Singapore vs Australia, the cheap and the best! Part 1

7 months into the Australian life, plenty of adaptation work done. Now comes an end-of-the-year review and comparison on the cost of living and lifestyles. Part 1 is about homes, cars, Healthcare, public facilities and environment. Part 2 is an in depth measurement and comparison of the costs of essential items.

Previously, I’ve talked about work comparisons:

https://cowpehcowbu.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/working-in-singapore-vs-working-in-australia-a-trying-hard-to-be-unbiased-comparison/

Now let’s focus on others: (1AUD = 1.13SGD as at 9/12/2013)

House / home:

I know the SG property inside out and since the latest measures, property prices have been stagnating and sliding for higher end properties. Loans are harder to obtain now and cost of borrowings have risen steadily. Let’s look at the suburbs:
For example: Woodlands (25km from city), Yishun, Choa Chu Kang and Pasir Ris.

HDB prices per square feet hovers around S$350-$450. 3rm hdb (65sqm) around $300+k, 4rm hdb (90sqm) around 380-450K, 5rm (>100sqm) around 420-500K. Private condominiums per square feet prices hover between $750 – $1350 (700K – 1.45m)

How about Australia? I can’t say for the whole of it but I know prices varies drastically in different cities and states. I know Sydney and Melbourne is quite expensive too (heard from a local). So I shall focus on where I am residing, Brisbane. For the suburbs i.e. Springfield (25km from city) most people won’t believe it so I shall post up a typical example:

springfield house

Situated in a nice quiet Springfield cul-de-sac is this well presented, spacious family home. This is not your typical three bedroom home which also includes an ensuite to the main bedroom, a separate study, family room, and spacious kitchen overlooking the open plan dining and living areas. You will have no problem beating the heat this summer with five air-conditioners fitted throughout the bedrooms and living areas.

Three generous sized built-in bedrooms plus study
Main bedroom with walk in robe and ensuite
Multiple living areas with dining, living and family room
Spacious kitchen with gas cooktop and dishwasher
Massive outdoor entertainment area
Five air conditioners fitted through bedrooms and living areas
Perched up high on 615m2 block
Private back yard with garden shed and water tank
Double remote garage with internal access through to the home
Quiet location walking distance to local parks, shops and doctors

If you sell your 3rm HDB and get another 100K loan, getting the above is no problem. I have been there, fantastic surroundings, like a country club. If you need more evidence, just search realestate.com.au

Cars

OMFG dirt cheap… I thought my car was dirt cheap, A$6490 for a 2006 KIA Cerato 5 seater hatchback

Then just a few days ago two of my housemates each bought a Mitsubishi Magna (2003 & 2005 model), 3.5L, 5 seater sedan at A$3300 and A$2500 respectively. Transfer duty was like A$120 and 3rd party car insurance was like $200 per year max. The guy in the photo is Phil, just 21 yrs old and owning his car!

phil car

So where is the joke then? SG cars? Well there is more to it. Back here, we don’t pay a single cent for parking unless we head for the city. City is of course more expensive than Singapore but you know what, most people would park at the suburban train stations FOC and take the train to work in the city.

In Sg, aside from the sky high COE, ERP, we have to pay monthly HDB parking at $90 per month subject to availability. A note for young adults in Singapore: Its a good thing to be able to drive, own a car and really embrace the freedom. read on!

Healthcare

Recently, I was hospitalized for being unable to wake up and sleep walking. My wife was frantic and scrambled to the neighbour’s house for help. The ambulance arrived within minutes and soon I found myself on the hospital bed. I was shocked when I woke up, why am I in the hospital? Oh crap! how much am I going to pay? The nurse asked if we have any medicare card and I replied no. She said we are permanent residents here so we should get a medicare card and you can claim for the medical bills. Shit, I better check out now, because I heard that bills could be shocking.

“Anyway, no worries, whether you have registered for medicare or not, as long as you are a permanent resident here, it should be free. You should stay for at least a day for further observation” the nurse said. Still vary, I checked out a few hours later.

Its been about a month, still no bills sent to me but a referral letter was sent to me putting me on waiting list to see a neurologist FOC. They showed they really cared. The doctor-in-charge even called me awhile ago to ask for my condition and asked me to go for some scans. My neighbour said healthcare is good here but not in Sydney, where its similar to Singapore. You have to queue for hours and there are insufficient hospital beds. He added that the doctors there are usually fresh out of university.

As for my condition, I shouldn’t even be in hospital, I was too tired, slept at 5 am, I should be guided back to bed without waking me up, that’s what the doctors said. That was the first time my wife witnessed the sleep walk. Hospitalization unnecessary but it happened anyway.

Public facilities

I am only mentioning some and not all as I’ve only stayed 7 months. The Barbeque facilities are free everywhere in Queensland and there is no need to book them. Its automatically connected to the electricity so there is no need to buy charcoals or purchase any electricity. If you think these free facilities are hardly available, think again:

http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/parks-and-venues/parks/park-facilities/barbecue-parks/index.htm

IMG_8978 IMG_8985kurilpa-park-bbq

Back in Singapore, our sovereign wealth fund is once of the biggest in the world and yet our facilities are usually overbooked and not free. Even the one below my HDB cost $8 to book. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if its charcoal or electricity powered, but I don’t think there is enough pits around  in Singapore and the FAQs from Nparks are not very friendly.

bbqsgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnparksbbqpitnparks FAQ

Cycling in Brisbane: (real way of promoting a healthy lifestyle)

0624-rent-a-bike-soutbank-brisbane-qld

Bicycles for hire everywhere! Cycling tracks and lanes are paved in the city center as well as along major roads and motorways.

Info: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/sports-and-leisure/cycling/citycycle/

Fees: http://www.citycycle.com.au/Subscriptions/Usage-fees/CityCycle-usage-fees

Cycling lanes and safety: http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Cycling/Cycling-safety.aspx

cyclesafety1australia-trip-2010-brisbane-35  cyclesafety2 cycling cycling1 cyclingbrisb OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_5428 Southeast_freeway (bicycle tracks beside major expressways / motorways)

Meanwhile in Singapore:

20100409-dcxyph7dhg2fayxdh83g4t3ye3 cycling-on-Singapore-road cyclist-3 taxis_and_cycling_in_singapore

We (Singapore) still have much more to improve and the increasing number of cars on the road isn’t helping the situation. Recently there was some debate in parliament but still nothing concrete on the infrastructure, only increased fines!

Environment

In Brisbane, the sunshine state, locals said that the weather is the best in Australia, not too hot during summer season and not too cold in winter. Summer time is fun-filled, you can surf, dive, snorkel, kayak, fish, enjoy at the water-theme parks etc.

At the north of Brisbane, you have Sunshine Coast, hotels and holiday apartments go as low as $30 (backpackers) – $80 (2-3star apartments) and the beaches are primed for water activities! Water is damn clear and waves are super fun!

At the South of Brisbane, there is Gold Coast. A lot of theme parks, pubs, bars, discos, restaurants and very commercialized.

Queensland has many islands and the Great Barrier reef is nearby. Let’s zoom into the nearest one, Moreton island, just search in google for the prices and activities available. Just last month, we booked an apartment there for A$99 a night including dolphin feeding. We fed Tinkerbell and Echo.

 dolphin feeding event tangalooma wreak kayaking tangalooma island overviewIMG_1559

In Spring at Toowoomba, major parks and roadside in Brisbane, flowers bloom: (I took these photos myself)

IMG_7386 IMG_7548 IMG_7572 IMG_7575IMG_7609

Of course there are disadvantages living in Brisbane, shopping wise. The first and only Topshop was opened few days ago. People queue to get in. How many Topshops and better retail outlets do we have in Singapore and in the heartlands? So if you are a shopaholic, Brisbane is a ghost town for you. The usual retail chains here are Kmart, Aldi, BigW, David Jones, Harvey Norman, Myer etc. All very expensive stuff, i.e 1.5-2x more expensive at least (except Kmart, Aldi and BigW, they sell cheap stuff imported from China)

My next post will involve food and essential living items. You will definitely be surprised. Adios!

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One comment

  1. CY · December 10, 2013

    Care to share insights on taxes?

    Like

Tock cock sing song play mahjong here:

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