7 Questions Expatriates Ask Themselves After Years in Singapore

Why is time flying so fast? How come I am still living here? Is Singapore getting more awesome?  Is it just me getting pleased with what I have?

For people who have lived abroad a lot and are able to make a rationale assessment of a location, Singapore is an awesome place to live in.
In particular, I want to focus on the growing cultural scene. Historically, I have heard many complaints that Singapore’s cultural and entertainment offering is low. It was probably true 10 years ago, less and less so today. It might not have the depth and variety in all categories that cities like New York, London or Paris have to offer, but realistically, if you are a working professional with limited available leisure time, and you are reasonably curious, you should not get bored in Singapore.
There is enough here to discover different foods every day, to find your home ingredients, to have a drink at a new bar every week end, and try a new activity every week (which makes it possible for me to run a 52 Weeks 52 Tests Experimentation Challenge this year). There are indie cinemas opening up, plenty of new restaurant opening each month with fresh concepts, local makers and a 42,000 strong startup scene, an October fest, block parties, hipster coffees, unlimited shopping, a plethora of travel destination within a 5 hours flight radius, green parks, barbecues to attend, and an unlimited amount of friends of all nationalities to be made…My short answer is yes, with a few exceptions, Singapore is getting more awesome every day.

Why am I still living in a shared flat?

Because you are not making enough money, basically… Or because you are frugal and smart.

Yup, it somehow sucks to live in the most expensive city in the world. You are making good money, but you still have to clean after your roommate and you probably pay more than USD 1,000 for your room.

Work harder, change jobs or get luckier and you might be able to upgrade your space. Expats, there are HDBs too, and no law forces you to rent in a condo…

Living in Asian urbania is for hard workers, and for people who don’t mind some promiscuity. If you like living in huge homes, well you might wanna consider living somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong, space is true luxury… I often wish I had an office/workshop to work in the weekend or after work instead of my dining room table… To come back to the previous point, would I feel the same urge to create if I were living in a quietest city? I’m not so sure.

Well, you live in a shared flat but you have a roof over your head, and you live in an exciting place. Stop comparing with others all the time and be content 😉

Will I ever get used to the Heat?

No, you won’t.

You will probably pay less attention to it, at most, but you will not get used to it.

30 degrees and 70+% of humidity is what it is. Your blood temperature is not too far from that, so even after years here, your blood will still boil under the scorching sun.

Singaporeans don’t also, they have simply, knowingly or not, adapted their routines and hacked living under the equator.

Have you tried cooling drinks such as the 3 legs rhinoceros water, or grass jelly drink?

Will I ever get used to the Hot Spiciness ?

You might.
You might not.
But one thing is for sure, you are likely to grow a strong appreciation for fragrant and fiery foods…
I sometimes surprise myself going to the fridge to get chili sauce to add to my homemade western food. I shocked my parents with the amount of pepper i dropped in the last meal I cooked for them…

How am I going to tolerate life in another place?

Tough question. Many friends who have left Singapore now admit they do miss the lifestyle.

What is there to miss? The “usual” Singapore credentials: efficiency, cleanliness, safety, warmth (of the climate, not the people…), cheap travel opportunities, condominium lifestyle facilities (oh the morning swim…), cheap and delicious street food,…

I believe everyone would be different on this question, but I already feel the comforting sensation of coming back to Singapore after a week in the wilderness of Indonesia, Thailand, and/or most countries surrounding the Lion city…

Am I turning Singaporean?

If you are taking pictures of your food, or add chili to it without even tasting it,
If not being the first in line makes you anxious,
If you spend a month salary in a handbag (for girls), or watch (for boys),
If you say lah / lor / leh at the end of some of your sentences,
If you call your taxi driver your uncle,
If the smell of Durian is becoming familiar and almost pleasant to your nostrils,
If you see your morning savior personified in the form of soft boiled eggs, a strong and sweet milk coffee and kaya toast,
If you think it is fine to spend hours inside a 16 degrees refrigerated shopping mall whilst it’s sunny and 30 outside,
You might be turning Singaporean…
(maybe you should consider applying for Permanent Residency)

…and the flip side question: Will I ever Integrate?

Unfortunately many expats leave Singapore after 2 years and conclude that Singapore is “safe, clean, sunny, cosmopolitan, convenient, it has a dynamic economy, low taxes,…” All these adjectives are valid definition, but these opinions could as well come straight from the mouth of tourists that stopped over for 2 days on the island on the way to the beaches of Thailand.

It’s actually quite sad, because there is more to Singapore… Singapore is a country with 50 years of history, and it is still a time for pioneers and adventurers alike, should you be willing to display the right attitude. You get what you give… Although Singapore lifestyle is reputedly quiet, you may feel an energy, and a context that is favorable for blooming and personal reinvention.

Are you an expat in Singapore? What do you think? 

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