Monday, June 1, 2015

Singapore - Getting around, shopping, guides and tips

So you have just moved to Singapore or you are looking to understand what are the basic things you need to know to set yourself up for living in Singapore?

First of all, Welcome to Singapore!
2015 is Singapore's 50th Anniversary!
I am an Australian expat, living and working in-between Melbourne and Singapore.

Singapore is the Lion City of Asia and is located in Southeast Asia, next to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore is by and large a safe and clean city, as it's reputation holds it strongly for. It even has it's own Restroom Association (http://www.toilet.org.sg), so why wouldn't it be clean? The public transport system is also one of the best in the world and it is something that will keep improving as their building and infrastructure plans continue.

There are approximately 5 million+ people living in Singapore (~70% Chinese, 13-15% Malay, 9% Indian). Living here you'll find that there is no major natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. Being so close to Indonesia though, both Singapore and Malaysia can sometimes experience haze from their close neighbour in Sumatra, Indonesia. The weather is also generally quite consistent with the same temperature (heat and humidity) all year around. Normally it is around 30-32 degrees Celsius. So the key difference that I find is really how wet or dry the weather will be.

Now that I have a good overview of Singapore, what is it that I need to know to get settled here?
Well, here is a list of some quick mini guides that I have written to help you understand your new surroundings. Some of these are quite straightforward, while others give you insight into some processes that you need to go through.

Basics and Getting around

SIM Card

  • Prepaid mobile SIM card - Getting a prepaid SIM card is relatively easy. You just need to visit a 7 Eleven or one of three telcos (Singtel, Starhub, M1) in Singapore to buy them. You will find that incoming calls are charged in Singapore. So if you have brought a prepaid card, then it will use some of the prepaid credit to receive calls (but not to receive SMSes). 
  • Post-paid SIM card - Post-paid phones receive smses for free overseas. Great for receiving those OTP from banks. Sending smses and receiving/ making calls is not free. 
Tip - Payphones in the airport are free to use. So you can call your local contact/ friends or family for free using these payphones

Public transport
Finances
Credit cards - In Singapore, banks offer credit cards full of discounts and rebates. Locals never pay annual fees, and nor should you. Most people will call up up the bank and threaten to cancel if they don't waive the annual fees.

In fact, some banks already have an automated system that calculates how much you have used their credit cards, etc. and clear your credit card annual fee for another year for free. I have seen some even offer bonus rewards if you paid for the annual fee, so it's up to you if you're looking to buy these points each year. From what I have heard, only American Express (Amex) is the exception.
Japanese Supermarket, "Meidi-Ya" in Singapore (located near Clarke Quay)

Food/ Shopping supermarkets (online shopping available)
Department stores
Clothing

How to find a rental property in Singapore
Depending on whether you are looking for a room or an entire place in Singapore for your self or your family. Locally, most people in Singapore use:

F1 Event - September 2014


Things to do in and places to see in Singapore

Outdoors

Networking/ Socialising

Events

Places to see (outside but near Singapore)