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Singapore - looking for some pointers

(19 Posts)
RidcullySentTheBursarMad Wed 21-Sep-11 22:40:22

Hello all

We are a family of 4 (two ds aged 6 yo and 3 yo) considering relocating to Singapore. We also have a family dog (whippet), who would move with us, if we decided to go for it.

My questions are:

In general, we live a fairly outdoor life - how feasible is this, given the climate?

The area we would be moving to is Ang Mo Kio, but I notice that none of the international schools are in the immediate area. Is this a problem? Also, what is this area like?

Both my ds's suffer from multiple allergies (including eggs, dairy and nuts) is this manageable in SE Asia?

Finally (and I am embarressed to admit it) - I have a real phobia of snakes blush. Is this something that anyone else relocating to Singapore has overcome?

Many thanks for any help.

LaBag Thu 22-Sep-11 01:54:53


I used to live in Singapore (3 years ago) before moving to Australia.

If you enjoy an outdoor life I think you will find Singapore very difficult. For us, it was the biggest issue. There are some very nice green areas to explore however because of the humidity it is very difficult to spend much time outside.

I don't recognise Ang Mo Kio area but just had a quick look on Wikipedia and it doesn't sound like the sort of area that expats live in. That may not be a bad thing but on the other hand if it is an area full of HDBs (massive council housing) then it will not be pleasant.

Re snakes, I only ever saw one small one when we were out walking through a park. I slithered away as soon as it saw me.

Are you aware how expensive Singapore is?

laptopwieldingharpy Thu 22-Sep-11 02:24:51

Hot and humid year round. So outdoor sporty activities are limited to mornings before 9 and late afternoon. The odd tennis lesson is manageable but that's about it.
You really really need a pool. Make that your priority or the kids will drive you mad.

Ang mo kio is a local middle class hdb estate. Very big but not that ugly, its still very well planned urbanism and leafy and very accessible transport wise.
Certainly not ideal for the schools around the dover campuses.the PIE and bukit timah/ clementi roads are a nightmare in the morning.
You better be along the west coat for that. Affordable housing there.
I also think you should forget about ang mo kio and try either novena/ballestier or toh tuck/ upper bukit timah or west coast.

Re: snakes. There arevregular sightings butvtheybare strictly limited to mature gardens in heavy vegetation areas such as the mount pleasant estate, adam road etc....areas with big black and white estates. Public pathways even in remote areas and trails are very well maintained.

Re: allergies, singapore is generally well educated. Beware of local foods though as nuts are everywhere and kitchens mixed. Local food is so varied and good by the way, but be wary of the msg overload! Gorge on fresh fruit

RidcullySentTheBursarMad Thu 22-Sep-11 07:13:55

Thanks both, that is very helpful. The reason for the area is that accomodation would be provided for us, which would be in that area.

LaBag Thu 22-Sep-11 07:20:46

There is a dedicated expat forum called Singaporum which I used to read when I was there. The folks are very helpful and some of them, I believe, have lived in Singapore for years. If you drop them a line I'm sure they'd be more able to let you know about the area in question.

TheExpatWife Thu 22-Sep-11 07:25:53

The school buses do run from Ang Mo Kio down to the schools in the Dover area, and some of the international schools that are likely to have space for your 6 year old (OFS, Chatsworth) are located in Orchard area so a little closer.

The outdoor life is manageable - we go to the park at 5o'c and have a picnic and football game, instead of straight from school, take scooters out in the evening and we take bikes to coastal areas so there's a breeze from the sea and cycling. Thought my six year old manages 1-2 hour sessions of outdoor sport in the middle of the day, so the children do adapt - it's the adults in air-conned offices that find the midday heat oppressive! But the evenings are lovely for being outside, floodlit golf, tennis, running tracks.

If you have an outdoor area with a pool the children can use that all day and there are lots of water fountains in parks and the zoo etc for the children to cool down in, but if you are looking for long country walks, that is not really possible here.

Haven't seen any snakes but we are quite a noisy bunch so I guess they would have plenty of time to hide!

RidcullySentTheBursarMad Thu 22-Sep-11 21:35:34

Thanks very much. That gives me a good idea of things.

Does anyone know though, for my dairy allergic 3 year old, are there good dairy alternatives available? (He is also nut and legume allergic so adopting an asian diet probably wouldn't be too easy, I'm guessing). I'm thinking of e.g. soya yoghurt, soya cream and so on.

Also how tolerant of people about dogs there? I've read that there are dog runs for people to take their dogs to run off-lead, but does that mean it is prohibited elsewhere?

empirestateofmind Fri 23-Sep-11 01:53:46

The big supermarket chains here are Cold Storage and Fair Price. Cold Storage does home delivery and certainly has a website so you could have a look to see what soya products are available. Or you could phone them.

There are very very few places that dogs can run off-lead. This combined with tiny gardens, the heat and humidity mean it is not a dog-friendly place.

I have seen three snakes here- two black cobras and a huge python. The python slithered away when he heard us but the cobras were more aggressive; one of them was injured and it was looking for food. Friends of ours lost their pet rabbit to a snake and another friend woke up to find a python in her bedroom.

I would rather have a snake around than a monkey though- monkeys are awful.

laptopwieldingharpy Fri 23-Sep-11 03:13:46

There a few well stocked organic shops. One in tanglin mall and another on orchard boulevard. Will most certainly stock it. Cold storage also has a small but decent selection of allergen free staples.

LaBag Fri 23-Sep-11 03:34:24

OP Soy products are widely available in Singapore (Asians use a lot of it!)

RidcullySentTheBursarMad Fri 23-Sep-11 14:14:24

I looked on the ColdStorage website, but couldn't find things like soya yoghurt, but did find it in a health food shop, so things like this I'm thinking may be possible, but maybe take more hunting down than in Europe.

Empire - I certainly don't like the idea of a python in the bedroom! I'm assuming she wasn't living in an apartment on the 15th floor or something?

This has given me some good idea of things. I think we certainly need to have a good think, especially with respect to the dog.

Thanks all.

empirestateofmind Fri 23-Sep-11 14:24:27

No she was on the ground floor!

Just ask if you have any more questions- there are quite a few MNers here.

acatcalledbob Fri 23-Sep-11 14:55:04

I've lived here for a year, then 18 months and this time round for 3 years and I've never seen a snake in Singapore or heard of anyone who has. Lots of my friends have dogs including one who has 2 whippets. You should be aware that dogs are not walked off the lead in Singapore except for a couple of places and even there, it's not officially allowed. Quite sad really....

acatcalledbob Fri 23-Sep-11 14:56:05

Cold Storage definitely sells soya yoghurt and milk - their website isn't great!

Merlion Sat 24-Sep-11 01:16:05

There is quite a lot of dairy free options as I recently went dairy free to see if it made a difference to refluxy dd. There are quite a few organic stores and a reasonable range in cold storage (the bigger stores like Great World City anyway).

We had a snake in our very small garden which is just off River Valley Rd so very central a couple of weeks ago shock.

Many in our condo have dogs but as others have said there is not much opportunity for them to be off lead.

Re outdoor life, I can't really compare to family life in the uk as both dc's were born here but ds plays outside every day in the mornings and afternoons which is something that is not always possible in the UK and it is so much easier not having to worry about layer upon layer of clothing before getting outside in the first place.

RidcullySentTheBursarMad Sat 24-Sep-11 23:46:41

I have been reading about dogs not being allowed on public transport and looking at car sharing schemes in order to get around at the weekend. How well do these work in practice?

Also, our dog is black, I've read that some Singaporeans are supersicious about black dogs and hence treat them with some degree of suspicion. Is this correct?

empirestateofmind Sun 25-Sep-11 04:29:45

Dogs are not allowed on buses or the MRT. A taxi driver might allow a small dog in if it sits on your lap.

I have never heard of weekend contracts for cars but that doesn't mean they don't exist. If you use a car for only evenings and weekends the COE is cheaper so your car costs are reduced.

I haven't heard the thing about black dogs, but some people are very wary of dogs and consider them unclean.

oldnewmummy Sun 25-Sep-11 05:29:23

We moved to Australia 8 months ago after 14 years in Singapore.

We live a far more outdoors life here - even after 14 years of acclimatisation. The humidity is a killer. Singapore is, as someone said, very expensive. Will the company pay school fees?

AMK is a big HDB area. It's not too far from the Australian school, but there's so much traffic it'll take you a while to get there.

Snakes: Didn't see any there, but saw 2 in our first week in Perth! There are lots in (what''s left of) the jungley bit of Singapore, but you're more likely to get freaked out by cockroaches and rats.

Websites: Try expatsingapore (known as the Angry BOard because there are some seriously awful people posting), singaporeexpats, singaporum.

Good luck.

RidcullySentTheBursarMad Sun 25-Sep-11 09:26:10

The company would pay school fees - thank goodness, or we wouldn't even consider the move.

Oldnewmummy, I think the humidity may be a problem, I'm fine with hot, but not so good with hot and wet.

I think there are lots of things to think about - it's potential a very big, scary move. I'm thinking the ds's might benefit quite a bit from seeing a different culture, safe clean city etc, etc. It's certainly a difficult decision to make!

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