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Relocating to Singapore Help

Moving to Singapore? Ask our regular expats in Singapore questions on relocation and their experience here. Ask about banking, employment pass, insurance, visa, work permit, citizenship or immigration issues.
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red*devil
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Relocating to Singapore Help

Post by red*devil » Wed, 13 May 2009 12:50 am

Hi

I will be venturing to Singapore in about a month, and leaving the creature comforts of my home in (sunny, sic!) Scotland for the first time in my life!

My family and I are excited but yet nervous, and wonder if we can get some help along the way. Gosh, there's so much to do....search for home, school, transport, domestic help, etc, etc, etc.... Does anyone have any advice on where to start? Its only a month away, and we're starting to panic!!

With two youngsters in tow, it's gonna be a challenge. I've searched the web and found some relocation companies, but they seem to work with the biggies, and my company isn't going to splash out on me.
Long Live the Red Devils!

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littlegreenman
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Post by littlegreenman » Wed, 13 May 2009 1:05 am

Hi,

with a bit of research you don't need to pay a re-location company. Assuming all your visas etc are worked out I would look into the following as a must:

1. A home, read up on where you want to live, ask questions about the area you want to live in this forum or ask in general, based on where your work will be etc and what your budget is. You should do this before you leave.

2. A bank account, there are plenty out there. HSBC and Standard Chartered are the expat friendly banks. DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB are sort of the locals which are all decent. I would choose UOB or POSB as they have the biggest ATM networks across the island (unlike here in the UK you can't use any ATM for free). A savings account allows you to send/receive money and have direct debits. That will surfice initially and you get an VISA debit with it or a nets card at least. Important: don't go to the bank towards the first of the month and make sure you have plenty of time to open an account, you will have to queue for ages (at least from my experience). You can look this stuff up before you leave as well.

3. A phone number. Get a sim card, you can get a pre-paid form the big three providers (keep in mind that pre-paid charge you for incoming calls unless you pay something like 30 cents a day for unlimited free incoming). If you have PR or EP you can get a contract as well but you might have to pay a security deposit as well for EP. These plans do usually have free incoming. You can buy a sim card at any seven eleven or cheers or of course a Singtel, Starhub or M1 shop once you arrive. Just make sure to have your IC/Passport with you.

4. Internet hotspots. Make sure to check out where the nearest internet hostspot to your temporary accommodation is should there be no free internet in your accommodation. Most of the Starbucks, Coffee Bean and McDonalds etc. have free Wifi.

5. Lose any Scottish accent you have. People will not understand you there otherwise ;) They had a problem with my English accent although I do speak sort of a BBC English. You will pick up Singlish very quickly though.

As soon as you have arranged the above, the rest will fall into place bit by bit. Some days will be better, some worse but within a week you should have sorted out most once you are there.

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Post by Tammy138 » Wed, 13 May 2009 4:05 am

Littlegreenman...your message was so helpful! Is it better to get sim card or get a local contract for the mobile? Is local contract cheaper?

I am also moving to Singapore from the UK. Are there any tips you can give us as I have never been to Singapore before.

Red devil...good luck!

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Post by Angelz » Wed, 13 May 2009 7:53 am

A family friend of ours has just moved from London, and they didn't have a nice experience with one of the big relocation companies, so that isn't very helpful. On the other hand, an American family also just moved, and they had quite a lot of help from one small firm

Try www.expatriaide.com for more info.

Good luck,
Angelz

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Re: Relocating Help

Post by cbavasi » Wed, 13 May 2009 8:49 am

red*devil wrote:Hi

I will be venturing to Singapore in about a month, and leaving the creature comforts of my home in (sunny, sic!) Scotland for the first time in my life!

My family and I are excited but yet nervous, and wonder if we can get some help along the way. Gosh, there's so much to do....search for home, school, transport, domestic help, etc, etc, etc.... Does anyone have any advice on where to start? Its only a month away, and we're starting to panic!!

With two youngsters in tow, it's gonna be a challenge. I've searched the web and found some relocation companies, but they seem to work with the biggies, and my company isn't going to splash out on me.
There is a lot of information on this forum - this question has been asked quite a bit but as a preliminary I would concentrate on the housing/school as the main priority. Will you be staying in a serviced apt or temporary housing until you find your home? I wouldn't worry too much about finding housing - there are so many units available right now and usually the landlords want to close immediately. Your utilities, gas, cable, internet, telephone can all be done the day you move in provided you have your FIN# and passport. If you are not the main EP pass holder you simply need to provide copies of the FIN# & passport (as well as your own). If you use an agent to help find your property usually they can help you sort this out - it's really just making a couple of phone calls. As a previous poster mentioned when you arrive you can rock up to any mobile shop and buy a temporary SIM card and a prepaid calling card until you have your plan set up. I think they are around $40 or thereabouts.

1) Housing - Figure out your budget - this is most important. Then decide what sort of housing you want to move into (house, condo, townhouse, HDB, demi-d...etc). Do you want to be near transport, will you have a car, do you have pets, do you want facilities, do you want to live in a big condo, or a smaller condo, near a park, near the water, near shopping...etc. If you can narrow down your areas based on your living requirements this would be a huge bonus when you look. I had no idea where to start looking - but thought about what my main requirements were and went from there. A lot of agents will try and push the same properties... again, do a search on this forum, ask questions about condos of interest - chances are somebody will know something about it.

2) School - are you children currently in school? Will they be of school age while you're living here? Again, sort out what your budget is, where you would like them schooled - think ahead if you may be here longer than planned (tho you can always move house after your lease is up).

3) Transportation - this can definitely be something to sort out once you've settled. Public transportation is super convenient - even with children in tow. Again, this will be dependent on where you decide to live and what you can afford.

4) Domestic help - there are lots of places to find helpers - agencies, shopping mall boards, club boards, classified ads on this site, word of mouth...etc. There is a lot of information on this board as well. The domestic help can be sorted out quite quickly once you've made your decision provided you find someone who is available. There are so many helpers posted on boards for families who are leaving this summer.

Best of luck!

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Post by Saint » Wed, 13 May 2009 9:05 am

The biggest advice I can give you for when you arrive here in Singapore is don't start comparing everything in Singapore to your homeland. Singapore might be an ultra modern country but it's still very Asian and has many different cultures, traditions, little qwerky habits. If you start moaning about things as soon as you step off the plane you wont enjoy yourself here and you wont last long. :cool:

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littlegreenman
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Post by littlegreenman » Wed, 13 May 2009 2:58 pm

Tammy138 wrote:Littlegreenman...your message was so helpful! Is it better to get sim card or get a local contract for the mobile? Is local contract cheaper?
Hi Tammy,

it depends on how much you use the phone. Soon you will find out though that in Singapore you tend to use the mobile a lot more often. Yes, you do have receiption EVERYWHERE, even in the tube or what they call MRT (some areas at East Coast might only have Indosat but hey, I never said the big three had coverage everywhere hehe ). So in the long run you will be better of with a contract which is only about S$20 a month and comes with free incoming calls, loads of free texts and 100 or 150 mins free outgoing.

Also regarding schooling, an issue I always tend to forget as we don't have children: depending on whether you are a PR or EP holder, there can be big differences in what school you can get your children into. A point to note though is that there are plenty of foreign schools: Australian, American, German, French... which teach the home country curriculum and all government schools teach GCSE and Cambridge a-levels, so your children will get British qualifications at government schools.

red*devil
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Post by red*devil » Wed, 13 May 2009 3:25 pm

Hi all

Thanks so much for the valuable advice. There's so much to research its boggling! Me wife's getting somewhat nervous with the move with so much to do to settle down, and with the two little uns running about too.

My company is putting me up in a hotel for about 2 weeks initially. Is that enough time? I don't want to stay in a room any longer than that but we have to be realisitic.
Long Live the Red Devils!

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littlegreenman
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Post by littlegreenman » Wed, 13 May 2009 3:37 pm

Two weeks is plenty of time for you to find a place if you do your research on area thoroughly before you leave the UK.

I can't stress this enough. Preparation before you leave is everything. I re-located several times without help from any company or employer (Germany to Australia, Australia to Singapore, Singapore to the UK) and after a while you get the hang of it. Preparation is everything. You shouldn't compare mobile phone plans when you are there or decided where to live when you are there. This can all be done beforehand. You have the internet, use it! If you do all your planning beforehand you can plan out your first three days to arrange the necessary things and you will find instead of three it only takes you 1.5 days. It will be like going through a supermarket with a shopping list. Grab and go.

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Post by Saint » Wed, 13 May 2009 4:08 pm

We arrived on a Friday at 7:45am, but midday we had viewed 4 apartments, a quick packet of chicken rice, another 4 apartments in the afternoon. By Saturday we had decided and by Monday all paperwork signed and we moved in a week later!

We had made all the viewings appointments prior to our arrival over the net using a number of property sites. Ok, we already knew the area we wanting to live and knew the area very well, but a lot of the prep work can be done prior to arrival.

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Post by Tammy138 » Thu, 14 May 2009 5:08 am

Saint/ Littlegreenman: do you have to negotiate rent with the agent? I have looked into this site for 2 bed apartments and they seem so expensive. Whats your view? I am going to work on Raffles place so was looking at condos further out but on the same mrt line.

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Post by LoriW » Thu, 14 May 2009 6:24 am

With simcards, I've had a Singtel payg simcard for a few years now which I've been sharing with my father - payg cards expire after 6 months if they're not used.

I'm on payg in the UK, in Singapore it's even better for me since all texts are free but you have to pay to make and RECEIVE phone calls!!

I tend to prefer texting anyway since more often than not I'm doing something which means I can't take a phone call - at work, moonlighting as a dancing teacher, or down the pub where theree is no phone reception!!

As far as travelling is concerned, Tammy, remember that Singapore is about the size of the Isle of Wight with almost the population of the UK!! (OK probably an exaggeration!!). The MRT is as easy to negotiate as the London Underground (which I've been travelling alone on since I was about 12!!). If you're looking for somewhere to live in "Central Singapore" be prepared to pay Central London prices!

Singaporeans look at areas such as Woodlands with horror because it's sooo far away!

One point though, the MRT in the rush hour is just like the tube! Pretty gruesome!

I'd say that if you speak slowly, regional accents, including Scottish CAN be understood! My they family have no problem understanding me and my partner but they have commented that when we speak to each other, they find it hard to follow! I'm a Londoner speaking pretty much RP - although beloved tells me I have a Berkshire accent which I didn't even know existed! Beloved however does have a fairly pronounced Dorset accent. He has never had any trouble making hinself understood by locals whether he's related to them, in shops, restaurants, workplace situations ...........

Littlegreenman ........... thanks for your comments on opening a bank account! That has answered perfectly what I asked in a thread a few days ago!

I'm visiting for a fortnight from Sunday before I move out at the beginning of July so hopefully I'll get that sorted then!

Tell me though .......... what's all this about a minimum balance?? Also does a savings account work like a current account does over here?

My savings accounts are for "rainy days" and are untouched until I'm desperate. My current account is for day to day expenses. I'm also going to need to transfer money to my UK current account ........... is this simple to do via internet banking?

My UK current account is already set up to receive foreign currency - or at least Singaporean dollars since I had to pay in some inheritance money from my mother's CPF when she passed away about 5 years ago.

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littlegreenman
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Post by littlegreenman » Thu, 14 May 2009 3:51 pm

Hi Lori,

yes a savings account in Singapore works exactely like a normal current account in the UK with one difference: you don't get a chequebook.

The minimum balance is not a minimum balance that HAS to be maintained but if you are below the minimum balance on average throughout the month you have to pay account fees (around two dollars a month). Come to think about it, here in the UK you have similar restrictions in the sense that for certain accounts you need to pay in at least 1k a month for it to be free.

Bottom line if you fall below the minimum balance you have to pay an account fee of 2 dollars.

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Post by LoriW » Thu, 14 May 2009 4:01 pm

for certain accounts you need to pay in at least 1k a month for it to be free
But you don't have to maintain that balance all the time! Certainly on payday my account balance looks fantastic - the next day it's pretty awful! However my NatWest account pays me interest - not very much but it's still them paying me rather than me paying them!

Not having a chequebook doesn't make any odds to me - I probably write about 3 cheques a year anyway! Woot for electronic banking!

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littlegreenman
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Post by littlegreenman » Thu, 14 May 2009 4:31 pm

Yeah exactley Lori, but the point I am trying to make is that if you don't pay in 1k a month you have to pay a account maintainance fee.

Regarding cheques, they are still quite useful in Singapore but you can pay all your bills (or 99.9%) using an SAM machine which you can find at any street corner and which is very convenient. Apart from that you can of course make a transfer as well using your online banking :D .

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