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How much should I pay to property agent in Singapore?

Introduction

Singapore is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Their economy has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Today, this country is one of the main hubs for investment. Located in Southeast Asia, this country is an island that has booming tourism and real estate industries. Many people move to live and work in Singapore. For those who are planning to, here is a guide on the cost of rent in Singapore.

There are a number of factors that affect the amount of rent that you would pay in Singapore. One of these is the distance of your house from the city. The closer you are to the main urban areas, the more you will pay in rent. Another factor is the age of the house in which you are living. If it is young, you will pay more than if it were old.

The recreational facilities in your house also contribute to the amounts that you pay in rent. Examples of these facilities are swimming pools, a gym or a movie theater. The quality of furniture and other furnishings in your house also determine the amount of rent that you will pay. Thus, take these factors under consideration before renting out a house in this city.

Average rent for condominiums

Private condominiums are very attractive to people who move to Singapore to live or work. They are attractive because these types of accommodation normally have a variety of recreational facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, playgrounds as well as tennis courts. A 3 bedroom condominium in Singapore that is located close to the main urban center costs between S$7, 000 and S$15, 000 every month. Such condominiums can be found in estates such as Orchard, Tanglin and River Valley.

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Average rent for private apartments

These forms of accommodation are similar to condominiums. However, they don’t have many recreational facilities. Moreover, they are often old buildings. A 3 bedroom apartment that is close to the main city rents for S$5, 000 and S$7, 000 per month. If it is far from the city, it will cost S$4, 000 every month.

Average rent for HBD flats

Also known as government flats, HBD flats are ideal for those living in Singapore on a tight budget. It is a common form of accommodation among those who live in Singapore. Over 80% of Singaporeans live in HBD flats. They don’t have recreational facilities. However, they are built next to facilities such as libraries, shopping malls, markets and stations for buses and trains. If it is located close to the main urban areas, a HBD flat rents for S$3, 000 every month. If it is far from the city, it rents for between S$2,000 and S$2,700 per month.

Average rent for serviced apartments

Some people prefer to live in accommodation that is similar to hotels. The services apartments offer a great solution for such people. In these apartments, you can enjoy personalized services. These apartments have recreational facilities such as gyms and a pool. They are 1 to 4 bedroom serviced apartments. A 1 bedroom serviced apartment in Singapore can rent for between S$7,000 and S$14,000 every month. The cost is determined by the quality of materials as well as the luxurious amenities that are available in the apartment.

Conclusion

The amount that you pay in rent in Singapore is often determined by the facilities that you can enjoy in the city. Proximity to the main city is also a major determining factor. Always do some research before renting accommodation in Singapore.

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Smart Homes Make Smart Rentals

Technology is invading every part of our life. If by any chance, you are a part of a city-state like Singapore with a title of the most Technology ready nation, like me, you cannot break out from technology infiltrating even our own condos. It has begun with smart phones, then smart appliances, and now even whole smart homes are what we can hope for in the near future.

Complete home automation systems allow us to customize lightning, entertainment, shopping, temperature, irrigation, security and many more options that make our lives easier than ever. Still landlords are hesitant to make those home automation improvements. Apartment rental is always on shaky grounds, it’s an unreliable market and changes are an everyday occurrence, so it’s better to be the part of the change. The main concern of landlords is a potential risk of security breaches and of course if making that kind of improvements will pay up in the long run. Some smart home solutions can really help your home become a smarter rental.

Keyless Entry allows your guests to enter your home without a key. No more worrying about misplacement of your keys, and if you are willing to invest some more you can add a feature of setting your security preferences from your phone. Just from time to time change the code and give a different one to a new rent payer or a guest and you have nothing to worry about.

Smart Lighting allows residents to set up their lightning to their liking. It’s perfectly optimized system which can also be fun to set up if you wish to program scenes with several lights turning on or off when you start the program. It’s amazing what this system does for the overall atmosphere in the rental. There are some really cool features for saving the energy by programming the system to turn off the lights in the empty rooms and tenants can control their lights with a simple swipe of their phones. However if your rental is old you may need to upgrade your whole electrical system, which can be very costly. Another great option for saving the energy are Smart Thermostats that while saving maintain your home at a reasonable temperature.

If you are worried about your security, (in today’s world who isn’t?), than Automated Security Systems are the best way to invest your money for your safety. These systems include a great variety of security gear, cameras, alarms, sensors etc. Having a good security system has shown to reduce the chance of break-ins. However, wireless security cameras can sometimes trigger false alarms by picking up interference from other wireless devices, so it’s especially important choosing the security system which has fewer bugs.

Smart appliances are definitely the future of saving time, energy and resources in your own home. Smart laundry machines are optimized to ensure cleaning while saving energy and water needed. Old appliances are a real energy and time eaters, but more people are still choosing them because of their low prices. If you really want to be frugal, your money will be better spent on new smart appliances which will make your life much easier.

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Best things about my condo rental unit

A lot of people presume that the main distinguishing factor between a condo and a normal house is that houses have either a back or a front yard, whereas a condo does not have either. The real definition of a condo is basically part of a residence owned by an individual, and it is usually an apartment. However, a condo can be rented out to anyone who is looking to stay for a while in any particular place of choice. Most condos I have been to are guided by terms and conditions that oversee an individual stay. Condos are available in different sizes to accommodate either a whole family or just a single person. When I just moved to Singapore I found this amazing condominium for rent, thanks to this incredible site named https://keylocation.sg/ which guided me through a couple of condo rentals available in Singapore before I finally settled for this one.

Among the list of available condos for rent were the family condo, single condo, water front condo and prestige condo. All of these apartments were exclusive but I settled for this particular one because it is luxurious, spacious and has a very good quality finishing. The prestige two bedrooms condo rental I chose is just the right one for anyone looking to rent a condo in Singapore located near the city area. My condo is built in a low rise complex with many large windows which are best for efficient air circulation. You may not even require to use the air conditioning provided.

The condos found on this website are the best because they are located next to all social amenities you could think of. From shopping malls, schools, hospitals and a good transport network which enables you to connect to the C.B.D with ease. Above all, these condos are affordable and worth it, so you should not worry about hurting your budget every month. This superb appartment I got on has full condo facilities both in and out of the complex which include the following;

Outside.

  • Western style pub – This includes a pool table and a cafe which offers pastries, sandwiches and coffee.
  • A lovely pool area.
  • A badminton court
  • A playground.
  • A mini mart.
  • A Japanese restaurant.
  • A fitness Center.
  • A tennis and squash court.

Inside.

  • A large living area which has sliding doors that leads to the veranda.
  • A TV room which also has sliding glass doors. The TV room comes with an LCD TV and an apple TV connected with Netlix, Hulu and all major U. S premium cable subscription.
  • A large en suite master bedroom with a king size bed and a guest bedroom with an attic bed and mattress.
  • It also has a very spacious kitchen which has a gas stove, an oven, a dish washer, a microwave and a coffee maker.
  • Similarly, the condo also has the perfect air conditioning and provides wireless internet and an additional computer.
  • The condo rental has two bathrooms each situated in the bedroom.

My condo complex is way different from many condo complexes found in Singapore because it is very spacious and has a veranda which has a gas grill, dinning set and restful lounging furniture. The complex also has a lot of palm trees and other pleasing natural features. These features help in maintaining the cool environment of the condos. Apart from all these luxuries, I also have a designated lady who handles all my cleaning. She is amazing at her work and ensures she does all the cooking and cloth washing to the latter. These cleaning services are offered to anyone who rents a condo in this complex. One of the best things about my prestige two bedroom condo is that I am allowed to keep pets unlike in most apartments found in Singapore.

However, no smoking is allowed in the complex. Did I mention that the condos are accessible by elevators; therefore, you do not have to stress yourself with the stairs. The agency also offers car exchange and the price is usually very negotiable.

Virtual wardrobe: targeting people who don’t share your values

Targeting people who don’t share your values

Sometimes I come up with business ideas involving targeting people who are considerably different from me.

Even though by a strictly commercial point of view some of those ideas might work, my instinct tells me to dismiss them, especially when differences imply behaviours (and therefore values) I don’t agree with.

I like writing on this blog (and in english, that’s not my native language) because I know that this lets me “talk” to people who share my interests in entrepreneurship, productivity, self-improvement, etc.. Maybe – who knows? – if I wrote about more popular topics I would have much more readers. But I would never do it, because I feel the need of having something in common with the people I try to sell something or to communicate something to.

Now I’m asking myself: is this a mistake? Am I stuck in my comfort-zone? Am I trying to pretend I’m fighting for what I believe in?

Virtual wardrobe

Let’s take an example of idea that I’m not pursuing because of this attitude.

I call it “virtual wardrobe”. It is a web application where users can register and fill their virtual closet (which should mirror their real one), plan their look for the week (what to wear) and receive advice from other users about the best combinations of clothes and what to buy next (or to trash/give away).

Money comes by advertisers, whose offers can be customized upon what single users already have in their virtual wardrobe.

Visit frequency is granted by the need to define/edit the weekly look, upload new clothing pieces, and by the desire to give/receive advice.

An email system reminds the user about what to wear and a monthly email highlights wardrobe composition, monthly expenses (the price is part of the data set of each clothing piece), advice…

There could be some system of gaming and ranking, to engage users and (not sure) put them in competition.

(Note: there’s already something similar on the Internet, but the example is just functional to the discussion)

The dilemma

Even though the Virtual Wardrobe could be useful to those willing to rationalize their clothing spending or to unclutter their wardrobe (“Hey, you haven’t worn these pieces in a year, get rid of them! This is a great chance to donate!”), I think the most profitable target (in respect to advertising partners) would be exactly – on the contrary – people who couldn’t care less about conscious spending.

The dilemma lies in my resistance to market something to people whose values I don’t agree with.

So the question is, and I’d really like to read your answers:

Would you target people whose values are different from yours? Do you think I’m wrong? Am I wasting opportunites by acting this way?

Crisis trends and opportunities for entrepreneurs

The single most important trend emerging from the current economic crisis is the demand for efficiency.

It’s not a coincidence that every industry – from automotive to architecture – is focusing on the development of energy saving solutions.

These innovations usually have a positive impact on the environment in terms of lower emissions or minor consumption of resources. But – make no mistake – the reason why this trend is so powerful has very little to do with people’s environmental concerns and very much to do with people wanting to save money.

BMW’s Efficient Dynamics line (“Less consumption, more driving pleasure”) is the perfect example of a premium price product marketed to affluent customers who care about saving fuel, thus exploiting this trend.

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Another emerging trend is minimalism or living small. This is more of a conscious life-style choice than an external condition determined by the crisis (like the demand for efficiency). Minimalism is based on the assumption that individuals need to focus on what’s really essential. Those who follow this way of living also tend to assign more importance to experiences than to owning stuff.

And there is a third factor, which is more of a structural element of today’s global markets: despite the crisis, no one is expecting quality standards to drop.

Translated into opportunities for entrepreneurs, this means:

  • Design products/services that consume less or help reducing consumption (efficiency)
  • Design products/services that satisfy a concrete, real need. Don’t try to create needs (minimalism)
  • Pay attention to details: ergonomics, quality of materials, customer experience (quality)

These guidelines apply very well to the approach of re-engineering existing products and services (incremental innovation). You don’t necessarily need the next big idea to create value for your customers.

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Debunking the fear of failure

When we think about failure, we usually envision images of us being homeless and abandoned by all of our family and friends.

I cannot imagine what kind of disgrace could lead to such a nightmare situation!

Two things:

  • First, there is no need to risk everything in any project. There is always the way of starting a new project on the side, experiencing what it is like, then gradually increasing our time/resources investment in it.
  • Second, the worst case scenario, although extremely rare, wouldn’t be that bad anyway: we usually can rely on our family for an emergency roof, and we still have us, meaning that we are perfectly capable of returning to what we were doing before. This experience will also let us know who our real friends are.

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So, we cannot rationally accept the unmotivated fear that keeps us away from translating our dreams into action.

But this is not enough. We should make a mental shift from the idea that failure is bad to the idea that failure is a step into the right direction!

At ICTeam, we very often introduce tests into our direct marketing activities. Whether or not they show an improvement over the alternative they are built against, what they bring is information. Knowing that something worked or not, independently from how good or bad it makes us feel, is useful information we carry with us for the future.

Here is a short list of successful people who came short first, but did not lose faith in their vision:

  • Thomas Edison: before building the first working light bulb, Edison made 1.000 unsuccessful attempts
  • Bill Gates: Traf-O-Data, the first company by Gates and Allen, resulted in a complete failure
  • Michael Jordan: basketball’s GOAT was cut from his high school team (!)
  • Stephen King: his first book, “Carrie”, was rejected 30 times before finding a publisher

If you want more examples, this is a list of 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First.

Do you think that never failing will make you better than those great people? Remember:

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The 6 steps method to evaluate business ideas

An operational framework

The process of marketing a new product or service requires a minimal operational framework, something that guides the entrepreneur/professional through a series of operative steps that go from the birth of the original business idea to the decision of putting (or not) the associated product/service on the market.
My 6 steps method to evaluate business ideas is as simple as possible, yet covers all the key decisions that should be made before deciding if the idea is worth commercialization or not.
The steps are the following:
  1. creation
  2. reality check
  3. mini business plan
  4. small scale test
  5. test results analysis
  6. evaluation business plan
The method can be represented as a cycle.
It starts with a creative phase (step 1) and proceeds with a series of steps (from 2 to 6) aimed at evaluating every business idea. At every cycle a bunch of ideas are tested. The process repeats until an idea is selected for further development (market launch).
Method

The steps explained

Creation: intellectual process aimed at defining the raw material (business ideas) to be tested later in the cycle. It’s better to get into creative mode for some time, putting on the paper a list of ideas before going forward, instead of just coming up with one idea and starting the evaluation process immediately.
Reality check: filtering the list of raw ideas through a brief feasibility test. Assumptions to test:
  • the idea can be tested on a small scale, meaning that with a marginal amount of money it’s possible to promote the product (or service) to a wide enough audience
  • the idea is legal
  • (industry specific feasibility)

Many ideas won’t make it through this step, because there are things that simply cannot be tested on a small scale with little investment.

Mini business plan: this step involves writing a brief business plan for each of the ideas that survived the previous one. A mini business plan has to cover the following parts:
  • description of the product (or service)
  • need or desire satisfied by the product
  • direct and indirect competition
  • +/- against each competitor
  • claim and communication guidelines
  • minimum price, defined as the sum of production cost (variable) and desired margin + a fixed production cost compensation
In this phase, we don’t know our target yet and making assumptions about it could lead to mistakes. After the small scale test we will be in a better position to define our target market and therefore the best sales and promotional strategy.
Small scale test: the market needs to speak the truth about the product (or service) generated by each idea.
I recommend using an e-commerce platform. Advantages: reaching a worldwide audience, keeping costs low, collecting a lot of data about prospective customers, doing some research about specific search engine optimization.
During the test, its’ important to try different packages, prices and communication combinations.
For the prices: start with the mid price (minimum x 1.3), then offer a 30% discount (minimum x 1), return to the mid price and end with a scarcity price (minimum x 2 – or higher if you see that there are a lot of requests).
Example: our minimum price is 50 $ (including contribution margin). We’ll start with 65 $, then offer 50 $ for a limited time, return to 65 $ and end with 100 $ or more.
Read this about the Minimum Viable Product approach.
After the small scale test, we should:
  • have an idea of who our customers are: at least age, sex, country, job (you can get these informations with a form on the check-out page of your website)
  • have an idea of why some people who showed interested in the product didn’t eventually buy (identifying and connecting with them is crucial)
  • know which price/package/communication combination gave the better results in terms of total profit (items sold x margin)
Test results analysis: we should now be able to look for common traits among our customers. Those traits can be used as a guideline to define our target in qualitative (i.e. 70% male, 30-50 years old, 30% teachers, etc.) and quantitative (i.e. 10 mln people in the world) terms.
Another thing to do is studying the differences between people who bought the product when its price was set at different levels.
Then, we should identify the total profit generated by each packaging/price combination.
The last thing to verify is if and how the communication had an impact on the number of sales, for each packaging/price combination.
Evaluation business plan: this is the last and decisive step, the one that will lead us to the conclusion to go on or to move on with the next idea.
Starting from the indications of the small scale test, we need to write a business plan covering the following chapters:
  • target market
  • solution (how the product/service works)
  • competition (including +/- vs competitors)
  • pricing, packaging and distribution
  • promotion (including advertising)
  • economic projections
  • team and timeline
At this point, after a test and after having formally written a simple business plan like that, we are in the best position to evaluate each original business idea.

Web-apps worth paying for: Tom’s Planner

I’ve always been an estimator of freeware. I like that searching carefully on the Internet you can discover free software of all kinds.

The free paradigma works fine with operating systems, where you can legally download Linux distributions without paying a penny and become part of ultra vital communities, supporting you from day one.

Even when your needs are more specific, the motto “don’t pay, get it free (and legally)” still applies very often.

But there are times when you find an application so useful, that you are more than willing to contribute with a paying fee to its development.

This was the case, for me, with Tom’s Planner.

I’ve been one of the early adopters, with a free beta subscription in the summer of 2009.

For a quick description of what Tom’s Planner is, here’s a quote from the homepage:

Tom’s Planner is an easy-to-use web based planning application that enables anyone to create and share Gantt Charts online with “drag and drop” simplicity.

Why should someone like me use Tom’s Planner instead of (i.e.) Microsoft Project? Simple:

  • it is easy and fast: MS Project is really good when you need detailed plans, but it is also far too complicated when you just need to quickly generate a weekly/monthly based Gantt. This is the case when you are willing to show to prospective customers a timing whose details are still not written in stone, or when you need to take a look at the overall timing of a project which is still a work-in-progress. The drag-and-drop interface is easy and fast (despite being a web-application!).
  • it is eye-candy: just take a look at the following picture and tell me it’s not light years ahead of the Gantt charts you are used to work with:

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  • it lets you collaborate with your team, without anyone requiring anything installed into their PCs: being a web-app, other participants just need an Internet connection and a free account to instantly collaborate within your shared schedules.
  • it lets you save offline copies of your schedules. Among the supported formats, there’s even MS Project.

The Professional account costs 9$ per month, and those who subscribe for 1 year save 15%.

Give it a try: start a free account right now!

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Mind mapping design and software selection tips

If I could pick just one habit that significantly boosted my ability to manage complex projects over the last year, mind mapping would be my choice.

In this post I explain briefly what a mind map is, what’s the proper way of using them and what to look for when choosing a mind mapping tool, with specific advice about software selection.

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a diagram used to organize all the information related to a key item, that you could think about as the “topic” of the map.

Everything requiring a comprehensive view of a great number of ideas or tasks is an ideal candidate to be the key node of a mind map: a book, one’s life in every aspect, a marketing project, a new business, you name it.

Mind maps don’t solve problems actually, but they let you see the big picture and highlight priorities.

The risk, when dealing with an intricated puzzle of activities, people and deadlines, is wasting time on unimportant tasks. If you don’t like (or if you can’t afford) losing control over your projects, keep reading.

Designing mind maps that work

You should always remember why you are designing a map, which is to better understand and manage “something”.

My suggestion is to limit the number of first level nodes (those directly linked with the subject) and make a wise use of hierarchy, placing the details under high level nodes.

I keep a mind map for each of our Customers (we work for companies, providing loyalty & direct marketing systems), in order to perform daily check-ups and updates. In every map, I put the Customer as the root-node (the topic) and I just add three first level nodes:

  • To do
  • Done
  • Info

Every detail is placed under those three main nodes and their sub-nodes (look at the above pictures, to get an example of what I’m talking about).

In any given moment, I can tell you – regarding each Customer – what has yet to be done, what has already been done and any relevant info.

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In addiction, I also use mind maps:

  • as a brainstorming tool: adding, moving, removing, connecting, playing with nodes
  • to build surveys: designing mutiple choice questions, including “if answer… then question” dynamics
  • to support prospecting calls
  • to organize my life
  • to take notes: usually during meetings and conference calls
  • when I’m working with data models: designing, understanding or just representing data models is easy with mind maps, provided that a relational database is made of tables, fields under each table and connections between tables (root-node, nodes, sub-nodes and links between nodes via sub-nodes)

Things I’d like to do with mind maps, but I haven’t tested yet:

  • group brainstorming: sharing and co-editing a mind map with coworkers and/or customers

Which mind mapping tool?

After having tested different mind mapping tools, I came up with the following conclusions:

  • a basic tool is ok: while sometimes it’s nice to have some advanced features (some applications let you treat nodes as tasks, assigning them to resources, defining due dates or keeping track of completion percentages), the risk is to increase the time spent on maps maintainance, which you’ll soon realize is a huge minus, especially when dealing with projects that change often;
  • use a combination of offline and online tools: ideally, stick to the online alternative for your day-to-day work, but backup frequently (once a week should be ok) in a format that’s compatible with an offline emergency tool, just in case you run out of a stable Internet connection;
  • explore the possibilities of map sharing: some applications let you share and co-edit mind maps with other users. This could serve well a brainstorming session, but you could use a mind map even just to share in a structured fashion the contents of a meeting with people located in different offices, thus receiving a real time feedback about the discussion and advice for additional topics to discuss.

There are a lot of mind mapping applications available on the Internet and I’m sure there is some hidden gem out there I don’t know anything about, but I’m really happy with these two:

  • Mind42: online, free, supports map-sharing and co-editing, exports maps in various file formats including FreeMind, imports maps in various file formats including FreeMind
  • FreeMind: offline, opensource and free, perfect as a backup to Mind42 when you are forced to work offline.

Honorable mention: Goalscape (unfortunately, there’s no basic free access) and MindMeister (the basic free access lacks some must-have features like FreeMind export/import, but this application has a more refined look than Mind42 and the nodes connection feature is very useful: if you can afford its annual fee, which at 39 dollars is reasonable, do it).

What do you think?

Would you like to share your personal experience or point of view about mind mapping and mind mapping tools? I’d like to read your opinion.