Honey is a woman of many talents – though she primarily works as a family physician, she is also a blogger and wedding singer. Having moved from the Philippines to Singapore in 2012, Honey shares her experience of the Lion City lifestyle on her blog, Little Miss Honey.
In this interview, she chats to Expat Arrivals about all aspects of life in Singapore, from expenses and public transport to working and making friends.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I am originally from the Philippines. I was born in Manila and grew up in Iloilo City. I also studied in Saudi Arabia for a short while.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: I am now living in Singapore for more than 4 years now.
Q: When did you move here?
A: I moved to Singapore in August 2012.
Q: Did you move here alone or with a spouse/family?
A: I came here alone and my fiancé was back in the Philippines. After we got married, he came to be with me here in Singapore. Now we have two young kids.
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: It was for a work opportunity. I got an offer to work here. Initially, I was hesitant because I had previous plans, but the thought of having a new adventure of living in Singapore thrilled me, so I gave it a shot.
Living in Singapore
Q: What do you enjoy most about Singapore? How would you rate the quality of life compared to your home country?
A: I love the safety in this city. I love the structure and system that make this little red dot an admirable first-world country. I love the food! It is a food mecca here. If you are a shopper (unfortunately I am not) you would love it here. It is more fast-paced here compared to my home city. In my home city, it is a more laid back, relaxed atmosphere and no stress.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss my parents and relatives. There are some foods in the Philippines that I wish Singapore also had. I do miss the stress-free and laid-back kind of life.
Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life in Singapore? Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
A: It is a fast-paced lifestyle, and I had to acquaint myself with understanding Singlish. I am mindful of their laws like not eating on MRT rides, using the overpass and queuing for my turn.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Oh, the cost of living is expensive here! Rent, utilities and taxes are high. You can save by eating hawker foods rather than high-end restaurants and using public trains and buses instead of taxis or having your own car.
Q: How would you rate the public transport in Singapore? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
A: Excellent. I am often on trains and buses. We also now frequently use Grab or Uber rides. Nope, I don’t own any car here.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Singapore?
A: Great! They have an amazing healthcare system in Singapore. It can be expensive though for foreigners, but they have very competent healthcare professionals here.
Q: What are the biggest safety issues facing expats living in Singapore? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: I feel very safe in Singapore. I don’t think there are areas that are unsafe here.
Q: How do you rate the standard of housing in Singapore? What different options are available for expats?
A: There are HDBs, condominiums and landed apartments. If you are not a permanent resident here, you can only rent. We are renting a condominium unit in a nice area in the East. We might move out when our lease expires and probably try HDB living.
Q: Any areas/suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: Tiong Bahru, Woodlands, Holland Village, Orchard area, East Coast or Tanjong Pagar.
Meeting people and making friends in Singapore
Q: How tolerant are the locals of foreigners? Is there any obvious discrimination against particular religions or women, etc.?
A: It takes time for them to warm up to you, but once you get to know them, they are sweethearts.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: I take their lead when making friends. They will gradually open up to you and take you to local eateries and hidden gems in the city. I got to meet lots of people at work as well as socialising at blogging events.
Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends? Any social/expat groups you can recommend?
A: I have a good share of local friends, fellow Filipinos and a few expats from different countries. If you are a blogger, it is good to join Lullabelle Lifestyle’s Blog Meet SG gatherings. You can also join Singapore Expat on Facebook.
About working in Singapore
Q: Did you have a problem getting a visa or work permit? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: No problem at all. I had an agency do all the paperwork for me.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Singapore? Do you have any tips for expats looking to find a job there?
A: There is a big number of expats here in different industries. Though currently, finding a job here might be challenging unless your qualifications are competitive.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home? Do you have any tips for expats doing business in Singapore?
A: Work is really work here, so you must work hard to play hard. I do know of expats doing business here.
Family and children in Singapore
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home in Singapore? Do you think there are any specific challenges for a trailing spouse?
A: Hmmm, so far we are fine. We do share our unit with other housemates. But getting along with them is a breeze.
Q: Did your children settle in easily? What were the biggest challenges for your children during the move to Singapore?
A: My kids grew up here, so this is practically what they know as home.
Q: What are the schools like, any particular suggestions?
A: I just started my two-year-old in Nursery One. It is more of a playgroup. Half-day to learn basics as well as socialising with a similar age group and having playtime.
Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Be open to the wonderful mix of culture here. Enjoy their food. Make friends with locals. Be aware of their rules and regulations. Explore their city. Understand Singlish, it will help.