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Life After Singapore

(6 Posts)
peanutbutterhoney Mon 04-Mar-13 17:36:23

You know, it probably doesn't rain as much in Seattle as people say. My first few trips there it didn't rain at all, in fact the weather was glorious. I kept joking that they were lying about the rain, and the locals agreed and said they just spread that story to keep the Californians from moving up ;)

Good luck with working out your move, I hope everything goes well for you. We are currently trying to suss out how keen DH's company are for him to move to Singapore, so if that starts to gain traction I will probably be on here looking for more advice!

pupsiecola Sat 02-Mar-13 12:22:24

Thanks for that. We got our helper through an agency. Long story but I was actually interviewing someone else but didn't get a good vibe. The one we have now (M) was being interviewed at the next desk by a hideous family. I sat there for an hour waiting as I knew she was right for us. Three families wanted her and she picked us :-)

My friends went to UWC - they are between 37 and 40. They then lived in London, now they're back here and their two daughters now go there! They have just done away with their waiting list which was several years long. This is the first year without it.

Does it really rain as much as people say in Seattle? DH has been around 6 times and not once has it rained...

Am feeling very encouraged by what you say (even with the rain!). It would be our choice. We're hoping DH's company (huge US company with HQ in Seattle but offices in Boston and San Fran too) will agree - I think they would, rather than risk losing him to the competition. He'll be raising it with them next January.

peanutbutterhoney Sat 02-Mar-13 10:01:32

Hi Pupsie,

That's very encouraging re: your helper, thanks for sharing. Did you find her through an agency? I suppose like you say it's a matter of good luck. We would definitely want a situation like yours, I don't understand the people who have helpers living with them but treat them so badly. It's all good info to have when making a decision...

Your boys are a bit older than mine (we also have two boys, 5 and 3) so I can understand why you want to choose somewhere to settle. From everything you have said, it sounds like Seattle would suit your family perfectly! Everyone is very outdoorsy there. The weather can be a bit blah (lots of rain as I'm sure you've heard!) but they have beautiful summers and the winters are not too cold so it's fine really. My inlaws seem to spend their summers on the water, DH is always desperately jealous.

Which school do your boys go to? I went to UWC when I lived there and found it absolutely amazing. That would definitely be my first choice if we moved, but I know it's very hard to get in.

Is it up to you where you move next or is it a matter of going where the job says?

pupsiecola Fri 01-Mar-13 14:19:42


Thanks so much for your post. I was beginning to think there would be no life after Singapore ;-)

Your words are very encouraging and I especially like what you say about water. I love water – find it very therapeutic. Currently looking into tax. Very confusing re federal and state. It seems Washington State has no state tax. Not sure how much federal we would have to pay.

I would imagine that Singapore has changed a lot since you last lived here (not that I’m calling you old or anything!!). If I tell you the reasons why I know it’s not for us long term it may help. It comes down to three big, immovable issues – one is the climate. We are an outdoorsy family. We love nothing more than a 15 mile bike ride punctuated with a pub lunch. (And as a mum of two boys I feel it’s really important to enjoy these sorts of things together for as long as possible (Seattle sounds great from that perspective – (am a bit of a tomboy myself)). The climate makes it too hard, so does the lack of space (issue number 2). Finally condo living. Sure we could have a house but we’re not on an expat deal so we’re living in a bit of a rabbit hutch (compared to our home in the UK). We will again want the big family house with the large kitchen/diner that is the heart of the home, and enough room for a couple of strapping teenage boys. Including a den for them so that they can invite their pals round etc.

On the plus side it’s clean and very safe here (although I know of someone who had an intruder in the middle of the night (hello kday!) and someone else whose husband was very badly beaten up. The economy here is very healthy and the opportunities for travel are fantastic. So lots to recommend it too. But with a 10 year old son we want to settle somewhere. We don’t want to move him when he’s 12, 13, 14 etc. It’s definitely more straight forward with younger kids!! Also, the tax rate here is very appealing at between 15 and 18%.

With regards the helper issue, it’s a very personal one. We came here thinking we probably wouldn’t get one. Then I gave myself sleepless nights wondering whether to or not. I could write pages and pages on this topic but will just say we decided to give it a try and we’ve not looked back. Our helper is fantastic. The boys (10 and nearly 8) are so very fond of her. She is like one of the family. I thought it would be weird having someone live with us but actually it’s not (a lot of this does depend on the fit though – it’s important to get someone who fits well with your family and this can be hit and miss). It’s nice to have someone else at home when my DH is away. She comes out with us sometimes too – for example to Universal Studios – which she really enjoys (before she wasn’t allowed out for a year!).

We treat her very well and she’s lucky and we’re lucky. She supports 5 younger siblings back at “home” and two ageing parents. We’ve just paid for her to finish her education at a Sunday school here (she came here with one year left to go but had to come to work). Her first family here treated her very very badly. I know she is happy with us. It is shocking how some are treated though. I have just started volunteering at a safe house here for helpers who have been abused or are in trouble (for moonlighting for example). One lady had a broken arm because an agency beat her for talking on her mobile in the agency. So the helper locked herself in a room and jumped out of a third floor window. It’s just awful.

Most people I’ve met here have had the internal debate of whether to have one or not, and most people have chosen to try it and it’s worked out well.

Thanks again for your reply!

peanutbutterhoney Fri 01-Mar-13 11:09:26

Hi Pupsie, really interesting post... I might have a little insight but not exactly what you're asking! I lived in Singapore as a child (left as a teenager) and have since lived in the US. DH is from Seattle so I know it pretty well.

Where to start... first of all, Seattle is a wonderful city. Yes there are some shabby spots, but like you said, every city has some shabby spots. I actually found San Francisco way more disturbing when you look at the contrast between extreme wealth and the large numbers of homeless people.

Seattle is a very comfortable city. People are very down to earth, easy to get along with. DH grew up there and would love to raise our children there as he has such great memories of childhood - all the outdoors activities - snow skiing, water skiing, hiking, boating, etc. I love how there is water everywhere, it's a very picturesque city.

As for moving from the Truman show - we moved as a family from Singapore to Amsterdam, which certainly has its fair share of seediness! But I don't remember being that shocked or surprised by what I saw. I think the real benefit of being an expat kid is that through your experiences, the moves, meeting new people, adapting to new environments, you absorb a lot of wisdom and sort of become older than your years IYKWIM. So I think your kids will be open and aware of the world in ways you might not anticipate now. But I would be worried about the same thing.

DH and I are currently in London and considering a move to Singapore in the next year or so with our 2 (soon to be 3) kids. I have great memories of living there as a child and think it would be a wonderful experience, but some recent conversations with my mother have made me re-evaluate what it might be like as a wife and mother, and I'm wondering if we're really ready for it!! Not loving the cultural issues of live in help, etc. Any insight on that for me???

Let me know if you have any other questions about Seattle or living in the US. I'm afraid I've never been to Boston or Toronto so I'm not much use there...

pupsiecola Mon 25-Feb-13 00:18:48

Hi all,

So we're hoping to move to the US or Canada next Summer after our two years here. DH is currently in Seattle with work and that would be a very strong contender 'cos he could very likely get a transfer to head office there. He's been before several times (and to nearby Bellevue). But this time he's looking at it through the eyes of a potential resident too. He says there were some shabby places from the airport to the hotel (isn't there always?!), and quite a few homeless people and people really out of it, for example, in terms of what he noticed this time.

I think that's relatively normal isn't it? And Singapore is not normal - it's a bit like living in The Truman Show and whilst I enjoy the safety and cleanliness, especially as far as raising my kids go (although I do know someone who had an intruder here and someone who's husband was beaten up badly). But it's not "real life" and I want my kids to see a bit of real life too and be a bit savvy cos they won't be spending their teenage years and 20s here etc. Guess that makes me a hypocrite. (I even felt in our little Surrey enclave that life wasn't a fair representation. Not that I want them exposed to all things bad, but eyes wide open about life and dangers and risks and bad influences etc, you know?).

Anyway. Just feels like an interesting train of thought. I wonder how others have found the transition having lived somewhere like Singapore and the moving back to the "real world"?

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty to love and appreciate about living here. Just feels weird considering other non-Truman Show type places.

Also, anyone in Seattle, San Fran, Boston, BC, Toronto got any advice/pearls of wisdom re those areas?


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