A couple of commenters have asked me to write a little more in detail about the way leasing works here in Singapore.
*******I am happy to write about my experience, but remember as this post becomes dated things may change, or work differently with a different leasing agent.*******
Before we first moved to Singapore, we read about car ownership in one of those “So you’re moving to Singapore…” style guidebooks. The book made it very clear that car ownership was for the extremely wealthy, and those on expat packages whose company would pay for the car. We fit neither description, and the MRT/bus/cab situation was reasonable enough that we never really seriously considered buying a car.
It wasn’t until fairly recently, when I started talking to friends who had cars here in Singapore, that I realized there was another option besides ownership; leasing. While we employed B, a car was still a financially irresponsible decision for our family, but after we fired her, it became a possibility. When I began to do the math on how many cabs I was taking to get Ellie to school five days a week, gymnastics, violin, grocery runs, play dates, and general running around it began to look downright reasonable to lease a car.
How I did my research
I will confess to a certain level of laziness. I contacted Avis, and asked my friends with cars how much they were paying. When everyone gasped at how little a friend of mine was leasing for, I decided to contact her agent at the Hyundai dealership on Alexandra Road.
We initially took the car for a 4 day test drive at a daily rate, but they agreed that if we signed for a few months trial, the daily rate would count towards the first month’s lease. Last week I signed a monthly trial for a few months, just to be sure. This is a really big commitment, and we want to be completely sure before we sign a 1 or 2 year deal.
Terms of the lease
- We pay a monthly fee to lease the car. When we commit to a one or two year lease, that amount will either stay static to what we’re paying in our trial months (1 year lease) or decrease by about 100 SGD a month (2 year lease).
- The leasing company covers—-Maintenance (including regularly scheduled maintenance and oil changes), Insurance, COE, roadside assistance in SG and Malaysia, road taxes
- We pay for—gas, a deductible in the case of an accident (with a higher deductible should the accident happen in Malaysia), parking fees, the ERP (edited to thank commenters clarifying road tax vs erp)
- During our lease period we can switch cars to another car in the same class at the same amount or to a higher end car should we wish. We may not downgrade our car.
We are filling our tank about once a week (given that we’ve only had it for just under 2 weeks). It costs around 80-90 SGD to fill it, with different gas stations offering different discounts for using specific cards. We only have cards issued by GNB, which sadly is not one of the more popular discounters. Gas runs just over 2 SGD a liter (6 USD per gallon) and our tank is 40ish liters (or 10 gallons).
It is true that the model we have drinks a bit more gas than the equivalent model to what we owned in the US, but there are no real Hybrid options for leasing right now, and the difference in our model versus a different model plus gas still make our Matrix the cheapest option for our family.
While in some parts of Singapore there is on street or public parking where you’ll need coupons (and I have some just in case), the majority of places I’ve been do electronic charging. Your car has an electronic reader (IU unit) mounted on the dash on the driver’s side. When you enter/exit a parking lot or enter an ERP road, it is scanned and the amount of money is deducted from your cash card.
Cash cards can be purchased at 7/11. You can refill the amount of money on them at 7/11 and in many mall parking lots. I generally just leave mine in the IU, unless I have a voucher for free parking. In those cases, you take out the cash card and insert your voucher into a secondary machine at the exit.
I look to average about 50 SGD a week in parking/ERP. I know many people say that parking here is expensive, but I’m not sure what they’re comparing it to. Suburban US life, where free parking is an automatic? Or an urban American metric? Compared to Boston/New York daily rates, parking is downright dirt cheap here. I usually pay about 2-4 dollars to park at Ellie’s school (2.20 if I’m just doing a drop off or pick up…the 1 hour rate, or 4.20 if I stay for a meal or to do grocery shopping–the 2 hour rate). In Boston, many parking garages start at 10+ per hour and in New York, it’s even higher (granted, both tend to top out at 20-30+ dollars after 4 hours for a 24 hour period, but…).
I’m going to address car seats in tomorrow’s post
What other questions/topics do you guys want to know about?