An international move is a big transition that requires lots of preparation and planning. You can reduce the stress that comes along with this life change by taking advantage of the tips below.
1. Make sure you have a job before you arrive
The Singaporean job market is highly competitive. The combination of highly educated local Singaporeans and career-development minded expats already in the country mean that job openings fill quickly.
Many people move to Singapore because their companies ask them to do so. But if yours did not and you are making the move on your own, it is important to have a job first.
Unless you are moving with a partner who already has a work permit (also known as an employment pass, or EP) and can sponsor your residency in the country, it can be very hard to find employment within the 30 days granted on a Singaporean tourist visa.
2. Decide where you want to live
Singapore’s housing market is certainly in flux, with availabilities and standard rent prices shifting from week to week. Moving to a new country can already be an overwhelming experience, and often the instinct is to nest and find a more permanent home as soon as possible.
If your long-term housing won’t already be arranged for you before you arrive, do your research. Singapore has a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own character, price range, and proximity to the city.
This site is a good place to start getting a picture of what might be the right area and style of housing for you.
3. Choose schools
If you are coming with kids or teenagers, deciding their school is a very important decision. Not only will your child’s education be impacted, but also the school will be a foundational community for you during your time in Singapore.
One of the first steps is deciding if you would like to enroll them in local public schools or private international schools. Both options have their own range of advantages, limitations, and cost.
If local school is the right choice, it may impact your plans for housing. If you choose international schools instead, it is important to research the necessary application processes for each institution and make sure you’re clear on the fees.
4. Educate yourself on the necessary steps for moving a pet
Bringing a furry friend halfway across the world is a complicated process, which may be drawn out even further based on the location you are starting from. Check here for details about immunisations, travel requirements, and necessary quarantines that may apply if you choose to bring your pet to Singapore.
There are also international pet relocation services available that will manage the process in a way that is convenient for you and loving toward your pet.
It is also important that you check in with the management of your new housing to make sure that they do not have any additional guidelines.
5. Hire a mover that provides door-to-door service
If you are moving to Singapore for a long-term or open-ended post, you will likely want to bring many of your home furnishings and treasured belongings with you.
On their way from your old home to your new one, your things will need to cross over several borders and clear customs at a few different checkpoints. Save yourself the hassle of needing to travel to the port to collect your possessions.
Hiring a mover that provides door-to-door services guarantees convenience and protects you against surprise taxes and fees. For a slightly higher rate, you can also add packing services to your order – a luxurious, but worthwhile, way to take all the stress out of moving house.
6. Leave your sweaters at home
An equatorial climate means two seasons – hot and rainy, and hotter and rainier. You won’t be needing any of the boots, scarves, long underwear or other cold weather protection from your wardrobe at home.
One of the ways you can save on shipping and preparation for your move is to limit these items. Keep a few light sweaters and jackets for travel and air conditioning, but that’s it.
Unless you’re sure that you’ll use your vacation time in Southeast Asia to head north again for a ski trip, pack away, sell, or donate your cold weather clothes. They will only take up precious storage space.
7. Stock up on favourite foods and health/beauty goods from home
Search around on some of Singapore’s grocery and health/beauty products (Guardian, Watsons, Cold Storage, and Fairprice are good places to start) to see if they carry your go-to items.
If you can’t see them on their sites, there is still a chance that your products can be found in the Mustafa Centre – the sprawling Little India complex store that carries almost everything.
If you don’t want to risk it, though, bring a few extra tubes of toothpaste or bottles of shampoo with you when you leave. The cost differential can also be quite significant, with a given face lotion costing $5 in the US and $35 in Singapore. Some other items that expats stock up on: favourite snacks, vitamins, contact lens solution, and medicines.
8. Plan a vacation for within a month of your move
We know, it sounds crazy. Although the trip you’ll be taking for the move itself is already quite an adventure, it is a good idea to take advantage of Singapore’s central location sooner rather than later.
Planning a trip for about a month after you arrive is the perfect timing. You will have enough time to be able to settle in to Singapore and develop a familiarity. For many new arrivals, that is the time that homesickness begins to rear its ugly head.
Fight off the feelings that have you missing home with a weekend away to Bali or Chiang Mai – a little adventure is the perfect cure. You’ll also have a great story when all the new friends you begin to meet ask the quintessential expat question – “Have you been on any trips lately?”