Category Archives: Flats

Moving apartments

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We hit 2 years in Singapore back in November, and our old lease expired not long after in early December (most leases in Singapore seem to be 2 years, although you can negotiate different terms).

I’m not going to do a step-by-step guide to looking for an apartment, as plenty of people have done a much better job of it (like my friend Crystal over at Expat Bostonians). The process is well documented on a number of other expat sites too. All I’d say is make sure you have a clear idea of what you want (size, location and $$$) and don’t be afraid to tell your agent if what they are showing you isn’t working for you.

We were lucky in that we found a good agent pretty early on in the process, after a couple of false starts with some decidedly disinterested agents. Lynn helped us consider new areas that we’d never looked at before, but that actually worked really well for us, both in terms of budget, size of unit and commute for W.

We’ve ended up in a gorgeous new condo just off Old Airport Road and we’re loving the peaceful surroundings and the much more residential vibe. We definitely have a lot more choice of places to eat on the doorstep (or a short walk/bus ride away). Supermarket shopping is a bit more tricky but the local wet market looks promising (I still haven’t made it out early enough to make the most of the best produce!). I’m embracing ordering groceries online now – with sites like RedMart and the online butcher service. Definitely more practical than carting groceries around the island, although I do still hop on the MRT for a quick Cold Storage run!

One month in…

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We have now been here 4 weeks – I have officially been in Singapore a whole month. It feels strange writing that – in so many ways the time has absolutely flown by, and I can’t believe it has been a month already. In other ways, London feels like a long time ago (it did 2 weeks in) – partly because I find all my friends and family talking about Christmas, and it being cold, and as I’m here I just can’t relate to that! It’s not cold, and despite the masses of decorations on Orchard Road, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas (it’s the heat!).

I feel like we have achieved a lot in a short space of time. We have found our fantastic apartment, which we both love coming back to. It already feels like home, and I can’t wait for our shipment to arrive, so we can have the rest of our things (including all my kitchen equipment – hooray!). Despite the gorgeous furniture we’ve bought, it’s still quite empty and very white – I can’t wait to start putting up pictures and filling it with our things. Here are some photos:

I have already met some fantastic people – bloggers and random contacts alike – and had some brilliant afternoons and evenings getting to know them all. I’ve also had some great experiences, like going with Laura to a cooking masterclass with Singaporean celebrity chef K F Seetoh (I will blog about this soon!). We’ve also booked our Christmas trip to Bali, where we will have silly fun opening stockings and eating suckling pig, in place of the traditional Christmas turkey!

I still get odd pangs of homesickness, often at the oddest moments, like walking down the road by our apartment and thinking ‘no-one at home knows what my neighbourhood looks like’, or at more understandable times, like getting off a Skype call with my Mum or a close friend and missing them. I am trying to come to term with the homesickness – I suspect that it is part and parcel of being an ‘expat’. I suspect that it never quite goes, and there will always be things that you miss about your ‘homeland’. But then I also think that when you return, there will be places and people who you will miss from wherever you just left.

Singapore feels, at the moment at least, very familiar and very alien all at the same time. There are things that feel very natural and I feel like I am finding my way around now, and starting to recognise places. There are other times when it feels totally new, like working out what some of the vegetables and the products in the supermarket are, or hearing people talking in Singlish and not knowing what they’re saying. But this is month one, on a much longer journey here, and I know that one day all these strange, new experiences will start to feel more familiar and I am excited about that prospect!

We have arrived!

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After I think what was possibly one of the most stressful and tiring weeks of my life, we have finally arrived in Singapore. Hooray, we are here! I can’t really believe it – the whole move has been on my mind for months now, so I am finding it slightly strange to think that I am really here.

The past week has seen us packing up every single thing in our London flat and deciding whether it should be shipped, stored, binned or anything else in between. I can safely say that I don’t think either the boy or myself realised how much stuff we have! The day the shippers came was actually really great – they were upbeat and friendly, telling us lots of stories about people who they’d moved in the past, which really helped keep me positive about the move.

We also had a big drinks do with all our friends which was absolutely wonderful, of course, but emotional nonetheless. It was lovely to see everyone, and I feel very blessed to have so many amazing friends, who care for us both very much.

But then suddenly, it was Sunday morning and I was waking up at the Will’s parent’s house for my last English morning in some time. It all felt remarkably normal and uneventful but then as the day progressed I started feeling more and more nervous. Thank goodness that the Will’s Mum is an absolute gem and kept me topped up with hugs whenever I started looking a bit tearful. Leaving at the airport was actually not as painful as I’d thought it would be – all our family members were there to wave us off, which was just wonderful. I am going to miss them all masses but I was glad we could all be together, even if briefly.  A quick trot around Boots for painkillers (I have managed to bruise my ribs…long story!) and then we headed to the gate. The flight itself was very smooth and amazingly I managed to sleep for quite a bit of it. I think by that point I was so exhausted that my body had just shut down!

And now we are here in our temporary apartment, not too far from Dhoby Ghaut MRT. It’s a serviced apartment, basically like a hotel room with a little kitchen, but it has everything we need in it which is great. Tomorrow, we have to go and set up a bank account for the boy, and one for me if they can do it tomorrow – we may have to wait until his is authorised. We are also seeing our estate agent, Woon, on Wednesday to see some apartments. The boy has found a really smart and new complex in Novena which we both really like the look of, so fingers crossed that we like it in the flesh! We also need to sort out our visas with MOM – at the moment we just have in principle letters, so we need to go and get them turned into the real thing (Employment Pass for the boy, Long Term Social Visit Pass for me). On Saturday we have a bit of treat in store – some of our friends bought us a leaving gift of a dinner package on the Singapore Flyer, where we get to be wined and dined whilst seeing Singapore from the air – very excited about doing that and celebrating our move properly.

I’ll make sure I dig my camera and charger out of our suitcases so I can a few photos for you all in the coming days, so that those of you at home can see where I am. For those of you in Singapore – Hello! I am really looking forward to meeting you all in the coming days and weeks.