About four months ago, 18 people could be seen dashing around Saskia Huntjen’s family home in Holland. Saskia, her husband and their three girls were moving to Singapore and Allied Moving Services had come to collect their belongings.
But if she thought that was manic, once the Huntjens had arrived in Singapore, a team of more than 30 people helped shift furniture into their new house in Hillcrest Villas, near Dunearn Road.
Saskia had rented furniture while the majority of the family’s belongings were still being shipped over. So, on the day the container arrived, outgoing rental furniture was passed at the front door by incoming Dutch pieces. “It was all done in one day and it was very hectic,” she laughs.
Saskia and her husband Joep made the decision back in February to move the family to Singapore. “Allied came to look around the house to see how long packing and moving would take – they ended up being spot on.” They also pointed out which pieces of furniture would best be able to survive the Singapore humidity. And when it came to the moving day itself, the Huntjens are among the luckier expats who’ve enjoyed an entirely smooth relocation: everything was packed and marked clearly; the container was parked right outside their front door in Holland; and Saskia even locked the container doors herself.
“Moving house can be awful, especially when you have three children. We were going to a new continent and we didn’t really know what we were jumping into. But Allied did exactly what they promised to do. The guys in Singapore even assembled the girls’ new bikes while they were waiting for their pals to pick them up.”
Before the big move, Saskia and Joep came to Singapore to find out whether they could see themselves living here. “It was just before Chinese New Year so the whole city was in festive mode; we had a really nice time.” It was also on that visit that they found their house in Hillcrest Villas. Back in Holland, they had a newly built house, so they were after something similar here. It took a brief look around the complex and one of the empty villas for the Huntjens to fall in love with it.
One of the things that first attracted them to Hillcrest Villas was the location. It’s halfway between the Dutch International School, where two of their girls are in primary school, and the Dutch Club. What’s more, investment banker Joep can take public transport into work.
The three girls, Giselle (5), Elodie (4) and Philene (3) are settling in well, too. They’ve made new Dutch friends at school, while at Hillcrest they’ve met plenty of other expat children.
It probably helped that Saskia’s father sent them off with some great advice. He said, “You’ve really got to unpack your case. Don’t think you’re living in a bubble and will be coming home in three years. Think you’re going to stay forever – then you will really get to see what Singapore is about.”
Saskia has taken this to heart. In the three months the Huntjens have been here, she’s got the hang of the road network – even to the point of giving a tour for another new arrival. They’ve been to hawker centres, gardens, theme parks and farms, and they try to do the bulk of their shopping locally.
“I love scrabbling around in Turf City, it’s very cheap. I love the atmosphere there even though the shopping trolleys are all falling apart and there’s ants walking over the vegetables. There are basins of fat frogs – it’s so different from home.”
It’s hard to imagine that anything would get to the smiley Saskia – her positivity is completely infectious. But there is one thing. “The fact that I don’t speak Chinese. I’ve got my daughters in Chinese classes so I’m learning from them, and a little girl from the complex gave us a little Chinese class the other day. I try my hardest to communicate with Chinese speakers, with hands, arms and even leg movements. I just worry that I might be offending them!” Give Saskia a year and I’m sure she’ll get to grips with that, too.
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