Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

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ivysmom
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Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Fri, 17 Jun 2016 2:06 pm

Hi Listmates,

After so much back and forth, looks like we are headed to SG in August! We're a US family of 5 with 3 kids (11, 9 and 5). During my look-see my real estate guy had an interesting idea for our month-ish long temporary housing situation -- Sentosa. Our temporary housing budget is healthy and for not that much more than the typical tiny (and slightly run-down?) Serviced Apartment near Orchard, we could have a pretty amazing, twice as big, 3 bedroom+ den duplex with views of the sea at the Capella. The hotel gets rave reviews and, while I wouldn't want to live on Sentosa permanently, I don't mind the idea of transitioning my kids into SG gradually...being in a quieter spot the first few weeks while people get settled. Older kids will be starting at UWC East which isn't exactly a short commute but it wouldn't be from Orchard either (I have confirmed bus picks up at Sentosa).

Q: Is this a dumb idea? Will I be needing to run around so much that I'd be frustrated by being out of the action? Our company is giving us something akin to landing services (local resources to help us get situated, no idea how useful they'll be) so I'm hoping that will partially mitigate the craziness of those first few weeks. We will have a car, though I imagine that may take a little bit of time to get one (and learn to drive on the left side of the road...any suggestions for how to master that?). All feedback welcome and appreciated!

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PNGMK
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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by PNGMK » Fri, 17 Jun 2016 2:29 pm

It's a fantastic idea.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Fri, 17 Jun 2016 2:41 pm

Thumbs up for that quick response, PNGMK! I know it's a bubble but a bubble might be a nice introduction for my wee ones (and that first week before school starts we could have fun exploring Sentosa, right?).

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by JR8 » Fri, 17 Jun 2016 5:52 pm

I haven’t been but it’s very highly rated. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Revie ... sland.html
It might allow you to regroup in a semi-oasis of calm, while you gets to grips with SG as a whole. Plus it might offer more of a holiday/resort-like experience for the children; there are many tourist type attractions right on the doorstep. Another advantage is they should have top-notch staff incl a concierge who could help you find your feet, answer any questions etc.
SG is so small ‘the action’ is only a cab ride away. Rather than being in it 24/7, having it in easy reach from a quieter area sounds pretty fine to me :cool:
‘Landing services’. I’d suggest you determine the scope of that, is that a relocation agent? Having the employer pay for a realtor is not that unusual (at your budget), if this service offers more it’d be useful ahead of time to know what it is. Who are they, can you initiate contact, introduce yourselves before you arrive, so that you might be able to get the max value from it upon arrival?
I don’t know how long it takes to set yourself up with a car lease, but can you hire one in the interim? Or give it a week to settle in and see if hiring one would add value.
When I lived in the States and other places that drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, IME it takes a week or two to adjust. When you go to the car, you might initially approach the wrong front door, it’s a kind of auto-pilot and wears off pretty quickly. Stick a post-it note on the windscreen interior with an arrow ‘Drive this side!’. IME the trickiest thing can be getting grips with laws that are specific to that country, like turning-lanes at junctions, or what is it that’s legal in parts of the US turning right [or left!?] on a red traffic-light... Get a copy of the SGn highway code which will highlight any such local quirks to look out for.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Fri, 17 Jun 2016 9:52 pm

Thanks JRB, your comments are always spot-on. I thought locals might pan the Sentosa idea but it's encouraging folks seem to see some value in it. So landing services probably isn't the right term (I can't remember what it's called on our budget spreadsheet, maybe destination services?)-- what we requested is to have someone who could help on the setting-up/leg work. Things like finding the best car lease and cell phone plan and place to establish a bank account...all things I know I could figure out by pouring through this site, btw, and from you kind souls, but time is at such a premium right now. I hadn't envisioned real estate being part of that and hadn't budgeted -- is it still the case that over a certain budget renter agents are compensated by the landlord? I've spent two days (over the course of 2 look-sees) with a real estate guy who I think is fantastic and very renter oriented so we should be covered there, and he is also good on general advice but I don't want to take advantage of his time too much. When you say "hire a car" in the interim, JRB, do you mean like a car service (car and driver) while we situate a car lease? I hadn't thought of that, if so, but I wonder if it would be helpful in the short-term, though if we're at the hotel (down the road from it, actually, in the freestanding residences closer to the sea) presumably taxi access would be easy.

ps yes, the hotel is gorgeous, like so gorgeous i emailed our agent 3 times confirming that the monthly price was indeed as quoted (probably helped it wasn't me asking, but instead my Singaporean agent)

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by JR8 » Sat, 18 Jun 2016 6:31 pm

I suspect you'll be feeling stressed and frayed on arrival so having a nice base to operate from would help; esp for the children. Check if they have a 'Kid's Club' or similar, as that would be useful for when you're off doing preliminary flat viewings.
There used to something called a 'relocation agent' that might be assigned to you by the employer. They were your local point person vs letting agents and everything else not directly handled by HR [visas etc] until you were set up in your home. I'm not sure if that is what you have on offer, but if it includes car leases, bank accounts etc, that sounds like the same kind of service.
re: The commission issue - I forget how this now works, the rules changed a few years back. One element re: who pays what IIRC is who engaged the agent. But if you have any liability perhaps the employer is paying that. Someone who has gone through the process recently would be better placed to clarify this point.
Hire car vs car+driver. When you said hire a car, I was thinking like going to Hertz/Avis etc and just hiring a car. I don't think that's necessary [until proven so], and perhaps just added cost and hassle. The realtors IME will usually drive you around, following an itinerary for a few hours of suggested viewings on a given day. As such I think a car+driver would not really add value. Your hotel will simply be able to call a taxi for you when one is needed.
Yep your hotel is sooo nice you'll wonder if you can ever leave. But there'll be a point the luxury and novelty might ebb just a little, and you'll be dying to get your home set up, your freight in, and so on. Enjoy it whilst it lasts though :-D
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by Bigjohn32819 » Sun, 19 Jun 2016 11:18 am

ivysmom wrote:we could have a pretty amazing, twice as big, 3 bedroom+ den duplex with views of the sea at the Capella.
If you are staying at the Capella, I gotta say you picked what is probably the best hotel in Singapore, IMHO !!!

I've stayed there before and I just loved it.

Have fun.

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Sat, 16 Jul 2016 2:36 pm

Belated thank you to all -- we have booked the Capella duplex and look forward to a quiet month of life at the beach while we get acquainted with SG. I have heard that our arrival date Aug 9 is a national holiday -- anything to be aware of/fun to do while we fight the jet lag from the US?

So I know that anyone giving recommendations for particular companies on this forum should be viewed with some suspicion, but can anyone recommend a methodology for finding a good car lease? We have a larger relo agency helping our company but I am skeptical that the bids that we're getting for cars may not be "arm's length" transactions, as we say here. (I do know that cars are insanely expensive here). Call me a skeptic, but I feel I need to do my own due diligence, but am struggling to figure out how...

We are knee deep in move now, trying to get that container moving onward, but I look forward to everyone's feedback on the host of issues I'll no doubt be encountering upon arrival.

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by maneo » Thu, 21 Jul 2016 2:34 am

ivysmom wrote: I don't mind the idea of transitioning my kids into SG gradually...being in a quieter spot the first few weeks while people get settled.
If you hang together well as a family, then this might be OK.
However, if the 2 older kids like to be more independent, then they might get bored after the first few days.
ivysmom wrote: Older kids will be starting at UWC East which isn't exactly a short commute but it wouldn't be from Orchard either (I have confirmed bus picks up at Sentosa).
You should double-check with the school regarding the bus pick-up location.
The Capella is on the west side of the island.
The UWC bus normally goes to the residential area (Sentosa Cove) on the east side of the island.
JR8 wrote:SG is so small ‘the action’ is only a cab ride away.
Getting a taxi on Sentosa is not so easy.
Taxis not already on the island usually do not respond to calls.
ivysmom wrote: We will have a car, though I imagine that may take a little bit of time to get one (and learn to drive on the left side of the road...any suggestions for how to master that?).
JR8 wrote:When I lived in the States and other places that drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, IME it takes a week or two to adjust. When you go to the car, you might initially approach the wrong front door, it’s a kind of auto-pilot and wears off pretty quickly. Stick a post-it note on the windscreen interior with an arrow ‘Drive this side!’.
If you’re driving an automatic transmission, it should be easy enough to adjust.
A couple of challenges will be to keep the car centered within the lane and to use your right hand for the turn indicator (so you don’t wipe the windshield every time you try to signal a turn).
You also will need to get used to shorter yellow lights and to having other cars following too close & changing lanes right in front of you as if you weren’t there.
JR8 wrote: IME the trickiest thing can be getting grips with laws that are specific to that country, like turning-lanes at junctions, or what is it that’s legal in parts of the US turning right [or left!?] on a red traffic-light... Get a copy of the SGn highway code which will highlight any such local quirks to look out for.
In the US you may be used to being able to turn right (after a stop) on red or to make a u-turn at intersections, unless there is a sign prohibiting it.
In Singapore turning left on red and making u-turns at intersections is prohibited unless there is a sign allowing it.
Another thing to get used to will be the ERP gantries that are active during the day and especially during peak hours into the CBD and on key roadways - you car needs to have a cash card with a reasonable balance in the IU (In-vehicle Unit) to pay for passing under these gantries.
You may also need to have some parking coupons for on-street parking and some non-upgraded parking lots.
ivysmom wrote:...can anyone recommend a methodology for finding a good car lease?
A Google search should bring up a list that you can use to compare prices.

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 21 Jul 2016 8:42 am

Nice ^^^
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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Thu, 21 Jul 2016 9:31 am

Thanks for the detailed reply, all good points to follow-up on. We booked the Capella and, since our kids are young, I think it will be great. I will follow-up on the transit stuff, if UWC bus doesn't pick up I'll figure out a back-up plan before we get a car -- Capella shuttle to VivoCity or CBD or arranged ride every morning if need be. The driving advice is very appreciated, I haven't thought through any of that but it all makes sense. It's driving me a little nuts that most rental car agencies don't show their pricing on-line but I think I've forward a bit on that one. Once I'm through the move (tomorrow), I'll probably be posting questions here every darn day! Thanks everybody.

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by JR8 » Thu, 21 Jul 2016 3:13 pm

Interesting that the hire agencies don't show quotes online. Then again it's perhaps because they think that inconvenience for the customer is preferable to showing their rivals what they're charging. That would tie with how some local businesses that are on-line can be a bit coy about indicating firm final prices. It could be that you'll have to contact each of them for a quote, then see if you can play them off against each other to get the best deal.
Considering you're moving a whole family I think your Qs have been pretty restrained/focused so far: So don't worry about posting more! :)
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Feedback re: Temporary Living on Sentosa

Post by ivysmom » Thu, 21 Jul 2016 3:59 pm

Thanks, JRB. It's interesting that the queries I've posed directly to car places have yielded better results than the offers from our "destination services" provider the co retained -- they came back with boiler plate quotes for cars I'm not even interested in, and I suspect the rates are higher since it's a corporate inquiry rather than a personal one. I was hoping for more aggressive price shopping rather than inside deals with their partners (but I'm also realistic about the process). Alas, I am determined to get as much value as I can from my transit allowance so I will press on!

And, btw, the reason for my restraint in not asking too many questions is just that this international relo has me FAR to busy to actually inquire about life once we get there. I definitely underestimated the amount of time/attention this move would take, particularly with a company who's never sent anyone abroad before! But with all 3 kids now admitted to school, flights and temporary housing booked and immigration issues moving (or should I say inching) along, I think we'll get there. And then I'll exhale.

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