SINGAPORE: Given the current exchange rate between the Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollar, Johor continues to be an attractive destination for shoppers from Singapore. But it’s also becoming a destination for expats working in Singapore, with housing options and international schools being part of the draw.
As with other parents, Mrs Sarah Grubb says goodbye to two of her daughters every morning when they hop into a school bus. Unlike other children, however, the girls aged 12 and 9 are headed to Marlborough College in Nusajaya. Their 14-year-old sister is already at a boarding house there.
Mrs Grubb says the Britain-based school deploys seven buses every day to Singapore, taking with them about 100 students.
"My children get picked up every morning; initially it was a drop off to each house. That was proving to take too long, so we now do a central location. I drop my children off, the bus leaves at 7.20am, and it takes about 45 minutes to get to school," she said.
"If you were to sit on a schoolbus in Singapore, it takes about 45 minutes as well to get to school - about the same amount of time, apart from having to cross the border.
"If I had to do it myself every day, going across the border, maybe I might not have done it. But they guaranteed a bus to take the children to school every day. It was cost-effective."
Johor has continued to be an attractive destination for shoppers from Singapore with favourable exchange rates between the and Singapore dollar and the ringgit. Now, it’s also becoming a destination for expats working in Singapore, with housing options and international schools being part of the draw. Our reporter Lee Gim Siong with the story. http://bit.ly/1WQxe16Posted by 938LIVE on Thursday, 8 October 2015
Based on current exchange rates, enrolling children aged 7 to 18 at the 90-acre college could cost between S$23,000 and S$34,000 a year. This could be 10 per cent less - and maybe even cheaper - than schools offering similar programmes in Singapore.
But for Mrs Grubb, who moved to Singapore from England three years ago, cost was not a decisive factor.
"Right now the ringgit is lower, obviously it's less costly for us now. But you go there because of facilities and standards. When you go and look at international schools in Singapore ... they're concrete blocks, many have no fields, there’s hardly any facilities compared to what Marlborough college has to offer," she said.
"If we are going to move across the world, I want to give my children an experience, to be able to have fields, running tracks, courts, to enjoy school."
Her compatriot Audrie Clarke, who has lived in Singapore for 22 years, sent her first three children back to the UK for senior school, the equivalent of upper secondary education in Singapore. But she decided the school in Nusajaya would be ideal for her youngest daughter, a netball player.
"It was only an hour and a half away rather than a 13-hour flight. For her, having us near, we could go and watch every match - she plays a lot of matches! It's easy, it's great, I don't have to take so much time off work," said Mrs Clarke.
"The school reassured us that they were going to look after her. It's a secure and safe place. Finance was not a factor. I might say I paid exactly the same for her to go to Malaysia as I paid for my son's boarding in England."
CHOOSING FROM THE TRADE-OFFS
Schoolmaster Robert Pick said the college has seen a steady increase in enrolment figures since it started in 2012. And a sizable number come from Singapore.
"Our numbers would suggest that Marlborough is a popular choice; we now have 820 pupils," said Mr Pick.
"We came to this region because we believe we could operate a school here. When we started in 2012, approximately half of the pupil body came from Singapore. We still have a similar number, but the percentage has decreased quite dramatically; a lot of expatriate families have moved over to Singapore, with either the husband or the wife commuting to Singapore when they need to go into the office, and it seems to be working incredibly well for them."
Mr David Bochsler, a Canadian, is one such parent. He lives in Johor, but works in Singapore.
"It's such a personal decision. Some parents want to first make sure that the kids thrive at the school - it's a big commitment that you move houses from one country to the next," he told 938LIVE.
"Singapore's a very expensive city, I was trying to stay within the budget of my condominium rental at that time. I was able to move from my 1,300 square foot condo down at Keppel Bay, and I purchased - on the same budget - a 30,000 square feet of land and built a 12,000-square-foot home.
"So, my bedroom is the size of what my old condo used to be. For me it's a no-brainer as far as that is concerned.
"The trade-off is between the children making the commute or the parents making the commute, and everyone has to follow what their guts and values tell them. For me, I know I am happier that my kids have two hours less on a bus travelling, and they can have that time studying or playing.”