You must be excited about coming to live in Singapore. Although it may be too much of a cliché to say that you will be enriched, you will undoubtedly benefit from your stay here.
First, you are probably doing well in your career; no rational company sends a second-rate person overseas. Upon your return home in a few years' time, your career will likely advance. Second, you and your family, if they are coming with you, will make new friends who will not only expand your social circle but could also form part of your professional network. Third, you will experience a different culture, an experience that can only leave you richer. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to be offered an expat package and you have a decent savings plan, you could leave Singapore materially enriched too.
Before you get to all that, however, there is the little matter of the move. We won't lie to you: it can be a time of stress. But planning well will reduce much of the stress for you and your family.
The key to any successful move is to be realistic: know what you can do and do them, and get help for the other jobs that you cannot do. Below is a list of tasks that needs to be done, probably concurrently:
- Gather as much information as possible about Singapore. You can do it online through this website. We try to be comprehensive.
Email us to let us know what other kinds of information you need or how we may be able to help.
- Try to visit Singapore. Properly planned, a two- or three-day visit can accomplish much.
- Organise your legal affairs. Ensure that passports and visas if needed, are in order. Arrange to renew your driver's licence by mail.
- Gather documents, certificates and other records that you may need in Singapore.
- Sell, rent or store your property and belongings. Pack away your winter clothings. Summer and fall clothes are adequate in Singapore.
- Return library books, cancel milk, newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
- Organise your financial matters. This includes looking into banking, insurance, loans, mortgages,and tax matters and paying your credit card, utility and telephone bills. Get small change of about S$100 to pay for taxi fare and other minor expenses.
- Decide what should be shipped to Singapore, what should be stored,and what should be sold or given away.
- Spend time with family and friends before you say good-bye and notify them of your change of address. Update your address book.
- Consider bringing small gift items to thank those who have helped you.
- Look for a relocation or moving company to help you pack and move.
Relocation firms typically offer services like arranging for furniture shipment, providing orientation and settling in programmes as well as helping you with any paperwork you may encounter.
You will find relocation firms listed under our Products and Services section.
What To Do During Your Initial Visit
It is best if you and your spouse can visit Singapore for a few days before the big move. You can then look into housing, transport and schools for your children. You will also know what is available so that you know what to bring and what not. Someone asked whether peanut butter was available in Singapore. (Yes!)
- Visit your office
Colleagues should be able to answer your questions or point you to resources for your answers. Ask where the expats in the company live and why they chose the location.
- Visit international schools
Set up an appointment and bring along your children's curricula (current and future). Most international schools will require a formal application that will involve an application fee. Ask about the bus service to the various residential areas. This may affect where you decide to live. Note - See our guide to Singapore International Schools here.
- View some homes
Arrange with a real estate agent to at least drive through residential areas favoured by expats to get a feel of the living environment. After knowing the location of your office and the children's school, you'll probably have a better idea of where to live. Note - If you want an idea of which district is which, a good one-stop website can be found here.
- Visit some shopping centres
Familiarise yourself with what can and cannot be obtained in Singapore. If you have some special needs, check out the grocery stores frequented by expats. If you want a one-stop shopping centre for most, if not all, your expat needs plus all those favourite foodstuffs from home, you should go to Tanglin Mall - either a 10 minute stroll from Orchard Road or a taxi ride away. A very well-stocked supermarket, magazine-seller and hairdressers, clothing stores etc. etc.
- Visit a bookstore
Those who love to read in Singapore are really spoilt for choice now, since Singapore became the willing subject of a book war between Borders Bookstore and the Japanese giant, Kinokuniya. Borders is slightly smaller, but easier to navigate and more conveniently situated, while Kinokuniya wins out in quantity terms. Both have a cafe alongside and are situated a short walk from Orchard MRT station on Orchard Road. You should find all the materials you will need at either of these places, e.g. maps, guides.