Welcome to Singapore! From the best family neighbourhoods, to finding a school, getting your finances sorted, and where to bring the kids out to play, read on for 10 essential steps to help you kickstart life in the tropics…
You’ve packed your life into a container, you’ve arrived with the family in a puddle of sweat at Changi Airport, and you are now freaking out about where to live, what school to pick, setting up your finances, and, of course, the essential challenge of finding a kid-friendly cafe for your daily coffee fix. We hear you, and we’re here to help! We’ve put together 10 handy steps to help make your move as easy as possible, so, take a deep breath, accept that your hair will forevermore be frizzy, and read on to discover how sweet life is in Singapore once you know where to get the best chicken rice in town…
1. Finding the right ‘hood for the family
The guidebook may be suggesting Holland Village, while your kids are hankering for a short stroll from a beach… Singapore may be small in size, but it has a huge amount of choice when it comes to a ‘hood to call home. Check out the best family-friendly neighbourhoods in Singapore, with our inside tips from parents who live there!
2. The hunt for a home
Now you’ve got a neighbourhood in mind, you need to figure out where you’d like to roll out the ‘welcome’ mat. The condo vs landed house debate may be one you’ve mulling over since you first Googled ‘rentals in Singapore’. Our advice is to look at as many options as possible: your dream home may end up choosing you! Don’t forget to keep your other dream home happy while you’re at it: if you have a mortgage in your home country, it pays to get help transferring funds back home to ensure you get a good rate and avoid squandering your hard-earned Singapore dollars. We like World First for their hassle-free, personal service.
3. Getting into school
We have three words when it comes to the daunting task of choosing the best international school for your family: do your homework. Check out how much it really costs to get started at international school, see what other parents have to say and go to open days so you can find the perfect fit. Local school is another option, and a great choice for those keen to immerse the kids into the Singaporean way of life. Spots can be tough to snag for a foreigner, so do your groundwork for the application processes through the Ministry of Education. HoneyKids’ writer, Tracy, has her kids split between the international and the local systems, so her personal account of the two systems may help your decision process.
4. …And don’t forget that back home, school life may go on
For some families, it makes more sense for the kids to attend boarding school in their home countries rather than be uprooted for the period of mum or dad’s transfer to Singapore. To make life a little easier in that department, services like World First can help you arrange the international payments easily. World First can help you fix the rate for your money transfers for a period of up to six months, so you don’t have to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. And for families who are planning to send their kids to university, that ever-hungry college fund will welcome some regular transfers!
5. Where to do the dreaded supermarket shop…
You’ve found your home but the cupboards are bare! Thankfully, plenty of home comforts are available (and yes, that includes Marmite and Vegemite). Check out our rookies’ guide to Singapore supermarkets so you don’t end up scrambling between four supermarkets to get your faves.
6. Finding some help at home
Living far from the family support you had back home can be tough. Thankfully, many of us are blessed to have our right-hand women to help us juggle the challenges of school runs, careers, and housework: our helpers! If you are considering hiring a helper, finding the right lady is essential. We won’t lie – it can be a trial and error scenario for sure. Most employers use an agency to source the perfect match, and to arrange the laborious paperwork. Word-of-mouth is always a good bet for picking an agency, and sometimes a helper too.
7. Turning your currency into SGD – or vice versa
We all know that Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in, so financial transactions to your home country, either on a regular or ad-hoc basis, will be a necessity – life still goes on back home after all. Transferring money overseas is easier and more affordable than ever – check out World First, which we’re loving for its fee-saving, frustration-free service (yes, you get to talk to real people, quickly!).
8. Entertaining the family
The kids are loving school, you’ve put on a kilo or two from all the good food (especially if you’ve eaten your way through our 30 essential Asian dishes you must try while in Singapore!), your finances are taken care of thanks to World First, and you’ve unpacked that container. It must be time to go exploring! Singapore doesn’t let being small get in the way of endless fun. Start with these must-do cultural activities with kids, then hit the water play parks, awesome indoor playgrounds, museums and more…
9. Complete your family with a furry friend
Animal loving families will get a kick out of all the pet cafes dotted around town, but if you want a more permanent option then how about adopting a fur baby? Take a look at our guide to adopting a pet to help you find your new addition.
10. Let the mini-breaks begin!
All settled? Time to start packing again: for a holiday! One of the major perks of living on the Little Red Dot is its proximity to so many amazing tropical escapes. Get acquainted with Singapore’s many public holidays and start planning for your next quick beach holiday with the kids. Life is good here, folks.
This post is sponsored by World First.