Celeste Viviers is a South African dietician that has recently moved to Singapore. She is loving the experience so far, particularly the unique Singaporean sense of humour.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Durban, South Africa
Q: Where are you living now?
Q: How long you have you lived here?
A: 6 months
Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: My spouse
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: My husband was sent on a year’s contract to Singapore. We have now decided to move here permanently.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city, how’s the quality of life in Singapore?
A: Quality of life is great, cost of living is high, but you get what you pay for. Singapore is very clean, organised and safe! Singapore is a very pretty city. The people are also very friendly. The nightlife is awesome.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: The space! The big homes and gardens we enjoyed back home. I most miss my family and friends.
Q: Is Singapore safe?
A: Exceptionally safe!
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A: In and around Orchard Rd (if you can afford it!), West Coast, East Coast, Buona Vista, Bukit Timah. However, there really are no ‘bad’ areas to live in in Singapore. I feel that if you live in a less expatriate/ more local area, you learn more about the foreign culture. The traditional expat areas are very expensive in terms of rent, food and entertainment.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Singapore?
A: Very good, although small compared to South Africa.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Singapore compared to South Africa? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Very much more expensive.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Singaporeans are very friendly and laid back. I find them very willing to show you their city. They are very proud of their city. We mix with both expats and Singaporeans. I enjoy the Singaporeans sense of humour.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: I find it very easy to meet people initially, but to take the step further is quite difficult (but I think that’s just me!). The expats are all very willing to make friends because we are all in the same boat and need a new circle.
About working in Singapore
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I cannot get a work permit as I do not have a job. My husband got his very easily through work. The dependent’s pass was very easy to obtain, again with the help of my husband’s company. On your own it is a little harder. The personalise employment pass (PEP) is the one to go for if you’re here on your own.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: There appears to be, but it is extremely difficult to find a job if you are not a permanent resident (PR). I wouldn’t come to Singapore without a job. If you are brought out on a contract, that is fine, but not on your own. You don’t even get an interview without PR.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: The working hours are much longer. The leave days are less. In general, Singaporeans work much harder. The pay appears to not be very good for the hours you work!
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: Yes, Crown Relocations, allocated through my husband’s company.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Explore the city! There are so many exciting things Singapore has to offer other than Orchard Rd and Clarke Quay. Take time to get to know the diverse culture, the locals really appreciate the effort. Try the different foods and cuisines; you’ll be so glad you did!
~ Interviewed January 2010