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-   -   Singapore - the pros and cons of life there (https://britishexpats.com/forum/singapore-131/singapore-pros-cons-life-there-543551/)

Slingshot Jun 17th 2008 9:08 pm

Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
I have been approached by a company in Singapore to work out there. Can anyone tell me about their experiences of working there and life in general? I have not been yet but may be there for a meeting next week.

Kooky. Jun 18th 2008 12:54 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
Hi there. We've just left Singapore after 6 years there; I only did the odd freelance and voluntary work but my husband worked there for 2 different MNCs (IT).

I guess you are already an expat? So Singapore shouldn't be such a shock to your system although the business culture can take some getting used to. We found that there is a definite Boys' Club which is often based around National Service. Who you know helps a great deal. Conversely it's pretty much every man for him/herself and you have to watch your back. I've seen this in two very different industries.

Depending on your field you could find yourself working long hours and sometimes wondering why. My husband spent about 75% of his time out of the country, and usually travelled in his own time and over weekends. (One reason we decided 6 years was long enough.)

Depending on the mix of people in your place of work, it may be wise not to expect to socialise with colleagues. Locals tend to be family oriented - nothing wrong with that but they'll finish their work and go off home to eat, rather than join you down the pub. So you may need to find other ways of building a social circle.

This said, it's a great place to live, and nowhere near as boring as it's made out to be once you scratch the surface. :D It is however becoming an expensive place - not sure what you're used to but property and cars are far from cheap. We never had a car - public transport and taxis are so good and cheap, and a lot of people choose to use them. Those with kids tend to buy cars though.

Don't know if you're single, couple, family...and easier to know what you'd like to know if I did, but we are a childless 30-40s couple and had a great social life. It's such a small place you can be very spontaneous, make a few calls and meet all your mates within an hour. Our social life was more wine and dine than drink and club. You can eat out from S$3 a head (hawker centres, local food on the street) to S$300+ a head, there's so much choice. Booze is expensive, but you either pay it or stop drinking. Changi Airport does a roaring trade in gin. ;)

Access to the rest of Asia is brilliant; you can be in Indonesia (Bintan) on a ferry within an hour, and of course Changi is so efficient you can jet off to numerous other places really easily. Bali, Thailand, etc., for a beach - Singapore's are not great - or further afield for a bit of culture. You can drive or get the bus to Malaysia. We loved this aspect, will miss it.

Again, not sure of your circumstances but you may want to join the expat clubs, many have this included in their expat packages (if they have them). As a childless couple this didn't appeal to us but I know people with families find them useful. You don't have to be British to join the Brit Club, American to join that one, etc., so some people choose them for the location and facilities.

When we were moving there I joined a forum like this one, and we basically went to every social event organised for a while! We met some great people, and some with whom we had nothing in common or wished never to meet again, but you have to put yourself out there and kiss a lot of frogs. ;) Singapore is so small that it can feel a bit incestuous at times.

You might want to look at some Singapore-based forums as this one is not very lively, although I'm sure the also recently-departed KatongKaren will add her knowledge and advice.

www.singaporum.com - a small but friendly forum, more like a chat room really, numerous nationalities but mainly Brits, Aussies and Kiwis. Used to be mainly singles and childless couples but in recent times has attracted parents so a wide range of topics covered. Ask a question, they'll take the piss but then try to help. Can seem cliqueish as quite a few of those in Singapore socialise but don't assume they've all met, it can just seem like that when you post regularly. Some, like myself, have moved on but still keep in touch there and chat about non-Sg things too.

www.singaporeexpats.com - run by realtors and has tons of great info on properties, but the forum tends to be young locals who want to be Singapore Girls or have plastic surgery (or often both!). They do have a few social groups organising events; different nationalities and mainly 20s-30s I think so if that's you, may be worth a look. WNDC (Wednesday Night Drinking Club) is just one regular event.

www.expatsingapore.com - this is where I started although I soon moved on. A long-running board with a wealth of info in the archives but it can get a bit trollish. Still worth asking questions if you have a thick skin. Schools often discussed. Maids regularly discussed. Crap always thrown. :rofl:

Um, I rattled on as usual. :o I hope that some of it is useful but don't be afraid to ask specific questions and I'll try to help.

To sum up, as I always say, Singapore is a place you'll either love or hate. If you let its little quirks get to you, they'll drive you mad. Much easier to work with them.

Oh and you'll pay about 12% tax. That was hard to leave...


edit: I've just checked you out and you're in the ME, so used to heat. It's not as hot in Sg (usually around 30C) but the humidity is a bugger. Be prepared to sweat.

Kooky. Jun 18th 2008 1:04 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
Just seen this, some very good points.

http://britishexpats.com/forum/showt...66#post6476766

Slingshot Jun 18th 2008 6:30 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by Seasider (Post 6476777)
Just seen this, some very good points.

http://britishexpats.com/forum/showt...66#post6476766

Thanks for the indepth reply :)
I have saved it and will go through it all over a coffee shortly.

ex reg Jun 18th 2008 9:07 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
Good reply from Seasider although slightly more negative than I would have written.

When here for the meeting then make sure you see some accommodation and talk to ex pats in general about the place.

Slingshot Jun 18th 2008 10:34 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by ex reg (Post 6477526)
Good reply from Seasider although slightly more negative than I would have written.

When here for the meeting then make sure you see some accommodation and talk to ex pats in general about the place.

Thanks, will do.

I though Seasider's post was frank rather, which is what I prefer.

Seasider, thanks for all the information. I live in Dubai and it sounds like Singapore is pretty similar in a lot of ways.

It is all very much at preliminary stages. I work a lot with a particular company here but they have no base in Dubai. They are willing to pay big bucks for me to move to Singapore and work for them, but I could end up coming back to Dubai quite a bit!

Thanks for the other links as well to sites.

katongkaren Jun 18th 2008 10:40 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
Is there anything else to say after Seasider's loooooooong posting :lol:

PROs:
- Very business friendly
- Low taxes (you can save a LOT of money in short space of time)... err if you don't blow it on booze.
- English speaking (more or less) - you don't need to learn a language
- Good transportation (taxis/MRT/buses) - we used taxis the whole time we were there and never bought a car
- Relatively safe environment which is very comforting, especially if you have kids
- Good social life - lots and lots of different eateries at all prices
- Best, most efficient airport in the World
- Singaporeans :) great sense of humour
- Brilliant local Nonya food (still miss it)
- Good government (well I happen to like PM Lee, even if he gets some bad press outside Singapore's controlled media)

CONS:
- Pressure, pressure, pressure (even as self-employed you still get pressurised to do better, earn more money - they always find ways to push you to the edge)
- Humidity - the humidity is just incredibly energy-sapping at times. But if you're working, you'll be in the aircon so no problem.
- Singaporeans :( lighting little incinerators all over the place. Especially disturbing when they do it on the fire escape (fire escape!) of condos. Do not miss this.
- Infectious Singlish. Still trying to wean ourselves off saying "cannot-lah" "you off it then you on it" (sigh)

Would definitely recommend working there and experiencing Singapore, especially if you're young. Have to say we felt thoroughly burnt out towards the end of our time there but it helped us retire early, so how can we criticize? Take a look at some of the websites that Seasider recommended for more in-depth views and info. Enjoy!

katongkaren Jun 18th 2008 10:45 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by Slingshot (Post 6477768)
Thanks, will do.

I though Seasider's post was frank rather, which is what I prefer.

Seasider, thanks for all the information. I live in Dubai and it sounds like Singapore is pretty similar in a lot of ways.

It is all very much at preliminary stages. I work a lot with a particular company here but they have no base in Dubai. They are willing to pay big bucks for me to move to Singapore and work for them, but I could end up coming back to Dubai quite a bit!

Thanks for the other links as well to sites.


Just saw your posting above. All opinions are personal of course, but personally think you'll find Singapore miles, miles better than Dubai. No grid-locked traffic for starters.

Slingshot Jun 18th 2008 12:09 pm

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by katongkaren (Post 6477799)
Just saw your posting above. All opinions are personal of course, but personally think you'll find Singapore miles, miles better than Dubai. No grid-locked traffic for starters.

Yep, I know re the personal bit.
Thanks for your post above - great stuff. Now I am practising my 'cannot-lah' :lol:

Kooky. Jun 18th 2008 2:25 pm

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
Oooh, sorry if I sounded negative - I did say it's a great place to live, but I am a realist (= Yorkshirewoman :D ). It was our home for 6 years, and we mixed mainly with other long-termers who also feel lucky to be there.

Singlish is very handy when you get the hang of it, especially when dealing with taxi drivers. Very economical use of words -

The Geek: Hello, I'd like to go to Raffles City please, and could you go via the Nichol Highway, turn right into Middle Road, Beach Road, then Seah Street please?

Taxi Uncle: Ah? :confused:


Me: Nie how Uncle, Raffles City please - Nichol Highway Middle Road Beach Road Seah Street can?

Taxi Uncle: Can lah.

:rofl:

Dandy Jun 18th 2008 4:27 pm

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by Slingshot (Post 6475997)
I have been approached by a company in Singapore to work out there. Can anyone tell me about their experiences of working there and life in general? I have not been yet but may be there for a meeting next week.

My observations as a regular visitor who has never lived there. Just to state my bias up front, I live in Tokyo. Singapore is... Clean and well presented, and not just when compared to other Asian cities such as Taipei or Seoul. The bits a visitor like myself gets to see are efficient. Very easy for monoglot ex-pats to live in, as everybody speaks some degree of English and like HK everybody seems to have a maid. Cars and rent expensive. On the other hand it's tiny - a city state rather than a country. However good the connections are international travel is onerous compared to being able to hop on a domestic plane or train. If you come from a temperate climate you may miss having real seasons - always hot and humid in Sing. Size means it could rapidly become socially claustrophobic. I feel it lacks buzz, pizazz. Probably very comfortable to live for a year or so especially as a family but ultimately boring and a bit restrictive is my reading of it; many of my friends or colleagues who have lived there would agree.

HOWEVER the fact that you can communicate is huge: I know people who lived in Tokyo and never felt settled because they didn't speak adequate Japanese. They went to Singapore and love the fact that they can operate at something like 100% social capacity instead of being restricted by linguistic problems. So that's something to really think about carefully.

In summary, if you've never worked in Asia before Singapore is the gentlest introduction you can get and its faults are unlikely to concern most ex-pats.

Trevglas Jun 18th 2008 7:33 pm

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
I'm just about to leave Singapore after 2 years.

To me it seems its a place you will either love or hate:

Pros
  • Low tax rate
  • Incredibly fast internet available (100Mb/2MB no download quota
  • cheap taxis
  • wide range of food
  • cheap clothes (if you know where to look, and are small: just remember to start at the XXL sizes!).
  • Medical insurance (should be provided in your package) covers 100% of the costs, but be prepared to argue the toss with the insurers when they try to classify everything as "undisclosed pre-existing condition"
  • mobile phone calls are as cheap as land lines, so everyone uses them all the time. This is a bit of a pain when it rains near the peak hours, as the mobile networks overload and you cannot make calls (or get a cab)
  • If you are into that sort of thing, a live-in maid is quite cheap.

Cons
  • Some things are incredibly frustrating, like having to argue with your bank to accept large cheques (and give a receipt) over the counter, rather than sticking them in a letterbox.
  • Everyone just follows the rules, no matter how crazy (see what a ruckus you will cause if you have 11 items in that 10 items or less queue).
  • Taxi drivers are generally hopeless drivers, cannot tell left from right or both.
  • Rents have recently gone through the roof. Here you typically sign a tenancy agreement for 2 years (at a fixed rent), with a third year option, where the rent will be adjusted to current levels. If I were staying, I would be looking at rent going from $2600/month to $8000/month.
  • The doctors here are either way too cautious, or see $ signs when an expat walks in. Go see the doc about that belly ache? no worries, they will stick a camera up your jacksie (3 of my colleagues have had this!)
  • Starhub cable TV is the pits

Also, learn the subtle side of Singlish:
no can Terribly sorry, that is not possible
can can Certainly sir, I will do that straight away
can can can yes I could do it, but cannot be ar*ed

Kooky. Jun 19th 2008 1:04 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
:D Maybe I should have put up this link.

http://www.talkingcock.com/

katongkaren Jun 19th 2008 6:37 am

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 
some good straight-talking posts - Dandy's comment re language very good. It's something we Brits take for granted a lot of the time - the fact that so many non-Brits speak English or a fair amount of English.

Then you get a big wake up call sometimes - we did when we moved to Phuket and found to our surprise, at least in the part of the island we live, that so many locals don't speak English at all (why would they?), and you can just imagine all the theatrics trying to communicate with people :lol:

Slingshot Jun 23rd 2008 6:36 pm

Re: Singapore - the pros and cons of life there
 

Originally Posted by Trevglas (Post 6479724)
I'm just about to leave Singapore after 2 years.

To me it seems its a place you will either love or hate:

Pros
  • Low tax rate
  • Incredibly fast internet available (100Mb/2MB no download quota
  • cheap taxis
  • wide range of food
  • cheap clothes (if you know where to look, and are small: just remember to start at the XXL sizes!).
  • Medical insurance (should be provided in your package) covers 100% of the costs, but be prepared to argue the toss with the insurers when they try to classify everything as "undisclosed pre-existing condition"
  • mobile phone calls are as cheap as land lines, so everyone uses them all the time. This is a bit of a pain when it rains near the peak hours, as the mobile networks overload and you cannot make calls (or get a cab)
  • If you are into that sort of thing, a live-in maid is quite cheap.

Cons
  • Some things are incredibly frustrating, like having to argue with your bank to accept large cheques (and give a receipt) over the counter, rather than sticking them in a letterbox.
  • Everyone just follows the rules, no matter how crazy (see what a ruckus you will cause if you have 11 items in that 10 items or less queue).
  • Taxi drivers are generally hopeless drivers, cannot tell left from right or both.
  • Rents have recently gone through the roof. Here you typically sign a tenancy agreement for 2 years (at a fixed rent), with a third year option, where the rent will be adjusted to current levels. If I were staying, I would be looking at rent going from $2600/month to $8000/month.
  • The doctors here are either way too cautious, or see $ signs when an expat walks in. Go see the doc about that belly ache? no worries, they will stick a camera up your jacksie (3 of my colleagues have had this!)
  • Starhub cable TV is the pits

Also, learn the subtle side of Singlish:
no can Terribly sorry, that is not possible
can can Certainly sir, I will do that straight away
can can can yes I could do it, but cannot be ar*ed

Thanks for the great advice - it is sounding more and more like Dubai :lol:


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