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Tips from an expat mum in Singapore

When Breda Hose upped sticks and moved to Saudi Arabia in 2002, she was a single girl with plans to put together enough capital to buy property back home in Ireland. Now, 10 years later, she’s still living the expat life, is married, has two children and is expecting her third in Singapore. Here she talks us through her journey.

How did you find the transition from Abu Dhabi to Singapore compared to your initial move from Ireland to Saudi Arabia?

It was definitely easier, particularly in comparison to the culture shock I experienced moving to the Middle East in the first place. That started on the plane journey coming from Ireland. I was watching a wedding scene in a movie and all the bare ankles and shoulders on the actresses were blanked out, as were the champagne glasses. That was the first sign of the cultural differences I’d experience.

So it was easier settling in here?

We were excited about our move to Singapore, and from our arrival in October last year we felt like we were on holiday, at least for the first six months. During this time we stayed at the Great World Serviced Apartments, which definitely helped ease us in, and we had a great time exploring the social scene for the children and for ourselves. I didn’t want us to rush into finding a home to rent, and our agent Dominic Davis from DTZ had the patience of a saint. We looked at scores of properties until we found the right one, which has plenty of space for the children inside and out.

Have you struggled with adjusting to anything here?

The cost of living has been an eye-opener, and I’ve been hunting for cheap or free things to do with the children. One thing both the kids absolutely love is St George’s playgroup, which is organised by St George’s Church in Dempsey.

Finding the right childcare for Jack (3) was important, and he now goes to White Lodge in Loewen Gardens and loves it there. The teachers are professional and caring, and I’ll be sending Aoibhinn (2) there too before the arrival of our third child.

I have also been keen to link up with other Irish parents, so I set up a Facebook group called “Irish Mothers in Singapore” (www.facebook.com/groups/384206768291750). This has been really useful.

Have you started making plans for the delivery of your third baby?

I’m going down the public hospital route and have booked the National University Hospital. I’m not looking for any whistles and bells: I don’t need a room with a DVD player or fancy dinners being delivered, and the great thing is that the costs are reasonable.

Other than that I’ve had to restock on maternity clothes. I gave my maternity wardrobe away after having Aoibhinn, so I bought some new clothes during our family trip back to Ireland this summer. I also found a rack of maternity basics in Carrefour, so I picked up a few pieces from there.


On a rainy day: Royce Kids Gym in Liang Court keeps both the children busy, as does Go-Go Bambini in Dempsey.

On a sunny day: The water play area at Jurong Bird Park is great for the kids, but if we’re looking for free stuff then it’s got to be West Coast Park or the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden at the Botanic Gardens.

On Friday night: Harry’s or the Penny Black in Boat Quay are favourite spots of ours, more so when we first arrived.

On Sunday afternoon: We love going to the zoo. And when we’re all hungry, Crust Pizza restaurant in Holland Village is great for both adults and kids.