Art display at the Esplanade in Singapore

Dear Charmaine…your email was not spelled correctly

Hi Charmaine,

The email address you entered was not going through, so I hope you see this! This is in response to the questions you sent through the contact me page. I still wanted to answer your questions, so I’m putting it all in this post!

This is what you wrote to me:

I found your blog interesting
I am supposed to be moving to singapore in February. Is there anything that you recommend I bring and anything I should know before making the big move?
and whats life like in Singapore in general?

I’ve written before about moving to Singapore, but maybe you have some specific questions. Please see my response below:

I would recommend bringing summer clothes and your favorite personal care products. Basic things like toothpaste are cheap so you can get them here, but if you are loyal to certain brands for clothes, haircare or make up they will probably be more expensive here (anywhere from 20 to 40% more). Electronics too. I would buy a laptop and other electronics at home to bring over, but I guess that depends on how much they cost where you are now. Books are also more expensive here than where I am from (the USA), by at least about 20%.

If you need business clothes, the style of clothes here is more Asian so if you don’t have the same taste in clothes you should bring some with you. Clothes for women tend to be more feminine or girly (lots of dresses that are often pretty short). If you are on the larger and/or taller size, it will be hard to find things in your size. Many of the cheap clothes in shops come only in one size (probably equivalent to XS or S in Western sizes). If you have large feet, it might be hard to find your shoe size also. Some shops might only get one pair in the largest sizes and once that pair is sold they do not tend to restock.

If you sweat easily, think about getting clothes out of materials that are good for that like merino wool. Just a 5 or 10 minute walk sometimes makes me start to sweat. It is often quite humid here.

If you like to cook a lot, appliances and good quality cooking ware are expensive here too. Generally, anything more than just the basic things like toilet paper and supplies will be more expensive because of importation taxes that force prices up!

You don’t need much warm weather clothing, in my opinion. Maybe 1 or 2 pairs of jeans and a cardigan for the air conditioning, but other than that you can just pack t shirts, skirts, dresses.

If you like to drink alcohol, you should get a bottle or two of hard liquor or wine in the duty free shops at the airport. Bottles are expensive in Singapore! I don’t know that much about wine, but I’ve had cheap wine bottles from the supermarket for about $16 SGD. In general, drinking is pretty expensive if you are going out to decent or nice places (10 to 20 Singapore dollars per drink). If you are a beer drinker, you can’t buy good beer in the supermarkets, though there are some brands you can find there but in my opinion none are that good. There are some good breweries, but usually you can’t get good beer in a bar for less than $10 SGD.

Life in Singapore in general is what you want to make of it. If you like the nightlife, there is plenty of that, but can get expensive. There are lots of events and music happening, but you have to look for it. There is a cool indie scene if you are into that. There is good food, but not that many affordable and healthy options. Lots of food is spicy though, so if you have trouble with that you need to ask them to make it less spicy or go for dishes that are not spicy at all. It is cheap to cook for yourself. It is easy to fall into a routine and forget to do fun things or touristy things, but you should do some once in a while. The Esplanade has a lot of free music events, and cool art displays like the photo above. If you are living with friends, it is fun to have dinner parties and house parties. It is also cheaper that way.

For personal finances in general, I spent about $1.6K SGD a month on rent and everything else (including saving up for side trips in the region). I live in an HDB flat (government subsidized housing) with 2 other people, where I have my own room but share a bathroom with 1 person. I cook a lot on my own, so if you tend to eat out more you might need more money each month.

Hope that is helpful! If you think of any specific questions, let me know and I’d be happy to answer them the best that I can.