In this day and age of information overload, it seems that all necessary information about the bustling business capital of Asia is easily available online. Having lived in Singapore for a few years I often look back and wonder “why didn’t I know that sooner?”. The information might be out there but it takes years of living in Singapore to know what to look for. Here are a couple of things that come to my mind when I think about moving to Singapore:
To ship or not to ship?
Many expats face this question. Should we ship our furniture? What should we stock up on? What brands of our goods are available in Singapore? Is it much more expensive? What meds are available over the counter? Expats that have their moving costs covered by their employer always try to make the best of it and pack as much as they are allowed but this strategy may not always make sense. E.g. little did I know that bed sizes in Singapore are different from the US so there’s no point bringing those sheets if you aren’t shipping your bed as well.
Do I need a real estate agent?
There are lots of very conflicting information online about agent commission and that’s why many incoming expats decide not to get one and save on commission fees. Generally, a landlord pays the commission and you don’t have to pay a cent to the agent. But be reminded, if you run into any conflicting issues, the agents represent the landlord so they will be on the landlord’s side. Having a good agent will save you a lot of time, money and unnecessary stress. They will maximize your viewings schedule, find hidden gem properties, negotiate on tenancy agreement terms and be there when you get locked out of your house on a Sunday to get new keys done. That said, finding a good agent is akin to hiring a good assistant, be prepared for some hits and misses so call on some friends for referrals!
Prepaid or postpaid phone plans?
At first, it seems that there is a very limited choice when it comes to your phone connection. While it is very common to buy your phone with a 2-year contract in the USA or other countries, in Singapore you can buy your phone separately (which is cheaper in the end) and decide on your SIM card plan independently. Even if you buy your phone with your long-term plan, your phone won’t be locked and you can use it with any other sim card. There are few plans out there now that don’t require a long-term plan while still enjoying all the perks such as good data plan. So don’t rush into signing up for 1-2 year plan until you know your options.
Help me, please!
Having a live-in help is a rather affordable luxury in Singapore. But until you go through the process of getting one, it is hard to know what to look out for when getting a helper and all the legal processes that you need to keep in mind. E.g. you don’t have to use agency services if you don’t want to and save on the fees. But be sure to follow the government’s checklist on what you have to do by law.
What’s for dinner?
Singaporean’s favourite past time is eating out and with the abundant food options it can be cheaper to dine out than to whip up your own meal. Be warned that grocery shopping in Singapore is pretty expensive largely because almost everything has to be shipped in from far and wide. In general, your grocery options are supermarkets, wet markets, online food stores and speciality stores. You could step into a larger supermarket to get a variety of essentials but if you are particular, you will likely take several trips to several places. Having good advice on this will save a lot of time, stress and money!
Welcome to your Singapore adventure!