Advice for Moving to Singapore

  1. Don’t bring your big American furniture.  It won’t look right in these dinky little aparments.  Sell it or store it.
  2. Bring food.  As bizarre as it sounds, bring the bulk containers of basic spices from Costco.  Bring LOTS of parmasean cheese.  Those big Costco bags of chocolate chips.  Mac n Cheese, flour, vanilla, and sugar.  It’s not that you will come over here and continue eating like an American, it’s that some of the basic ingredients are so expensive you will think twice before baking cookies.
  3. Batteries are actually fairly priced over here.  Disposable razors aren’t that bad either.
  4. Bring enough under bed plastic storage containers to use all the space under all your beds.
  5. Be preapared to go the grocery store every couple days, if not every day.
  6. Bring what you need to be happy and comfortable, but don’t bring too much extra.  We went from about 3700 sq ft in KC to 1700 sq ft in Singapore.  That doesn’t even include all the storage we had in the unfinished basement or garage.
  7. You won’t need ANY long sleeve shirts.   Update – Bring one, just for the movie theatres.  I haven’t been to a movie in over a decade, but Mrs. Stockdale took the kids last week and the place was frigid.
  8. Read the back of ALL the electronic gizmos you plan on bringing.  If they say 50hz/60hz and/or 110-240 volts, then go ahead and bring them.  You can drop the voltage with a transformer, but you can’t do anything about the frequency (hz).  Things with motors (mixers, blenders, etc.) probably won’t like the lower frequency.  Also, if you don’t have a ‘World’ television that supports NTSC and PAL, you will need a special converter box.  By the time we’re done setting everything up, I’ll have spent a little over $1,000 USD to get all our electronics to work over here.  Maybe that’s worth it, maybe not.  Had I not just had to buy two new tv sets in the states in the last year, my decision probably would have been different.  But, it’s kind of 6-1-half-dozen because what do you do with the stuff you buy over here when you go back?
  9. When hooking up the transformers to drop the 220v to 110v, if you keep blowing circuit breakers it is because of your power strip or ground.  When I used one of those adaptors to get rid of the ground, everything went a lot smoother.  As long as I don’t jump into the tub with a tv set, I’m probably OK.  I’m sure lightning poses an issue, but you’d think the entire building should be grounded.
  10. I run my fancy Kitchenaid mixer through the voltage convertor.  Works fine, even at 50hz, and even when I let it run for 20 minutes to knead pizza doe.  The ice cream maker, died within about 3 minutes of being plugged into the transformer.  My paper shredder works fine through the transformer.  My waffle iron works fine on the transformer as well.
  11. You need to have low expectations for service when you go out to eat.  That’s not to say that service is poor or rude, it is just different.  Tipping really doesn’t exist, so except at certain (fancy/expensive) places, there is little motive for the servers to do a really good job.  They will probably not check back to see if you need another drink or if you food is alright.  You need to reasonably politely getting their attention if you want anything.  They won’t bring your check until you ask for it.  Food is brought out as it is ready, not all at once.  When you meal arrives, you go ahead and eat, even if you’re the only one served.  It might be 5-15 minutes until everyone else’s food arrives.  That’s just the way it is here.   The trick to enjoying life in Singapore/Asia is just to go with things.  If you have to ask for an iced tea three different times before it arrives, does it really matter?
  12. More as I think of it.
  1. Dale, if I may add a few items.

    Perhaps it’s not such a good idea to bring books that you value. Most books and other things made of paper take only a few years to fall apart or to be eaten by silverfish and book lice when stored in anything other than a dedicated 24/7 air-con storage area. At best, you’ll find the pages discolor and become almost powdery.

    If you decide to drive, drive defensively. Paradoxically, you’ll rarely be given a freebie on the roads here, but driving aggressively will backfire eventually. It’s similar to your point 11; drivers here aren’t rude perse, it’s just that they’re not aware that you can drive with others in mind. It’s just not done that way.

    When you’re viewing potential homes, go around noon. This way, you’ll know the sun/window orientation. You don’t want a wall in your living room radiating heat throughout the evening that it’s accumulated
    during the day.

    The other important thing to do when viewing apartments is to look around the neighborhood for billboard announcing a new project. Construction is the never-ending result of Singapore’s ambitions, it’s a necessary evil. But if at all possible, make sure you don’t fall victim to the dust and noise associated with it.

    Lastly, if you think the heat or the humidity will get to you, find a home near the East Coast. The sea breeze and occasional showers here keep things that little bit more bearable than in the land-logged districts.

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