CITY GUIDE 2017
SETTING UP HOME • INTERIOR DÉCOR • THINGS TO DO
A L L Y O U N E E D T O N A V I G A T E L I F E O N T H E I S L A N D C TY GUIDE
CHOOSING SCHOOLS • HEALTHCARE • DINING ... & MORE!
If you’ve just arrived in Singapore or you’re thinking about moving here, don’t panic! You just need a bit of first-hand knowledge, like the views and tips you’ll read from our City Guide panel of contributors in the pages ahead. If you follow that advice and take our lead on the best businesses and services, you’ll be fine. When I arrived 19 (gulp!) years ago, information was more limited, and there was also nothing like expatliving.sg (our super-helpful website), so we ended up making a few bad buys and a few false starts. A couple of pieces of furniture we bought warped and cracked within months, and we signed the kids up at a very strange preschool, just because it was the closest to our place. Apart from that, though, we knew we loved Singapore from the start, and we obviously still do; we’re also sure that you will love it. It’s a city that changes and upgrades itself regularly, so you can never get bored. Roads, train stations and buildings can suddenly appear, almost overnight. The weather is hot, yes, and your hair will probably frizz (we have solutions for that as well!); but you’ll be able to sit at cool outdoor bars and restaurants and walk home at night without having to worry about any extra layers – even if you get rained on, you know you’ll be warm, all year round! So, enjoy the journey – and remember to keep in touch. Subscribe to our monthly magazine, sign up for our online newsletter, and contact us with any queries on Facebook or at email@example.com.
Now, get exploring!
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21 SINGAPORE HACKS
Your basic survival guide Discover all you need to know about your new home, from some of the challenges facing newcomers and transport options to networking, finding friends and looking for a job.
61 FIND YOUR HOME Navigating the island
The all important question is where to live! Find out more about the various neighbourhoods and housing options, from high-rise apartments to garden homes in the suburbs.
87 DESIGN YOUR SPACE Furniture and interior inspiration Once you’ve found your
perfect property, you’ll want to spruce it up and make it your own. Get interior design tips and furniture shopping recommendations to suit your style and budget.
Choosing a neighbourhood
LEARN & PLAY Education options for kids of every age Schooling in Singapore is world-class, and children get the opportunity to learn in culturally diverse environments with fantastic extra-curricular activities. Learn more about the range of preschools, schools and other educational institutions so you can make the right choice for your child.
The Style Store
#1 FURNITURE &LIGHTING
From playful children’s bunk beds fromMathyByBolsto the range of Flamant furniture,adistinctive European style runs through the store. Lighting options include a range of Fatboy lamps that come in a variety of quirky designs, with somemade for both indoor and outdoor use,perfect for life in Singapore.
You can personalise your sleeping space and commission a custom-madeheadboard andbed frame atHouseofAnLi– particularly useful if you’re strugglingwith amattress that fails to fit intoAsian-sized frames. The store also promises optimalbody support andmaximum comfortwith its latex mattress range.Natural latex ismildew-,mould- and dust- mite-resistant,meaning ahealthiernight’s sleep all round. #4 CUSTOMBEDFRAMES &LATEXMATTRESSES
Europeanhomewares store House ofAnLi has undergone some exciting developments in the past year, including moving to a bigger retail spot in Tanglin Mallat thebeginning of 2017. Not only does the stylish third-floor location offer more room to display its furniture, furnishings and specialist upholstery services, there’seven a bistro at the back! Here are five things to look out for on yournext visit.
#2 BEAUTIFUL DÉCOR
#3 BESPOKEUPHOLSTERY SERVICE
Thedécor itemsonoffer are perfect for whether you’re kitting-out your own home or buying gifts for others. They range from practical pieces, including artisanal French Laguiole cutlery and striking tableware from Portugal, to intricate Belgian tapestries, unique woven baskets and glassware from Gommaire.Youcaneven pamperyourpoochwith a fun pet bed byDutch designersLordLou.
At thebackof the storeyou’ll find theBistro,whichoffersup Belgian-inspired food, including some of owner Anne-Jean Liétaer’sown familyrecipes.The inspirationbehindsettingup thisarea,whichbenefits fromplentyofnatural light thanks to itshugebaywindows,was tooffershoppersabitofrespite. It’s open from9amdailyuntil late,with ahappyhour from5pm till7pm; a separatedinnermenu is also available. #5 BISTRO DINING
There’s now a larger, dedicated area for the linens stocked at House of AnLi,socustomersgetabettersense of thewhole range. “Hereyou’ll find cushions,pillowcovers,curtainsand romanblindsmade from100percent Belgian linen fromLibeco,which the store also uses to upholster sofas, armchairs andmore.”
Interior design hints and tips
HouseofAnLi Interiors #03-17TanglinMall, 163TanglinRoad 62353851 |houseofanli.com
169 HAPPY & HEALTHY
Stay well, inside and out The fact that many people travel to Singapore just to have medical treatment says something about the island’s state-of-the-art hospitals and services. Whether you’re looking for a dentist or fertility advice, there’s expert medical help at hand.
203 RECHARGE & UNWIND Retail therapy and tips for exploring From shopping tips around the island to info
on parks, museums, temples, galleries and other things to see – plus, some ideas for getting away – you’ll find it all in this section.
Food, glorious food!
245 LET’S EAT!
Aswellasbeinga foodparadise,Singapore isaprime spot forretailtherapy.Notsurewheretostart?We’ve done the legworkandcompiled thisgo-toguide for shoppingacross the island.Ready, set, shop! SHOP
BUKITTIMAH Located across the road from Singapore’s picturesqueBotanicGardens,ClunyCourt (501 Bukit Timah Road) offers an eclectic mix of fashion and lifestyle stores amidst a good selection of foodie haunts. Shopping foryourgrowing tweens?Checkoutmulti- label boutique Twelve by Elly (#02-06), where you’ll find trendy clothing designs and accessories for both boys and girls between the ages of six and12.For resort- worthy fashion and accessories, visit The Tui Collection (#02-16), Simone Irani (#02-17) or Lilla Lane (#02-35), or if you’re on the hunt for maternity wear, Mothers enVogue (#02-18) offers a great range of stylish wear for mothers-to-be. Then, end your shopping seshwith awell- deserved, relaxing blowout at one of our favourite salons, The Big Blow (#02-21). Hungry folks can also tuck into avarietyof food options – our toppicks are DaPaolo Gastronomia ’s toasty sandwichesand EGA JuiceClinic ’s (#01-04A)uber-healthy cold pressed juices. DEMPSEYHILL Known forhousingan incredibleselectionof gourmet specialty storesandupscaledining spots, Dempsey Hill is in fact a former British army barracks. Today, this foodie paradise also offers awonderful shopping experience. Pick up a beautiful piece for your home at AsiatiqueCollections (Blk 14A) and WoodyAntiqueHouse (Blk13, #01-05), thenhead to LoewenbyDempsey for apampering spa session at Trimmings & Spa (Blk 75B). If you’re visiting on a Friday, don’t forget to pop by House by Dempsey (Blk8D) for a yummy afternoon tea buffet (3pm to 5.30pm). Surrounded by lush greenery, thepicturesque view and cosy interiorsmake this spot amust-visit!
Hot cafes, restaurants and bars In Singapore, there are some amazing foods to try, from hawker favourites to champagne brunches. Go here for restaurant recommendations, foodie tips and other advice for the curious or just the plain hungry!
CHINATOWN Singapore’s iconic Chinatown attracts flocks of tourists with its pretty and traditional streets. The first thing you’ll notice is themyriad of buzzy bars and eateries housed in conserved shophouses around the area,which encompassesAnn SiangRoad,Club Street,Amoy Street, Gemmill Lane, Cross Street, Erskine Road and Telok AyerStreet.On the fashion forefront,we love Willow& Huxley (20 Amoy Street) for its collection of weather- appropriate dresses from both cult and up-and-coming labels. For weeknight drinks with the girlfriends, take a short walk to speakeasy bar Operation Dagger (7 Ann Siang) or Asian-inspired watering hole Nutmeg &Clove (10AAnn SiangHill). Located a stone’s throw away ismulti-labelboutique Mythology (88ClubStreet), a beautifully-renovated shophouse store that stocks premiumwomen’s apparel and accessories fromAsia.
Discover Singapore’s best shopping spots 222
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SINGAPORE HACKS Your basic survival guide
20 quirky facts about the place we call home
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Tamy Ambarchi moved to Singapore from Australia thirteen years ago with her husband. After some child-free years, Tamy gave birth to three children and recently added a dog to complete their family. She owns her own business importing baby and kid products to the region. In their spare time, the family loves travelling around the Asian region.
We could wax lyrical about the amazing reasons to live in Singapore, but why just take our word for it? Meet our eight expat readers who make up this year’s Panel – their pearls of wisdom and recommendations will be found across the pages of our City Guide.
American-born Cori Weintraub moved here fromAustralia three years ago with her husband and two children. She recently left her role as an HR director and added another baby boy to her brood. With her newfound free time, she has been pursuing photography and travel, and is
on a quest to eat and drink at every restaurant on the island! She hopes to learn as much about different cultures as she can and loves exploring the city. Even after three years, she’s still not used to being hot all of the time.
Naomi Harrison, a business psychologist and coach by trade, moved here from Australia with her husband and two boys with the intention of expanding her company and exposing her kids to different cultures and nationalities.
Nici Schueler ’s love affair with Singapore started five years ago when she moved here with her husband and daughter fromAustralia. She has reinventedherself many times over, from advertising guru to life coach, and is now founder of the popular Facebook support group Seasoned Singapore Expat Wives.
Her expat stint has lasted two years so far, with no end date in sight just yet! Naomi and her husband have both set up companies here, and love the thriving SME environment.
Charmaine Pandya moved here with her husband from London in 2006. She has sincehad twobeautiful childrenand found her life purpose. She is a Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Master Practitioner andHypnotherapist and runs her own practice (charmainenlp.com). She is passionate about helping people to be the best versions of themselves, and turning their stumbling blocks into stepping-stones. She loves Singapore for its diversity, safety and convenience.
Annette Lang fancies herself as Singapore’s a n s w e r t o Nigella Lawson. She moved to the island with her husband in 2002, but
ended up having her two daughters here. Fast-forward 15 years later, and they couldn’t be more in love with the culture, food and convenient and safe lifestyle that the city offers. Nine years ago she founded Expat Kitchen, which offers a range of cooking classes for any level of kitchen skill.
Shivani Mhatre moved here fromNew Zealand as a trailing spouse, leaving behind a banking career. Giving birth soon after she arrived, she started out with no family and zero friends, and social media wasn’t as happening as it is now! Now, after 11 years (and counting), plus two children, she runs the business SoulKids Academy on the East Coast. She thinks Singapore is a very safe, diverse and progressive city and is glad that her kids are learning to embrace different cultures.
*A special thanks to the Seasoned Singapore Expat Wives Facebook group, whose members keenly answered our call for contributors.
Dani Van de Velde moved to Singapore three years ago from Sydney. She teaches meditation in private groups, corporates and schools, and co-hosts Creative Spirit Retreats in Asia that combine meditation and art appreciation. She loves the equatorial jungles, storms and moons, and runs every morning at dawn in the Botanical Gardens. Dani loves Singapore’s openness to all sorts of spiritual frameworks and practices and easy access to ancient sacred sites and modalities all over Asia. Dani’s offerings can be found at themeditationteacher.net.
Our panel members list the things they love most about life in the Little Red Dot – and the things they could frankly do with less of!
We asked our contributors for tips on what to do when you’re planning a move to Singapore or you’ve newly arrived on its shores.
1. Be open to any and all potential friendships. 2. Make a list of things you want to do in Singapore and places you want to travel to, so that you don’t have to squeeze it in right before you’re leaving. 3. Buy a sturdy pair of flip- flops and a lot of moisture- wicking clothing. 4. Explore the wet markets. 5. Don’t live in an expat bubble; interact with local people and places too.
1. Be prepared for high costs, and plan your spending better – especially if you have kids. 2. Distances are not as great as in many of the cities expats come from, so don’t let that be a barrier in your school or house hunting. 3. Don’t invest in a car or helper unless you absolutely need it. The public transport is fantastic so it’s good to see how it pans out for you first. Cars are a huge cost and you can save a lot by avoiding using one. 4. Plan your leave well as there are so many destinations to explore from Changi. 5. Try to avoid an influx of visitors in your first six months or so; instead, dedicate time for you and your family to adapt to life here.
1. Don’t be offended if people call you “auntie” or “uncle”; you’re not old – they are being respectful! 2. For trailing spouses looking for jobs: network, network, network. 3. Join the Singapore Facebook groups. There’s a wealth of advice there – I wish I’d known about them when I got here. 4. Hire a helper. Even if you are used to doing everything on your own, being an expat means you don’t have family around or a support network. It makes life much, much easier. 5. Be prepared for frizzy hair.
1. Enjoy yourself. 2. Get active. 3. Be open to new experiences. 4. Take on any new challenges with a positive attitude. 5. Embrace where you are geographically.
1. Live in an area in a serviced apartment first to try it out and see if you like it. 2. Be open to meeting new people. 3. Get to know the Facebook groups available to expats. 4. Buy the Lonely Planet guide to Singapore and try a new thing every week. 5. Set goals: whatwouldyou like to get out of your Singapore experience personally and professionally? home country (e.g., beef, lamb and mega blocks of cheese from Australia!). 4. Carry water with you at all times. 5. Set up bank accounts before you arrive if you can – it can be tricky here. 1. Shop at the wet markets for fruit and vegetables – they’re incredibly fresh and cheap. 3. If you have young kids, always carry sunblock, swimmers and a small towel for swimming opportunities. 1. Bring food back from your
1. Get a helper. Just do it! 2. Transfer your license within 12 months, even if you think you won’t drive. 3. Put yourself out there to make friends. Your chances of rejection are zero! 4. Know that all summer clothes aren’t stocked in stores from November to January. 5. Surrender to the high prices; it’s just the way of life here.
1. Take courses and seek out experiences to develop skills you’ve not been able to make time for. Singapore has so much to offer for the creative, health-conscious, caring and spiritual. 2. Seek out green spaces across the island; the nature reserves, reservoirs and small surrounding islands are beautiful and help rebalance mind and body from the daily rat race. 3. Get networking. Join groups on social media and in real life for expat women; they’re an invaluable source of information and referrals and everyone is generally happy to connect you to the right people. 4. Make a list of places to visit across the region and pre-plan each holiday and long weekend. Time flies on the equator and there are so many hidden gems to be explored, many of which are accessible and life changing. 5. Take a city tour. There are some great guides, and a lot to learn and experience right under our noses.
BANKING, PHONE AND OTHER ACCOUNTS Is it easy setting up a bank account or aphoneor internet contract in Singapore? Our panel members discuss what they might have done differently with hindsight.
HOW DO I GET MY TV FIX?
It was easy to set up, but we did all the administration from Australia. The only thing I would have done differently is choose StarHub because the range of channels is bigger. – Naomi Our leasing agent was fantastic. He sorted out all the contacts and the process was relatively easy. Use Facebook for advice on the service providers that best match your needs. – Dani It’s easy if you’re on an Employment Pass, but not if you’re on a Dependant’s Pass. We tried to set up bank accounts before we moved here, and it was a nightmare; I would have opened an account with a local bank sooner; it took me a few months to realise that it’s really necessary here. I got a phone through my work, so that was easy. – Cori It was simple, but everything needed to be done through my husband because I was on a Dependant’s Pass; this included bank accounts, internet and phone lines. As we’re PR now, this has changed. – Tamy We were lucky to have a dedicated person to orientate and assist us as part of our expat contract when we arrived. Having said that, for an expat wife or dependant, it can be frustrating not being able to do it all yourself. It’s also best to check which banks have easy remittance options between your home country and Singapore. – Shivani
While there’s plenty to explore in Singapore, you’ll also crave some downtime now and again. Here’s where our panel members turn for their small- screen entertainment. We use Netflix and iTunes for our TV and entertainment fix. – Charmaine For local cable, we use SingTel. We’re not much of a TV family. The kids are happy with a few favourite channels or YouTube. We use Netflix only if time permits. – Shivani I watch movies on Netflix; I don’t watch much TV. – Dani We have SingTel. I love watching Channel News Asia because there are so many great documentaries about Asia and I enjoy the news reports. – Naomi
Easy Apps From food delivery to navigating public transport, theseuseful appsareguaranteed to make settling into Singapore that much easier! Here are our recommendations.
iChangi: Up-to-date flight arrival and departure info so you’ll never
be too early to the airport again.
Singapore Checkpoint Traffic: Great if you live over the border, this app shows the traffic situation at the links between Singapore and Malaysia. SG Traffic News: A fast news app with traffic info on accidents and jams that might affect your drive.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT SG Buses: Locate your next bus when you’re feeling
impatient, or identify buses and routes if you’re lost, with this user-friendly app.
Singapore MRT Map: This app provides simple access to Singapore’s most updated MRT and LRT maps.
Carousell: An active marketplace for buying and selling second-hand products, from tech and gadgets to designer handbags. Addictive! Zalora: Browse and shop hundreds of local and international brands on the go, with free delivery in Singapore. Lazada: Shop thousands of products across health, beauty, home, living, electronics and more. Shopee: Another popular app for buying and selling using your phone; good for bargains and deals. Gumtree SG: Singapore’s versionof the free classifieds site; connect with local buyers and sellers and post ads yourself.
EZ-Link: This new app monitors your EZ-Link
transactions over the past three months, and highlights available discounts.
TAXI ComfortDelGro: Easily book a taxi with Singapore’s
best-known cab companies: Comfort and City Cab.
G r a bTa x i : Ge t a n estimated fare and full
details of your taxi driver, and rate the journey afterwards, if you like.
Uber: Request a private driver, compare rates for
different vehicles, and register your PayPal or credit card so you can go cashless.
SMRT: Yes, it’s another taxi booking app, but it’s
good to have several of these in case one is busy and you’re in a hurry.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS
JOBS FastJobs JobsDB Jobstreet
Deliveroo: Get food delivered to your door from local restaurants in a flash: just type in your postcode to see what’s available.
These job-listing apps have various filters such as job function, industry and salary so you can match your ideal role. NAVIGATION Gothere: An idiot-proof transport guide that helps you work out the best route to get from one spot to another. Singapore City Guide: Created by TripAdvisor, this app helps you navigate Singers – great for newbies, and no need for a live data connection. MyTransportSingapore: A transportation guide with bus routes, arrival times, taxi stands, live traffic updates and parking lot availability. Carpark SG: Compare car parking rates in the city, plus the number of available spots and more.
APPY DAYS! We asked panel members to name the apps they consider essential for Singapore living and they came back with a whole range of interesting and informative suggestions. Here are just 10 that received special mention: • Chope ( “G r e a t f o r restaurants and bookings! – Naomi) • Changi Airport app • iHerb (“Brilliant for health supplements and super foods. Cheaper than in Singapore and delivery is quick.” – Charmaine) • Gothere.sg (“A life-saver when I was learning my way around the island.” – Dani) Plenty of other taxi booking and transport apps were namedbythepanel,including Uber , ComfortDelGro , Next Ride , SG Buses , and MyTransport . Also on the list were online grocery shopping app RedMart , foodand restaurant guide Burpple , medical info portal HealthBuddy , banking apps from DBS , alternative accommodation provider Airbnb , and XE Currency for checking money conversion rates on the go. • Eat Play Live • Entertainer • Deliveroo • UberEats • HAZE app • Honestbee (“Good for online shopping” – Annette)
UberEats: Partneredwith lots of local restaurants, UberEats delivers from eateries within Foodpanda: Another of the island’s popular food ordering apps that puts an array of Chope: Make instant online reservations at your favourite restaurants, and check prices, Burpple: Get clued up on the newest and hottest eateries in town, and read honest reviews
your postcode range.
menus right at your fingertips.
menus and recommended dishes.
from fellow users.
RedMart: Get fresh food, pantry goods, specialty products or home care necessities delivered to your door when you’re strapped for time!
Openrice: A dining guide containing hundreds of restaurant listings, plus weekly
and monthly promotions.
PROPERTY & BUSINESS PropertyGuru
FUN & LEISURE
Happy Hours Singapore: Immediately locate bars in your proximity and find out current discounts, along with ratings and comments. Culture Explorer: Snap a picture of cool landmarks with your phone, and this app will name and show you other things to see in the area. Hosay!: Brush up on your Singlish (Singapore English) so you can order your kopi in a thick local accent.
iProperty: Search for all types of property in Singapore and filter by price, area and number of rooms to see what’s available. Singapore (SG) Stocks: This easy-to-use app allows you to see stock activities, company exchanges and more. Dash Singapore: Why withdraw cash from banks to your wallet? Store money in the app instead andmake transactions on the go.
Many new arrivals to Singapore will have their hands full with family responsibilities from day one; others may have different plans in place about how they’ll spend thei r t ime in thi s part of the wor ld – f rom t rave l l i ng t o vo l un t e e r i ng , for example. There are those, however, who wi l l a l ready be considering the important job-related questions we’ve set out below.
“Is it easy to start my own business in Singapore?”
Many expats come to Singapore with a host of fresh business ideas; others discover an entrepreneurial streak once they’ve settled in. So if you do have a great business idea, how do you turn it into a real-life proposition? First you’ll need to apply for an EntrePass through the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). This involves writing a detailed business plan and financial projections; plus, your business needs to meet certain requirements (see mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/entrepass/ eligibility). The application fee is $70, and successful applicants are issued an Approval-in-Principle letter within six weeks. The business must also be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) as a private limited company with at least $50,000 in paid-up capital. This can be done simply online using a SingPass (apply at singpass.gov.sg). Fees for registering a company are $15 for the name application and $300 to incorporate the company. The registration is usually approved within 15 minutes for online applications. Useful websites Ministry of Manpower: mom.gov.sg Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority: acra.gov.sg Singapore Personal Access (SingPass): singpass.gov.sg Entrepreneur’s Resource Centre: erc.com.sg EnterpriseOne: entrerpriseone.gov.sg International Enterprise (IE) Singapore: iesingapore.com Economic Development Board: edb.gov.sg Money Matters for Expats: moneymatters.com.sg
“How can I go about getting employed?”
If you’re accompanying your spouse or partner on a posting, one of the biggest decisions you will make is whether or not to work here. You might decide to further your present career or perhaps to explore something new. English teachers, for example, are in perennial demand, and a short course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) can start you on that path. Conversely, recent changes in employment laws with an emphasis on hiring local Singaporeans might mean that your skills are in less demand than they were at home. Search firms, online sources, classifieds and expat associations can all be helpful when it comes to finding work, although many jobs are found through networking. The AmericanAssociation’s Career Resource Center for Expatriates (CRCE) is particularly useful, offering advice on resumes, workshops, and career counselling.
1 Make sure your resume is up-to-date, and tailor your references to suit the job you’re going for. These should reassure the hiring manager that you truly have the right skills for the role. 2 Make sure you have all your official documents including birth certificates, personal identification and university transcripts at the ready. Singapore- based employers will likely ask for these and you may need to provide original copies. 3 Put together a portfolio showcasing your relevant skills and experience. This can be hard copy, digital or on a website. 4 Find out which recruiters are specialists in your field and go straight to them. Seewhich company is posting jobs you’re interested in and call them. You’ll have a much better chance of breaking through the noise if they’ve met you and identified you as suitable talent. 5 Get out and start networking. Many expats find jobs through their networks rather than applying for jobs blindly. 6 Be realistic about your salary. Remember that Singapore’s low tax rate will often offset a lower base salary. 7 Spend time searching for a job every day until you get one. Searching can be a full-time job in itself. Stay determined and active. 8 Attend interviews, even if you’re not 100 percent sure you want the position. Many companies can create roles for the right person, but they have to meet you first. 9 Don’t be surprised if you’re asked personal questions, including your religion and whether you have children, at interviews. 10 It’s common to be asked to submit a photograph with your resume.
LOOKING FORWORK What do our contributors wish they’d known about the process of job- hunting when they first arrived? Find out below.
When I first arrived, I was lucky enough to find a job relatively quickly, and I stayed in that role for several years before having children. After that, I found part- time work through contacts, and now I’ve set up my own business. Singapore is a place that enables you to reinvent your career if you want to. – Tamy Being on a Dependant’s Pass when I arrived, I didn’t feel like I had many options. I wish I’d done a bit more research and used my negotiation skills better. I lost a great job to a Singaporean as there was enough supply of talent and skill in my field, but it could be a different story for your area of expertise. Don’t assume that just because you’re an expat wife you have to settle for a low offer; there’s no harm in attempting negotiations. Keep your options open, and apply to industries outside your own. Also, Singapore is a very business-friendly. There are rules and systems in place to set up, but there are also many support platforms and networks to lean on, too. – Shivani I started my own business, so I work full time. If I was looking, though, I would check with associations like ANZA or the AWA. – Annette When I moved here, I was looking for a job in media and I found that quite challenging. I wish I’d known about the many Facebook support groups back then, as they would have provided me with the opportunities to network and learn about my options. I’ve since learnt that the best way to find a job here is through networking and building proper relationships. Actually, I’m grateful for not having found that job as it made me discover what I was truly passionate about, which ultimately ledme to reinvent myself and start a new journey. As Steve Jobs famously said, you cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. – Charmaine It’s not easy to find a job, but don’t give up. Find a way or find another way. Be brave and do something completely different. – Nici
I set up my company here, so I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but I was looking for clients. I wish I’d asked more questions and for more advice about the local market when I first started, so I could have tailoredmy offerings better. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most of the time, people are happy to help or give advice. – Naomi I set up a sole proprietorship three years ago, and found the process very easy. The key is to be clear on all the documentation required and stick to it to the letter. A friend of mine who had been running her own sole proprietorship for years took me through the process and gaveme drafts of the letters required so I could get the wording right. The ACRA and MOM websites are fantastic for outlining all the options and steps. It also helps to ask someone who has done it first. – Dani I transferred herewithmy company, so I didn’t have to find a job. After about a year, I left that company and had a baby. Then a friend reached out tomewith a part-time HR role, whichwas lucky. Recruiters and job websites here aren’t very expat-friendly, so I find it’s best to apply directly on companies’ websites. – Cori
“What do I need to know about visas and passes when it comes to working?” • The Fair Consideration Framework allows affirmative discrimination and employers are required to consider Singaporeans fairly before hiring Employment Pass (EP) holders. • A quota system regulates the ratio of foreign and local workers in the workplace. • Dependant’s Pass holders are entitled to work once they have a Letter of Consent, which their employer can apply for. It’s a relatively straightforward process and applications are generally processed quickly by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). • While it’s not impossible, those on visitor passes hoping to apply for EPs may find it more of a struggle to get a job. • For a preliminary indication of the likelihood of obtaining an EP or S Pass, use the online Self-Assessment Tool prior to submitting the application. • New and noteworthy: From 2014, the MOM has placed a strong emphasis on the quality of the educational qualifications and institutions that the applicant has attended when assessing applications.
Useful websites CRCE | aasingapore.com/about-crce Mums@Work | mumsatwork.net Careermums | careermums.com.sg PrimeTime | primetime.org.sg Athena | theathenanetwork.com.sg ANZA Career Centre | anza.org.sg LinkedIn | Many successful job-seekers suggest connecting directly with potential employers | sg.linkedin.com Lean In Circle | facilitated group-coaching sessions focusing on career support and development for women | synovations.com Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations | scwo.org.sg Women seeking a job or developing a business can meet and network at professional associations, including The Athena Network and PrimeTime. The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) is a national coordinating body of women’s organisations and groups in Singapore that acts on their behalf. “Are there any helpful associations, organisations or websites?”
Associations Associations are an excellent starting point when you’re new to Singapore, and they offer a host of support services. They are generally linked to nationalities, although citizens of any country can join. Attending a newcomer event is an excellent way to meet people and get involved in the community. Associations offer many of the same social benefits found at clubs, without the expensivemembership fees. A low annual fee is usually charged and may include a monthly magazine that will keep you up to date with social activities. Groups like the American Association of Singapore (AAS), the British Association (BA), and the Australian and New Zealand Association (ANZA) organise sports leagues and regular meetings, outings, charity events, book clubs and social gatherings. Women’s organisations include t h e Am e r i c a n Wom e n ’s Association (AWA), Scandinavian Women’s Association, Italian Women’s Group, IndianWomen’s Association and Spanish- Speaking Women’s Association.
Social and Sporting Clubs Clubs can provide an instant network and are another way of meeting more expats. Most social clubs offer facilities including pools, gyms, restaurants, youth camps and classes. Likewise, sporting clubs, such as the Singapore Polo Club, are an excellent way to meet friends with similar interests. Clubs can be expensive, so try to meet current members and ask about the facilities. Also, do some comparisons of locations, membership rules and prices. The British Club, Hollandse Club and American Club are just a few of the popular clubs in Singapore. University Alumni Another way of meeting people with whom you will instantly have something in common is through your university alumni association – log on to your university’s website to find out more.
DON’TMISS OURMONTHLY EVENTS! Join us every month where we host exciting workshops and talks in a casual setting, including wine evenings. It’s your chance to meet like-minded people and make new friends!
RSVP at www.expatliving.sg/events
If you’re looking for new friends, new experiences and enjoyable ways to fill some free time, becoming a member of one of Singapore’s clubs is highly recommended. The British Club is among the most popular organisations of its kind on the island. JointheClub!
Located atop one of Singapore’s highest peaks, The British Club is a hilltop retreat with views of the cityscape and beyond. Particularly noteworthy is its wide range of first-class sports facilities and amenities, including a state-of-the-art gymnasium, squash and tennis courts, an in-house spa, and Olympic- sized and leisure swimming pools incuding a fun waterslide for kids. What’s more, there’s a complimentary shuttle service to and from the Sixth Avenue MRT station. You’ll also find a library situated within the main building, where members can browse through magazines and books. And, if you happen to get hungry, there are plenty of food choices available within the four restaurants. Live bands play every Friday and Saturday at The Windsor Arms, the Club’s own gastro-pub restaurant. There are also comedy nights, bingo games and quiz nights – something for everyone. Aside from being an accessible location for people to unwind, dine and be entertained, The British Club provides excellent networking opportunities and exclusive member benefits. No great surprise, then, that it was awarded “Leadership in Customer Focus” by the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore in 2014 and, most recently, Best Private Club 2017 in the APAC Insider’s Singapore Business Awards.
The British Club has over 2,500 members, with a cosmopolitan mix of 51 percent British, 24 percent S i ng a po r e a n s a nd more than 50 other nationalities.
73 Bukit Tinggi Road 6410 1100 | britishclub.org.sg
From a massive new airport terminal to LCD screens on trains, driverless buses and work underway on the island’s 11th major highway, we find out what’s new and notable in Singapore’s much-lauded and world-class transport system.
• With a planned capacity of 16 million passengers a year, Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 is set to open in the second half of 2017. • There will be more than 80 retail outlets in the new Terminal 4, including Moleskine and Pazzion. • The new Terminal 4 will be the first in Singapore to have multiple biometric features as part of plans to enhance border security. These include fingerprint, iris and facial scanning. • Set to open in early 2019, Changi Airport’s lifestyle and retail complex Jewel will boast a range of facilities such as indoor gardens, leisure facilities as well as retail and dining. • New technologies are being tested for greater productivity and efficiency at the airport, including the use of robots and smart vehicles for manpower- intensive tasks such as food preparation and transportation. • In June 2016, Changi Airport underwent trials for new security screening technologies to improve efficiency at screening points. They include new computed tomography (CT) security screenings, automated tray return systems and enhanced body screening. • Plans are underway for Terminal 5 to open midway through the 2020s; the terminal will be bigger than T1, T2 and T3 combined, and will help Changi Airport serve up to 140 million passengers each year. • A new Passenger Terminal will be built at Seletar Airport to free up capacity for jet aircraft operations at Changi Airport. When it’s ready by the end of 2018, turboprop aircraft operations will be shifted there from Changi.
PLANES Whether you’re arriving in Singapore for the first time, or you’re an old hand who comes and goes frequently, it’s likely you’ve been impressed at the facilities and operations at Changi Airport – in fact, you really hear a bad word spoken about it. Changi efficiently deals with over 100 airlines flying from 380 cities in about 90 countries and territories around the world. In 2016, almost 7,000 flights landed or departed each week, and more than 58.7 million passengers passed through the airport. It’s little wonder that in March 2017, the airport was voted World’s Best for the fifth year in a row in the renowned Skytrax awards.
TRAINS The MRT and LRT (Light Rail Transit) system is Singapore’s efficient train network, offering reliable and cost-effective transport through the city and suburbs in a pleasant, safe and air- conditioned environment. • SMRT andNanyang Technological University set up a $60 million joint lab in May 2016 to develop solutions to build a more resilient and reliable rail system. • The Tuas West Extension (TWE) officially opened on 18 June 2017, improving the connectivity in the Jurong and Tuas area. It extended the existing Joo Koon station with four stations: Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link. • The first of 57 new trains on the North-South and East-West lines have been equipped with LCD displays of both route and station information to improve commuter navigation. The screens will also include information about landmarks in the area. There are also clearermarkings for wheelchair areas and the trains are operating with energy-saving LED lights. The trains are also fitted with new signalling systems, which allows them to run 100 seconds instead of 120 seconds apart. • The Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is under construction and commuters can expect to use stages of the line from2019. With 31 new stations, the locations along the new rail network include Marine Parade, Havelock and Springleaf.
• As of January 2016, 760 buses had been added into the network under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP). • Singapore’s latest bus operator, Tower Transit, officially launched in May 2016, offering nine services. • Plans are afoot for adding more new bus services in areas including Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Hougang, Sengkang, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Tuas, Whampoa and Yishun. • SMRT has launched a single-deck, three-door bus as part of a six-month trial to see if it improves commuter flow. The bus can carry 90 passengers and has space for one wheelchair. There is a standing corner at the back of the bus and information panels featuring the next bus stops. • Driverless buses could hit the roads by 2020 as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and ST Kinetics have begun developing and testing. The buses will be equipped with GPS devices and scanners. Editors’ tips: EZ-Link card tips • Purchase cards and top them up at 7-Eleven shops, some ATMs, post offices, MRT passenger service desks, ticketing machines in MRT stations and online at ezlink.com.sg. • If you have more than one EZ-Link card, make sure you use the same one for both entry and exit when on the bus or train. Don’t forget to tap in and out on the bus. • Your card can be used in a multitude of retail outlets and venues, including Cold Storage, Spinelli Coffee Company and the Singapore Science Centre. BUSES Singapore’s bus system is safe, comfortable, affordable and reliable – better than in many major cities around the world. Some two million bus rides are taken each day on the island, across 300 different services. To help you navigate your way around the city on the bus, use one of the apps we’ve highlighted on page 32.
THOUGHTS ON TRANSPORT
While quite a few of our panellists drive in Singapore, they all have similar opinions of the public transport system. Clean, easy, reliable and cheap. – Annette The MRT system is excellent – so efficient and clean! – Tamy Aside from sporadic delays, in general it’s reliable and timely, and it keeps getting better as more lines are introduced. It’s also cleaner that train systems I’ve used in other cities. – Shivani We haven’t had a station near us for a few years, but I love the MRT; it’s clean and reliable. – Naomi It’s excellent – clean, efficient and reliable. Get an EZ-Link pass and get your bearings on buses. – Dani Buses and trains run on time, stations are easy to navigate, and there are useful apps for checking routes and arrival times. – Cori Though I rarely use it, I’m a fan; it’s efficient and clean. – Nici I’ve not really used Singapore’s public transport because taxis are convenient and reasonably priced. It’s only difficult getting one when it’s raining or they’re changing shift. – Charmaine
TAXIS Most busy areas have a taxi stand, or you can walk out to a main road and flag one down – except in the CBD where this is illegal. During peak hours, or when it’s pouring with rain, it’s best to call a taxi on the phone – it’s worth the call-out fee.
• Base fare for travelling in a standard taxi (for example, Comfort or CityCab) ranges from $3.20 to $3.90 • During peak hours (Monday to Friday, 6am to 9.30am, and Monday to Sunday, 6pm to midnight), passengers pay an additional 25 percent of the metered fare; and between midnight and 6am, they pay an additional 50 percent. • Call-out charges are $2.30 during non-peak hours and $3.30 during peak hours, while advanced bookings (at least half an hour) are $8. • Expect to pay around $12 for a 10-kilometre off-peak trip. • ERP charges incurred during the trip are chargeable, and there is a CBD surcharge of $3. • Fares can be paid in cash – smaller denominations are preferred – or by credit card. Some taxis also accept NETS and EZ-Link cards. • Although taxi drivers speak English, differences in accents can occasionally cause confusion. • Besides taxis, private companies like Uber and Grab are also available island-wide.
CARS Buying a car inSingapore could be one of the most confusing and frustrating things you ever do. The first thing you need to get to grips with is a few acronyms that you will see here time and time again. OMV –OpenMarket Value: this is roughly the base value of the car at the time of import. Singapore Customs places an OMV on each vehicle, and this determines many of the additional taxes. ARF–Additional Registration Fee: On top of the $140 basic Registration Fee (RF), you also have to pay an ARF, which is 100 percent of the OMV and upward (the higher the OMV, the higher the ARF), plus a 20 percent excise duty. In addition, you need to pay a seven-percent Goods and Services Tax (GST), and road tax. Road tax is reduced if you purchase a hybrid or electric car, or a car that runs on natural gas.
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