So I moved to Singapore 10 days ago. It’s most certainly too early for a review, but since Germany is waiting here is a quick snapshot of my experience so far.
So international! So expensive.. and so cheap! So yummy! So easy but also so hard to understand! So authentic! So artificial!
Yes this is definitely a place with people from all over the world. Singaporean citizens themselves are already comprised of Chinese, Malays, Indians as the 3 main ethnic groups. Now add a huge bunch of expats from all over the world and you have a place which is truly international. And if you take a look at the numbers you will be impressed: By end of 2011, Singapore had a total population of 5.26 mio. people, 3.26 mio. (or 62%) were Singaporeans, and a stunning 2 mio. foreignors (source: link). Not sure if I have heard of another country with such a high percentage of foreignors.
So expensive… and so cheap!!
During the first two days I looked for a shared flat, it turned out that I do not need one for now, but wow the accomodation prices are really high here. I would say more expensive than Switzerland for sure. I viewed around 5 rooms and the cheapest was 1000 SGD (600 EUR) per month. The rooms don’t look better than rental rooms in Taipei, but are certainly much more expensive.
Other than that, I found that life can be quite affordable if you do it right. Hawker centers (food courts) provide you with cheap food and many supermarket items are not much more expensive than in Taipei. Of course you can easily pay a lot of money for a meal in a good restaurant here, up to you I guess 🙂 This topic brings us to the next section:
YEAH FOOD IS GREAT HERE. Not gonna repeat what thousands of websites and blogs have confirmed already 😀
So easy but also so hard to understand
So everyone speaks English here.. or do they? For me Singlish is torture. It’s not quite crazy as Indian English, but that just makes you being caught off guard and asking “what? pardon me? could you repeat that please?” and if the person I’m talking to looks Chinese I usually switch to speaking Chinese… but their Chinese also sounds different and they mix like 48732 dialects together, so confusing lah!!
So authentic!! So artificial!!
On the one hand you can see and feel the difference of each ethnic group here. I’m not sure how much the different ethnic groups actually “live together” or how much it’s a “living next to each other”.. but you can definitely experience many authentic cultural traits.
And yeah, there are also more than enough things in Singapore which transmit a very artifical vibe. From the impressive skyline, all the reclaimed land (1/4 of Singapore used to be ocean) to the 146m long infinity pool on 57th floor of the marina sands bay.
In these 10 days I have asked people how they like it here. I have heard everything from “We lived here for 6 years and love it”, “2 to 3 years is the maximum you can stay here” to “All locals want to leave” (kinda understandable if you grow up in a country which is only twice the size of Taipei). Well I think that unfortunately I have talked to only one local Singaporean in this short time, to have a more complete view on life here this stat needs to be improved. I strongly hope that when I come back (and actually stay here for a while) I wont be living a typical expat life. Until then I cannot answer the question in the title yet 🙂