Posted in Living Overseas.

A Money Transfer Guide for Expat Aussies Living and Working in Singapore

Three friends smiling laughing talking in Hong Kong cafe

One of the most expensive cities for expats? According to the 2015 Cost of Living Survey published by Mercer, a global leader in health, retirement, talent and investments, Singapore is at number 4 – one of 5 Asian cities in this year’s Top 10.

But its status as expensive is balanced more positively by the fact that the same survey ranks Singapore as one of the highest ranking (number 26), when it comes to quality-of-living standards.

Because of the many corporate leaders who have created a professional hub on the island nation, Singapore is one of the most popular destinations for Australian expats, so finding a friendly community of Aussie accents is easy.

When it comes to dealing with currency transfer issues, the difference between the Australian dollar and the Singapore dollar fluctuates, as does any currency.


Cheapest ways to send money between Singapore and Australia

Sending money back home to Australia can be done in a number of ways – from telegraphic transfer, to international bank draft, or online banking.

Specialist money transfer services are always cheaper than the big banks, with the savings apparent in a number of ways, from more competitive exchange rates, to the variations of fees and charges.

Many companies offer fee-free international currency transfers but, although you do save on the lack of charges and fees, you lose on the exchange rate.

Often, the amount of funds being transferred impacts on the fees and exchange rate on offer, so it’s up to you to weigh up how often you need funds transferred and what size of amounts you need to send.

You may find that sending larger amounts less frequently works best for your budget, or you may decide that sending smaller amounts more frequently works out to be the most cost-effective transfer method.

Paypal is one alternative to banks and currency providers that does not incur hefty fees – plus it has the benefit of showing up straight away so you get immediate results. In-person cash transactions, such as Travelex or Western union, are also available.

Inter-bank transfers usually suit one-off, smaller amounts under $1000, while currency transfer companies typically offer better rates on amounts greater than $1000.


How often should I send my savings home?

How often do you need to access it? If you have debts that need servicing back home, paying them off quickly is a smart decision for your money. The interest you save on reducing that large principal amount could be significant but if it costs you exorbitant fees in international money transfer charges, it could be a false economy.

Compare the rates between currency providers and factor in the fees and charges. For amounts less than a few hundred dollars, fees are usually zero. Beware of banks that offer free transfers but then have an unattractive exchange rate.

It’s also wise to check the fees being charged by the bank receiving the funds – often as much as $50. When you choose a currency provider to handle your money transfer, because they have a bank in the receiving country, this fee can be avoided.

By taking all these factors into consideration, you can make the decision best for you about how often to send money home.


Are there other places I could park my money?

For the best advice about where to park your money while living the expat life in Singapore, it’s smart to talk to your financial planner or accountant. Tax issues are important to consider and by understanding all your legal obligations, as well as ways you can minimise tax debt, you’ll have a better understanding of how to park and protect your savings before you return home – or on to your next expat adventure.


What’s the best way to schedule payments?

BPAY is easy and efficient – and you can schedule payments for all kinds of bills up to 18 months ahead of time. Make sure you keep an Australian bank account open back home for efficient payment of bills – everything from mortgage to utility bills for your investment property or other loans.

If you are relying on cleared funds from your overseas accounts to hit the Australian account before servicing your back-home debts, make sure you factor in money transfer times so you don’t default.