The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? But like everything in life, there are always two sides to the same coin. The same goes for living in Singapore. Some love it, some hate it. Some see both pros and cons. Here we discuss the day-to-day lifestyle of residents, both local and foreign.
Being near the equator, Singapore is usually sunny all year round. As a tropical island, the humidity level is high so it does feel like living in a sauna. Air conditioning is a great respite and is available in most public places such as malls, offices, and homes. Sheltered walkways, especially along bus stops, are readily available as well. The heat peaks around noon, so are sure to stay out of the sun during this time.
Singapore’s “winter” comes during the monsoon season when heavy rain and thunderstorms happen on almost a daily basis. A nice “snuggle weather” for watching Netflix at home.
Expat opinions on the weather vary greatly. While those who come from regional countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and even India, are used to it. However, ex-pats from the West either love it or hate it. Some love the warm weather, some miss having the four seasons.
Local Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisines are cheap and delicious. Unique to Singapore, hawker centers have been added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and this is the place where locals eat every day. A plate of chicken rice or nasi lemak can be as cheap as SGD3.00. Ask any Singaporean, they will show you their favorite stalls!
Regional and international food choices are also available due to incoming immigrants from all over the world. However, these would be in restaurants so they are pricier. Don’t be surprised to see Russian, Turkish, Hawaiian, and even Mexican restaurants.
Expats generally like to try new cuisines, especially local fares. However, they will also miss food from home. To combat their cravings, ex-pats may have the option of buying imported groceries from specialty supermarkets such as Jasons or Marketplace.
There are malls everywhere on the island. Chain stores like clothing giants H&M and Uniqlo, and fast-food restaurants Mcdonald’s and KFC can be found in almost every mall in Singapore. Cheap everyday items can be found at Daiso, Miniso, or Value Shop. Beauty services like hair and nail salons, spas, and massage parlors can also be found in malls all over Singapore. Other services such as clinics, music schools, and karaoke are available in malls as well.
Mustafa Centre is a mega departmental store that never closes and is open 24/7! Everything from toiletries to clothing to food and jewelry is being sold here. Bollywood celebrities have been seen here many times for some late-night shopping. If you need products from a specific country, Lucky Plaza has a lot of products from the Philippines while Peninsula Plaza sells stuff from Myanmar. Luxury fashion brands like Chanel and Prada are available at premium locations such as Orchard Road and Marina Bay Sands. Duty-free shopping is available at Changi Airport.
Another retail type that is unique to Asia is called Pasar Malam or Night Market in Malay. These night markets are a collective of makeshift stalls under a huge tentage and are open from late afternoon to late night at various locations. While they are not permanently there, they can draw big crowds due to the street food being sold here.
Apart from brick-and-mortar shops, many e-commerce platforms and websites are popular such as Shopee, Lazada, and Qoo10. Redmart is a popular grocery delivery service.
While streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ are popular, there are many entertainment venues where people can go as well. Going to the cinemas is becoming less popular due to the rise in streaming services but they are still available all over the island. Cathay and Golden Village are two major cinema operators.
Live shows such as theatre, stand-up comedy, concerts, and orchestra are all mostly available at the Esplanade and Victoria Concert Hall. Live bands are usually limited to restaurants while street performers are a rare sight. There are also a number of nightclubs for a night out. They are all located in the city center.
Singapore is a family-friendly city, so there is a lot of entertainment for the kids as well. Bowling alleys, gaming arcades, board game cafes, indoor playgrounds, and more are available for a good bonding session with the kids. Sentosa is an entertainment island perfect for families as well.
Because it is always sunny in Singapore, there are lots of activities that can be done outdoors! The great thing about Singapore is that it is not just a city-state but it is also a tropical island. The beautiful, futuristic architecture made headlines internationally but there are also rainforests, swamps and lakes, and of course, the sea.
There are 400 parks and 4 nature reserves where you can visit. Managed by the National Parks Board (NParks), you can go on the many walking trails through Singapore’s nature or go cycling on the Park Connector Network (PCN).
Water sports such as dragon boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding, are available at various locations as well. Not keen on doing sports but still want to be near water? There are beaches all around the island. East Coast Park and Sentosa are two popular beach locations.
Singapore may be small but there are (even) smaller islands to visit from the mainland. Go island hopping to Pulau Ubin and the Southern Islands. Cycle through Pulau Ubin to experience the kampong life, visit quarries, and eat local food. The Southern Islands consist of four tiny islands – Kusu Island, St John’s Island, Lazarus Island, and Sisters Island, great for picnics, trekking, swimming, and more.
Living in Singapore Long-Term
Living in Singapore is never boring. There is a wide range of activities that people of all ages can enjoy, both indoor and outdoor. It is the perfect place for both city dwellers and nature lovers.
Many ex-pats stay long-term, not just for work and business, or even for the tax benefits but for the lifestyle. Expats who plan to stay long-term in Singapore may consider various pathways to remain in Singapore. Reach out to us and evaluate how you can secure a place in Singapore via Immigration@SG (IASG).
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