City Guide 2016





Welcome to Singapore! This cosmopolitan city is full of life and always changing. With its delicious food, quirky bars, interesting people and cultural sights, we’re sure it will continually surprise and delight you. (Just try to see past the non- stop humidity!)

We’ve created this guide – to expats, from expats – to help give you options and advice for making this island your home. From choosing what neighbourhood to live in, to healthcare advice, decorating ideas and everything in between, we’ve covered it. Don’t just take our word for it either – there’s the inside scoop from our panel of readers across a range of topics too; keep an eye out for their tips throughout these pages. You’ll also find plenty more useful info inside our monthly magazine in Singapore, Expat Living . From travel inspiration and peeks inside beautiful homes to insider style and beauty tips, we don’t just bring you the latest news, we bring you real people’s experiences and discover the choices they’ve made. For on-the-go updates, our award-winning website,, is brimming with ideas for things to do around town and a host of savvy, timely content, from the best vegetarian restaurants to interviews with inspiring expats and more. Singapore is an amazing place to live right now and there’s so much to do: sample yummy cuisine (from hawker centre dining to five-star restaurants), discover beautiful cultural elements by just wandering the streets (like the picturesque shophouse fronts that inspired our cover), and enjoy a short break just a hop, skip and a jump away – all in one weekend! We’re here to help you on your journey. Stay in touch with us along the way on Facebook and Twitter, follow us behind-the-scenes on Instagram or drop us an email at

Now get exploring!



Rebecca Bisset Shamus Sillar Amy Brook-Partridge Susannah Jaffer

Editor-in-Chief Group Editor City Guide Editors

Aimee Fordos Smita DeSouza Katie Roberts Anthia Chng

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SUBSCRIBE! Subscribe to our monthly magazine. Delivered to your door every month, it’s a glossy 300+ page magazine with loads of insightful stories and inspiration on topics covering travel, family, interiors, culture, style, beauty and more. You can also subscribe and download the digital version on your tablet device, so it’s at your fingertips while you’re on the go.

LOG ON! Visit us online at our oh-so- useful website,; keep up to date with what’s going on in Singapore with our event updates, calendar and classifieds pages; and peruse plenty of useful articles on how to make the most of your city.

Expat Living! We’re so much more than just a monthly magazine. To discover everything that’s going on in your new island home, check out this handy guide to how we can help.

CONTRIBUTE! Enjoyed one of our articles or have an opinion to express? We’d love to hear it. Pen a letter to and it could get published in our letters page. Or, if you’re an avid writer, send us a 500-word story for our monthly “Parting Shot” column, which you’ll find at the back of the magazine.

WIN STUFF! We’ve always got fabulous giveaways going on in our monthly magazine, including style and beauty products, services, holidays and lifestyle accessories. See what’s up for grabs this month by reading the mag or heading online to

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY! From coffee mornings and kids’ activities to cocktail nights and lifestyle classes, we hold plenty of fun events where you can mingle with other newbies (or Singapore veterans!), get to know new pals and, of course, say hello to our friendly team.


CITYGUIDE2016 Followus at ... Get more updates and helpful content from Singapore’s ultimate lifestyle guide.





Choosing a Neighbourhood

Looking for a survival guide to Singapore? Here it is! Read our tips on just some of the challenges facing newcomers, from transport options and getting connected to looking for a job and making friends. WHERE TO LIVE Where will you settle down? We profile the various residential districts and different housing types available, including accommodation options that run the gamut from high-rise apartments in the city centre to garden homes in the suburbs. 91 MAKING YOUR HOUSE A HOME Once you’ve found your perfect property – be it a condo 71 DECIDING

apartment, shophouse, HDB or bungalow – you’ll need to fill it with furniture. Happily, Singapore offers everything from colonial comfort to sleek minimalism, both for indoors and outside.




Schools in Singapore are world-class, often with culturally diverse student bodies and impressive extra- curricular activities. Here we take a look at a range of preschools, schools and other educational institutions, to help you make a choice for your own children.

Thestorybehind thestore

Lian Huat was originally setup as a furniture store in the early 1960s, but founder Ng Chai Choo saw the growing demand for furniture rental as expats started arrivingon the shores of Singapore in the 1980s. Now under the management of Philip Ng, Chai Choo’s son, Lian Huat’s showroomhouses ahuge selection of furniture, from contemporary to Oriental styles, including dining tables, desks, chairs, cupboards, sofas and storage. Then there’s the wall art, antiques, appliances, linen, kitchenware and rugs.

The team from LianHuat FurnitureRental explainswhy renting furniturecanhelpkeep the stressoutof amove.

go for awhole new home style, andpickout anew collection to rent. Customisation is another option, so you can really find a style to suit yourdécor tastes. Any items thathaveundergone normal wear and tear will be serviced, repaired or replaced at no extra charge, and if you decide that you just can’t part with that comfy armchair, you have theoption tobuy it aspart ofLianHuat’sbuy-back scheme. Ifyou’d ratherviewLianHuat’s range inperson,youcanvisittheir vast showroom,whichmeasures 13,000 square feet across four storeys;otherwise, just takea look at the clickofyourmouse.

Furniture Finds 102

Moving toanothercountrybrings with itawholehostofquestions, including where to live, what school the children can attend and how tomake friends. One thing thatcanhelpmake this time lessstressful isrentingrather than purchasing furniture. Given the often-transientnatureof lifeasan expat, renting furniture can be a wise choice. Lian Huat doesn’t just lease furniture; you can also choose from its rangeofappliances, linen andcrockery,making itaone-stop-

shop.Given the fact that you can order everythingyouneedonline from their extensive catalogue, without leaving the comfort of your serviced apartment, it really is a less taxingoption. When you rent furniture you cutout the longwait timeyouget with a container being shipped overseas. Once your order is confirmed,LianHuatwilldeliver it in three to sevendays, and set it all up for you. If youmake a movewithinSingapore,youcan alsodecidewhetheryouwant to

53KakiBukitView 6844 1711









MATTERS & MORE 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, which is good news for expats, whether they’re seeking a family dentist or hoping to have a baby. THE ISLAND & BEYOND Travel in the region is high on the list of most expats’ priorities, and we cover the best of the destinations here – but not before we run our eye over Singapore’s own fascinating hotspots, including museums, temples, galleries and green spaces.



Foodie Favourites



Aword from a reader

Food is a huge topic of interest in Singapore, whether it’s chatting about a hawker favourite or rating a recent champagne brunch. Now it’s our turn, as we offer some restaurant recommendations and other advice for the food- curious and the just plain hungry.

“Expat Insuranceput a lotofeffort into finding the best health policy for my expanding family,which is crucial with Singapore’s exorbitant medical costs.Across the three years, I’ve had two births and their team made the application and claiming process much easier. I didn’t have tospendany time speaking to the insurer directly – the team handled itall forme.” – BrynieBaharMcBurney

Givingbirth overseas is abigdecision, and if you’replanning foranewaddition to the family, insurancecover isamust–but howmuchwill itreallycostyou?NATALIEDRUMMOND,Private ClientAdvisorat Expat Insurance ,givesus the facts.

Can Igetmaternity insurance for my unborn child and myselfonce I fallpregnant? If you’re already pregnant, it’s too late to get cover for your delivery,andunlike inyourhome country, you can be charged a lot for maternity care overseas – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. At this point, you’re only able to look at insurance to cover your new-born. The best course of action is to purchase a comprehensive plan, or an international health insurance scheme that offers maternity coverwellbefore fallingpregnant. Plans can differ greatly, so it’s important to understand what levelof cover youneed.

Howmuchwillmy pregnancy, delivery and post-natal care cost inSingapore? Singapore is among the most expensive places to give birth overseas without insurance. According to theSingaporeMinistry ofHealth, givingbirth and staying in a ward for three days can cost between$4,000 and$12,000.For a C-section, youmight expect to pay $20,000 – and complications cancost inexcessof$150,000.You could encounter costs at any stage of the pregnancy; from pre-natal care to aftercare for yourself and yourbaby.This iswhy it’svital that you buy an internationalmedical insurance plan that includes the costs ofmaternity and childbirth.

Ispregnancyby assisted means such as IVF and IUI coveredbymaternity insurance inSingapore? Assisted conception not only means IVF and IUI, but any vaccination or medication that induces ovulation.Most insurersherewillexcludenew- born cover for babies born via assistedmeans for the first ninety days. Thismeans that you are at financial risk for the firstninetydays of your baby’s life, if it’sbornprematurelyor is inneedofmedical careduring this period. Insurersmay also capanycover forcomplications if thepregnancy isasa resultof assisted conception.

Staying Healthy 186

Maternity Insurance:Whatyouneedtoknow Waiting periods: This is the length of time you must wait between purchasing your policy and making a claim. For pregnancy cover this isusually12months,but canbe as long as24months. Plan limits: Some plans have a limit on the level of cover they provide. For example, somemay only pay part of the procedure, leaving you topay the rest of the costs. Complications: Unforeseen events during childbirth can seriously increase thecostofcare.Youshouldestablishwhether yourplan covers complications. Co-insurance: Thismeans that thecost forany treatment isshared betweenyourself andyour insurer.For exampleyou couldpay 10 percent of any chargeswhile your insurer pays 90 percent of them.This isagoodway to loweryourpremiums,providing you’rewilling topay towards the costof care.

Formore information and free adviceon a completeportfolioof insuranceproducts includingmedical, home, travel, life andbusiness, visit or call64019201. What’sNew? Expat Insurance was recently acclaimed as “ Broker of the Year ” in the ABF Insurance AsiaAwards2016.






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superjoseph |



Snapshot Singapore Thanks to the following list of fascinating facts, you’ll have no need to go sneaking off to the bathroom with your smartphone next time you get the topic of “Singapore” during a trivia night at a pub!



Singapore is made up of the island of Singapore itself and 60 smaller islands.

THE END OF THE “NIGHTSOIL” PHASE OF THE C I T Y ’ S SANITATION SYSTEM CAME AS RECENTLY AS 1987, WHEN THE LAST NIGHTSOIL BUCKET WAS COLLECTED FROMANOLD-STYLE LATRINE. According to the British Council, Singaporeans have the fastest walking speed in the world – an average of 18 metres in 10.55 seconds. That’s also how fast bumblebees fly.

There are five “official” Merlion statues in Singapore. In 2009, the main Merlion near Marina Bay was struck by lightning and damaged.

The Johor-Singapore causewaymeasures just overakilometre in length and carries around 60,000 vehicles each day. It opened in 1923. The most common surnames in Singapore are Tan , Lim and Lee .




Singapore is in the northern hemisphere – but only just. It’s 137km north of the Equator.


The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is said to contain more species of trees than the entire North American continent.


Singaporean English (“Singlish) reflects the multicultural nature of the society and includes words from English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi and more. You might hear: “lah”, “lor”, “leh”, “meh”, “kena”, “kiasu”, “liao”, “makan” and – instead of “yes” and “no” – “can” and “cannot”.


Bukit Timah means “tin hill” in Malay, Bukit Merahmeans “red hill” and Bukit Batok means “coughing hill”.

The “Katong laksa war” did not involve an actual food fight, but instead was a rivalry (some would say an ongoing one) among certain hawker stall- owners to be recognised as the purveyor of the first or best laksa in the area.

Singapore’s 30 or more species of frog include the Yellow- bellied Puddle Frog, the East Asian Ornate Chorus Frog and the Saint Andrew’s Cross Toadlet.

If you’reanewlyarrivedexpat, thereare twoother great sources of Singapore-related information that you shouldutilise as soonas possible to learn more about the island: the first is the chatty taxi drivers – a coupleof conversationswith themand you’ll quickly be up to speed, lah! And the other? Getting Expat Living delivered every month and reading us online, of course!

InMarch2015,anSG50timecapsulecontaining 50 items representative of Singapore was sealed and is to be opened in the year 2065.



Malaysian-Chinese Stephanie Lung-Flecker arrived in Singapore 11 years ago as a brandmanager, and has since met her husband here and had two daughters. Steph loves Singapore’s safety, efficiency and “potpourri of cuisines”. Her passions of fitness, food and cooking are represented in her blog ( and soon-to-be-launched YouTube channel.

Ca ro l i ne Bowler is from Ireland and has been in Singapore

since 2008. She moved for the adventure but fell in love with the Little Red Dot. Her favourite spot is the Botanic Gardens, a calm oasis in a bustling city. Caroline met her husband in Singapore, and has stepped off the corporate ladder to set up her own PR business here. Amy Bowler arrived in 2013 from Dublin with just a month’s supply of Barry’s Tea in her bag. She moved with her banking job and got stuck in to exploring the wide variety of Singaporean life. “From its wonderful cuisine to the exotic mix of culture, I’m always

Ma i re Ni c Amhlaoibh i s a n I r i s h physiotherapist wh o c ame t o

Singapore with her boyfriend three years ago and hasn’t looked back. Her passions are travel and running. “I regularly race, and thankfully Singapore hosts at least one competitive race per week.” Through her running she’s been able to explore many of the island’s hidden gems. Claudette Burnette moved from San Francisco to Singapore six years ago; she left her job in advertising and came here with her husband’s role at LucasFilm, accompanied by their two infant sons. Like many others, she initially came for two years. “I’m still exploring n ew n e i ghbou r hood s , events and food.

We could wax lyrical abou t t he amaz i ng r e a s on s t o l i ve i n Singapore, but why just take our word for it?Meet our 13 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.

on the look out to learn more a b o u t m y home awa y from home.” Freya Capon is from the UK and mother to three boys. S h e mo v e d here three years

S i ng a po r e i s c o n s t a n t l y changing and thriving for us.”

ago, and now runs her own swimming business. She loves her “extended family” of friends, the great quality education and the social life, “in particular the afternoon teas, rooftop sundowners and long nature walks to work off said teas and drinks!”

Aussie Ceilidh Waddington has lived in Singapore for four years, arriving from the UK, where her husband is from. “We particularly love the beach and the 15-minute drive it takes us to be knee-deep in the sea with our bouncy cavoodle puppy.” She loves that there are so many things to do with the children here, both indoors and outdoors.



Working as an occupational therapist since moving from Ireland in 2011, Mairead Cushen loves to travel and spends time researching trips that are off the beaten track. She also loves catching up with her Singapore friends on weekends, as well as working out and striving to improve her Gaelic football skills. British expat Sarah Heal arrived in Singapore in 2013 with husband Marc and children Miri and Jacob. The family unit has since grown with the addition of helper Maribeth, and adopted dog Nick. Sarah works for a tech company, and on the weekend the family can usually be found at Turf City where the children’s activities take place. Indian expat Vandana Dhaul has lived in Singapore close to a decade, and is a mum to two boys (and one dog). Formerly a private banker, she now runs Party Hub, a company helping people plan events and parties. She enjoys scouring the internet for new businesses, networking to find hidden treasures, and browsing her favourite bookshops and malls.

Australian Georgina Dacic has been here over two years, and is mum to three-year-old Isaac. She works out with a daily bootcamp session, and also loves hanging

out with her friends for dinner or over coffee. “It’s such an easy lifestyle here – simple to get around and a great place for meeting new people; I can’t ever see myself leaving.”

Rachel Forbes arrived here three years ago, having never been to Asia before. She’s a senior financial consultant and also the founder of TribeVibe Ireland. Her passions revolve around finance,

fitness and food, and out of the office she can be found café-hopping, attending meet-ups or tucked away in the National Library.

Jennifer Norman moved from Ireland over two years ago for work and a change in lifestyle, which she says was the best decision ever. Jen loves socialising and checking out new hotspots, bars and

brunches. “I also play football for the Singapore Gaelic Lions with 60-plus girls every Sunday. I love working out in the outdoors and keeping fit.”

* A special thanks to the Singapore Gaelic Lions (, whose members keenly answered our call for contributions; they make up around half of our panel.



THE PROS AND CONS OF SINGAPORE Our panel members list the things they love most about life in the Little RedDot – and the things they could frankly do with less of!

THE CONS It’s hot!

THE PROS Extremely family-friendly island Ease of setting up your own business here Accessibility and affordability of travelling around Asia – superb! Delicious, cheap local food Super-safe country for women and for kids Amazing outdoor lifestyle Lots of good restaurants and things to do So many options for short weekend trips and longer adventures Despite the humidity, the weather is great Easy to get around The people! It’s so diverse, with amazing people from all over the world A great base to travel around South East Asia and beyond Amazing quality of life for both single people and married couples So many great things to do with children Easy to make great new friends

Being far away from family and friends Hard to get a taxi in the rain Difficulty in getting in to local schools Some cools jobs are unavailable Seasons – what happened to spring, autumn and winter? Haze and air pollution for two to three months of the year Extreme and constant humidity It’s damn expensive! Just a little bit too

far from Europe Cost of alcohol

Cultural awkwardness Things grind to a halt when it rains (and it

rains a lot) Car prices School costs

Working hours are longer than in other countries Organic meat and vegetables are very expensive and not readily available The weather is the same every day!

Busy social calendar Wonderful support network




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Try and visit before you make the big move! Reach out to people living here with whom you can meet when you land. Setting up an apartment is expensive, so be aware! Usually you have to place two months’ deposit plus a month’s rent. Throw yourself into a club of some sort to meet new people straight away; it’s the best way to keep busy while you settle in. There are lots of groups on Facebook you can join to pick up some great tips and ask questions. – Jennifer

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. Advice



Don’t bring any winter clothes – unless you plan on skiing in Japan. Leave expensive pieces of art safely stored at home or have them reframed to protect them from Singapore’s humidity. Prepare yourself for the outrageous cost of cars. E x p e c t g l o r i o u s y e t extremely hot weather. Look around at as many properties as possible upon arrival to get a feel for condo life or landed properties (houses). – Ceilidh

Download all available taxi apps, including ComfortDelGro, Grab Taxi and Uber. Electricity is expensive here; use your AC sparingly. It’s common to use the terms “Uncle” or “Aunty” for the elderly or someone you don’t know. Alcohol is expensive; look out for happy hour deals at the bars – e.g., the Martini Bar at the Hyatt from 6 to 9pm daily is a good spot. When speaking to locals, who may not understand your accent, speak more slowly and clearly. – Stephanie

Get an


Link card. Find a good GP close to home. Zero in on the closest wet market. Pick up some essential Mandarin language skills. – Vandana



Singapore is a wonderful place, so respect the country and the people as you would expect to be respected at home. Lots of things are expensive here; it is an island after all. Pack your container with bed linen, towels and lots of sun cream. Think carefully where you will live. If you have children, living fairly close to their new school is likely to be an advantage. Older condos and houses (landed properties), while not being so modern, do tend to offer a lot more space for your dollars. Check out the expat Facebook pages to help navigate the first few months. – Sarah

Don’t bring any jumpers or warm clothing. Do your research on the location of your work and plan your accommodation around the MRT. Be sure to secure a job prior to moving here as the cost of living is high to survive without a source of income; and, without an EP, you can’t open a bank account or get a phone contract. Get in touch with a person within your job or company who is already living in Singapore. Join a sports club or society to make friends and provide a social outlet. – Maire

Invest in keratin treatment for your hair – it’s the best thing for the humidity. Every neighbourhood has it own characteristics and qualities. Enjoy exploring! Opening a bank account may be the most stressful part of your early life here. Chewing gum is not that big a deal, so hold the jokes. Don’t listen to anyone’s advice. Your journey in Singapore will be your own! – Caroline




Plan your year wisely. Public holidays here are a great excuse for a getaway. Book early to grab some great deals. Water! You can never drink enough water in Singapore. If you want a mid-week night out on a budget, a Ladies’ Night is the only way to go. You never get used to the humidity, so try to work with it: hair, products, up-styles, cool clothing. Download Uber and never let “shift change” ruin your day again! – Rachel Stock up on birthday cards. Stock up on books and reading for you and your kids. – Freya Double your living expense allowance. Put your judgements aside and do hire a helper. Take out private health insurance.

Plan your expenses and monthly budgets. Read about the cultural differences you can expect to encounter while living in Singapore. Lower your expectations of settling in quickly. Make diverse friends and not just those from the same group or nationality. Stay patient when things get tough. – Amy If your company covers shipping costs, use it to avoid having to buy those items when you get here. – Mairead Research the area where you’ll be working and see if it’s possible to live close by. Join Facebook forums to ask questions about your move. Take a short-term lease if you need more time finding the right home. Bring your favourite toiletries – even if they’re available, they’ll be much more expensive.

Co s t s a r e r i s i n g i n Singapore, from food and schools to hired help and clothing. Choose a school that fits your needs. Talk to people and learn about waiting lists. Don’t just travel to Bali or Phuket; try other gems, like Laos, Goa and Melaka. Try to live close to a decent mall, some restaurants and a 24-hour convenience store. Shopping is hit and miss – it can be hard to find mid- priced clothing. Homeware stores are plentiful though. – Claudette Get ready for a climate change: it’s hot and humid! The drivers aren’t as bad as people make out. Invest in a helper if you can afford it. Enjoy the experience; it’s like no other. – Georgina




BANKING, PHONEANDOTHERACCOUNTS Is it easy setting up a bank account and things like a mobile phone contract or a home internet account? Our panel members discuss what they might have done differently with hindsight.

Youneedmorepaperwork and patience than you ever thought possible. Bring photocopies of every document youhaveand then some. Check repeatedly if anything more is needed to open the account, as you may only have completed one step of the process. – Caroline I would open an account with a local bank – the service charges are lower and there’s a larger network of ATMs. – Vandana The process was pretty easy – however, as a foreigner in a new country, it can take some time to gather the requirements for setting up these services; for example, you need a proof of address to set up a bank account, yet you’re new to the country and youmay not have this yet. – Rachel Remain patient and don’t stress when things take a little longer. – Amy

Itwas veryeasy (for once!). Just be careful when you’re signing your phone contract and the amount of time you choose for it – they’re expensive to get out of if you have to leave. – Jennifer We wouldn’t do anything differently but we would highly recommend opening a local bank account like DBS or POSB as the number of ATMs far surpasses other banks. – Ceilidh Once you have all of the necessary identification with you, there should be no problems with setting up a bank account. I had some difficulty with my phone account as I didn’t receive my Employment Pass straight away; most phone companies require a copy of this before they start your contract. With a little persistence I managed to start my account by using my workplace ID and a letter from the ministry statingmy EPwas approved. In hindsight, I would have brought anunblockedphone with me when I moved here initially, to use temporarily whilewaiting to start aphone contract. – Mairead



HOW DO I GET MY TV FIX? 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.

The TV offerings here are great; many of the StarHub channels like Star World, Diva and Universal get the American and UK programmes the same day as the US, like Scandal , Grey’s Anatomy , House of Cards , The Good Wife , Empire , The Chase , Heartbeat , Britain’s Got Talent , American Idol , America’s Got Talent and much, much more. I record everything on my StarHub recording box and watch when convenient. If there’s something I’ve missed or not showing yet on StarHub, I download it and watch it via Apple TV. – Ceilidh Sing Expat TV is a livesaver for UK television; and Apple TV with an account from Australia, the UK or the US where you can purchase TV programmes as well as movies is also a must for me. – Sarah

Netflix is the onlyway! Turn up theACand spend a weekend on a Netflixmarathon. Or, for something a little different, keep an eye out for DBS Movies by the Bay – it’s a free series of outdoor movies near Marina Bay and is a great evening out. Shakespeare in the Park is another alternative to a night in watching Game of Thrones with the AC set to Baltic! This is on every year for about three or four weeks in Fort Canning. Again in August, Films At The Fort takes place in Fort Canning, so dust off the picnic basket and head over for a movie night under the stars. (Word of warning: Pack the bug spray!) – Rachel Invest inNetflix and the full HBOpackage! – Caroline I use YouTube a lot to catch up on Coronation Street , Eastenders and Gogglebox ; I’m also glued to Sky News for the UK news coverage. – Amy



One thing that we can guarantee will make living in Singapore that much easier is downloading a few of these useful apps! From taxi booking to grocery delivery, here are our key recommendations.

PUBLICTRANSPORT 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: Handy to have on your phone when there’s not


a map nearby, this app provides simple access to Singapore’s most updated MRT and LRT maps.

Happy Hours Singapore: Immediately locate bars in your proximity and find out current discounts, along with ratings and comments by fellow browsers. Culture Explorer: Snap a picture of a cool landmark with your phone, and this app will give you its name and reveal other landmarks in the area.

H o s a y ! : Brush up on your Singlish

EZ-Link: This new app monitors your transactions over the

(Singapore English). Comes with audio and definitions for each phrase, so now you’ll be able to order your kopi in a thick local accent.

past three months, and notifies you of discounts you can get by paying with your EZ-Link card at various places.




Carousell: An active marketplace where you can easily buy and sell

Gothere: This is an idiot-proof transport guide that helps you work out the best route to get from one spot to another. Singapore helps you navigate your way around Singers and is simple to use – great for newbies, and there’s no need for a live data connection. MyTransport bus routes and arrival times, nearby taxi stands, live traffic updates and real time parking lot availability. Carpark SG: Use this to compare car parking rates in the city, as well as availability in your destination of choice to make parking that much easier. City Guide: Created by TripAdvisor, this app Singapore: A complete transportation guide with

Comf o r t De l G r o : Easily book a taxi with Singapore’s best-known

second-handproducts across a range of categories, from tech and gadgets to designer handbags. Addictive! Shopee : Ano t h e r popular app for buying and selling instantly by using your phone, this one is good for bargains and deals.

cab companies: Comfort and CityCab. You can choose your type of car or book in advance too. GrabTax i : Get an estimated fare before your journey and full details of your taxi driver, and rate the journey afterwards, if you feel inclined.

G u m t r e e S G : Singapore’s version of the free classifieds site. Again,

Uber: Request a private driver at the touch of a button, compare rates for

different vehicles, and register your PayPal or credit card to your secure account so you can go cashless.

you can connect with local buyers and sellers and post ads with images taken with your smartphone.

Zalora: This fashion e-tailer is basically Asia’s answer to ASOS. You can

SMRT: Abooking app for one of Singapore’s other major taxi providers. It’s

browse and shop hundreds of local and international brands on the go on their app.

a good idea to have multiple taxi apps on your phone in case another is busy and you’re in a hurry.





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APPY DAYS! We asked panel members which apps were 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: WeatherLah! (“for awesome quirky weather updates” – Sarah ) Grab Taxi (“the only app that is specific to Singapore that I cannot live without” – Claudette ) Google Maps (“for navigation as I drive everywhere” – Ceilidh ) Voxer (“great for keeping in touch with friends and family around the world.” – Rachel ) Spotify (“I need music when I’m going to and fromwork!” –Mairead ) Chope (“for booking a table for dinner” – Sarah) Skyscanner (“because sometimes you just need to book a flight to make your Monday a bit better!” – Rachel) iGV (“to see what’s on at Golden Village cinemas” – Maire ) Foodpanda (“It’s a godsendwhen you’re working late or you just can’t face the kitchen!” – Caroline) myENV (“for checking the PSI [Pollutant Standard Index]” – Sarah ) Plenty of other taxi booking and transport apps were named by the panel, including Uber , ComfortDelGro , Next Ride , SG Buses , Gothere and MyTransport . Also on the list were online grocery shopping app RedMart , food and restaurant guide Burpple , medical info portal Health Buddy , banking apps from DBS , alternative accommodation provider Airbnb , and XE Currency for working out how many ringgits you’ll need on that next trip to Malaysia.

Search for all types of property in Singapore and filter your search by price, area and number of rooms to see what’s available now. Singapore (SG)

Jobstreet: Search for your next role with these three useful job- listing apps. Use various filters such as job function, industry and salary to match your ideal role.

Stocks: This easy-to-use app gives you a direct

informative that allows you to visit stock activities, company exchanges and more.


Deliveroo: Get food delivered to your door from local restaurants

Dash S i ngapore : A n a l t e r n a t i v e t o withdrawing cash from

in a flash: simply type in your postcode to see what’s available nearby. Store your card details for even faster purchases. Foodpanda: Another of the island’s most popular food ordering apps, putting an array of restaurant ideas right at your fingertips. Chope: Make instant online reservations at your favourite restaurants, and learn more about prices, menus an recommended dishes. Burrple: Get clued up on the newest and hottest eateries in town, and read honest reviews from fellow users.

banks straight to your wallet; you can now transfer it to your phone! Store money in the app and make transactions on the go.

Singstat: General but useful, this keeps you updated on Singapore’s

economic statistics, with quarterly, annual and monthly frequencies available.


iChangi: Get up-to- date flight arrival and departure information for

Changi Airport so you’ll never be too early to collect the relatives again. Singapore

RedMart: Get groceries to your door when you’re strapped for time! With

Checkpoint Traffic: Great for those who live

over the border, this app shows images of the traffic situation at the links between Singapore and Malaysia. SG Traffic News: A fast news app that provides traffic info on accidents, jams and other situations that might affect your drive.

this app, you can shop on the go for fresh food or pantry goods, specialty products or home care necessities.

Openrice: Ideal for foodies, this dining review guide contains

hundreds of restaurant listings, while also offering weekly and monthly promotions.



heJobHun Starting a Business

Looking for Work 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 American Association’s Career Resource Center for Expatriates (CRCE) is particularly useful, offering advice on resumes, workshops, and career counselling.

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 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 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. Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority: Singapore Personal Access (SingPass): Entrepreneur’s Resource Centre: EnterpriseOne: International Enterprise (IE) Singapore: Economic Development Board: Money Matters for Expats: Useful websites Ministry of Manpower:



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. See which company is posting jobs you’re interested in and call 10TIPS FOR GETTING A JOB

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.

WORKING IT OUT What do our contributors wish they’d known about the process of job-hunting when they first arrived? Find out below.

recruiters and get your CV out. And make sure you have enough savings to cover yourself for the first few months because the job market is getting tougher and there are restrictions around granting new EPs. – Rachel Keep in mind that the EP may take longer than expected to get, and you can only stay in Singapore 30 days on holiday before you have to leave. – Maire Bring your actual u n i ve r s i t y d e g r e e certificate; you’ll need either the original or copies of the original when applying for work visas. – Caroline

Connect with at least two good recruiters instead of relying on just one. Talk to people at parties or networking even t s abou t you r j o b r e q u i r eme n t s ; there’s almost always somebody that knows s ome t h i n g o r c a n point you in a clearer direction. – Stephanie It’s a lot easier when you’re actually in Singapore. When it comes to recruiters, talk to the right people who know the market rate for salaries in your industry. – Jennifer I found a job – or actually it found me, though it can be tough. Ha ng i n , n e two r k ,

ensure your LinkedIn page is up to date, think about getting a Letter of Consent, and begin consulting. Part-time jobs are few and far between – the culture is definitely full-time. Oh, and maternity leave is much shorter than in the UK. – Sarah It pays to have a strong local network here. – Vandana I was lucky enough to have a job before I landed in Singapore. But here are some tips for newbies. If you have a job offer, get your employer to get your Employment Pass pre-approved. No job? Research before you get here; contact

Think carefully if you’re looking to set up your own business; it’s not as easy as it was a few years ago. There’s a cost to set up and de-register companies, and an expectation that you’ll hire locals. Find a licensed professional to help you with a visa or Letter of Consent application. The Ministry o f Ma n p owe r h a s increasingly strict rules on the granting of visas. – Freya



Visas – need to know

The Fair Consideration F r amewo r k a l l ows affirmative discrimination and emp l oye r s a re 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. D e p e n d a n t ’s P a s s 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. Fo r a p r e l imi n a r y i n d i c a t i o n o f t h e likelihood of obtaining an EP or S Pass, use the online Self-Assessment Tool prior to submitting the application. New and noteworthy: From2014, theMOMhas placed a strong emphasis on the quality of the educational qualifications and institutions that t h e a pp l i c a n t h a s attended when assessing applications.

Working Women 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.

Useful websites CRCE | Mums@Work | Careermums | PrimeTime |

Athena | ANZA Career Centre | LinkedIn; many successful job-seekers suggest connecting directly with potential employers | Lean In Circle; facilitated group-coaching sessions focusing on career support and development for women | Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations |




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 expensive membership 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 the American Women’s Association (AWA), Scandinavian Women’s Association, Italian Women’s Group, Indian Women’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.



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