Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How much you need to earn to own a house or unit in Australia?

This is how much you need to earn per year to survive in Australia! It is based on the current (Dec 2015) median price and of course this is just a guideline.

City House Unit
Sydney $154,482 (median: $840,000) $115,862(median: $630,000)
Canberra $106,666(median: $580,000) $76,689(median: $417,000)
Darwin $105,792(median: $575,250) $84,597(median: $460,000)
Melbourne $104,643(median: $569,000) $86,436 (median: $470,000)
Perth $101,149 (median: $550,000) $80,000 (median: $435,000)
Brisbane $89,655 (median: $487,500) $73,011 (median: $397,000)
Adelaide $77,241 (median: $420,000) $62,528 (median: $340,000)
Hobart $64,827 (median: $352,500) $50,574 (median: $275,000)
Source: www.realestate.com.au (Dec 2015)

Maybe one day I should move away from Sydney after selling my property for retirement? Something to think of...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Citibank in Australia is NOT Good

When I first rented a first property here in Sydney, my rental agent surprised that I was using Citibank and he told me that usually local here don't use Citibank. At that I just listened and continued to use Citibank since it was my favorite bank but not until this incident happened...

Why I say Citibank is not good? 

Firstly, they rejected my credit card application without giving me any reason although I met all the criteria and didn't have a bad credit record. So I called them and they asked me to appeal. They have a specific channel for that. So I write a formal letter to appeal and they never got back to me after many months.

At one point, then my account was promoted to Citigold (this is when your saving reaches certain amount) where there is a an dedicated account manager to serve you. So I called him and told him about my situation about my credit card application and I asked for the reason of rejection.

Account manager: We don't know the reason but you need to ask the one who handle this credit card application for you. Do you know who handle your case? 
Me:  A banker in Citibank Queen Victoria Building (QVB) branch. 
Account manager: You need to find him and ask him.  
Me: No way, what is the point that I having account manager who can't do anything for me? I"m not going to find this person. Either you help me to figure that out or I will change to use different bank. 
So this guy never responded me after that. So I started to switch my saving to Commonwealth Bank and eventually I got my credit card application approval there.

About one year later, a lady banker called me to do survey on my account manager to basically rate him from 1 to 10. So I gave him everything 1. The lady actually surprised and I told her the reason. The next day, my account manager called me.
Account Manager: Is there anything I can help?  
Me: No. Why you call me suddenly?  
Account Manager: No, just want to check with you if you need any help.  
Me: No. I don't need any help now. 
He didn't seem like know the actual reason why I"m not satisfied. He just knew that I rated him low so he called. Huh? I thought I already told the lady? Anyway, I really didn't need his help anymore. After few weeks, he called me again and the conversation went exactly the same like before. I think after 3 rounds, then he stopped. He never called again.


Based on this incident and experience that I had with them, now I know why locals do not use Citibank. Perhaps this is a chicken and egg problem (i.e. less customer, less services?). Their service is pretty bad actually and no accountability. It is definitely not as good as Citibank's service in Malaysia. Of course this is merely my opinion and doesn't represent all.

Having said so, Citibank is still my favorite BUT only for this Citibank Global Transfer Feature which I talked about it in the past. I still promote this feature to everybody who wants to transfer money from or to Malaysia because I find it very convenient and cheap.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Understand Excess Reduction in Car Rental

You may or may not know about this excess reduction in car rental every time when you are travelling. In fact, a lot of people misunderstand that this in an insurance and I'm confused myself too when first I started renting car here in Australia.

In fact, this is NOT an insurance at all but maybe it can be related to insurance. For example, if you don't pay for this excess reduction, you're still insured. In case of anything happens, the maximum amount that you need to pay is $4K. No matter what happen, you won't pay more than $4K. Isn't this already covered?

You pay this excess reduction fee to reduce the $4K to $500 for example. So, in case of anything happens, you won't pay more than $500. You can also pay this access reduction fee higher to reduce the $4K to $0 so that you won't pay a single cents.

There is a catch here, you still won't be covered although you have reduce to excess to $0. For example, you break the rental contract by driving in the unsealed road.  This depends on whether there is such limitation on the contract and also depends on place that you rent a car. We have such limitation while renting a car in Tasmania. They usually will explain that to you clearly.

Another common thing is you don't drive the car but let other to drive. It depends on you contract whether you have added another person to drive the car or only you're the only one can drive the the car. Also, violating traffic laws is another common one which causes you break the contract.

Should you pay for this excess reduction? It is really up to you. What you should ask yourself is if there is any major accidental happens, are you afford to pay $4k? If yes, you don't need to pay any excess reduction fee. I personally have never paid for it. Most importantly, don't "assume" this excess reduction is an insurance fee, it is NOT. You have already been covered although you don't pay it!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beware of Non-compete Clause in Your Offer Letter

This is something I learned lately while searching for a job especially for the job that posted by my company's competitor. So the conversation goes like that:

HR: What is your limitation?

Me: I don't have any limitation. I'm a full time permanent employee. I just need to give  4 weeks notice.

HR: No, I mean limitation such as what is the period you're not allow to join our company due to non-competition contract.

Me: Huh? I'm not sure about that but I believe is none. I need to go back and look at my offer letter and get back to you.

HR: Yes, give me a call when you find it out.

So I went back home and checked. You need to search for this few keywords (e.g. non-compete, non-competition) in your offer letter. It turns out that I can't join any of my company competitors in NSW after 12 months I leave my current company. So I called him back the day after. Since I was not 100% sure, I also copied the clause and sent it to him in email to confirm.

ME: I think if I understand it correctly, in my offer letter, I'm not allow to join your company within 12 months after I resign. I send the clause to you, can you please help to confirm?

HR: Yes, you understand correctly but normally employer can only hold an employee not more than 3 months and they can't stand legally to hold you for 12 months. Can you no working for 3 months? You can join our company after 3 months. You may also want to check with your lawyer.

Me: Let me think about it and I will get back to you.

I think for a while, I think it is not worth to take such risk. Furthermore, I can't be jobless for 3 months. So I decided not proceed with it. The HR called me back after few days I didn't get back to him, and I had no choice telling him not to proceed. So sad!

Key Learning

  • Read your offer letter carefully especially on non-compete clause
  • Negotiate to change or remove the non-compete clause in the offer letter
Sometimes it also depends on whether you are at right position to negotiate because you may lose the job. I will say as long as you're employed, you should negotiate this. I definitely will do it next. Ultimately  I want to remove this clause completely and if can't, I will aim to reduce the period to 1 month.
But now, I'm stuck...

P/S: I ask around people here it turns out employer suing an employee for non-compete clause is common here. So luckily, I didn't take the risk.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Buying Electronic Items Saving Tip In Sydney

I just learned this tip last month when buying TV in Sydney that we can actually get discount by showing the lowest price that you can find in internet. They will offer you at that lowest price or sometimes lower even though the item is already at offer price. For my case, I was lucky enough the get the lower price than what I proposed. Maybe this is because of the sale person who sold me this TV is also a Malaysian and I guess he earned less commission then? :)

As far as I know, 2 retailers that allows you to do this which are "Bing Lee" and JB Hi-FI. Any others? I bought my TV from "Bing Lee" because I don't find a lot of famous brands sold in JB Hi-FI at that time. Bing Lee has almost everything that I"m looking for.

Bing Lee is only available in NSW and JB Hi-FI is across the Australia I think. If you come across any other retailers that offer this kind of service, please share it with me. This reminds me how I bought my electronic items for my first home in Sungai Petani, Malaysia. :) Have a nice long weekend!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Where to Invest Property in Sydney?

If you ever want to invest or buy a property in Sydney (yeah, I know is expensive), one of the things you can look at is the "potential" of  that area. But how do we know where has the potential?

This website has the answer: A Plan for Growing Sydney

This is especially very useful for those who're not familiar with Sydney. It basically has all the detailed development plans all the way from the main city to suburbs.

The simplest way is the property that you buy must at least has some colors on the map! :) The one with "Priority Precinct" has the highest potential in my opinion. There are totally 10 of them.

In general (base on my observation), the property price by Sydney region in descending order as follow:

  • City center
  • Eastern Suburbs
  • Northern Suburbs (further away from city is cheaper)
  • Inner West 
  • Rest of the Western Areas (further away from city is cheaper)
  • Southern Sydney
  • South-western Sydney

If you look at the map again, you can tell the focus development area is mostly at northern areas. So my recommendation to invest is this area. City center is good to invest too but it maybe too expensive in your budget. Just my 2 cents. :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Company Title - Is it different from Strata Title?

I came across this "Company Title" term when looking for a property in Australia particularly for apartment property. It seems like not all apartments are strata title, some of them are actually company title. What are the differences?

Company Title vs Strata Title

  • Unlike strata, you actually do NOT own the title. The company owns it and gives you the share so that you have the rights to stay on the certain areas of the property (e.g. house unit). 
  • If you want to sell your property, you're required to get the approval from the board of directors of that company. For Strata title, you can decide whether you want to sell it or not by yourself and you do not required to get approval from anybody.
  • Getting loan from bank is harder for company tittle as compared to strata title due the appreciation value.
  • Company title properties are usually cheaper, I guess that is the only benefits. What else?
  • It is also easier to address issue with the management of the company title as compared to the strata title manager? I'm not sure how true this is and I personally think they're the same. 

Given the only benefits of company title is "cheap", I'm not favor in buying company title property. Also be careful of buying an apartment, don't always assume it is always strata title!

P/S: I"m not sure if Malaysia has such thing. I know there is an investment scheme to own a property or hotel and you're giving some kind of shares too. Maybe that is a similar thing? For apartment buying in Malaysia, the common trap that we want to avoid is commercial title unit - see my previous post here.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Living Expenses in Sydney For 2 Adults

If you wonder how much living expenses in Sydney, this is the right place for you. I have started to track my expenses since January last year and I think it is good time now to share with you so you have general idea how much you need to prepare if you want to live in Sydney.

This is my living expenses last year, the total expenses for the entire year is $54.7K.

The start up cost is around $8K as you can see that in January. Majority are for rental bond and also buying some furniture. I rent a studio for $520 per week (includes water, electricity and gas) located in an extremely convenient place. I can walk to office and I can buy everything that I want within very close walking distance.

Starting from February to April is the living expenses for one adult which costs around $2.8K per month. Starting from May, the living expenses are for two adults. To average the living expenses from May to Nov, the living expenses is around $4.4K per month. The good thing about having couple is you don't multiply by 2 from the living expenses for one person! :)

Note: I don't include the expenses in December  because that is vacation expenses that we had in Adelaide for around 8 days. That's why you see the sudden jump in December! :)

Living Style
  • One adult walks to work and another one travels to work by train (less than 1 hour including walking)
  • Do not own a car, travel with public transport most of the time
  • Bring lunch box to office every day, eat out only when there is special occasion (every quarter perhaps)
  • Cook dinner most of the time and eat out occasionally, 2-3 times a week approximately
  • Travel to new places within the New South Wales state (i.e. NSW) during weekend with public transport (~ twice per month)
  • Travel out of NSW by rental car in mid of the year (just 1 day) and travel to Adelaide by flight in the end of the year (8 days)
  • Back to Malaysia for vacation once a year

Let's break down the expenses:

Housing is rental which consists of 55% of the total expenses, followed by food (18%), transportation (10%), leisure (6.8%) and the rest of the spending are less than 5%. As you can see, rental is expensive here unless I want to move out from city but I will spend more on transportation and time. So it may not worth it.  

Further breakdown by food, transportation and leisure below:

Food is quite optimized already since majority are from Grocery unless we don't eat outside at all? Maybe just simply eat less, I think I eat a lot which is not really good for the health. 

"Transportation G" stands for transportation general. I think those are car rental expenses including fuel. Maybe that can be cut down but I will need to cut down my vacation.

Leisure spending is mostly related to vacation. :)


My yearly expenses is $54.7K, assuming worst case that you don't get a job in Sydney for a year, you will need to spend that amount of money. It should be lesser since you don't travel like I do now. So I will say $50K expenses per year should be good enough for 2 adults. If you convert that to MYR, it is around ~RM150K.

Let me know if you have any questions, I am happily to share that with you. Here I wish you happy new year and stay healthy always!

[Updated 13 March 2016]: 2015 Expenses Update In Sydney

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