You’ve moved into your new home, the kids are in their new school, and you are finding your way around the new office. But what about your new country? Here are some tips to help you find your way.
Let your fingers do the walking
Thanks to the Internet, there is almost nothing you can’t look Google these days. However, there are some sites better than others, geared towards life on our tropical island. These tried and tested sites are:
The Finder and Expat Living also exist as print magazines, so do look out for those.
Louise, a newcomer to Singapore suggests jumping on a train and just getting lost. Hop off in the Heartland (a Singapore term for the suburbs) and explore. Away from the high-rises and shopping malls, are farms, mangroves and so many wildlife reserves to explore. Singapore prides itself on being “A city within a garden”. Find out why.
If you spot someone with a banging hair-cut, stop and ask her where she got it. Where to buy the best sausages? A mum at school will probably know. Residents are a wealth of insider information, and probably don’t know it. From a tailor to make alterations to where to get the best cheeses, you’ll be surprised at the useful contacts you’ll find.
Forums are a good way to get information fast, and possibly get to know like-minded people. Amy, an American who has checked out a few says:
Singapore Expat Women is good (expatwoman.com/Singapore)
Real Singapore Expat Wives, although discussions can be a bit vicious at times (rsew.com.sg)
Coffee And Chat Singapore on Facebook
Sure, there will be favourite supermarkets, but why not push the boundaries a little. Do your food shopping at a wet market for fresh, cheaper priced produce. Most beef comes from Australia, and pork from Australia or Indonesia. Many vegetable sellers are also bringing in organic produce. And don’t worry, most storekeepers speak English, like most of the island’s population.
Hit the street… food
Eat at a hawker centre, and not just Newton Circus, which can be a bit of a tourist trap if you don’t know your way around. At the stalls you’ll find little certificates with a letter on it. That’s a rating from the National Environment Agency, and given to every food retailer for personal and food hygiene, and general housekeeping. A is usually seen at fast food outlets, but you’ll find most hawker stalls rated Bs. You can stuff your face with freshly made noodles or rice dishes for less than $5.
Drink the water
The water is perfectly safe to drink from the tap. Unlike some of its neighbours, the quality of the water here is excellent, and is purified according to World Health Organisation standards.
Learn the language
Singlish, is the patois spoken by local Singaporeans and is English mixed with various dialects and languages (usually hokkien and Malay). While Singaporeans tend to speak with a seemingly countless number of “lahs”, “lors”, “mehs” and even the occasional “hor”, just by inserting one randomly into conversation doesn’t make it correct usage. It takes a bit of practise and a lot of listening to your local friends, but it can be done! Look up Singlish in Wikipedia to get you started.