If you are reading this post, you are probably planning on saving some money by going to IKEA Tebrau in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. If not so, then visiting an IKEA outlet in Singapore will be much more convenient than travelling all the way to IKEA Tebrau, which is about 18Km from Woodlands Checkpoint.
Not all items are cheaper in IKEA Tebrau than in Singapore — IKEA's items are mostly imported and subjected to varying taxes of the importing countries. There are items that are more expensive as well as those with almost the same prices. Going all the way to IKEA Tebrau to get non-cheaper items than in Singapore will be a waste of time and money.
Below are 6 tips from my bargain-hunting trips to IKEA Tebrau. I experienced some hiccups and had worked around them, you can read and avoid those hiccups.
#1. Do Some Homework
Before physically making a trip down to IKEA Tebrau, do a simple price-comparison exercise.
1. Go online and browse to IKEA Singapore's website at ikea.sg and note the prices of items you want to purchase. Launch another window and browse to IKEA Malaysia's website at ikea.my and search for the same items.
2. Compare all item prices using the most current SGD to MYR exchange rate — as a rough guide, divide prices in MYR (ringgits) by 3 to get the approximated values in SGD. However, using actual exchange rate will give more accurate comparisons.
3. Shortlist items that are at least S$5 cheaper in Malaysia than in Singapore or a reasonable "profit margin" that you deem fit.
4. Total up the shortlisted items. If the total cost exceeds S$100, drop some items from the list. Why is there a S$100 limit? Read on.
5. If possible, find out about IKEA sales events and go during that period, you can save even more.
After you have done your homework and are convinced that you can save some money, GO!
#2. Bring Appropriate Gears
If you have a retractable 2-wheel hand cart, bring it if you intend to get some bulky items. If not, you may have the tendency to give up on some of the items when you see the actual size and weight of the packages — and end up as a wasted trip. Bring along a rope or elastic cord with hooks to secure the items to the hand cart.
And made sure the items you are getting can pass through the border checkpoints on the way back. Prohibited items aside, the X-ray machines at Singapore Checkpoint are about 60cm wide but it is safer not to exceed 52cm. I tried a 56cm wide item before and it got stuck in the passage of the machine.
Bring along a big carrier too or the large blue IKEA carrier if you already have it. This will save you the need to buy another IKEA carrier — it is currently RM2 (promo price).
#3. Travel By Free Shuttle Bus - Service Withdrawn!
IKEA's free shuttle service was withdrawn in November 2018!
Find out how to get there by public buses:
If you intend to drive into JB, the Malaysia Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) is RM20 per vehicle per entry (all time). The distance to IKEA Tebrau may also be further than to any IKEA outlets in Singapore for you, so do consider the VEP and petrol cost as they are your additional expenses.
Apart from taking buses, driving in and taking cabs will increase your expenses and make your trip to IKEA less bargain-worthy.
#4. Lunch at IKEA Restaurant
You can save more money if you skip lunch! But the trip to IKEA Tebrau should be more on value-for-money as compare to shopping in Singapore's IKEA rather than to cut costs senselessly.
One thing is for sure: eating at IKEA Tebrau's restaurant is far cheaper for the same meal in Singapore. On a rough estimate, you can save about 50% as compared to eating in Singapore's IKEA.
See detailed price comparisons:
#5. Avoid Delivery Service
IKEA Tebrau do not provide delivery service to Singapore.
If you intend to hire private delivery service in Johor Bahru (if available), note that apart from high delivery charges to one address in Singapore, you will need to pay for the Singapore Vehicle Entry Permit of S$35 (on weekdays before 5pm) incurred by the foreign-registered delivery vehicle for entering Singapore — unless they deliver on weekends.
If you intend to hire delivery service in Singapore to go over to IKEA Tebrau and back, you will not be engaging just a delivery service, but hiring a delivery van for a whole day. The rate can easily be around S$200 with additional charges such as Malaysia VEP and petrol cost.
In any case, using delivery service does not make sense if you are on a bargain-hunt. So, go for smaller items that you can bring back yourself.
#6. Limit Purchases to S$100
Singapore has Goods & Service Tax (GST) relief for travellers bringing in goods from overseas meant for personal use.
Effective from 19 Feb 2019,
For 48 hours or more: GST relief granted up to S$500 (down from $600)
Less than 48 hours: GST relief granted up to S$100 (down from $150)
So, for a short trip to IKEA Tebrau, the grant is up to S$100 unless you go on longer trip and drop by IKEA Tebrau on the way back. However, for high value purchases, you may have size and weight constraints if you do not drive.
The current GST rate on entering Singapore is 7% on the value of goods that exceeds S$100. If your total purchases in Malaysia is, say, S$150 equivalent, only S$50 will be taxed and you will need to pay S$3.50 at Singapore Customs Tax Payment Office. However, note that all purchases in IKEA Tebrau already included 6% GST of Malaysia — you will not like to be double-taxed.
Update: Effective from 1st June 2018, the 6% GST in Malaysia was cancelled. That makes most items in IKEA Tebrau to be comparatively cheaper than in Singapore.
To avoid unnecessary tax and make your bargain-hunt more value-for-money, keep your purchase within S$100. And do remember to keep all your receipts for inspection on demand at Singapore Customs.
If you exceed S$100, do voluntarily declare your goods before going to the inspection stations (X-ray machines). Once caught for non-declaration of non-dutiable goods at the stations, you will be fined 10 times the GST amount subjected to a minimum of S$50.
My first "blundering" trip saved me only S$4 from a RM59 (S$20) purchase — or maybe none at all if I include the cost of the Grab car ride. However, I saved about S$38 with RM392.50 (S$130.83) worth of purchases on the second trip — a 22% discount! My total savings will be much more if I take into account the meals at IKEA Tebrau's restaurant.
So, follow my tips to save on your purchases at IKEA Tebrau. And share this with your friends.