Singapore, Singapore Report of what it's like to live there - 03/16/10
Personal Experiences from Singapore, Singapore
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I have lived in London, Melbourne, Mumbai and Buenos Aires.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
New York. I think it takes about 25 hours with a stope somewhere else in Asia.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
US Government assignment.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Most expats live in condos with varying levels of facilities. A few people live in houses. Most locals live in HDB flats.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can find almost anything you want at the grocery store but you have to check the prices. Some things are ridiculously expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Laundry detergent and stain remover (they have it but it is really expensive), cereal, summer clothes for growing kids, sandals.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is no shortage of food here. You can probably find anything you are looking for.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
None. They are vigilant about spraying. I leave my balcony open 24 hours a day and have never had a bug in my house. We have some sugar ants inside but they are easy to get rid of with ant traps.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Singapore post is reliable.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Readily available and inexpensive. I have an amazing live-in helper. Domestic helpers are regulated by the government. You pretty much have to use an agency.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes. There are gyms and most condos have a gym. There are also outdoor boot camp type programs and yoga or pilates classes. Most condos have tennis courts and or squash courts.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Yes. I think the prices are comprable to the US.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Compared to most places it would be ok. There are sidewalks and people are patient. Cars respect traffic lights.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
There are very strict rules about what kind of car you can import. Mine was too old. If you are not a diplomat you have to pay large fees.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
I have am internet and cable package and it is about $100 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Everyone has one. There are two vendors, Star hub and Singtel.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Not sure because I don't have a pet but I think it is available.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Standard bordering on casual because of the heat. Many people tend to go barefoot in the office.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
On a daily basis none. It is very safe. I imagine singapore has to be on terrorist list because of its strategic importance to Asia.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
None. The medical care is great,
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Good. No problems so far.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and humid with rain.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I hear the schools are very good. I only know about pre-schools and there are tons and I am very happy with the one my son attends. Pre-school is expensive.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I know there are pre-schools for special-needs kids so I imagine the regular schools have services as well.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
I only know about preschools and there are tons; and I am very happy with the one my son attends. Pre-school is expensive.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Huge. There are at least 20,000 Americans and tons from other countries.
2. Morale among expats:
Good to great among the folks I know.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
All the normal things are here, eating out, bars, movies, bowling, going to people's houses, etc. The arts scene is small.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it is great for families. I think if I didn't have a kid it would just be ok. It is expensive to go out, and the arts scene is basically nonexistent. It is a good place to watch movies.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Life is great for my son, so I am happy. We live in a condo clomplex with tons of kids, green space and a playground and a pool. There are also tons of pre-schools around and places to take swimming lessons. It is also a great base for traveling in Asia.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Go to the botanic gardens or parks, go to the beach, explore hidden gems of local culture (they are there but hard to find?, eat good food, go to the movies, go swimming in your pool, visit the zoo.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There is not much that is uniquely Sinagporean. I think most people spend their money on plane tickets to travel in Asia.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
I like the weather (hot and humid) plus it is a great place if you have a toddler or young child.
11. Can you save money?
No. It is expensive.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes. I can't think of a better place to live with a toddler.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Winter clothes, desire to see indie flicks or cutting edge art, desire for uncensored news.
3. But don't forget your:
Summer clothes, bathing suits, flip flops, suitcase for traveling around Asia.
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Any standard guide book.
6. Do you have any other comments?
I would only recommend that you come to live here if you have a good expat package or make enough enough to live in a nice condo and don't have to worry about taking cabs. I would also reconsider if you don't have kids. This is the most family-centric place I have ever been to.