Moving to Singapore....

(13 Posts)
Honoroaky Fri 16-May-14 20:54:58

Having never considered living abroad before, we are now in the surprise position of considering a move to Singapore for my DH's work. He's been once, I've never been and can't even begin to fathom what I need to consider!

I guess I'm looking for both general advice about moving abroad and specific advice about living in Singapore. We have a two year old dd who currently goes to nursery four days a week. In no particular order it would be really helpful if anyone has the time to tell me:

Are waiting lists for nurseries an issue? I can't imagine deciding on one without visiting so would start looking when we moved. Any recommendations?

Recommendations for where to live? (Sure this will be really varied but I literally have no idea, so even just names of areas will be helpful!)

How do I find out about local activities? Are there good places to meet other families/mums?

Good/bad things about living in Singapore?

Anything you wished you'd known before you went?

Thanks so much...

pupsiecola Fri 16-May-14 23:16:20

Hi there,

We lived there for a year a couple of years ago. Can't comment re nurseries as our DCs were older.

It's an easy place to live in terms of culture - people refer to it as Asia Lite.

Regards areas, Holland Village area is very popular with ex-pats. We lived in the River Valley area which we really enjoyed. Lots to do in terms of cafes and bars etc. and a 10 minute walk to Great World City (shopping mall with a good range of shops, cinema, supermarket etc.). 15 minute walk to Orchard Road (not that you want to walk too fast or too far!). It's hot and humid. Difficult to enjoy being outside for too long.

Here is a district map. So we were in district 9. Districts 9, 10 and 11 are popular.

www.singaporeexpats.com/housing-in-singapore/singapore-district-guide.htm

Property is very expensive. Everything is very expensive. If you search the threads on here you will find a few with specifics - probably a year or so ago. You'll want to either negotiate a comprehensive ex-pat package or a very high salary to live there. Although you won't have school fees to pay (not sure what nursery fees are like) and tax is low (around 15 to 18%).

It's a great base for travel - plenty of opportunity for short breaks away (Bali. Thailand etc) or longer trips.

You can have a really good social life there. Because it's a city it's quite buzzy and there are many people in the same boat as you. Making friends is a bit like speed dating lol.

Hope that helps.

Cerisier Sat 17-May-14 03:39:39

We came out for two years and are still here ten years later. It is a fabulous place to live but, as Pupsie says, it is very expensive. You need to find out what the package is ASAP to see what standard of living you will have.

Find out what is included and look at the costs of rental, school fees, health insurance, flights, cars, utility bills.

Cars are very expensive- about SGD1500 per month for something basic- but getting about on public transport is cheap so lots of people manage without a car. It isn't easy with children though- I have a friend who tries to cart baby, buggy and car seat (in case she needs to use a taxi) around and who is pretty fed up with the huge effort needed to get about. She would love a car but their finances won't stretch to it sadly.

We live in the Holland Road area and can walk to the MRT, bus stop and shops. There are lots of expats around Holland Village as it has all the usual amenities and is handy for UWC and TTS international schools. Woodlands is full of Americans as that is where Singapore American School is.

ShanghaiDiva Sat 17-May-14 05:19:42

I don't live in Singapore, but have been an expat for nearly 20 years so can offer general advice re what to consider in your package.
Flights home per year - once or twice per year?
Rent paid in full and allowance
Are utilities paid
Allowance for a car
Healthcare
Is dental included
Shipping your belongings to Singapore- how much?
What will happened to the remainder of your belongings? Storage? Who pays for it?
Flights out to Singapore - business or economy? Business would mean a larger luggage allowance which is useful when you first arrive.
Will the company put you up in a hotel until you move into rented accommodation? For how long?
Schooling - some companies only pay from the time your child would enter school in their home country (5/6 years old) and you would need to pay kindergarten fees.
Hope some of this is useful. Singapore is very expensive (land of the ++) but a great destination and fab for exploring Asia.

We lived in singapore on and off for about 8 years. Agree with the other posts, singapore is extortionate and you should ensure that all your benefits are included.

In terms of housing, where will your dh work and can he take a taxi or public transport to work? If there is a car included, you'll be able to use it ( believe me, waiting for non existent taxis in rain with a toddler and 18 bags of groceries isn't fun). Once you've got his office location, you can find housing and nursery close by. There are lots of really nice areas in singapore but you don't want to have to cross the island in rush hour.

Look for the singapore expat wives group on fb, lots of really helpful posts and another great place to ask questions.

CharityCase Sun 18-May-14 13:51:35

One thing to add is that all-day nursery is not that common. Most children attend pre-school half days and are cared for by a helper the rest of the time. Takes a bit of getting used to as they typically live in. Obviously it's not mandatory but just a heads up if you intend to work because there's just not as much FT childcare as in the UK.

Honoroaky Sun 18-May-14 22:22:45

Thanks so much for the advice and comments everyone. Lots of food for thought.
Hoping to get more details re package/offer this week...

I may be back with more questions, and would still love to hear from anyone about nurseries.

CharityCase Mon 19-May-14 00:20:58

For advice on nurseries, join Singapore expat wives on Facebook. There will be tonnes of people with pre-schoolers who can advise. Just try not to spark off a helper vs no helper debate grin

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 19-May-14 02:30:57

Are waiting lists for nurseries an issue?
Not really, there are a lot of good ones around and more enrichment activities that you could possibly think of. Lots of mums and toddler groups too. the facebook page is a great starting point.
You should also consider school applications for reception/year 1 as soon as you settle. If you want the british school, it wouldn't hurt putting your name down as soon as the move is authorised.

Recommendations for where to live?
go to propertyguru.com.sg.
Its hard to say about areas. where's work? how will DH commute, car? no car? you mind the school bus etc….?
mainly focus on what you can get for your money. Look a bit further from the centre if you want a house. Condo living is great for newcommers. Easy way to socialise.

How do I find out about local activities? Are there good places to meet other families/mums?
Look below, your head will spin, don't blame me!
little steps asia
sassymamma

Good/bad things about living in Singapore?
Its all good (especially the MSG loaded food)
bad…the constant heat and humidity….you'll need a good hairdresser to manage the frizz

Anything you wished you'd known before you went?
No, its all very user friendly. And John lewis will deliver bed linens if you cat find any that fit.

Cerisier Mon 19-May-14 13:38:08

For info- other UK stores which deliver here are Debenhams, House of Fraser, Boden, The White Company, Amazon, Book Depository and echemist.

If you want other on-line purchases to be sent but the company won't deliver to Singapore (eg M&S clothes, electricals from John Lewis) you can use a forwarding company like www.forward2me.com who will receive and repackage the item (they put the original box in a big strong box) and DHL it here in two days.

Just watch out for keeping deliveries under SGD200, otherwise you have to pay GST on the whole amount.

singaporeswing Fri 23-May-14 06:39:28

Just adding to the list of UK stores (can't see it listed above) but Next Direct ship here too. Free delivery and normally only takes 3-4 days. Good for bedding and kids clothes.

mayusmok Tue 22-Jul-14 02:03:00

Two questions for the experience expat in singapore:
1. My 8 year old daughter reads a book every 2 days, anyone knows bookshops / book club / library / website where I can get good quality English books that doesn't break my bank.
2. I am about the enrol my almost 3 year old into whitelodge nursery, but want to know if any ex-parents have any comments.

Join the national library in Bain street, costs $50 a year I think, good kids section.

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