Singapore, Singapore Report of what it's like to live there - 11/18/11
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?
noNew Delhi, India
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?
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Husband with the US Embassy
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Some live in houses on very small plots but most live in apartments/condos. There is amazing "public" housing that many nationals live in.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are a bit expensive and some products (ie certain US candies) are outrageous. I used a grocer to deliver my food since I had four kids and no domestic help, but there are small grocery stores everywhere and fresh food markets scattered across the island.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Bathing suits, kids clothes and shoes, sheets for a USA bed.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
They have most US fast food restaurants, though the one Wendy's flooded the day after it opened in 2010.Not sure if it reopened. The cost of restaurants is comparable to the USA.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
There is an organic farm on the island and foods like this are available but I never sought them out.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes, but they are controled by fogging
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We had the embassy pouch
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
expensive and many regulations but many people still hire a live in helper (many from the Philippines) through a Maid service.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
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 and reasonable
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
They speak English
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Its getting better but I noticed several places where one in a wheelchair would have some difficulty (ie a whole lot of escalators)
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?
It is best to use public transportation as owning a vehicle is very expensive. Because of our large family we needed a minivan but we bought from someone leaving. Roads are fine but parking is VERY tight so don't bring a big car.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes and reasonable
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Get one there
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?
Yes and this is the main reason I would recommend NOT bringing a pet. However, the quarantine facility is beautiful.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
Women dress nicely and guys are in slacks and white shirts
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
No -- safest place I have EVER been
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
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?
Fine when Indonesia isn't burning
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Pretty much hot and humid year round with a brief reprieve in the winter right after the "rainy" season in December and January
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are many amazing international schools from which to choose. We chose the Singapore American School and it blew us away. The campus is better than many college campuses. However, there are plenty of good schools to consider.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Not many but there is an organization there called Live And Learn that does an amazing job helping match help with kids in local and private schools where special education isn't provided. SAS has an excellent Special Ed program.
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?
Many but we never used one
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 -- much of the population is expat, or at least it sometimes felt that way
2. Morale among expats:
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?
With 4 kids our nightlife wasn't too exciting.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Families yes, couples yes, Singles?Maybe not so much.
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?
Yes but they are very subtle and its easy to live there and not see them.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
So much to do with kids, amazing zoos. I made great friends with nationals but it does take effort.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Shop! Eat! Travel to neighboring countries to see ancient sites, scuba dive, hike, be a beach bum, etc.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
I found nothing unique in Singapore (though their slogan is "Uniquely Singapore) but loved shopping in Cambodia and Indonesia (textiles,pottery, wood work, furniture)
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Great homebase for exploring Asia, especially for those new to Asia. Very easy country to live and vacation in.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
In a heart beat. I miss it!!!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Worries about international life.
3. But don't forget your:
Patience and open mind