Singapore-Based Employees Face Relocation Challenges to these 3 Countries: United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong

February 9, 20168:05 am617 views

Singapore-based employees who received a job transfer in 2015 were most likely to be relocated to one of these three countries for their new assignment: the United States, Hong Kong, or the United Kingdom, according to Cartus, a leading provider of global relocation services.

For Singapore-based expats, each of these destination countries poses its own unique and often formidable challenges, according to Cartus’ Trends in Global Relocation: 2015 Biggest Challenges survey.

“Although the United States is the number-one destination for Singapore-based employees, it is also a country that ranks at the top for challenges,” said Kenneth Kwek, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cartus Asia Pacific.

“Hong Kong and the UK ranked second and third, respectively. Each country has its own specific challenges for international assignees, and advance preparation is the key to success,” Kwek added.

United States: Top Destination, Top Challenge

Singapore expats and their companies can expect significant challenges when it comes to transferring employees to the United States, especially in the area of housing, where the rental market for expats is becoming tighter, costs are rising, and some landlords are requesting more payments up front.

Rural locations, not traditionally a destination for incoming expats, pose issues in terms of lack of available housing. Ongoing exchange-rate fluctuations have also affected some expat housing budgets.

Hong Kong: Lack of International School Places a Problem

Although Hong Kong is the second most-frequent destination for Singapore-based employees, those with children will typically find school places difficult to obtain.

Despite the announcement of a new building schedule, with new schools opening this year and in 2018, the lack of international school places in Hong Kong is a key issue.

Relocating families with school-age children should plan well in advance in order to obtain a school place.

See: Employment Outlook for Singapore on an Upward Trajectory in 2016

United Kingdom: Housing and Compliance Issues Pose Challenges

Singapore-based expats on their way to the UK can expect issues with housing and compliance. For instance, housing demand outstrips supply for rental properties, especially in London, where price growth tops other areas of the UK.

Additionally, tighter immigration rules in the UK mean employers should plan relocations well in advance and allow more time for visa processing.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Cost control is the biggest relocation challenge—not surprisingly, the top challenge facing most relocation managers is, once again, controlling relocation/assignment costs, according to 78 per cent of respondents.
  • Increased difficulty with compliancea significant finding this year is increased difficulty in complying with the laws and regulations. Challenges related to complying with laws and regulations not only moved into the number-two spot, but also posted the biggest increase by far (17 percentage points) from the challenges listed in our 2014 report.
  • Assignments still seen as positive—even with all of the challenges facing relocation programs, 81 per cent of respondents agreed that the impact of an international assignment on an assignee’s career is positive.

From an international assignee perspective, there were likely to have several challenges in common: long wait times to obtain work visas, payroll problems, and issues with housing. To meet these challenges, companies really need to plan ahead and set assignees’ expectations up front.

Also read: 82% of Overseas Singaporeans Keen to Return Home

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