What a difference a year makes in the property market. When Helene Byron and her husband were house-hunting last year, rents were sky-high and gazumping was common. But they got lucky.
EL: Your move here was quite sudden. How did that affect your relocation?
HB: We were pretty settled in Shanghai. It was initially a two-year contract and we were still there six years later. We had already booked our summer holiday in France and then we had the news of the transfer to Singapore, so it was a bit of a surprise! We had been here a couple of times on holiday and really enjoyed it, so we were happy with the destination but it was difficult because it was a bit rushed.
EL: Regarding the property market, a few months later would have been better, too.
HB: It was so difficult to find a house. This was the fourth house we made an offer on. Each time we had put in an offer on the asking price, the landlords would come back and say that they now wanted more.
Fortunately, Zurah from Expat Rentals focuses on this area, Serangoon Gardens, and she learned about this one even before it was on the market properly. She was fantastic. The owners are very nice. It was the first time they had rented out their home and they were keen to have someone who would look after it.
With the drop in the market, I know now we could have paid a bit extra and found a house with a swimming pool. My friend moved here at the end of last year and Zurah got her a fantastic place for less than what we are paying. So, yes, it was not good timing, but we like the house.
EL: Serangoon Gardens is increasingly popular with expatriates. Why did you choose this area?
HB: We wanted to be close to the French school, because in Shanghai it had been a crazy drive every day and we didn’t want a long commute again. I help out at the school quite a bit, so it’s also perfect that I can cycle there in about ten minutes.
We joined the Serangoon Gardens Club for its pool, and that’s just down the road too.We really loved Marina One Degree 15, but in the end we went for convenience.
The Unilever office where my husband works is on Orchard and is easy to get to from here on the CTE. He is talking about getting a motorbike now! A bit scary, but at least the traffic is safer than in Shanghai.
EL: I suppose you had a driver in Shanghai?
HB: We had a driver and a big American car there, so when we got here my husband wanted “a nice drive” and chose the Nissan Murano. We have a two-year lease with Avis.
EL: Your décor is very classic Asian and you look very settled.
HB: All our furniture is from Shanghai. Asian Tigers KC Dat did our move. They were fast and helped us settle quickly. Our schnauzer was the only “piece” that took a while to get here because the quarantine was so long. He was very happy to see us.
EL: Have you found any time for travelling?
HB: We went on a business-related trip to the Angsana Resort Bintan, which we enjoyed a lot. More recently, we stayed at Maikhao Beach Resort in Phuket. It was a last-minute booking but it turned out to be really nice, and the staff members were very pleasant. We had a two-bedroom apartment with its own kitchen. It’s only fifteen minutes from the airport and a ten-minute walk from the quiet beach. It’s great that Perth is only four hours away, so we are looking forward to going there. We travelled by campervan in New Zealand and the children loved it. We will probably do something similar in Australia.
EL: Have you discovered any restaurants you love?
HB: Yes, Viet Lang near Indochine and Yantra at Tanglin Mall are both very good.
EL: Any other recommendations?
HB: I am not much of a shopper and prefer to spend my time helping out at school. I am a yoga teacher and would like to do another teacher-training course. I teach yoga to children, which is fun as I make it like a game so they don’t get bored. It’s great to be able to get them started at a young age.
EL: How have your children settled into Singapore?
HB: It was difficult for the 12-year-old to leave her friends. They are so important to her. My eight-year-old boy did not feel it as strongly. There are always newcomers at the school and that helps them make new friends. Having such a nice helper is also wonderful. Our first experience with a maid was very dodgy but then we went through 121 Personnel and we are very happy with the one we have now.
EL: How are you feeling about life in Singapore?
HB: It is very different from Shanghai, but good. I’m looking forward to starting teaching yoga or studying again. I think it’s important to keep involved in whatever your interest is and to keep learning.
1 Old Parliament Lane
#01-03 The Arts House
+65 6337 3379
Asian Tigers KC Dat, movers
|French School of Singapore|
3000 Ang Mo Kio
+65 6487 2821
Marina One Degree 15
Mai Khao Beach Resort
Avis Car Rentals
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