DH wants to move to Singapore for his work - I don't!

(42 Posts)
Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 16:50:31

He works as a programmer and says all the jobs in his sector are in London, New York or Singapore. He is fed up of London so keeps on about moving to Singapore.
TBH I am getting pretty fed up and have tried to make him see that it won't be eay to just up and go. We have one dd of 2 years and I am due again in 3 weeks.
The problem is that he never seems to settle and I just don't think he will there either. He has never been there and knows nothing about it.

I know it sounds abit silly but my husband is actually black and we have mixed race children, One of my main concerns is how they would be accepted over there.

Before I met DH I lived and worked in Korea for 3 years and so I have a feel of Asian life/work/culture ethics, although it's not Singapore and I have not been specifically there, it worries me it could be similar in many ways.
I used to travel a lot with my work so that doesn't bother me but then I was single. We are about to have our second now and it's a whole different story.

I honestly think he should go over there by himself for a few weeks to get a feel of things and then make a decision but he thinks we can all just up and leave and it will all be hunky dory - HELP!!

So sorry for the long rant. Any perspective would be helpful.

OP’s posts: |
IsItMeOr Wed 28-Sep-11 21:00:17

My brother moved to Singapore around 10 years ago. I've never visited him there (bad sister emoticon).

Some things I've gathered:

The climate is very different to here and I certainly would hate it, but perhaps you will not given you lived in Korea for 3 years.

You have to pay for your medical treatment, so the treatment his premature baby needed would have cost c£100k if he had not been born in Thailand (when his DW comes from and was visiting family).

You have to pay for schooling.

Cars are very old and very expensive.

Shopping seems to be the major past-time.

People seem to live mainly in apartment blocks.

The population appears to be quite diverse.

Although if you're not a native, and you lose your job, I gather you will be asked to leave if you don't find work within a certain period.

Hope of some help.

Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 21:04:21

Pay for schooling?! even mainstream? sad
Had thought about health costs sad
Shopping (spending all husband's money on credit cards) was also very rampant in Korea!
Apartment blocks also - hate the things!


OP’s posts: |
IsItMeOr Wed 28-Sep-11 21:16:00

Actually, now you're making me wonder about schooling. Perhaps DNephew goes to an international school?!

Ah, here you go.

It seems that all schools are fee paying, but the state ones much lower than international ones.

Another thing, it's a very densely populated island, so expansion can only be in direction (up).

In case the car thing wasn't clear, you have to buy a permit to have a car on the road for a certain number of years (which costs a lot - because road space is limited), and so people can only afford less on the actual car, hence the age thing.

DB is also in IT. His original employer closed down their Singapore operation. Then he temped for a client of the original employer. Then he got a job for a new employer. Who was then bought by his original employer confused. It's not a secure employment market, is my impression. I appreciate that nowhere is at the moment, but perhaps better the devil you know in a recession?

Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 21:24:38

Its not making me feel any better about it!! confused
I don't enjoy living here in London. I like open spaces and long for a garden!

OP’s posts: |
IsItMeOr Wed 28-Sep-11 21:29:32

Sounds like your needs could be better met by moving further out of London and commute in?

No way are you going to get a garden in Singapore...

Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 21:44:13

I wish isit! Its all about the work though iykwim?!

OP’s posts: |


IsItMeOr Wed 28-Sep-11 21:46:49

Not sure I do know what you mean.

But my impression is that New York is more likely to meet your needs than Singapore, as it's a smaller city than London (I think!), in a much bigger country, and it therefore has much shorter commutes to live in more open/green places.

TheBride Thu 29-Sep-11 06:45:36

If you want wide open spaces then Singapore might not be for you, although there are many MNers on here who live there and love it. Also, some people do have gardens- it's like any big city- if you want to live smack bang in the middle you probably have to compromise on space. If you're prepared to live a bit further out, not so much so.  I live in HK at the moment but would definitely consider a hop down to Singapore at some point. 

You say I have a feel of Asian life/work/culture ethics, although it's not Singapore and I have not been specifically there, it worries me it could be similar in many ways. What is it exactly that you're worried about?

Medical and schools can be expensive but most people have medical insurance through their employer and GPs are cheap to see. 

acatcalledbob Thu 29-Sep-11 07:03:56

Isitme - you've never even been to Singapore and you're talking rubbish.
I've lived here 3 times and always had a garden - I currently live 10 minutes from the city centre.  
I've never lived in an apartment block.  
We go walking at the weekends at reservoirs and parks and gardens.  
We visit farms and zoos.  
We can cross the causeway to Malaysia and have the whole of Asia to explore.
The climate is totally different to Korea.
Most expats have healthcare, schooling and cars included in their package.  I had DD2 here and it was 100% covered by our insurance.  Healthcare here is light years away from the UK - if I ring up my GP I normally see him within 2 hours for non emergencies.
Employment passes (work permits) are not always linked to employers - the system changed several years ago, so you can stay here and find other work if you are unemployed.

Why not find out more from people who have been to Singapore or live there or even work there for your DH's company?

papooshka Thu 29-Sep-11 07:13:49

acatcalledbob you beat me to it... isitme I'm sorry to say but you have many many facts wrong and you've never been here! Agree with acatcalledbob, but we do live in a condo, with a pool, tennis courts, kids playground and its great. Yes you have to pay for schooling and healthcare but its all covered usually in the expat package. Yes cars (mainly new)are expensive but you don't have to have one, there is great public transport and taxis are abundant. Fantastic outdoor lifestyle. Yes its bloody hot but you get used to it. Shopping is not the only thing to do. I know lots of people who live in houses with a garden.

flimflammery Thu 29-Sep-11 07:27:26

Allboxedin: I live in Singapore, and like anywhere it has its pros and cons. To be honest, I've posted a list of them before on here so I can't be arsed to do it again (do an advanced search on living overseas topic for Singapore). Some people love it, others not so much. If you have any specific questions I'll be happy to answer them for you if I can. I have a friend here who is African-American, he hasn't mentioned any overt racism. It is very ethnically and culturally diverse here with a much bigger expat population than Korea, from just about all over the world, which is one reason I like it, although not many African/Caribbean/black people.
YANBU to think you should visit before you make the decision to move.
And cars are not old, quite the opposite (but are, like many things here, v. expensive)
acatcalledbob is right, except that I know plenty of expats whose healthcare, schooling and cars is not included in their package. 

acatcalledbob Thu 29-Sep-11 07:27:45

and 50% of Singapore is covered by greenery [high fives papooshka and gets changed for swimming with the kids]

flimflammery Thu 29-Sep-11 07:29:34

[waves to acatcalledbob and papooshka]

IsItMeOr Thu 29-Sep-11 08:28:46

Fair enoug, was clear in saying I'd never been!

Glad to be wrong.
To be honest, given what the OP thinks, I can't see why their family would even entertain this massive move though, however nice the lifestyle.

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 08:52:50

Thanks everyone for all the replies - I will try and find some of those old posts and have a nosy. I think I would find the distance a bit of an issue though - what is the flight/s like from the UK? How often do you go home?

I think I used to just get fed up with being stared at, laughed at and quite a bit of ignorance regarding foreigners (of any kind) in Korea and I don't really want to go through all that again with 2 children iyswim? Having said that people in the capital city are generally more open minded.

I think another main concern is the children seeing my family, although they only see my parents a few times a year now, my dad is quite ill and doesnt have long left and I would worry about getting back if anything happened etc
I would imagine flights are pretty costly too. I think DH needs to see excatly what is included in the offer first and take it from there.
I am probably feeling a bit restless at the moment and insecure because I'm due in a couple of weeks.
Sorry my 'enter' is not working hence the lack of paragraphs.

OP’s posts: |
Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 08:54:39

Also, is there any need for TEFL teachers over there or do you find most people speak English well?

OP’s posts: |
acatcalledbob Thu 29-Sep-11 09:18:54

There are TEFL teachers here - look at the British Council website or www.mumsatwork.net for other flexible / PT jobs.  Everyone speaks English more or less but there is still call for EFL for locals and expats.  I think you can work a certain number of hours on your residency permit before having to apply for your own employment pass.

We go home once a year in the summer.  We went home for our first Xmas but the price of the flights, traveling at Xmas with over-excited, jet lagged kids, taking presents home wrapped and bringing them back unwrapped and buying winter clothes for the kids to wear for 2 weeks was enough hell for use never to want to do that again. 

All expats have family elsewhere that has been through precarious health, bereavement, weddings, births etc and we all miss out to a certain extent .... but that's the expat lifestyle.  You do what you can and we can be home in 12 hours in an emergency.

We moved here for the lifestyle and opportunity for our kids - we all have a very good quality of life and every privilege (much more so than we could have had in the UK) while we try to keep the kids grounded and realistic.  We lived far from grandparents when we were in the UK so would have seen them every 4-6 weeks - as it is, we see them for 3 weeks in the summer, then they come here for 3 weeks.

I think you both need to do a standard look-see with or without the kids (relocation companies will take you round schools, condos, houses etc) before you make a decision, it's what most people do.

flimflammery Thu 29-Sep-11 10:59:54

You wouldn't get stared at, pointed at and laughed at here, there are so many expats, including Westerners, Singaporeans don't look twice. My kids do get tourists wanting to take their photo if we go to touristy places because they're gorgeous blonde/curly haired but that's tourists from other countries like China and Korea. Singaporeans are far too sophisticated to do that.

Being away from family, especially if they're very ill, is perhaps the hardest thing about being here. Only you can decide if you're prepared to do that.

On the plus side, you say you're due in a few weeks - you can get very affordable 'help' here with housework and childcare, so having a toddler and a baby to look after would be considerably less exhausting!

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 15:58:15

Thankyou both, I wrote a reply and lost it!
I like the idea of having affordable childcare is nice. As you know it's near impossible here in London unless you have a huge income.
I imagine the children start school earlier too ?
Do you find the education system better? (I have nightmares about sending my kids to state school here where we are!!)
I would also imagine that there is more respect for elders and parents over there. Would you say that's the case?

OP’s posts: |
acatcalledbob Thu 29-Sep-11 16:14:15

Children start school here by 6 (you have to do 12 full years by age 18 to get into Uni). DD1 is at a private British school but there are all sorts (French, Swiss, Dutch, Australian, American, Canadian). She's doing the usual British curriculum but is learning Mandarin too. Her school is good academically and in terms of facilities - all kids swim every week etc.

There doesn't seem to be a youth culture here like in the UK - there are no hoodies, no-one seems to "customize" their school uniform, underage drinking exists I'm sure but you never see teens drinking in public. Obviously there are no illegal drugs here and it's very very safe.

There is much more respect for elders and parents and among Singaporeans, children tend to live with their parents until they get married (and often afterwards too).

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 16:23:15

Ok, would they have a kindergarden type thing before main school then?
I guess our children would still have a few years before we had to think about mainstream school.
DH thinks the tax is around 8 %?
He thinks he would be on a similar salary of around 50k. How easy/difficult would it be to live off that?

OP’s posts: |
acatcalledbob Thu 29-Sep-11 17:03:44

Yes, nursery starts at 18 months generally and childcare starts at 6 weeks (maternity leave is dismal but improving)

Tax info is iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04_ektid1190.aspx.

I assume you would get an expat package on top of 50k? You should have rent, school, health, car (or transport allowance), travel home, relocation costs etc included.

I don't think 50k will get you very far.... Look at rental property here but for a 3-4 bed home without a pool in a residential (not top end) area, you are probably looking at GBP 3k / month. Car rental is about GBP 700 / month, a flight home and back for all of you will be around GBP 3k. There are cheaper options if you would consider living in an HDB (council) flat and sending kids to local schools (Singaporeans get priority on these).... but it's unusual. I don't know any companies that send people to Singapore on GBP 50k and without an expat package....

laptopwieldingharpy Fri 30-Sep-11 03:10:01

Race is only an issue for singaporeans with reference to their own strictly segregated communities. "all is well" for the rest which is all "caucasian" if you ask them!

Now, life is expensive by any standard at he moment. Its now ahead of hong kong which is telling. Rents are Really sky high in hk but all the rest is now more expensive in singapore.
You do need an expat package to take care of school, medical cover and various deposits, moving costs etc....

It is a lovely place with a very young family. Multicltural ( in a strangely shallow way), child friendly, very user friendly city.
Tax effective, reliable affordable child care. Great holidays on your doorstep. Just do your math.

NYCorLondon Fri 30-Sep-11 20:59:06

I lived in Singapore for a couple of years in the late 90s. My flatmate was African-American and she did talk about the stares and unintentionally offensive comments she got. There wasn't really any mean racism but quite a bit of ignorance and curiosity because there aren't that many black people, although the population is mostly non-white and very diverse.

Things may be different now though as that was more than ten years ago.

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