Moving to a new place is exciting but can be at times a bit daunting and confusing. If you are moving to Singapore or are new in town and trying to work out the lie of the land, who better to give advice on how to adapt to life in the Little Red Dot than other expats who have ‘been there, done that’! We asked our contributors for tips on what to do when you’re planning a move or if you’ve newly arrived.
1. Be open to any and all potential friendships.
2. Make a list of things you want to do in Singapore and places you want to travel to, so that you don’t have to squeeze it in right before you’re leaving.
3. Buy a sturdy pair of flip flops and a lot of moisture wicking clothing.
4. Explore the wet markets.
5. Don’t live in an expat bubble; interact with local people and places too. – Cori
1. Be prepared for high costs, and plan your spending better – especially if you have kids.
2. Distances are not as great as in many of the cities expats come from, so don’t let that be a barrier in your school or house hunting.
3. Don’t invest in a car or helper unless you absolutely need it. The public transport is fantastic so it’s good to see how it pans out for you first. Cars are a huge cost and you can save a lot by avoiding using one.
4. Plan your leave well as there are so many destinations to explore from Changi.
5. Try to avoid an influx of visitors in your first six months or so; instead, dedicate time for you and your family to adapt to life here. – Shivani
1. Don’t be offended if people call you “auntie” or “uncle”; you’re not old – they are being respectful!
2. For trailing spouses looking for jobs: network, network, network.
3. Join the Singapore Facebook groups. There’s a wealth of advice there – I wish I’d known about them when I got here.
4. Hire a helper. Even if you are used to doing everything on your own, being an expat means you don’t have family around or a support network. It makes life much, much easier.
5. Be prepared for frizzy hair – Charmaine
1. Enjoy yourself.
2. Get active.
3. Be open to new experiences.
4. Take on any new challenges with a positive attitude.
5. Embrace where you are geographically – Tamy
1. Get a helper. Just do it!
2. Transfer your license within 12 months, even if you think you won’t drive.
3. Put yourself out there to make friends. Your chances of rejection are zero!
4. Know that all summer clothes aren’t stocked in stores from November to January.
5. Surrender to the high prices; it’s just the way of life here. – Niki
1. Shop at the wet markets for fruit and vegetables – they’re incredibly fresh and cheap.
2. If you have young kids, always carry sunblock, swimmers and a small towel for swimming opportunities.
3. Bring food back from your home country (e.g., beef, lamb and mega blocks of cheese from Australia!).
4. Carry water with you at all times.
5. Set up bank accounts before you arrive if you can – it can be tricky here.
1. Take courses and seek out experiences to develop skills you’ve not been able to make time for. Singapore has so much to offer for the creative, health-conscious, caring and spiritual.
2. Seek out green spaces across the island; the nature reserves, reservoirs and small surrounding islands are beautiful and help rebalance mind and body from the daily rat race.
3. Get networking. Join groups on social media and in real life for expat women; they’re an invaluable source of information and referrals and everyone is generally happy to connect you to the right people.
4. Make a list of places to visit across the region and pre-plan each holiday and long weekend. Time flies on the equator and there are so many hidden gems to be explored, many of which are accessible and life changing.
5. Take a city tour. There are some great guides, and a lot to learn and experience right under our noses. – Dani
1. Live in an area in a serviced apartment first to try it out and see if you like it.
2. Be open to meeting new people.
3. Get to know the Facebook groups available to expats.
4. Buy the Lonely Planet guide to Singapore and try a new thing every week.
5. Set goals: what would you like to get out of your Singapore experience personally and professionally – Naomi
Our panel members list the things they love most about life in the Little Red Dot – and the things they could frankly do with less of!
- Making friends that become like family
- There’s an amazing mix of cultures
- You can reinvent yourself any way that you want
- It’s safe and has a low crime rate
- There are lots of themed parties, functions and balls to attended
- Its really easy to settle down here
- A great hub for travel
- English is easily understood here
- It’s a fantastic environment for children to grow up in
- The public transport is great
- There’s a nice charitable focus in the expat community
- The local food is delicious and cheap
- Lots of good restaurants
- Friends are always moving away
- You can’t see family all the time
- You can spend a lot of time on planes for work
- Some services are more expensive here
- There are no seasons
- every day is hot, humid and sweaty
- Medical facilities are expensive (though they are top notch)
- A good hair day is a rare thing
- The cost of living is high
- Schools are very expensive
- It’s difficult to get into local schools if you’re not PR
- Alcohol is pricey