British Expat Living in Singapore - Interview with ispyprettyplaces

Published: 15 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Singapore
Hi I'm ispyprettyplaces, found and owner of the ispyprettyplaces blog. Since the age of 11 I've been an expat living in 4 different countries. I caught the travel bug pretty early in life and so spend as much free time as possible discovering beautiful places on our Earth. My blog is part travel blog part expat blog, unravelling the trials and tribulations of being an expat in an ever increasing international world. ispyprettyplaces's expat blog is called I spy pretty places (see listing here)

Supertree Grove at Gardens By the Bay
Supertree Grove at Gardens By the Bay

Here's the interview with ispyprettyplaces...

Where are you originally from?
I was born in London, England

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living in Singapore now.

How long have you lived in Singapore and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived here for 8 months. I would love to stay longer but sadly I think we might be leaving in the summer.

China Town
China Town
Why did you move to Singapore and what do you do?
We moved here for hope of a better quality of life and more job prospects for my husband. I am a teacher and secured work as a pre-school teacher here.

Did you bring family with you?
Just my husband and I. We have no kids or pets.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We didn't get much support from our employment but we had a lot of help from other expats. Fellow colleagues and friends that we already knew who were out here. Expats are very helpful out here. Life here is generally the same as in London. I think of it as tropical London. So a fairly easy transition I suppose. Banks and agencies are efficient and easy to deal with as they all speak English.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It's not as easy as I had imagined it would be. Living in London the attitude was very much, the more the merrier. Here we haven't found that as much. I wonder if this is more to do with long working hours and the expense of things here. That being said, people are friendly. It is just harder to make that step towards friendship from acquaintance. We had friends here so it's been a bit easier meeting people. Our friends are expats though as local Singaporeans tend to keep to themselves.

Little India
Little India
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
We really like walking around Esplanade and the marina bay area. It's relaxing, beautiful and it never seems to get too crowded either. The supertree grove garden rhapsody at gardens by the bay is amazing and free. But Singapore is known for it's fantastic food scene so hitting up China town, little India and hawkers are a must here.

What do you enjoy most about living in Singapore?
I love having a pool at my disposal. Although the weather isn't always fantastic it is nice to know I can just relax at home by the pool. I love how clean it is and how cheap taxis are. The public transport system is good but if you don't live central it can take a while to get around. I also love the wide range of food available here. And of course the location in South East Asia. It is so easy to go somewhere new even just for a weekend.

How does the cost of living in Singapore compare to home?
Cost of living is ridiculously expensive here. Everyone says cost of living in the UK or London is super expensive but I could afford to have more of a life in London than I do here. Salaries aren't necessarily adjusted to absorb the cost of living and while tax may be very low, the cost makes up for it. Alcohol is horrendously overpriced. Housing is overpriced for the space you get. Even at the grocery store basics cost a lot. If you have kids expect to pay through the roof for international school fees. Fewer companies are absorbing that cost for expats these days.

East Coast Park beach
East Coast Park beach
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Singapore?
The main negative is the cost of living and the long work hours. As I've outlined in the above question, things are ridiculously expensive. Add to that long working hours and doing the job of two or three people without a pay raise and you may question why you came here. I have had a lot of friends who have been asked to do more work with only the offer of a title promotion that certainly wasn't worth taking on the extra load.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Singapore, what would it be?
Make sure your company pays for as much as possible and get it in writing. Including healthcare and more than just basic healthcare. Really do your research as to whether it would be worth it. Look into what your working hours will be like. Healthcare and school fees is not something you want to be paying out of pocket for (something we found out the hard way).

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Finding work for my husband and finding a better job for myself. When people say it is really hard to find a job in Singapore they aren't kidding. Singapore doesn't follow the same rules as other places for applying and hiring it seems. Although there are job sites, some of the posts are old and there is rarely follow up. The expectation is on the expat to search, socialise, network, meet in person, give out business cards etc to find work. Most people say it can take someone about 8-10 months to find work here. The job situation is one of the reasons we may have to leave in the summer.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Honestly, despite it's flaws I love living here so repatriation will be difficult. Difficult to give up a lifestyle of having Asia and beautiful islands on my doorstep. I think the answer to this question, is that there will be mixed feelings with an adjustment period of post-travel blues.

Marina Bay Sands at night
Marina Bay Sands at night
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your research into everything, cost of living, healthcare, weather, dangers, creepy crawlies, tax, average salary, cost of transport etc
  2. Get connected on expat forums and meet up groups to meet people from your home country. They will be a great asset and with luck you can find a good support system.
  3. Enjoy the experience of being in a new country because it won't be forever. Be a tourist in your new country. Explore. Talk to locals. Learn
  4. Make your home yours. Don't treat it as temporary despite the fact that it might be. Put up photos. Make it cosy.
  5. Find ways to enjoy your home treats and comforts. Be it routines you had at home or favourite food, favourite tea bags! Whatever it is. The small things count and will mean the world when you are having one of those days where you ask yourself 'what the hell have you done'.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
In my expat blog I talk about my own revelations about being an expat. The challenges and the good things. I try to give some practical advice but I also try to dispel some of the myths floating around about expat life. I'm a third culture kid as well so I try to share that experience and how it affects my life as an expat or living overseas.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me via the contact form on my blog, via twitter, facebook @Ispyprettyplaces or instagram @ispyprettyplaces

About the author

Expat Blog Listingispyprettyplaces is a British expat living in Singapore. Blog description: An expat travel blog of musing of life as an expat, travel opportunities, lifestyle changes due to being an expat and issues concerning third culture kids or TCKA
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