Most expats move to Singapore to better their financial position or because of other work-related requirements. But you may find that the lifestyle you enjoy in Singapore makes you want to stay forever. An exaggeration? Let’s look at the lifestyle of an expat in Singapore.
Live in a designer condo
When it comes to high density living in the lap of luxury, Singapore has got what it takes and more. Tennis courts, gyms, greenhouses, gardens and residents’ clubs are common features, and just about every upmarket apartment building has its own swimming pool. Some of the buildings are spectacular inside and out, and the only limitation to finding a luxurious rental opportunity is your budget. There are houses too, but unless you live outside the CBD, you may find them shockingly expensive. In a country where high rises dominate the landscape, a centrally located, single or double story house in Singapore is quite the luxury.
Eat, drink, and be merry
Food is a huge deal in Singapore. Everyone has their favourite places to tuck in, and many people will happily trek across the island to indulge in their favourite dishes. There is a huge variety of cuisines on offer as well. Check out Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao (soup dumplings), head over to Jumbo’s for Singapore’s iconic chilli crab, or enjoy a perfectly cooked steak at L’Entrecote, nestled at the top of Duxton Hill.
In just about every popular area there are wine bars and pubs, where you can relax with a cold drink at the end of a hard day, or do a bit of socialising. Alcohol prices can be a bit of a shock when you first arrive, as it’s heavily taxed, but there are places to enjoy your favourite tipple, without breaking the bank. Check out the incredibly reasonably-priced Wine Connection, or Merchants, if you enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. Lots of bars also offer happy hours, and ladies night deals.
Hint: check out some reviews on Trip Advisor, but don’t be shy to try out less well-known spots either.
In the mood for some lively nightlife? There are clubs to suit any budget or preference. Ce La Vi (formerly Ku De Ta), perched on top of Marina Bay Sands, offerings creative cocktails and a buzzing dancefloor. Just down the river, Clarke Quay offers everything from quiet restaurants to clubs. Looking for a really wild party? Try Attica, and make sure you can sleep in tomorrow – you’ll need to!
If your tastes are more cultural, and you want to see some good arts performances, the Esplanade has shows every single day of the week.
What to do in Singapore
There’s a lot more to Singapore than eating, drinking and dancing. Spend a day on beautiful Sentosa Island, visit the stunning Gardens By The Bay or take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel known as the Singapore Flyer. Take the kids to Singapore Zoo or admire the tropical birds at Jurong bird Park. And at some point, you really have to go up to the top of Tiger Sky Tower.
For those who appreciate architecture, Singapore is a feast for the eyes, from the ultra-modern to the intricacies of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, Sri Mariamman. Simply taking a walk around some of the historic areas can be really fascinating. Explore Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam.
As for shopping, you’ll discover a wealth of interesting shops and markets outside of the usual malls where you do your groceries. Orchard Road with its modern shops is probably the best-known place to shop in Singapore, but for a really colourful shopping experience, you can’t beat hip Haji Lane for a spot of clothes shopping in a unique atmosphere. And while we’re talking about colourful shopping districts, Tiong Bahru is a definite must, even if you don’t buy a single thing. It’s also a great place to grab a coffee and cake, and do some people watching.
What’s so different about Singapore?
Discover “Singlish” a unique hybrid between English, Malay and Chinese. It’s a way of speaking which is completely unique to Singapore. You’ll soon pick up a few phrases!
The same principle applies to some of the unusual dishes that you’ll find in Singapore only. Try Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, curry fish head, chilli crab, char kway teo and more. You can also try the local coffee, ‘kopi’, or quench your thirst with a sugar-cane juice.
Singapore is one of the truly multiracial countries of the world. There are four official languages and the public holidays mirror the cultural melting-pot that is Singapore.
The concept of ‘meritocracy’ is deeply entrenched. Bright young students who achieve well academically are given lots of extra opportunities. Young Singaporeans who do well in their studies are fast-tracked to success. It’s a bit of a cultural experiment, but so far, the results seem to speak for themselves. Singaporeans want to be good at what they do, but they also want to do well quickly. If there’s a shortcut to success, they’ll take it, and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that! At the same time, if there’s no shortcut, Singapore citizens are willing to do what it takes.
Should you do any shopping at home before you go to Singapore?
If you wear a large clothing size, you may find that you can’t get the kind of clothing you like in Singapore when you buy off the peg items. Plus-sized ladies unfortunately may find they often have to pay a premium price in Singapore.
Ibuprofen is available, but the price is high, and so are brand-name skincare products. If you’re sold on some local food or personal care brand names from your home country, it’s best to bring a stock along – at least until you can find a local alternative that suits your tastes.
Some surprising stuff about Singapore
No matter where you are in Singapore, you’ll never feel like a ‘foreigner’ even though 74% of the inhabitants of Singapore are Chinese. Nobody will stop, stare and nudge a companion. You will be part of the scenery, and you will fit in. All cultures and faiths are accepted as part of the cultural landscape. People from Hindu, Buddhist or Christian faiths will feel equally at home. Various culturally-based festivals are celebrated and receive official support from the Singapore government – so expect all the Christmas hype at Christmas time.
Be ready for hot, humid conditions. The fact that most good condos offer swimming pool facilities is not surprising. The climate is tropical, and people love an opportunity to cool off. When you’re away from the air-con, you’ll be looking forward to a dip – even in ‘winter’.
And yes, as you may have heard, Singapore is an expensive place to live. Before you get excited about the wonderful salary you’re being offered, check out the cost of living. You’ll probably still come out on top, but perhaps not by as much as you originally thought.
Be surprised, be entertained
Singapore is place of surprises, wonders, and beauty. You just need to get used to it, and you may even end up staying a lot longer than you originally planned. From cityscapes to beautiful wildlife parks, you won’t be disappointed with your adventure in the diverse and fantastic Little Red Dot.