Sunday, 7 October 2018

Living in Singapore: two (and a bit) year review

I've been living in Singapore for over two years and have recently got to thinking about certain shifts in my life since the move. If I look back to what I knew, thought and felt in July 2016 when I posted a One Month Review, I notice a definite change in my outlook.

A few 'learnings' from my blog post after one month in Singapore:
  1. Embrace the sweat
  2. Always pack an umbrella
  3. Eat cheaply and deliciously
  4. Buy the booze in duty free
  5. Join clubs and activities
  6. Learn some Singlish
  7. Travel
  8. Accept the faff of food shopping
  9. It's normal to have a live-in helper
  10. Public transport is an absolute breeze

You folks back in London - imagine never having to wait an hour for a train in the freezing cold, only to find that it's been cancelled. Never having to wait until summer for some much needed vitamin D, crossing fingers and toes that it won't once again disappoint. Never being a designated driver.

I've become so accustomed to the convenience of Singapore and rarely pause to marvel at the ease of things. I wouldn't go as far to say that I've become an expat brat... I'm careful to keep myself in check and hopefully never stop appreciating how fortunate I am... but I have definitely started to take a things for granted.

For example, point 1, 2 and 10 remain true; however rather than accepting the elements of blistering heat or apocalyptic rain by popping up an umbrella or hopping on a bus or train, I now seem to have adopted the mentality that it all seems too laborious - choosing instead to hail a cab to my destination. This is often the case even when I'm not in a rush, and to be frank, even when the weather is moderate.

Point 3, 4 and 8 also remain true; however rather than eating in hawker centres, buying food from wet markets and purchasing alcohol at the airport, I increasingly find myself eating out at over-priced restaurants at weekends and a number of times during the week. I no longer buy anything from the wet market as it is now a slightly further, 10 minutes walk from home rather than a mere 3 minutes, as it used to be. I still purchase duty free alcohol, but also choose to spend a small fortune drinking out at bars and restaurants.

I've always been a frugal person, conscious of how much I am spending and making sure money is set aside for that 'rainy day'. Living here, amongst the frivolous has changed my values. I am no longer that person who screams "how can a small glass of wine cost $25!?" but "shall we get a bottle?".

Now it might sound like I have reams of dollars coming out of my ears, but I am by no means flush. In fact, I earn the about the same as I did back in London. What makes the lifestyle different, really boils down to the fact that life for Singapore expats will almost always be temporary. The transient nature of Singapore gives an air of being on holiday, even for those who have been here over a decade.

Everyone I know is certainly making the most of their time here before the inevitable responsibilities bring them home, and I quite enjoy the hedonism and laissez-faire attitude. But every so often, I, like so many of my colleagues and friends, need to take a few minutes to look down and check that my feet are still rooted to the ground!