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Guide to living in Woodlands

Whether you’re already living in Singapore and looking to move to a new neighbourhood or moving here from overseas, nothing beats hearing from the residents themselves! We speak to Alicia Mirabelli and her family, about the ins and outs of living on Beechwood Grove in Woodlands.

Woodlands Singapore
The Mirabelli family

THE SPECIFICS

Where do you live? Beechwood Grove.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Beechwood Grove; it’s nearby the Singapore American School, Street 41”

What’s the name of your neighbourhood? Woodlands.

Closest MRT station? Marsiling MRT.

How long have you lived here? Two years.

Why here? Our family moved from Ang Mo Kio to be closer to my children’s school.

THE SCENE

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: A beautiful residential neighbourhood of homes – and palm trees!

The closest store to your front door is: FairPrice is close by; we can walk there which is really handy.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less: Our neighbours are great! We can count on them to help move items, change a tyre, or share a cup of tea. Our streets are quite narrow though, so when people park on the streets it gets a little tight.

The unofficial uniform of your street is: Flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts.

Which celebrity would be most likely to move in next door, and why? Angelina Jolie could move in across the street, because the house is so huge that it would fit her and her large family

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Have a meal at one of the local hawker centres.

If you’re missing home, you: Head to the city – usually to Tanglin Mall or Orchard Central.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is: Lau Pa Sat for the great local food options, and it gives you a real feel for the city.

You’d swap houses in a second with: My friend, Kate! She has a huge house with a great pool, perfect for neighbourhood parties.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is: It’s full of Americans! Yes, there are quite a few American families; however, there are many other nationalities living here as well. Also, Woodlands seems to get a lot of bad press about it being so far from the city. However, we have found it is perfect for our family. It’s only about a 20- to 30-minute ride to the city and honestly, that is close compared to where we lived in the States.

Living in Woodlands has given us the opportunity to have a larger home and enjoy a sense of community, while still having access to the MRT’s North-South line (the “red line”) that goes straight to Orchard. Our neighborhood also arranges exercise classes, bike rides, morning coffees and fun evening outs.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to: It’s really quiet here. If I’m ever woken up, it’s due to thunder. We have some massive storms that roll in off the coast and the thunder is quite loud.

A late-night rager on your street is likely to be: On occasion, neighbours will get together for a happy hour and bring food and drinks to share; we like to play games and spend time together.

THE SUPERLATIVES

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are: We go to Causeway Point, a mall about a 15-minute walk away, for sushi at Ichiban Boshi and the Cathay movie theatre. Nearby is the horse track and Cheval Café Bar Bistro where it’s nice to have dinner, and sometimes you can get a peek at the horses. We love Italian food and there is a great Italian restaurant, IO Italian Osteria, at Hillview – it’s about a 15-minute drive.

You won’t find better local food than at: Al-Ameen at 35 Marsiling Industrial Estate Road does great Indian food.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: When a local neighbour’s wife passed away, the family set up a huge tent that took up the entire road for about seven days. Hundreds of people came by to pay their respects, and people were cooking food all day long.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: At the local hardware shop – you can pick up many useful household items at a reasonable cost.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: The amazing treats made for us by our neighbours – we swap recipes!

One thing you’d never change is: The close proximity to my children’s school; it saves them a lot of time in travelling to and from school. Now, they have more time for homework, sleep and hanging out with their friends.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: Our neighbourhood sees quite a few expats come and go. It breaks our hearts to form good relationships and then see friends leave to go to other countries; I wish we could all stay for a longer time.

What’s unique about the neighbourhood? Our Halloween activities! The annual trick or treating at Woodlands is unlike anywhere in the world. The Halloween committee requests government permits to block the streets, people decorate their houses, and we set up security, plus a first-aid station. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people come to our small community to trick or treat; adults and children dress up in costumes and go from home to home asking for a special treat. Each home purchases candy for the event and we also ask for donations from the people attending, which really helps with the costs. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.

This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the June 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!

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