Updated: Apr 14, 2020
10 Things I wish I knew before moving to Singapore Truth be told, I couldn't even point Singapore out to you on a map before I moved here. I'd never visited Asia before, so I really came with no expectations, and no idea what to expect. To help others learn from my experiences and share my honest advice about moving to Singapore, I wrote my Ebook Singapore eBook Guide, The ‘S’ word!
To save you having to find out for yourself, here's 10 things I wish I had known before moving to Singapore!
In Singapore, we have up to ten public holidays a year which means its great opportunity to plan a getaway. Little did I know, that the prices of flights skyrocket around the public holiday dates and can almost double in price. My biggest tip is to make sure you book your trips in advance and plan ahead to avoid paying inflated prices.
Singapore’s wet markets are amazing if you're looking for cheap groceries. Fruits and vegetables can be very expensive in supermarkets since they are imported, so head to the wet markets to get cheaper and fresher produce. This is also a great way to immerse yourself into to local culture. Besides, the produce isn't packaged and there's significantly less plastic used as opposed to in the supermarkets. Hence, wet markets are more environmentally friendly as well.
I only discovered Mustafa Centre this year, and my mind was blown! (Watch my vlog here) Mustafa has it all- literally anything you could think of or need! Located in the heart of Little India, Mustafa is open 24/7 through the week, but I'd avoid going on weekends as it's usually rammed full of people!
Business Card Courtesy
It is a common practice as a sign of politeness to give and receive business cards with two hands. This took a little getting used to as back in the UK I would just fling my business card at people with one hand, but here I learnt it's polite to give and receive them with both hands, along with a little nod of the head. A handy little tip for those of you who will be coming to work over here!
Cost Of Living
Living in Singapore can be very expensive but it doesn't have to be if you know where to spend your money. It's very easy to come to Singapore and blow your money on fancy restaurants and cocktails at rooftop bars every week, but there's also plenty of ways to cut back on spending. With rent most likely being your greatest expense, you can still enjoy filling meals at hawker centres for around $5 each, and use public transport to get around the city instead of getting taxis. If you know how to spend your money wisely in Singapore, you won't burn a big hole in your pocket as you might think!
Friends Come and Go
Being an expat in any country, means that friends always come and go. Just when you feel like you've created a close-knit friendship group, a few of them might leave the country to move onto their next journey. This takes getting used to, but one positive that comes from being an Expat means that you are always meeting new people, and finding new friends becomes a lot easier because you're all in the same boat.
Wear SPF Everyday
This is one for my younger self. If I could go back to 2015 and tell myself to wear sunscreen everyday, I'd do it ten times over! I was an absolute sun worshipper when I moved to Singapore, until a couple of years later I realised how much my skin was ageing from skin damage. Nowadays, SPF is an integral part of my skincare routine every morning, and I even carry umbrellas like aunties to shield my skin from the sun.
No Concept of Time
Singapore is practically summer all year round, and with no seasons or change in climate. This can be extremely disorientating when it comes to keeping track of the months and years. Very often when reflecting on a holiday we lose track of what year it happened- was it last year or a couple of years ago! It's also very disorientating when you struggle to remember what you did last winter or two summers ago, because you have no distinct seasons to relate those memories too. Everything just merges into one, so if I were you I'd keep a calendar for you to look back on!
When I moved to Singapore and realised it was an English-speaking country, I never thought that I would have to change the way I speak to be understood. Oh Boy! How wrong was I ! Although most people speak English, with the strong presence of Singlish (Singaporean slang), it becomes a habit to construct your sentences differently, and talk in broken english to communicate with locals easily. (Watch me speak singlish here)
I wish someone had told me that a lot of common daily activities or normal things (like a walk in the park) would be a lot more difficult with the humidity. Simple things like going for a picnic, or an afternoon stroll is always dictated by the weather and time of day. Always avoid the midday sun, and head out either early morning or early evening to avoid being left in a pool of your own sweat!
For more of my honest experiences and advice about living in Singapore, including Culture Shocks and life lessons, check out my Singapore eBook Guide, The ‘S’ word!