Moving to Singapore in May & info from our house-hunting trip

Discuss about where to live, renting a property, tenancy issues, property trend and property investment in Singapore.
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TXfour
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Moving to Singapore in May & info from our house-hunting tr

Post by TXfour » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 7:15 am

Firstly, we are going to be moving to Singapore in May '08 and will be living near the Bukit Timah / Sixth Avenue area. We have tow daughters, ages 11 and 13 who will attand the Cancadian International School. We would love to meet up with other families with simiar ages daughters.

Secondly, some information we found out while on our house-hunting trip.
1) Housing - we had a top end of S$17,000 and viewed numerous houses from S$12,000 upwards. All were pretty good locations, some in better condition than others. So, yes, there are houses out there in that price range. We had a hard time trying to preview houses on the net before we went. Our relocation person told us that realtors hardly ever update their pages since houses tend to move pretty fast and they can't keep up. We likede the first house we looked at, but checked out some more to be sure of our choice, and put an offer in that day - there were other families looking at it the same time we were!

2) Swimming Pools - a strange one! Don't limit yourself to asking your realtor to find you a house with a pool. Most landlords will put in a pool for you! We found it all very strange, but the pool company will basically come in, dog a hole, drop in a pool, put in a wooden deck, and hey presto! You have a pool! After your lease is up, the come dig out the pool and fill the hole with dirt. Basically you rent your pool. Depending on your landlord, it can be included in your lease.

3) Dogs - don't be concerned about bringing large dogs and it limiting your housing selection - most landlords don't have a problem - unless your dogs chews up the front door of course!

4) Furniture - we decided to ship some stuff, air cargo some items we needed immediately, and lease the bulky stuff. For about S$1,800 per month we were able to lease two sets of twin sized bedroom furniture incluing mattresses, a king size master bedroom, a queen size master bedroom, living room, dining room, and 3 desks. Includes rug and lamps.

5) Towels, bedding, electronics, etc. - overall I found the quality very poor. You could probably get better stuff at Wal-mart here! Unless you're willing to pay handsomly for it! There is an IKEA, and next door is Courts, an electronics store. Another store for electronics and appliances is Best Denko (?). We compared televisions since we wanted to get one we could bring back here. Some are made that you can bring back. It turns out that they're at least 50% more expensive than what we can get at Best Buy in the USA. They seem to be somewhat behind in technology so the prices are still higher - they've already dropped in the uSA becasue the novelty's worn off! Smaller appliances like clock radios, hairdryers, toasters, we budgeted S$50 each - some will be more, some less, and depends also on what quality you want.

6) Dogs - we checked out a few of the dogs parks. The three we checked seemed very clean, very orderly, and used by locals and expats.

7) Food - we visited a couple of different food chains. Cold Storage is like a Tom Thumb (USA) or Tesco (UK) - costs more than other stores, but you're paying for the convenience. Carre Four is more like a small versions of Wal-mart or Target. It has groceries, some limited clothing and furniture, housewares, etc. The prices seemed better though if you were to go and stock up on larger items.

8) Vehicles - we haven't yet leased a vehicle, but i know that when I do it will be a small one! Between the HUGE busses, taxis and motor-cycles, there's not much space left on the road for you! You can get a small sedan for around S$1,300. One thing you'll need to get is a Cash Card. It functions somewhat like a toll-tag but looks like a debit card. Every vehicle is equipped with a card reader on the dash. You put the card in there and when you park or go on the "tolled" roads it's automatically deducted off the card. You'll also have to buy parking coupon booklets in increments of half-hour and one-hour pages. You just punch out the tabs indicating the date and what time you started parking. These are only used in areas when indicated.

9) Dining out - you could eat at a different restaurant every day for the rest of your life. You could live a 100% western diet if you really wanted to. Just about everything is available. Food chains like Burger king and Subway are abundant, we aslo saw Carls Jr, KFC, lots and lots of Starbucks, Ben and Jerrys!!!! Phew! In other words, you won't starve.

10) Taxis - they're everywhere. Drivers speak english, as do most other services. It's so easy - don't have to remember where you parked your car!!! They're inexpensive - S$14.00 from Swissotel to Changi airport. Most average trips around town to Chinatown, Plaza Singapora, etc. ran around S$4.00 one way.

11) Clothing - if you're bigger than a size 14 stock up now! I saw in a couple of windows signs reading "NOW STOCKING SIZE 14" Yikes! My 13 year old daughter, US size 0 was in shopping heaven - everything fit her!!!! I, on the other hand am stocking up on every item of cotton clothing I can lay my hands on for the next 30 days!

12) Schools - we got our girls on the waiting lists at ISS and CIS back in October last year. We looked at the American school, but because my eldest daughter is not an American citizen, she wouldn't get in. I didn't want the girls in different schools so we looked around for other school we liked. We toured both campuses for CIS and ISS. Both are very different to what we have here is the USA - so blank that out your mind to start with. I know there have been posts for pro's and con's for both schools on this forum, so this is my 2-cents worth. The Canadian school seemed much more approachable, organized, friendly, clean, maintained. The ISS school staff were either very stand-off-ish (in the office) or pushy - the person giving us the tour. They wanted my girls to write a page long essay about why they liked the ISS school and wanted to come there - BEFORE we saw the school. They just stared back at her dumb-founded. Eventaully rattled off something, and when my eldest daughter asked the youngest if she was done and could turn in her paper for her, the staff member reprimanded her for cheating. All this, while we were all sitting around the same table! I really wanted my girls to hear about the school and what they kids did,e tc. but they were busy writing their essay. I must say that my decision was made after the first 5 minutes.
The Candadian school was also an old campus, although the new one will open in July '09. I got a much better feeling from the staff, teachers we met, and the overall condition of the campus.

I really hope that for anyone moving to Singapore that this information has been of help. I know we were hungry for any information we could get, and also know that not everyone is as fortunate as we were in that my husbands company sent us ahead of time.

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 4:03 pm

Nice Post TXfour.

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SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by road.not.taken » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 7:46 pm

Interesting post TXFour. You put a lot of effort into it, that's obvious, but be careful, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Each one of your topics holds some truth to be sure, but they each hold half truths too. And that's where the problems lie. I'm sure you understand this is a very, very snap-shot version of things, you'll learn the nuances soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy your move.

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Post by TXfour » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 8:39 pm

I realize thats it's a snap-shot view, but when all you have time for is a snap-shot you take in what you can and work with it. Obviously we're not going to know all the intricacies of the culture, etc. until we've lived there a while. But, it's nice to have info. on which to base some very basic decisions when you're moving your family across the world - what to bring, what you get for your money, where to shop, etc. etc. We really loved our time there and can't wait to get back and go exploring!

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Post by road.not.taken » Fri, 04 Apr 2008 8:59 pm

I wasn't speaking culturally, more logistically. No matter, you'll do fine, just remember you're at the very start of a very steep learning curve. Good luck, you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders.

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Post by SueBoo » Thu, 01 May 2008 3:32 am

Hi TXFour, I'm sure you're very busy right now as your move must be soon. I wanted to say that I have found your post very helpful.

We are considering a move in July/Aug of this year so I am frantically researching schools and pet Movers (the two biggest concerns before moving). We are considering the CIS and have heard wonderful things. Since you have visited, I am wondering what you think of the pool situation - I guess children who do swimming take a bus to a local school. Do you have thoughts or concerns on this?

I appreicated your comments on dogs - thank you. I'm very nervous about putting my dog thru quarantine but hope it will be all worth it after 30 days!

mostly I wanted to say thanks for your post. Sue

TXfour
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Swimming pool, etc

Post by TXfour » Thu, 15 May 2008 9:18 am

Honestly, the swimming pool issue was practically at the bottom of our list of concerns. It seems most kids will at some stage take extra-curriculars that are off campus.

As an update to our orginal posting...
As other people have written - stock up on towels - even the cheapest Walmart towels are better than anthing you can get here - without paying a fortune for them at least.
Stationery???? We have yet to find a store that sells stationery???? My kids need arty stuff and I need office supplies. Any suggestions anyone?
Also can't seem to find my moisturizer here - so wish I had stocked up on that before I left.
In general, I was shocked at how much groceries cost.
We ended up buying a used car instead of leasing. After considering all options and "worst-case" scenario we took this route.
Don't know what age your kids are, but mine are 11 and 13, and it's seems to be more difficult for them to meet people and make friends, and for me too for that matter. There are a LOT of toddlers and pregnant ladies about - what's up with that??? Tanglin mall was bursting with pregnant expat moms-to-be!!!! There seems to be a lot of younger moms that get together, from what I've seen in my limited time here.

I will add updates in time.....

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Re: Swimming pool, etc

Post by road.not.taken » Thu, 15 May 2008 9:47 am

TXfour wrote:Honestly, the swimming pool issue was practically at the bottom of our list of concerns. It seems most kids will at some stage take extra-curriculars that are off campus.

As an update to our orginal posting...
As other people have written - stock up on towels - even the cheapest Walmart towels are better than anthing you can get here - without paying a fortune for them at least.
Stationery???? We have yet to find a store that sells stationery???? My kids need arty stuff and I need office supplies. Any suggestions anyone?
Also can't seem to find my moisturizer here - so wish I had stocked up on that before I left.
In general, I was shocked at how much groceries cost.
We ended up buying a used car instead of leasing. After considering all options and "worst-case" scenario we took this route.
Don't know what age your kids are, but mine are 11 and 13, and it's seems to be more difficult for them to meet people and make friends, and for me too for that matter. There are a LOT of toddlers and pregnant ladies about - what's up with that??? Tanglin mall was bursting with pregnant expat moms-to-be!!!! There seems to be a lot of younger moms that get together, from what I've seen in my limited time here.

I will add updates in time.....
Go to the 4th floor of Takashimaya shopping centre, lots of art supply stores. Look for Evergreen Stationary stores around town or go to Popular (the nice big one at Bras Basah Complex is ideal) or Stationary Superstore at Funan. There are literally no office supply stores left in the Orchard area. What the heck happened?

Re: pregnant moms. Yes, there are lots. Lots of reasons for it: The average expat is getting younger. The healthcare here is cheap and so is the help. Also, expats come here to have their babies from Jakarta, Manila, etc...

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Re: Swimming pool, etc

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 15 May 2008 12:23 pm

road.not.taken wrote: Re: pregnant moms. Yes, there are lots. Lots of reasons for it: The average expat is getting younger. The healthcare here is cheap and so is the help. Also, expats come here to have their babies from Jakarta, Manila, etc...
Also, expensive to drink and party all night anymore so maybe husbands are coming home from work instead of hitting happy hour till 3 am. Maybe SPG's are falling out of favour as well? :wink:
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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