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Goodbye wet and cold, Hello warm and humid!

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MeerCatMoose
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Goodbye wet and cold, Hello warm and humid!

Postby MeerCatMoose » Sat, 26 Nov 2011 11:24 pm

First, hello to the regulars. I have been reading these forums on and off for a few years. I was originally planning on moving to Singapore more than 5 years ago - however business restructuring and changes demolished that plan and I ended up in the Netherlands instead!

Very nice, apart from wet, windy, flat and they tax everything!

After another restructuring and being stuck in Amsterdam (which is not really that bad compared to the UK where I am originally from) without a job - I have finally been offered and accepted a position in Singapore at VP level (unfortunately on the low end salary wise - but still not to be complained about) on a local contract (since I intend to remain for good).

Due to move around February 2012 once all the paperwork has been completed, and some "orientation training" at the HQ in the US.

These forums have proved to be very informative (my wife was rather put off about the discussions on ovens and dishwashers!). Most of the leg work for the move will be handled by relocation agents (on exit and entry) - unfortunately paid for by myself, but really worth it (especially with two little girls).

I have a few questions though that long timers may be able to help with (naturally expecting highly subjective answers!).

What are the cultural trends in SG at present? i.e. materialism (my wife is from Indonesia - having experienced Jakarta and the love of designer gear and resulting judgements based on what you wear), family life, work ethic, foreigners (seen many articles about this due to the elections).

What was the biggest mistake in hindsight made when you initially relocated? (hopefully the use of an relocation agent should help mitigate this)



No doubt I will have others as I get closer to moving, and after I have had a good conversation with the Movers and relocation agent.

Thank you in advance for any help and advice!

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Postby beppi » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 6:15 am

Welcome to Singapore!

I am not sure what you mean by cultural trends regarding materialism. Singaporeans might be more materialistic than Europeans (they are certainly more money-minded), but I find the society refreshingly egalitarian: Everybody (almost) lives in small high-rise apartments (with the only difference whether the compound has a pool and tennis court or not), eats the same (cheap and delicious) food in hawker centres, and most people being rather tolerant about appearance, clothes, etc. (but NOT about race).
There simply is no space (and no need) for the rich to segregate in closed communities as you saw in Jakarta. I have never noticed a "high society" here.
Family life and moral expectations are more conservative than in Europe, but a far cry from the Indonesian middle class. Work ethics is very high, especially among the (majority) Chinese. Foreigners are more readily accepted than in most other countries (certainly more than in Europe), not surprising for a country where everyone has foreign roots.

My biggest mistake (every time I did an international move) was coming with preconceptions and expectations, only to see all of them crumble. No relocation agent can help you with this!

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 8:50 am

I am far less enthusiastic than beppi but it is a peaceful and tolerant society at least at the first sight and in many aspects of everyday living. Depending on your job role and personality this high work ethics may drive you back to Europe after a year or so or you will be just fine. I'm also not sure what do you mean by the cultural trends but I would say there are no clear and specific trends. There are well established and functioning imperatives: money, food, tv.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 11:40 am

After just shy of 30 years here, the first 15 with offshore oil and expatriates the second 15 with 100% local workforce, I think it's better if I just "watch" this thread. I'm inclined to agree with both. A healthy dose of common sense and the prayer that the local GET some common sense and always expect the unexpected. You'll be right as long as you are flexible and have a thick skin.

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Postby poodlek » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 12:33 pm

In my casual observation "work ethic" does not equal productivity. In my husband's company in particular (and I think it's somewhat exaggerated there) nothing gets done until the person who is supposed to perform the task is afraid he/she will be fired unless it is completed. There is also a lot of busywork whereby as long as a person looks like he/she is working really hard, and spending a long time doing it, he/she has a good "work ethic."
They do have a strong desire to appear to be working hard, so I'm sure in some (maybe even many?) instances that translates into results. It must, or this place would fall apart, right?

The main thing about working here that continually gets my husband's goat is the inability/lack of motivation to trouble shoot. Any time there is a problem the first thing out of anybody's mouth was "I didn't touch anything!" or "it's not my fault!" as if assigning blame were the prime directive. This makes solving problems for him 3x longer because he has to take them at their word and do top to bottom diagnostics on the equipment before finally coming to the conclusion that it had to be human error, and then "oh well it's possible something happened at this point..." It's like they're all afraid they'll get fired for their first mistake so they deny it up and down until they can't deny it anymore.

Anyway it is what it is, and there are many great opportunities to be had. If you notice us bitching (and I don't intend to come across as a complainer here, just pointing out a difference that has been a stumbling block) take it with a grain of salt. Life here is pretty darn good.

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Re: Goodbye wet and cold, Hello warm and humid!

Postby BillyB » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 12:36 pm

MeerCatMoose wrote:First, hello to the regulars. I have been reading these forums on and off for a few years. I was originally planning on moving to Singapore more than 5 years ago - however business restructuring and changes demolished that plan and I ended up in the Netherlands instead!

Very nice, apart from wet, windy, flat and they tax everything!

After another restructuring and being stuck in Amsterdam (which is not really that bad compared to the UK where I am originally from) without a job - I have finally been offered and accepted a position in Singapore at VP level (unfortunately on the low end salary wise - but still not to be complained about) on a local contract (since I intend to remain for good).

Due to move around February 2012 once all the paperwork has been completed, and some "orientation training" at the HQ in the US.

These forums have proved to be very informative (my wife was rather put off about the discussions on ovens and dishwashers!). Most of the leg work for the move will be handled by relocation agents (on exit and entry) - unfortunately paid for by myself, but really worth it (especially with two little girls).

I have a few questions though that long timers may be able to help with (naturally expecting highly subjective answers!).

What are the cultural trends in SG at present? i.e. materialism (my wife is from Indonesia - having experienced Jakarta and the love of designer gear and resulting judgements based on what you wear), family life, work ethic, foreigners (seen many articles about this due to the elections).

What was the biggest mistake in hindsight made when you initially relocated? (hopefully the use of an relocation agent should help mitigate this)




No doubt I will have others as I get closer to moving, and after I have had a good conversation with the Movers and relocation agent.

Thank you in advance for any help and advice!


Singapore is indeed a wonderful place to work and live. It offers great weather, food, favourable tax rates, a stonkingly efficient transport system, and insane cleanliness.

Without this turning into a spat at Singaporeans - because they aren't ALL like this - the biggest mistake I made was underestimating just how rude, superficial, ignorant, selfish and 'kiasu' the majority of them are.

But the Country offers significant lifestyle benefits, so I can comfortably grin and bear the negatives.

And I hope your relocation agent is an expat, or you'll get your first dose of dealing with idiots before you've even arrived!

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Postby ksl » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 1:50 pm

You know better than that....... :-| - moderator

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Re: Goodbye wet and cold, Hello warm and humid!

Postby the lynx » Sun, 27 Nov 2011 9:28 pm

MeerCatMoose wrote:What are the cultural trends in SG at present? i.e. materialism (my wife is from Indonesia - having experienced Jakarta and the love of designer gear and resulting judgements based on what you wear), family life, work ethic, foreigners (seen many articles about this due to the elections).


Cultural trends?

I've been working here more than 2 years already and the first word that pops in my head to this question is, right, MATERIALISM. But I guess it is common in metropolitan cities.

Most people (note: MOST) want to have more money, more Pradas, more properties, more 'face', more cars etc.

Yeah it is a comfortable country, albeit a crowded one. You may have to get used to certain lack of civic-conscience and common sense among the locals and foreigners alike, especially when it comes to public transportation, public toilets and amenities (and oh, sales!).

Just sharing

:P

MeerCatMoose
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Postby MeerCatMoose » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 4:28 pm

Thank you for the replies.

Luckily, the responses are what I expected (hoped).

This will be my third country move, so the only initial problems I expect will be a nice cultural shock - which is manageable when it is acknowledged!

The one really good thing about moving is the ritual binning of all unnecessary belongings.... rather therapeutic :)



No doubt I will be more active on these forums when dates start to get closer. Now to hope for snow for my last winter :)

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Postby nutnut » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 4:51 pm

Let me see, I agree with a lot of what has been said, I think I can add something in regards to family. I've got a couple of terrors too, so can tell you that Singapore is great for Family, there is so much to do and it's so well planned out, all the museums and such are really there to be of great interest to the kids of all ages! So for family it's great.

The biggest mistake I made when I came out here? Trying to struggle without a maid and a car ;) :P

Car's are not imperative, but with kids they are very handy and some of the taxi drivers here are lunatics, they don't care what the precious cargo is in the car. I got a car after the taxi we were all in nearly slammed into the back of a traffic jam at 80KM/h because the guy wasn't paying attention!

Bit of a sticky wicket here though, the public transport is excellent, much cheaper and better than driving for most work type trips!

Good luck with the move, I hope you don't have to deal with anyone too drastic before you get here ;)

Oh, and bear in mind, people follow processes to the T here even if they don't make sense!

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Postby beppi » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 5:03 pm

nutnut wrote:some of the taxi drivers here are lunatics, they don't care what the precious cargo is in the car. I got a car after the taxi we were all in nearly slammed into the back of a traffic jam at 80KM/h because the guy wasn't paying attention!

You have never taken a taxi in Bangkok or Jakarta - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.

nutnut wrote:Oh, and bear in mind, people follow processes to the T here even if they don't make sense!

You have never worked in Thailand or China - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.

Come down from your cultural high horse!

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Postby nutnut » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 5:37 pm

beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:some of the taxi drivers here are lunatics, they don't care what the precious cargo is in the car. I got a car after the taxi we were all in nearly slammed into the back of a traffic jam at 80KM/h because the guy wasn't paying attention!

You have never taken a taxi in Bangkok or Jakarta - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.


Does the fact I've taken a taxi somewhere or not change the fact I should complain about a taxi driver putting the lives of my kids at risk? No it doesn't, what an absurd comment. And yes I have taken a taxi in both Jakarta and Bangkok and if the OP was asking about those countries I'd tell him.

beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:Oh, and bear in mind, people follow processes to the T here even if they don't make sense!

You have never worked in Thailand or China - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.

Come down from your cultural high horse!


Well whoop-de-doo, you've worked elsewhere other than your home country and Singapore, it obviously makes you feel very important. I have never worked in Thailand or China, you are absolutely right, are they nice?

I am trying to give the OP information that they may find useful in the future. That is what was asked for. Not such a problem is it?

Anyway, to the OP, life in general is very, very good here. :)
nutnut

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Postby Mary Hatch Bailey » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 7:31 pm

nutnut wrote:
beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:some of the taxi drivers here are lunatics, they don't care what the precious cargo is in the car. I got a car after the taxi we were all in nearly slammed into the back of a traffic jam at 80KM/h because the guy wasn't paying attention!

You have never taken a taxi in Bangkok or Jakarta - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.


Does the fact I've taken a taxi somewhere or not change the fact I should complain about a taxi driver putting the lives of my kids at risk? No it doesn't, what an absurd comment. And yes I have taken a taxi in both Jakarta and Bangkok and if the OP was asking about those countries I'd tell him.

beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:Oh, and bear in mind, people follow processes to the T here even if they don't make sense!

You have never worked in Thailand or China - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.

Come down from your cultural high horse!


Well whoop-de-doo, you've worked elsewhere other than your home country and Singapore, it obviously makes you feel very important. I have never worked in Thailand or China, you are absolutely right, are they nice?

I am trying to give the OP information that they may find useful in the future. That is what was asked for. Not such a problem is it?

Anyway, to the OP, life in general is very, very good here. :)


I always wondered at the validity of comparing Singapore to ___________ in discussions like this as well since we do, in fact, live in Singapore and face its challenges/benefits/differences/advantages all day, every day.

What good is knowing a ride in a Bangkok taxi is scarier/louder/longer/more dangerous once you get past the initial (and purely academic) realization that you're glad you don't live there?

I've travelled all over SE Asia for years and years, taken all kinds of transportation ~ but that does not change the fact that some Singapore taxi drivers are dangerous.

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Postby nutnut » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 7:46 pm

Exactly Mary! Thanks.
nutnut

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Postby BillyB » Wed, 30 Nov 2011 8:01 pm

nutnut wrote:
beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:some of the taxi drivers here are lunatics, they don't care what the precious cargo is in the car. I got a car after the taxi we were all in nearly slammed into the back of a traffic jam at 80KM/h because the guy wasn't paying attention!

You have never taken a taxi in Bangkok or Jakarta - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.


Does the fact I've taken a taxi somewhere or not change the fact I should complain about a taxi driver putting the lives of my kids at risk? No it doesn't, what an absurd comment. And yes I have taken a taxi in both Jakarta and Bangkok and if the OP was asking about those countries I'd tell him.

beppi wrote:
nutnut wrote:Oh, and bear in mind, people follow processes to the T here even if they don't make sense!

You have never worked in Thailand or China - otherwise you wouldn't complain any more.

Come down from your cultural high horse!


Well whoop-de-doo, you've worked elsewhere other than your home country and Singapore, it obviously makes you feel very important. I have never worked in Thailand or China, you are absolutely right, are they nice?

I am trying to give the OP information that they may find useful in the future. That is what was asked for. Not such a problem is it?

Anyway, to the OP, life in general is very, very good here. :)


Listen to Marco Polo telling you how to run your family!


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