is a small island nation -- but has all the comforts of a
big American city -- on the surface. Just lurking underneath
is an exciting mix of China, India and Malaysia. Almost everyone
speaks English - so getting around is easy. The MRT (mass
transit underground rail) is clean, efficient and extremely
simple to figure out. Taxi's are extremely plentiful - except
at typical rush hour and rain storm times.
There are plenty of relocation companies that make moving to Singapore
easy. Most of these companies are hired by large ex-pat organizations
to help in the process. They can help you with everything from finding
a place to live, helping with selection of schools for your children,
finding a grocery store, starting your bank account, moving in and hanging
your pictures on the wall or finding an amah (maid) for your new place.
Even if you're new employer doesn't spring for a relocation company -
moving to Singapore is still not too intimidating. Most companies will
help and hook you up with a realtor. This person can be your best friend
when you move. Be sure to give them a good idea of your families requirements
-- number of bedrooms, budget and such. Their job is to help you with
location. Depending on your budget, you can rent just about anything in
Singapore -- from a beautiful, old "black and white" colonial house with
yard to a high-rise penthouse on Orchard Road.
Renting in Singapore is very different from the states. Everything about
your new home is negotiable. If you've found the perfect place, but would
rather have weed floors than carpeting, just ask your realtor to negotiate
that point. If you would prefer different cabinets in the kitchen, that
could be negotiable as well. Especially now, in the slow rental market
in Singapore, owners of apartments can be extremely flexible.
Just as a starting point - for a four bedroom apartment, 3,000 square
feet, prices can range from $6,500SGD up to $12,000SGD per month. The
big discrepancy will be the type of building - big and brand new or older
and well used. Location plays a big part in the pricing, just as it does
in the states. The prices quoted will rent you a place in the heart of
it all - close to Orchard Road. If you have a car and choose to live farther
out, prices can drop considerably. It's quite easy to find a lovely 3
bedroom apartment about 15 minutes out of downtown for about $3,000SGD
- $4,000SGD. Just keep in mind your most important requirements. Is it
square footage, yard space to run around in or location?
Regarding transportation -- owning a car can be cost prohibitive in Singapore.
Because it is just a small island, the government is doing everything
possible to curb car usage. Not only are automobiles expensive, but you
also must pay a C.O.E. (certificate of entitlement) cost on top of the
car price that can triple to price of your car! A brand new small Toyota
could cost you up to $160,000SGD. It is not possible to bring in your
car to Singapore, especially if it is left hand drive. It's best to try
and negotiate the use of a car from your company if you feel you need
car? Not too worry -- the transportation system in Singapore
is easy - and you can even arrange standing pick up times
for taxis. This probably won't work for most chef-type folks,
since your hours can be erratic -- but that may work in your
favor because your hours can definitely be off-peak!
Schools for your children are plentiful in Singapore. While ex-pat children
cannot attend national Singapore schools, there are plenty of choices
when it comes to schooling. There is a very large school; the Singapore
American School - located on the north side of the island. This school
is huge and has all the amenities of some of the finer universities back
home! If you choose to keep your children on the American School system
track, this could be your choice - whether elementary or high school education.
English education is well represented in Singapore with a variety of choices
that follow the British National Curriculum. Tanglin Trust is a good choice.
There are also quite a few very nice International Schools - Overseas
Family School, International School of Singapore and the United World
Cost for schools can range from $8-10,000 USD per year - depending on
the school and the age of your child.
Author: Kelli Nogle