Help, help... Relocating to Singapore

(21 Posts)
LAD1 Thu 15-Sep-16 19:29:28

Hoping for some help and reqssurance from anyone in the same boat or whos trodden my path before.

My DH has been offered a positioin in Singapore which will mean me giving up my career and us all moving with him. I have a 6 year old and a rising 3 year old and am so worried about the whole thing - mostly about screwing my children up for life by taking them away from all that is familiar and their Grandparents who are cery close to them. I am also worried about losing my identity and being isolated.

On the other hand - life is about moving forward and grabbing opportunities and so we are going. And I am a tiny but excited too.

I would welcome any advice about schools. It looks like we might have to go for one of the small IB schools due to lack of available places in year 2 in Tanglin, Dover and Dulwich - Chatsworth East or Nexus have offered us a place. Anyone with experience? I am quite drawn to Chatsworth because it is tiny and my daughter will, I think, struggle in a large environment.

Also does anyone know what we would need to live on out there with nice 4 bed accommodation and 2 kids in international schools.

Finally, we are taking our two cats - do we have to keep them inside all the time in Singapore or does it depend on the condo/whether you have a house?

Thanks you all in advance

There are posts on living expenses and its 3 years since we left Singapore so my costings may be out of date so I'll let someone else comment on that. I can tell you that there are many stray cats in Singapore however and feline hiv and leukemia are rife so cats are kept indoors. Even our locally adopted cat was always kept inside, according to advice from the spca and our bet.

Grr, vet not bet!

Housing budget will depend on area. Chatsworth east or central? What's a reasonabble commute for school/work? Will you drive? Bus? Walk?
Condo or derached? Old or new? How flexible are you on surface area?
Have a look on squarefoot.com.sg
You can enter all you parameters and search listings.

Saltedcaramellavacake Fri 16-Sep-16 14:05:48

Just my two cents worth, having been here 5 years but with three kids.
international school 60k per year
Accomodation 5-8k per month
Car 1000 per month
Petrol 400 per month
Helper 1000 per month
Utilities 500 per month
Telephone/internet 200 per month
Food 1500 per month
Holidays ?
Savings ?
Tax ? 15%
Medical insurance ? 10-20k per year depending on coverage
School bus? 400 per child per term
Kids' extra lessons (swimming, gym etc) 30-40 per child per class

LAD1 Fri 16-Sep-16 18:58:26

Thank you, all helpful comments. We have been offeed places at Chatsworth East and although it is not one of the 'big name' schools it appeals to me because it is tiny. Also it seems that there are big development plans with Chatsworth East moving to Central next year with a sparkly new campus for Central to move in to in Bukit Timah - and we would be able to choose either. Any experience of this school or views really welcome.

If we wer looking at spending half our net income pcm on accommodation and schools would that seem about right?

Thanks again, keep them coming in - have found some sanity again sInce finding the threads on here ...

TerrorAustralis Sat 17-Sep-16 14:21:02

Have you looked at Eton House Broadrick campus? It's in the east and is an IB school. Fees are also in the range of Chatsworth. I'm fairly sure their lease is not expiring any time soon.

We keep our cats inside, but we're on a high floor so not really any choice. I know people with ground floor apartments, houses or cluster houses who let their cats roam.

To look at rentals check out property guru.com.sg or 99.co. Bear in mind that prices are negotiable and the market is quite soft, so the advertised might be above what the landlord will accept. When we moved into our current apartment we negotiated 10% off the advertised price, and when we renewed the lease recently we negotiated another 5% off what we had been paying.

Don't worry about your kids - it's a great place for kids and all the expat kids I know out here have a great life. If anything your problem will be making sure they're not too spoiled and entitled.

For yourself, it's easy to make friends here. The expat community is very open and there is a sense of 'we're all in the same boat' which makes it easy to connect with people. Singaporeans are also very open and friendly.

It is also possible to work. It's not easy to break into the job market here, depending on what you do (some industries easier than others). If you have any contacts or connections through work then use them to your advantage. Networking is the name of the game here.

It's a good place for a first expat posting. So if the offer is right, I'd encourage you to go for it.

Darcy2 Sat 17-Sep-16 16:02:30

Hi! Singapore is an amazing country, and you will love it I'm sure! I was hesitant too when my OH was offered a job here, but 4 years on and I'm very attached to the place now smile
As for your cats, I would strongly recommend trying to adapt them to being indoor. You'll need to mesh up your windows/balconies if you're in a condo too! There are many local cats here with FLV etc, or you could find your cat coming home with it's ear tipped (cut off at the tip) so that feeders know that it's neutered! Much safer to keep them indoors unfortunately.
As for schooling... Chatsworth East is a lovely little campus, and I have friends who's children attend and they all love it. Have they confirmed that they're moving locations next year? I believe the Canadian International School (on the same plot of land as Chatsworth) has just had their lease extended to Dec 2018, so Chatsworth may also have theirs extended too?
CIS is also a great school, so do check them out as well!
If you decide on an east coast school, I would try to live as close to the school as poss. It's not too long of a commute to the CBD for your hubby (I assume that's where he's working), and there are both buses and MRT.
The above poster's breakdown and costs are pretty accurate, however I don't think either a car or helper is a requirement, just nice luxuries depending on your budget and lifestyle.
If I was to give you any advice... if you are planning to be a stay-at-home-mum, I would really consider a large, busy condo for your first year or two. It's a great way to make friends, and have playdates at the pool/playground. Just my 2 cents! smile

Kuriusoranj Sun 18-Sep-16 03:39:24

Not much to add to what everyone else has said (on previewing, apparently I have a lot to add, but I'm posting anyway grin ), but some random thoughts.

Many of us, I'd imagine, thought during planning that we'd prefer a house (they call them landed properties here) rather than condo life. Certainly for your first lease I'd DEFINITELY go for a condo. You will benefit from the random people around you, and it will help with the feelings of isolation we all get from time to time. We avoided the big ones, but it's very possible to have great facilities even in a small condo.

If you can, get a property agent - it will help you find what you're looking for and will help a bit with the landlord situation. You will hear horror stories of end-of-lease. Don't believe them all, but be aware that the balance of power in the landlord-tenant relationship here is firmly on the side of the landlord, and make sure you are very diligent when you move in with recording all details of the property and taking photos.

We live East so I'm biased, but it's fantastic this side. You're not in the proper River Valley expat bubble, which can be a bit oppressive IMO. It's pretty suburban this side, you get more property for your money and it's green as green can be. Agree with others, though, choose the school and live near it. We are walking distance from my children's schools and it saves hundreds of dollars a month. We both work in West/central and have a 20-30 min commute which horrifies our local colleagues, bless them.

Do consider EtonHouse Broadrick if you're coming East, it's a fantastic little school - tiny, family atmosphere, not huge fantastic facilities, but a great place. My oldest came from a tiny village primary school in the UK and EtonHouse was the closest international equivalent we found.

We can't afford a car and rarely miss it. My compromise was that we travel most places by taxi and it's still cheaper than having a car.

If you're intending to work, I don't know how anyone manages without a helper, though. Wrap around childcare is virtually non-existent here. The helper thing seems weird from the outside, but you can make it work to suit yourself and I'm glad I caved in the end - I wouldn't be without her now.

If you haven't already and you're on Facebook, join the groups: Singapore ExPat Wives, Real Singapore Expat Wives (don't ask, there was a schism, it was full of drama) and there are some local ones too. Tune out the noise, practice rolling your eyes at the entitled nonsense and you'll find a useful community.

All in all, this is a very easy place to live. Everything works here and although you'll find some things that do drive you to distraction, it's friendly, open, centrally located and safe. You will be busy every day of the year if that's what you want, and you'll be within 7 hours flight of some of the most amazing places in the world. It's not home to me, and I don't think it ever will be, but it's a great place to spend a couple of years!

LAD1 Sun 18-Sep-16 19:31:05

Thank you all. Just the reassurance I needed and useful advice too. Any recommedations for a good property agent and/or friendly condos? We have a 6 and a 3 y/old and it would be lovely to be in a condo with other young childrerna and a playground. Also, can you be in a house in a condo?

I have posted else where about budget but it looks like the salary will be enough. I would be desperate to work somewhere once the childrn are settled in so if anyone has any ideas for what a very experienced family law barrister might do.......

We were in a townhouse in a condo and then in a cluster house (like terraced houses built round a garden and pool). Both were great. However the only difference between a house and an apartment is the staircase. We had a private garden in our first place (gave birth in sgp and wanted somewhere to sit with the baby) but it was tiny and we didn't use it once in 3 years, much much too hot and we were always heading up to the pool.

Lad1 i worked as a property agent in Sg a few years ago.
I thouroughly my former colleagues carole Ann and Liz
A lovely knowledgeable duo that can help you with property as well as extra insider info worth its money for relication.
Remember that you can not be charged for this service. The landlords pay the commission. You pay government stamping fees only. One them is also a chatsworth mum.

Thoroughly recommend!

LAD1 Mon 19-Sep-16 16:33:46

Thank you

Sorry the main website is propertyguru.com.sh!!!!
Swuarefoot is for HK!

Kuriusoranj Tue 20-Sep-16 12:49:27

Re working - the key is networking. Most people will tell you that finding work on a Dependent Pass (which is presumably what you'll have if it's a move for your husband's job) is tough. It will be a long slog and it can be dispiriting. Start exploiting your contacts now - call in any favours and use any contacts you can before you even move.

Yes networking is key. Most positions are in corporate/compliance/ m&a/ shipping and insurance arbitration etc....
I'm sure there are headhunters out there that can help and if you have an established practice/expérience, you will find a job.
Another idea is to create your job. There is saddly no shortage of philandering husbands and exploding families in this part of the world. There are family counsellours working with such families and pretrial mediation service (relate style) is a good business plan. I know it sounds grim but it is a wokeabld plan at the right price point. As you know international family disputes/jurisdiction are complicated but you can find a niche for those with links to the uk.

LAD1 Tue 20-Sep-16 22:57:13

What an excellent idea. I am a family barrister with mediation experience ans had no idea I could work in this field and help people in their 'difficult times' in Singapore.

Look at Mums At Work. They offer networking events, part time, temp and contract job listings and all kinds of advice on how to set up companies etc.

TerrorAustralis Wed 21-Sep-16 06:26:14

It's recently become more difficult to set up your own business on a dependant pass, but there are still options. PM me if you want to know more. There are also FB groups for women running their own businesses, which can be very helpful.

LAD1 Thu 22-Sep-16 12:38:39

Thank you. I will do that.

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