School runs in Singapore

(10 Posts)
sabinel Thu 08-Nov-12 11:37:49

Hi,
my children (9 and 6) are starting at Dover Court in January. The little one (almost 3) will start in September there as well, if we like the school.
We are now looking into where to live and I am wondering about our options in terms of school run (I won't work, at least for now). I don't think we would want something walking distance from school (my husband said the neighbourhood around the school is not very lively and suggested looking at further options such as Holland Village, Tanglin or south such as Pasir Panjang).
1) school bus: I am worried that it might mean a very early start. From what I have heard, they might end up spending one hour on the bus even if we live only 15' away from school because of all the stops. It won't work if they do any after school activities and also, I am not sure it would work come September with a 3 years old...
2) bus or mrt: not sure if it is recommended. Are they crowded? It is hard to know how much we might be able to walk/scoot for instance given the heat? Should I even try to find an accomodation which could work with public transport?
3) driving: ideally, I would have loved to avoid to drive /have a car. But can I escape that if we choose a location a bit too far from school?? Is it a hassle to park near the school?
So I was wondering if you could let me know which solution you chose (regardless of school, but obviously even more interested by those of you who have kids at Dover).
Thanks...

My dds are at Dover court. Dd1 started aged 3 (now 8) and dd2 started this September also aged 3. They have both taken the bus since they started (dd1 because dd2 was born by c section 2 weeks after she started at dover and dd2 because she was desperate to get on the bus as soon as she started school, I literally couldn't stop her). The bus leaves at 7.40 from our place and takes about 25 minutes (5-10 minutes longer than I could drive it in rush hour). There is a pick up of 5 children from our condo to Dover. Driving in the morning is ok but pick up is a mess as you either collect from a turning circle and wait ages in the queue or park in the school and have to wait for all the buses to leave before they let you out (about 15 minutes).

I'm sorry I don't know about public buses or mrt (no mrt really within walking distance) but its pretty hot and when it rains, it really rains (mostly in the afternoon).

My advice would be to opt for school bus like 85% of the school, even in nursery class most little ones do and they are well taken care of by the bus aunties. There is a fair amount of camaraderie on the bus and a lot more fun than a car trip....

TheExpatWife Thu 08-Nov-12 12:57:51

There isn't really any residential area walking distance from Dover Court. There's an estate of black & whites behind it but that is about it, other than the HDB estates. There are some new condos around Buena Vista that you can get a direct public bus from easily enough and are very close to One North MRT which is handy for getting about more generally. Otherwise, I suppose you might be able to get a public bus from Holland Village but families I know of use the school bus from there or take a taxi, so from that I guess it is not a direct route.

I think there is an app you can use to plot your public transport route, afraid I don't know the name but someone else might be along soon and tell you.

Your attitude to the school bus might change once you arrive, mine did, as do most people's. The after school clubs have a bus that drops the kids home but it tends to take longer than the regular school bus.

We find having a car with such young children essential, though, especially with three to get to and from school, clubs, parties etc.

londonmoo Thu 08-Nov-12 13:49:11

DS started at Dover in Sep. We live in a condo in Holland Village and have one of the shortest school bus journeys - he is picked up at 8am and dropped back at 3.30.
In terms of nearby walking distance condos there are two rather faded ones which people I know live in: older means bigger but also a bit more worn, but it works ok for my friends. As Butterflies says, though, you can live as near as you like but when it rains OMG, and the woman who lives nearby drives when it rains.
Public buses and MRT can be used. My bus stops at the MRT, which is a good 10-min walk away so I still have the rain issue. There is a bus route that's right on the doorstep, and most people who are on it live in Clementi or on West Coast routes.
You might find you simply end up driving. I can't, so it's not an issue for me, plus only have 1 child.
PM me if you want closer details on any of the condos! Be great to have another DC family in mine...

sabinel Thu 08-Nov-12 22:11:47

Thanks a lot for the info! It is definitely helpful to know all of that. My husband is quite reluctant about the school bus for some unclear reasons, probably because he is not the one who is going to end up losing hours stuck in traffic ;-) so it is great to have some arguments for it.
Do you still manage to meet other parents from school? What I always find useful about the school run is the opportunity to see the other children, meet the parents, get some information as my children tend to NOT tell me anything about what's happening at school.
I am definitely curious to know about the neighbourhoods/condos you are in. I am coming for 3 days early December to do some visits wiht the relocation agency, so any pointers would help... will PM you londonmoo.

Hi Sabinel,
I agree its nice to do the school run to get to know other parents.
However, most of the 6 & 9 year olds will be on the school bus. So it only really matters for the little one.

Just a few pointers on older condos nearby. Not sure what you are looking for but from experience, families wanting more space often overlook some older very good condos so I'll mention a few so that you can ask your agent to show you and so you have all cards in hand to compare.
Look up descriptions and budget on proertyguru, its usually the most updated website.

For condos walking distance:
Dover park view & Heritage view (older, slightly bigger). Interiors often quite dated.
The estate around dover court is run by the singapore land authority. You can bid for a house. A dear friend lives there and budget is under $12k for a 3 bed house, large garden. they ARE renovated (paint, bathrooms/kitchen/air con) and the DC walk to UWC. You'll know all your neighbours in no time.
here is the website

Pasir panjang/clementi:
varsity park is really nice (modern, great facilities and decent use of space)
Clementiwoods (new, behind varsity, smallish rooms comparatively)

Closer to the harbourfront end, you will find Pepys hill condo ( old but lots of space, a litle gem if you find a renovated unit with garden) and Mount Faber lodge (the biggest is a rare find in Sg: triplex living space over 3,500 soft at a decent price)

Holland road:
The closest area lies hidden on Mount Sinai.
Very short easy drive to Dover.
Very cose to Cold storage Jelita on Holland road.
Many options to choose from. Its a stone's throw from Buona vista mrt through a walkway/cycle path at the back.

The marbella is a popular choice among the newer built.
Glentrees (townhouses & flats) very good too. Ridgewood (also town houses) is older and delivers space + garden.
Lots of nice little house and great community feel with communal playground around grove drive/holland grove view.
Lots of play schools.

If you are considering a house, the sunset way area is good too (that's where playdays is) and still a short painless drive to school.

Am sure your agent will find more options but that should give them food for thought instead of just pushing you towards what's on their books.

Early december should be a good time for viewings but you will need to secure something quickly as there will be many families looking at that time ( near cut off for Australian new school year so many expat tenants have there contracts starting or being renewed at that time of year.)

good luck

pupsiecola Fri 09-Nov-12 01:36:01

Gosh Laptop you know your stuff :-))

Not much to add really except to say that my kids go to school (SAIS) on the school bus and I collect them to bring them home on the MRT. I can drive but we are managing very well without a car here (my boys are 9 and 7 which makes it easier). We live in Robertson Quay which is in theory 15 minutes away from school but the bus journey is one of the longest at 50 minutes. When we first moved here they struggled to settle and the bus was one of the things I could help them with. We have a 15 minute walk to the MRT station at Clarke Quay. It's along the river and shaded a bit and quite pleasant so long as I've not left it too late and have to walk briskly!

Anyway, the MRT is very clean and safe, and when I go in the afternoon it's not very busy. We can all usually get a seat. I too like seeing other mums and catching up with the teachers if there are any issues. They like the bus but they are still choosing for me to collect them and I'm not going to change that unless they ask me to - they're just not ready and I like to feel part of their school life as I did in the UK. Our MRT journey is 11 minutes so really not that bad. If and when we move from this condo I would probably add to my wishlist being further down the river, closer to the MRT stop so it's a shorter walk.

So the boys started in August and we're still doing it this way. We mix it up a bit. Sometimes we'll get a cab home (very very cheap), say later on in the week if they're tired. Once a week my helper goes to fetch them which they all enjoy - they stop for a milkshake on the way home.

Anyway, just wanted to say that we're not doing the bus 100% and it works for us.

Good luck! Let us know when you're over - we have a recently set up book club...

sabinel Fri 09-Nov-12 21:00:28

Very impressed laptop by your extensive knowledge... (and willingness to share!) I have already spent quite some time on property guru but this provides some great pointers.

Pupsie, I like the idea of being flexible between the school bus and other methods...

Thank you for the very useful information. And I'll definitely let you know once I am there. I love reading so the book club sounds good!

leavingnwlondon Fri 16-Nov-12 12:32:33

Hi is your 6 year old a little boy? I heard news that a new boy was joining my sons class in y2. Hope so! we live in between school & Holland Village. where are you coming from?
speak soon, leavingnwlondon

sabinel Wed 02-Jan-13 01:55:26

To everyone who helped, I wanted to give a quick update: we visited a lot of things early December, our relocation agents were really helpful and made a good selection. We decided to go for one of the cluster houses in the Glentrees condo. The location is good for us, there seems to be some shops around, the MRT is not too far and we liked the house a lot. The children will probably use the school bus.
Now the whole family just arrived in Singapore, getting used to the time difference and heat before starting school again next week! Thanks again everyone for the good advice...

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