Tuesday 19 July 2016

Living in Singapore: one month review

I can't believe I have already been in Singapore for a month. The time has flown by. To mark the occasion, I thought I would post an update on some of the things I have learnt about living in Singapore over the last month:

1. Embrace the sweat. Being British, we are alot more used to shivering than we are sweating. It's been anywhere between 32-37 degrees since I moved here so it's safe to say you're gonna sweat, but it's ok.

2. Always pack an umbrella. It will be hot and sunny, then the heavens will open and it will bucket down for about an hour most days. Be prepared and always pack a brolly.

3. Eat cheaply, and deliciously. I haven't done this enough, but the Hawker Centres here serve some of the most delicious food from all across Asia and it will only cost you around $3-5 SGD. 

4. Buy the booze in duty free. Alcohol is ridiculously expensive here (about $60 SGD for an average bottle of wine) so buy as much as you're allowed in duty free on the way in. 

5. Join some clubs. So many people move here knowing no-one and the nature of expat living means that people come and go regularly, friendship groups change and newbies are always welcomed in with open arms. There are so many sports and social activities on offer in Singapore so sign up for yoga, skating, cycling, diving, kayaking, dragon boating, badminton, football, touch rugby, cricket, hiking, climbing, language exchange, board game nights, brunch club etc. Make connections, try everything. 

6. Learn some Singlish. Singlish is Singapore's colloquial English; a kind of mash-up of words from across the region. There are hundreds of Singlish words I haven't grasped, but the bare minimum that anyone living here will need to know are: 'can' = 'yes', 'cannot' = 'no' and 'lah' = which is added on to the end of most sentences or words.

7. Travel. Singapore is perfectly located to travel around all of South East Asia, as well as Central Asia and Australasia. It's incredibly cheap and easy to get a flight or ferry out to Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand on a Friday evening and return Sunday evening in time for the new working week. 

8. Accept the faff of food shopping. Food shopping is time-consuming and/or expensive in Singapore. It's tricky to find everything you need in one place so I have now learnt to buy meat, fish, fruit and veg from the local wet market on a Saturday morning; and sauces, condiments and any other tinned or jarred food from Cold Storage, FairPrice or online at Red Mart. Any 'western luxuries' like cheese or cold meats are extortionate so might be wise to ween yourself off before moving to Singapore!

9. It's normal to have a live-in helper.. or a weekly cleaner at the very least. Everyone I have spoken to with children (and even some without) have a live-in helper who will taxi the child/ren to school, shop, cook, iron and clean. This is normal here and not seen as a crazy, unnecessary luxury as it would in the UK. 

10. The MRT, buses and taxis are excellent. The MRT is super cheap and efficient, the buses travel like clockwork to and from everywhere, and the taxi service is a great back-up if you're feeling lazy. It takes up to 30 mins to drive from one end of the city to the other and using Uber is such good value it makes you wonder why you don't just take taxis everywhere all the time!

I'm sure I could keep adding to this list, but these are the top 10 I can think of this morning.

The last thing I'll say is that Singapore is such a busy, bustling and vibrant place and - although it may be the other side of the world - the expat culture makes the transition easy. Every morning I wake up, look out the window and realise how lucky I am to be here.

Sunrise in Singapore
Sunrise over the city

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