Rebecca and Jonathan Leach, UK
Where did you live when you first came to Singapore?
My husband spent a year in Singapore living on his own at Le Grove serviced apartments, which are at the top end of Orchard Road. When I moved over in May this year, we relocated to the other end, very close to Dhoby Ghaut MRT.
What were your main reasons for moving to this area?
When I first moved here I was unsure if I would be able to secure a job as the recession was in full swing, so I had a dread of being stuck in sleepy suburbia. I wanted us to be central, with shops, transport, restaurants and bars within easy reach, and most importantly, where I could feel part of the Singapore buzz. My husband and I have never owned a car, partly because we have never needed one but also on principle, so being near an MRT station was a must. Dhoby Ghaut fitted the bill perfectly.
Best thing about living in this neighbourhood?
Convenience. Within five minutes of leaving our apartment we can be inside Carrefour at Plaza Singapura, at the Cathay Cinema for an art house movie, or in Starbucks for an Americano. And my husband has a 10-minute ride on the MRT to the financial district where he works, a dream journey compared to the daily grind and misery of the London tube. For rainy days, the Singapore Art Museum and the beautiful National Museum are very close by.
What’s missing from your local area that you would like to have?
The Orchard area has just about every convenience one could ever desire, but we do miss the greater sense of community and more personal feel of a smaller neighbourhood. We miss, for example, the thrill of discovering a special “unknown” local restaurant and chit-chatting with shopkeepers. In that sense, the Orchard area can appear faceless at times.
Any drawbacks to living in this area?
The endless crowds on Orchard Road, day and night, can be a little wearing. From time to time, my husband and I feel a longing to escape to some open space. Another major drawback is the very high cost of condos in this area. As with all cities, a central location comes at a price.
Why this specific home?
8@mountsophia on Mount Sophia Road meets our criteria: it’s a low-rise, modern condo with minimal hassle and upkeep, and has a lap swimming pool and a gym. Also, unlike other complexes which we looked at in the area, it’s designed so that the condos which overlook the pool are protected from the noise of Handy Road. At the time we moved, there was also little construction in the vicinity, but that may be about to change with the development of Orchard Suites.
Preferred local leisure spots?
We often head off to either the Golden Village cinema at Plaza Singapura or the one at Cathay Cineplex. Otherwise, a stroll or jog around Fort Canning Park, or the wonderful Botanic Gardens just beyond the other end of Orchard Road, helps satisfy our occasional cravings for greenery. We’re also thinking about doing a photography course at the nearby YMCA, which friends of ours have done.
Preferred local shopping centre?
There is a wide – and forever expanding – selection of shopping centres on Orchard Road, but our favourite is probably Tangs because of its heritage and its variety of wares.
The Istana building and grounds are right next door to our condo. They are open to the public on every national holiday and well worth a visit. The grounds are astonishingly expansive, especially given their central location, and are beautifully maintained. The staterooms are suitably grand and a reminder of Victorian glory.
Favourite restaurant for a special night out?
This is an easy one. Our favourite restaurant in Orchard, if not in the whole of Singapore, is Flutes at the Fort. It only takes us a few minutes to get to this idyllic black-and-white restaurant, which is surrounded by lush vegetation but has incredible views of the city. In fact, my husband proposed to me there so it holds particularly fond memories for us both.
Favourite “cheap and cheerful” restaurant?
The Indonesian barbecue stall at the new hawker centre at Level 6, Plaza Singapura. This is the most popular stall by far, and with good reason. The chicken and rice at a bargain $4.50 beats anything we have tasted elsewhere.
Cathay Cineplex www.cathay.com.sg
Fort Canning Park www.nparks.gov.sg
Golden Village www.gv.com.sg
Singapore Art Museum www.singart.com
National Museum of Singapore www.nationalmuseum.sg