House Hunting Internationally: Singapore Edition, part 1 of 3

Categories ...To Move Again (And Again), Moving To Singapore0 Comments
South East Asia Map

Oct. 17, 2013:  I’m moving from Chicago to Singapore, and I am so excited!  I can’t wait for the warm weather, the lush, jungle setting, the fascinating food, and the diversity.  Singapore is an island about the size of Chicago, with 5 million people, located at the bottom tip of Malaysia in Southeast Asia.  It’s so tiny on the map, the word “Singapore” covers it up.

Singapore Map

It has a beautiful skyline, and is basically a dream environment for businesses with its low taxes.  The following info about the government of Singapore is from Wikipedia:

“The Government of Singapore is defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore to mean the Executive branch of government, which is made up of the President and the Cabinet of Singapore. Although the President acts in his personal discretion in the exercise of certain functions as a check on the Cabinet and Parliament of Singapore, his role is largely ceremonial. It is the Cabinet, composed of the Prime Minister and other Ministers appointed on his advice by the President, that generally directs and controls the Government. The Cabinet is formed by the political party that gains a simple majority in each general election.”  

Personally, I think they do a fabulous job.  Singapore is known to be super clean, safe, and easy to navigate with a great bus and subway system.  The main language spoken is English, with Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil being widely spoken as well.  There is a bustling Chinatown, Little India, and Little Malaysia as well.  And food?  Food is beloved there. It’s practically the national pastime, from what I gather.  Click  to see what people love.

currency

It takes approximately 20 hours and $1,300-$2,000 to get to Singapore, and living there is expensive.  You can get lunch for a couple bucks at the hawker centers, but groceries can be expensive as everything is imported to this small island.  Land is at a premium, and rents are expensive.  It is 88 degrees daily with nearly 100% humidity, thus air conditioning is a must ($$$). Even Ikea is more expensive, after taking into account the exchange rate.  But I also know they have thrift stores and local markets where you can get things cheaper.  By the way, Singapore currency is the Singapore dollar, and you can see the exchange rate here.  The currency is colorful and different sizes, like pretty much everywhere but the US, and I love it.  Makes it much easier to identify bills.  Bills come in $2, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.  (Maybe bigger too?  I don’t roll like that.)  Coins come in $1, and 50, 20, 10, and 5 cents.  Totals are rounded to avoid the need for a 1 cent coin.

So here we go with my own, personal version of House Hunters International:  Singapore Edition.  I have only seen the show once, but it was the first thing 80% of people have mentioned to me upon being told I am moving to Singapore.  To get started, we figured out a budget based on what my husband’s new salary was going to be.  We got an initial range of S$4,000-S$6,000, and started looking on PropertyGuru.com.  There were tons of places available in our price range, so we are feeling pretty good.

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Oct. 25, 2013:  Things have gotten stickier.  I am 3 months pregnant, and no insurance will cover a pregnant woman.  We are going to have to go with our COBRA coverage from my husband’s previous employer, but that is going to be EX-PEN-SIVE.  New housing budget S$4,000-S$5,000.  No worries, still lots of places in this price range.

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Oct. 30:  The hubs and the kiddo are visiting his parents in Arizona while I try to heal from my back issue, more on that later.  In the meantime, I am trying to look at the various neighborhoods/districts in Singapore that might be nice to live in.  I am so overwhelmed!  It might be a “small” island, but in terms of its 20+ districts, it is a lot.

District Map

My husband’s job will be in district four, in the central business area, but I don’t think I want to live over there.  I would prefer a neighborhood feel if possible, with parks, shops, etc. close by.  Plus, I know that things are generally more expensive “downtown.”  Districts 2, 3, 4, and 6 are the main business area, with things getting more suburban (still high rise apartments, not enough land for houses though there are some) in districts 1, 5, 7-11.  The airport is off to the east coast, and there are many residential areas from districts 12-17, but  commuting from over there to work would be tough.  Expats seem to settle in the “downtown” areas, or the far north where there is a great American school.

I am more interested in immersing the kiddo in the local culture, having her learn Mandarin, and meeting people from all over and from Singapore, not just expats.  Plus, we have a few years to worry about school, so I am not too concerned yet.  Leases here are generally for two years, and with her being two now, we can always move again after two years.   Can’t really narrow down a district yet, too many nice ones to live in.  In our next installment of our version of House Hunters International, we will start viewing apartments/condos with our realtor.

Go to Part 2 of this story.

Go to Part 3 of this story.

Go to our subsequent move in Singapore in 2016.

Jennifer Jasensky is a Dubai resident, United States transplant, former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer. She is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She is most happy enjoying a good book with a plate of kaya toast, runny eggs, and kopi-c peng siew dai, but now that she has moved from
Singapore to Dubai, drinking an iced latte in the ocean is fast becoming her happy place.

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