Looking to move to a new neighbourhood? Nothing would be better than to hear from the residents themselves. We speak to Erin Zilis, about the ins and outs of living at Devonshire Road, Somerset.
Name: Erin Zilis
From: United States
Occupation: My friend, Lisa, also an expat, likes to say she’s a student at The Southeast Asian School of Lifelong Learning, and I love that description! I suppose I’m also a student there, and have logged in enough time planning trips around the region to call myself a travel agent.
What street do you live on?
Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
One Devonshire, between Orchard and River Valley, across from the petrol station on Killiney Road.
What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
River Valley or Somerset or Orchard or Killiney… everyone calls it something different!
Closest MRT station?
How long have you lived here?
Good luck and the great real estate agent who found it. It’s walking distance to my husband’s office, which was important to him after years of commuting in Californian traffic.
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
A 24-hour FairPrice grocery store.
The closest store (of any type) to your front door is:
The mini-mart at the petrol station.
Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:
Contagion. Right now, there are 80-plus cases of dengue fever in our neighbourhood, and the National Environmental Agency has conducted two inspections of our place this week alone.
Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Moving furniture around in the apartment above us.
The unofficial uniform of your street is:
Skinny long legs and a modelling portfolio carried by girls heading to the modelling agency at the end of Devonshire Road.
If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
An up-and-coming model.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Walk four doors down and admire the beautiful gold Buddha inside the gate at Tong Sian Tng Temple, or sample the local food options on Killiney Road.
If you’re missing home, you:
Get a takeaway tuna sandwich from Paul at Takashimaya Shopping Centre. Oh, how I miss really good sandwiches.
Mandatory for out-of-town guests is:
A stroll along the river from Robertson Quay to the CBD, checking out the quays, the colourful shutters on the MICA Building, and views of the city skyline, the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands along the way.
You’d swap houses in a second with:
My friend Susanne, who lives next door at St Thomas Suites.
A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That it’s full of expats. Because of the 24-hour FairPrice and the shophouses on Killiney, lots of locals hang out here.
If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
Thunder and lightning… we’re on the 34th floor and we really experience it up here!
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:
A party on the big deck at the new building next door.
Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:
Five & Dime for breakfast; we love the quirky atmosphere and the corned beef hash is heavenly. We also enjoy an alfresco iced latte and the real neighbourhood feel at Baker & Cook. The Dubliner is great for a Guinness and, on Friday nights, we enjoy listening to Lily and Roy sing some of our favourite songs. Porterhouse on Killiney does good steaks at half the price of the big steakhouses in the city, and the owner, Lawrence, is the nicest guy on the block. eM by the River, which we like to think was made for us since my name begins with an E and my husband’s begins with an M, is a great place for a late-night cocktail on the way home from dinner by the river. We also love walking down the hill to Bistecca on Mohamed Sultan for steaks. And at Shiraz Mazzeh I can satisfy my craving for chicken shawarma regularly.
You won’t find better local food than at:
Newton Food Centre. Despite its reputation as the expensive expat hawker centre, the food is amazing.
The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
The desolation over Chinese New Year. It felt apocalyptic to see so few people on the streets!
We love a good bargain. The best deal in your neighbourhood is:
At Killiney Curry Puff. A delicious potato curry puff is $1.40.
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
Breakfast at Wild Honey at Mandarin Gallery.
One thing you’d never change is:
The row of shophouses and restaurants on Killiney Road.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The constant construction noise from new buildings going up all around us.
The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Put in traffic lights or a bridge over the road at Devonshire and Killiney. Cars come speeding around the corner all day long and they don’t stop for pedestrians.
Why should your neighborhood be featured in a guidebook?
It’s in the perfect location, right between Orchard Road and Robertson Quay. In one direction, great shopping and dining. In the other, there are great evening strolls and cocktails to be had.
Most noticeable thing about your street:
The amount of greenery that surrounds us. We’ve visited cities all around the world and many of them feel like a concrete jungle. I love that we see lots of trees and flowers in Singapore, including on top of the building across from us and on the seven garden levels of our building. And I love looking across at the mix of old, red-roofed shophouses and new, modern buildings.