Singapore is a popular expat city. I remember thinking I could see myself living in Singapore, when I visited this island city-state a few years ago.
But what is expat life in Singapore really like? To find out more about that I interviewed Karin, a Dutch expat living in Singapore.
In this Ask an Expat series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad. In the interview, the expat shares tips for anyone thinking about moving abroad and information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat now calls home.
Expat Life in Singapore
Home town: Helmond, The Netherlands
“I have always loved traveling. My parents took me to different countries in Europe, Northern Africa and North America from a very young age.
During a family trip through Mexico in 2012, I met my husband (well, boyfriend back then). Soon after we got home, he went to Australia. He studied there for a few months before I flew over to travel around the country together.
My husband mentioned during our travels that he wanted to continue his studies abroad, preferably in the USA as education is very good there. I always wanted to move to another country so only a few months after we returned from traveling Down Under, we started the process of moving to the USA.
About a year later, we moved to Durham in North Carolina where my husband studied for four years at Duke University. I worked as a veterinary technician in a local shelter and we submerged ourselves fully into the American culture. After those 4 life-changing years, we left the USA and moved directly to Singapore.”
Why Did You Move to Singapore?
“We simply wanted to explore and experience another part of our planet.
About two years after we moved to the USA, we started talking about new options, just to explore. We couldn’t stay in the USA due to visa regulations and we both didn’t want to go back home.
We started looking for an English-speaking country with decent weather. Singapore came up for the first time back then, but initially I wasn’t impressed. One year later, I started reading about Singapore and I was pleasantly surprised. We had never been there but heard great stories. We were just like, let’s give it a go!”
What Do You Like About Singapore?
“The fact that it is a huge melting pot of cultures. You will have all the western comforts from infrastructure and cleanliness, but on the other hand there are many local traditions from India, Malaysia and China. Every religion or race has its own celebrations and events in which you can participate. I’ve learned so many new things since I moved to Singapore.”
What Do You Dislike About Singapore?
“Singapore is expensive. I mean, there are cheap ways to get around, as the locals do, and you will also adapt to this, but most of the things are expensive.
Especially a fun night out drinking in Singapore will cost you a ton!”
What is Your Favorite Thing to Do in Singapore?
“Eat! Singapore is a culinary capital. I love to try new types of dishes and cuisines. I mean, have you ever had a SG$4 meal in a Michelin Star restaurant?!”
What is Your Favorite Place to Hang Out in Singapore?
“I like to hang out in more local places like the hawker center (a market at which individual vendors sell ready-to-eat food from small booths) in our neighborhood for a few drinks or good food.
In the neighborhood called Tiong Bahru there is a nice hawker center above the daily wet market. I love going to 33 Café there. The owners are so appreciative that you come to their stall for kopi or teh. I like creating a relationship with them. You will hardly see any tourist or other western people at this center, which does attract more attention to you. People will wave or come over to have a small chat.”
What is the Expat / International Community Like in Singapore?
“The expat community in Singapore is huge.
Singapore is one of the best expat countries in the world. It is so easy to get connected with other people from either your home country or international people. There are tons of events and get-togethers.”
Any Tips for Moving to / Living in Singapore?
“If you are (like us) not moving to Singapore on a luxurious expat package and you need to make your own arrangements, I highly recommend getting in contact with a rental agent to view homes when you arrive. It just takes so much stress away. It’s worth the money!
Bring an umbrella for the rain or for the sun haha. And even though it might not feel that way in the beginning, you will get used to the humidity. Even your hair! I promise.”
Any Resources You Found Useful During the Process of Moving to and/or Building a New Life in Singapore?
“Facebook has tons of expat groups. Groups with people from your home country, groups for people who like to explore the city, groups for people who like to have coffee during the day, you name it!
I just added myself to different Facebook groups and joined their events and get-togethers. It’s an easy way to make friends in Singapore but also to gain information. Everyone is happy to help you out.”
Is There Something You Just Have to See or Do When You Are in Singapore?
“The internet is full of the obvious things people have to do like the Marina Bay or Gardens by the Bay. I would say leave that behind for a day and explore Singapore’s nature parks. They are beautiful with lush trees and many species of animals you can spot. You’ll have no idea you are in the middle of the city!”
About Karin – Expat in Singapore
Karin is a Dutch blogger. On her blog Kaat Keeps Going she writes about travels in the form of tips, reviews or itineraries. She also writes about their monthly adventures and about living in Singapore. You can also follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It is a global financial center with a tropical climate and a multicultural population.
Singapore combines the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. Add to this tasty food, numerous shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife scene, and you have found yourself a city that is popular with both travelers and expats.
With a population of just over 5.5 million people, Singapore is a very crowded city, third only to Monaco and Hong Kong as the world’s most densely populated country.
However, unlike many other densely populated countries, Singapore, with over 50% of its area covered by greenery and with more than 50 major parks and 4 nature reserves, is a very liveable city.
- A Local’s Guide to What to See & Do in Singapore
- 6 Reasons Why Moving Abroad is Such a Valuable Experience
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