the outlook is really quite bleak."
Source : Will the last bank stop hiring please turn the lights out, The Business Review Singapore
 So it is not surprising to see that nearly half of Singaporeans bearish on hiring activity in the next 12 months and more than half of male employees bearish on business outlook for 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

HDB for rent in Bukit Batok Singapore, price trends

Bukit Batok is a new town located in western Singapore with currently 33,000 dwelling units which is planned to add up to 47,000 eventually. Two MRT Stations in the Bukit Batok area, Bukit Batok MRT Station and Bukit Gombak MRT Station plus The Bukit Batok Bus Interchange near Bukit Batok MRT station and West Mall makes this western town well connected to the rest of the island and makes it a popular residential place to live. If you are looking for HDB for rent in Bukit Batok, it will be very useful for you to take a look at the median transaction prices below. These are transaction prices released by HDB quarterly, not the asking prices so they reflect a better picture for current rental situation.

As you can see by the 3rd Quarter of 2011, in Bukit Batok, median rental price for 3 room HDB flats (2+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 1,800 Singapore Dollars per month, 4 room HDB flats (3+1 HDB with 3 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,120 Singapore Dollars per month and 5 room HDB flats (4+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,350 Singapore Dollars per month.

Bishan HDB For Rent Price Trends
Room Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2010 Q-o-Q Change Y-o-Y Change
3-RM $1,800 $1,600 $1,500 $200 $300
4-RM $2,120 $2,000 $1,800 $120 $320
5-RM $2,350 $2,200 $2,100 $150 $250

Bukit Batok HDB Rental Prices

HDB for rent in Bishan Singapore, price trends

Are you looking for an hdb flat for rent in Bishan? Would you like to know how much you should pay for a flat? Then this article is for you. Bishan is a centrally located neighbourhood in Singapore which is primarily a housing estate. Although the estate is built above what used to be a cemetery, and there were initial fears that the Bishan HDB flats would face poor occupancy as cemeteries bode bad fengshui, today HDB flats in Bishan are generally more expensive compared to other estates due to its location in the central region, which commands a higher price over other estates that are further away from the city.[1]

As other towns in Singapore, the HDB rental prices are registering continuous increasing trend here. Below table shows latest median HDB rental transactions in Bishan based on room type. As of 3rd Quarter of 2011, median rental price for 3 room HDB flats (2+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 1,900 Singapore Dollars per month, 4 room HDB flats (3+1 HDB with 3 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,500 Singapore Dollars per month and 5 room HDB flats (4+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,600 Singapore Dollars per month.

Bishan HDB For Rent Price Trends
Room Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2010 Q-o-Q Change Y-o-Y Change
3-RM $1,900 $1,700 $1,520 $200 $380
4-RM $2,500 $2,200 $2,100 $300 $400
5-RM $2,600 $2,600 $2,300 $0 $300

Bishan HDB For Rent Price Trends as of 2011 Q3
[1] - Bishan

HDB for rent in Bedok Singapore, price trends

What are the HDB rents per month in Bedok? What are the trends, are they going up or down? If you want answers to such questions, you are at the right place. Bedok, a neighbourhood in the eastern part of Singapore, is getting more popular with the development of Changi Business Park. Bedok HDB rents are benefiting both from sky high rents in the city center as well as very high condominium rents.

As other towns in Singapore, the HDB rental prices are registering continuous increasing trend here. If you are looking for hdb flat for rent in Bedok and want to know the rental prices, below table is for you. It shows latest median HDB rental transactions in Bedok based on room type. As of 3rd Quarter of 2011, median rental price for 3 room HDB flats (2+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 1,800 Singapore Dollars per month, 4 room HDB flats (3+1 HDB with 3 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,150 Singapore Dollars per month and 5 room HDB flats (4+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,350 Singapore Dollars per month.

Median price means half of all the transactions for that particular HDB flat in Bedok was below the price and half were above the price. The table also shows change from previous quarter and previous year in Singapore dollars. Renting a 3, 4 or 5 room flat now costs $300, $270 or $250 more per month compared to a year earlier.

Bedok HDB For Rent Price Trends
Room Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2010 Q-o-Q Change Y-o-Y Change
3-RM $1,800 $1,700 $1,500 $100 $300
4-RM $2,150 $2,000 $1,880 $150 $270
5-RM $2,350 $2,200 $2,100 $150 $250

Bedok HDB For Rent Price Trends as of 2011 Q3

HDB for rent in Ang Mo Kio Singapore, price trends

What is the HDB rent per month in Ang Mo Kio? What are the trends, are they going up or down? If you want answers to such questions, you are at the right place. Ang Mo Kio, a popular town in North-East Singapore, which is served by Ang Mo Kio MRT Station at town center and  Yio Chu Kang MRT Station at the town's northern area as well as the  Ang Mo Kio Bus Interchange is directly linked to the Ang Mo Kio MRT Station. The town has a large shopping mall named AMK Hub at the center and many typical Singapore town features such as  hawker centres, wet markets and HDB housing blocks.

As central area and its immediate surrounding became very expensive this relatively sub urban town connected to center with MRT and fast bus services has became popular to rent an HDB flat.

As other towns in Singapore, the HDB rental prices are registering steep increases here. Below table shows latest median HDB rental transactions in Ang Mo Kio based on room type. As of 3rd Quarter of 2011, median rental price for 3 room HDB flats (2+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 1,850 Singapore Dollars per month, 4 room HDB flats (3+1 HDB with 3 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,300 Singapore Dollars per month and 5 room HDB flats (4+1 HDB with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom) was 2,530 Singapore Dollars per month.

Median price means half of all the transactions for that particular HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio was below the price and half were above the price. The table also shows change from previous quarter and previous year in Singapore dollars. Renting a 3, 4 or 5 room flat now costs $320, $300 or $230 more per month compared to a year earlier.

Ang Mo Kio HDB For Rent Price Trends
Room Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2010 Q-o-Q Change Y-o-Y Change
3-RM $1,850 $1,730 $1,530 $120 $320
4-RM $2,300 $2,200 $2,000 $100 $300
5-RM $2,530 $2,500 $2,300 $30 $230

Below figure shows HDB rent trends for Ang Mo Kio town from 2007 to 2011. 

Ang Mo Kio HDB For Rent Price Trends as of 2011 Q3

Friday, December 23, 2011

How to save more money? The best way ...

When you search saving money or how to save money on the web, you will be overwhelmed with many web pages trying to give you practical or unpractical tips on this issue. And most of them are single minded. They focused of one side of the coin and do not even bother to cover the other side which is more important. But you are luck, you have found here and I will give you the most important rule of saving more money, the first rule.

Unfortunately, many people concentrate on reducing their spending and saving a larger percentage of their take home pay when it comes to saving more money. This is a very common middle class mindset and although it is important and highly recommended, it is not the most important thing to do to save money. Middle class people usually over-concentrate on saving while rich people concentrate on earning more and then saving. In return they save more. And since rich people are richer than middle class people with more savings, their strategy must be better than the middle class.

But again if an average person is lucky enough to hear this advise, he usually does one of these four things:

(1) he tries to find a job paying better,
(2) he tries to get promotion,
(3) he works harder if he can get over time or
(4) he gets a second shift time.

Although all of these are better than doing nothing and spending hours in front of a TV box as majority does, they are still not enough.

There is a better way to save more money. In my opinion this is the first rule of saving money, especially for the young people. I have heard this advise from my favorite economists, Robert P. Murphy, in Austrian economy web site The first rule of saving money is to develop multiple streams of income and earn more money.

This does not mean you should find another boss to pay you more, to pay you in the night shift. It does not mean a young executive should work as a waiter in the night. Or it does not mean a young office worker should fall pray to get rich quick dream sellers like FOREX gurus. It means you should consider a host of entrepreneurial ventures to earn and save more:

"Rather than looking for other bosses, young people should become their own bosses, at least in a few limited areas. To some people this suggestion may sound intimidating. But notice that plenty of young people are entrepreneurs and they don't even realize it: Anybody who babysits or cuts lawns for neighbors is an entrepreneur. Such kids have to find customers (usually through word-of-mouth) and provide a service for which they get directly paid. That's what an entrepreneur does.

When I have mentioned this recommendation in public settings, sometimes students ask me what sorts of businesses they should start. The short answer is, "I don't know; that's what you need to figure out." The entrepreneur looks around and identifies a product or service that people currently lack but would be willing to pay for, in such amounts as it would be worth the entrepreneur's money and effort to provide it."[1]

This advise is more valid at this time when economic future is uncertain. But even if the overall economy was in a better state, we live in a time where there is no guarantee of working in the same job for a long time. Typical "Life time jobs" of our parent's times are disappearing. So it is more critical to have other income streams which would not only supplement your daytime income, it will also help you to keep floating when you do not have a major employment. And in my opinion, your goal about these multiple income streams should be more than that: your goal should be earning your life completely from one or more of these entrepreneurial ventures eventually.

But what can you do? It depends on your character, environment or opportunities. I know an executive in my sister's company who sells village produced, high quality honey from his hometown. Another person I know, a software engineer, develops iPhone apps in the night. A friend who is not a computer geek, writes blogs and earns some advertisement income from internet. They all do something which suits them well or an opportunity they grap. The only way to find "what to do to develop more income streams" is to actively try many things and continue the ones which works. The sure way to not able to find any extra income stream is to brainstorm on this one bright idea which will surprisingly not come.

To give an idea of how strange an entrepreneurial opportunity can be, let me share with you the story of a a Turkish entrepreneur. Mehmet Cetin, living in the Mediterranean city of Antalya, has lost his job in the global economic crisis of 2008. During one unemployed day, he has visited his grandfather's grave. He has seen that the grave was uncared-for while all of his relatives were busy with earning their life. He has also seen that many other ones in his city and most of the country were in bad shape and required maintenance. The 29-year-old entrepreneur then planned to establish a company that professionally tends graves. And unlike the majority who would never pursue this weird looking business, he has started this service. The result: he now has a company with five employee, including an agricultural engineers. He has reached 100 permanent customers in nine months.[2]

It is not enough to try to save more by looking at a monthly budget of a single income and just focus on cutting as much as possible from it. As Murphy puts it the better way is  to say, "If I cut back here, I can free up another $100 per month. And if I cleaned three houses every Saturday, then after expenses and treating myself to a nice dinner every weekend, I could save an additional $600 per month."[1]

[1] - My Advice to Young People
[2] - Turmoil gives birth to grave maintenance firm

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finding the cheapest flights made easy, FlightLover

When it comes to low cost flight options, Singapore luckily offers many alternatives to choose but it may soon become time consuming the cheapest flights among these budget alternatives. But since the prices of flights vary significantly from day to day and from budget airline to budget airline. Airline offering cheapest deal today can offer the priciest next day. So it is better to use tools specifically developed to compare flight deals and offer the cheapest ones.

FlightLover Singapore is one of the online tools helping you to find cheap Budget Air Tickets. The service is built by Dominic Ee, Ang Junhan, and Sam Kuan from Handstand Apps. FlightLover Singapore was released on the 4th of May on the iTunes app store and within two days, was ranked top three in the Paid Apps list on the Singapore store.[1]

FlightLover Singapore basically display everything included fares (except some extras airliners charge such as seat selection) and claim to cover all budget airliners flying out of Singapore: Air Phil, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, China Eastern, Firefly, Jetstar, Lion Air, Nok Air, SEAIR, Tiger Airways, Transasia Airways, Uni Air and Zest Air. They have services to notify you via a push notification whenever ticket prices go below a certain amount set by you. The service offers deals within the next 3 months for over 68 destinations from Singapore.

FlightLover also provides an iPhone application which is sold for $2.99. You can also use it online from the web address The service currently do not have an Android and BlackBerry application.

FlightLover iPhone App - Source :
The application is also available for cheap plane tickets flights from Malaysia (Air Phil, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Firefly, Jetstar, Lion Air, Tiger Airways flights for 86 destinations), Indonesia (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Firefly, Jetstar, Lion Air, Tiger Airways for 73 destinations), Thailand (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Firefly, Jetstar, Nok Air, Tiger Airways flights for 68 destinations), Vietnam (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, Lion Air, Tiger Airways flights for 40 destinations), Philippines (Air Phil, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, SEAIR, Tiger Airways, Zest Air for 76 destinations), Hong Kong (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, China Eastern, Jetstar, Tiger Airways flights for 45 destinations) and Taiwan (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, Tiger Airways, Transasia Airways, Uni Air flights for  37 destinations).

[1] -  Dirt Cheap Flights from Singapore with FlightLover

How to find a good property agent in Singapore

Let me put it straight: in Singapore, the number of honest and good property agents which would service you well is far less than the ones which would not anger or even disgust you. As it is said in moneysmart article named  Property Agents: How to Find the Right One, "for every honest property agent out there, there are two more that make parasites look good by comparison." As a long time tenant in Singapore, I totally agree and the situation for rental market is worse. Most of the agents I have seen are just trying to push the worst of properties with highest of the monthly rent.

But you should also look at the full side of the glass. For every 2-3 monuments of greed with bad service out there, there is 1 good property agent that you can work with. The trick is to know how to find a good or at least normal property agent.

Start searching early. Since majority of the property agents will just waste your time, you need to give a good buffer before finding a new place becomes an urgency. Otherwise you will put yourself in one of those bad seeds outside even if you know what you do is wrong.

Avoid big name Singapore property portals. There are flashy sites here you know, "property master", "tenant guru", "I Find The Best property", etc. You know them. Now if the site claims that it is the best property site in Singapore, try to avoid the agents there. The problem is that all the new comers to Singapore, the most clueless ones, immediately jumps to the agents here so the agents here have a large pool of tenants to torture. I have never seen a good deal coming from the folks here, never. They usually work like "tenant shepherds", herd 4-5 groups of tenants at the same time to the property, the rental price of course is %20-30 percent higher than he has mentioned in the advertisement (a couple is paying high now so please bid higher), etc. There are many tenants who looks and behaves so desperate to rent a unit so these guys get spoiled. And believe me, many do not miss the opportunity to spoil to a point where you walk out of unit without even saying a word to them.

I do not mean avoid internet completely, you can still hunt deals for rent in online classified ads such as Singapore gumtree but big property portals are not a good place to find a property to rent if you have a limited budget (it may be different if you are a condominium hunter with high budget).

OK, avoid property portals, but how will you find an agent then?

The best, and most of the time only, way to find a good property agent in Singapore is word-of-mouth. Ask your friends and colleagues for reference. It is very easy to come up with a few candidates since  most of the expatriates living in Singapore for a long time will have several good agent contacts to guide you.

The second best way to find a good property agent is the classified sections of news papers. In my opinion although this is far less favorable than the best, it is far better than the property portals. I think, more traditional and veteran property agents prefer this medium while more youngsters who did not have time to cultivate work ethics prefer internet. The Straits Times has a daily classified section for rentals.

Also do the following to not waste time on bad property agents:

Avoid the tenant shepherds. I call these guys tenant shepherds since they collect a group of tenants and take them to the property at the same time. There may be other agents and their customers in the viewing or your agent can arrange sequential viewings for his clients but avoid the ones who arrange parallel viewing for his customers. Simply ask how many of his/her clients will view at the same time before even going there. These tenant shepherds will spend more time on to clash his own clients to increase rental price instead of negotiating a lower rental on your behalf. And if you only discover that the agent is a tenant shephard in the view, simply just leave there. Chances of getting a good deal from this guy / woman is zero.

Avoid "bring in deposit or regret" guys. "Bring in deposit with you, most of my units go in the first viewing". This is the typical sentence in their advertisements or they say it to you. Avoid them! You should view, go back and negotiate with him. Although rental market is severely against tenants now in HDB units, private property market is better now since there are many empty units, you can and should still negotiate and should not jump into any rush on the spot, especially if it is coming from a person who should be tenant agent.