“Kathleen, in response to your correspondent Paul Terhorst’s recent article on investing in the Chinese currency, I wanted to add that you do not need to go to China to open a bank account and buy yuan. China now allows non-Chinese (Americans) to buy yuan at the Bank of China in New York City and Los Angeles only. I live in NYC and opened an account some time ago. You open a savings account at Bank of China and fund it in this manner. In NYC, you must use the 48th Street and Madison Avenue Bank of China (the Chinatown branch does not handle this).
“I hope this may help some interested readers who may not want to go all the way to China. Another alternative is to buy through Everbank, where you can buy foreign currencies.”
–James J., United States
Paul Terhorst replies:
Great news. Thanks for the information.
“Kathleen, just read your piece on Singapore and what popped into my mind was, ‘What irony?!’
“There you are, promoting Singapore as a possible retirement option, while I, a Singaporean, am planning to move to Panama in a few years’ time. The grass is indeed greener on the other side of the fence!
“I have my two-year residency permit, waiting to apply for my permanent residency permit in the fourth quarter 2012. Meanwhile, I have bought my lot in the mountains and will be building my dream house there.
“I agree with you that Singapore is a nearly perfect retirement choice…if it were not such an expensive and overcrowded city to live in. In addition, even though I grew up here, I am getting less and less tolerant of the heat and humidity as I get older.
“I would point out that there is no condominium in Singapore that is anywhere as low as US$80,000. Even the ‘shoebox’-sized units, of between 350 and 500 square feet, introduced a few years ago (actually, these were first referred to as ‘Mickey Mouse’ units because everyone thought that it was a joke, but Disney cried foul and the local media changed the description to ‘shoebox’) start from US$400,000.
“You may have mistakenly thought that the flats built by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) are ‘condominiums.’ These are subsidized by the government, come with restrictions and conditions, and can be bought only by citizens and permanent residents.
“Since the General Elections in May this year, the government has taken note of the discontent of the citizenry with its loose immigration policies in the past, and it is much harder to obtain an employment visa now.
“Singapore is only suitable for millionaire retirees.”