Moving country can be a difficult gig, but Singapore is one of the easiest places on the planet to move to as an expat wife. Here are my amazebobs tips, based on my expert expertise, and that of my genius Expaterati girlies:
1. Join the social networking groups as soon as you know you’re coming here
The Singapore Expat Wives group, or SEW, is the stuffier group, but it has a gazillion members. So as long as you’re asking for mundane advice (and please use the search button first to avoid roastage), you’re good to go.
The Real Singapore Expat Wives group is a bit grittier. It also has a gazillion members, and you can #anonymouspost about anything intimate or awkz.
Be warned though, sweet innocents, if you post something controversial on either page, you may be inviting upon yourself a sh** storm of biblical proportions. You won’t even necessarily know it’s controversial until it’s too late.
There are many many other awesome FB groups and pages, such as Woman Abroad in Singapore (interesting and quirky content that you won’t find elsewhere), Stork’s Nest (supportive and informative espacio for mothers), and Singapore Expat Women and Business (for um, women in business). Tons of fabulous FB stuff out there. Where oh where would we be without the book of the faces?
2. Forget everything you think you know about pricing
This is particularly true of cheese and alcohol. If you allow yourself to recall prices of such items in Europe, Oz or the US, you will find that guilt obstructs enjoyment, and that is simply unacceptable.
You must wipe from your brain all knowledge of non-Singaporean pricing. Should you agonise over ways around this problem, you will only be inviting more wrinkleage upon yourself. And Botox, ladees, is pretty damn pricey here too. So cut out the middle-woman. Practice pricing acceptance as part of your daily meditation regime.
If all else fails to justify freedom of expenditure, glut thy sorrows on the Seoul expat wife. Cheese is even more expensive there. Like f crazy expensive. Manchego?? Wave b’bye to the soft-top Maserati if manchego is your staple in South Korea.
3. The helper issue
It is not uncommon to arrive on these shores convinced that one will not engage live-in help; only to find oneself, some months later, engaging live-in help. If I had a Sing $ for every time that happened, I’d be even more fabulously wealthy than I already am. At least two Louis Vuits per season richer, and as dear readers will know, I am not one to embroider factualisation.
Despite the doubt you might arrive with that it cannot be virtually impossible to cost-effectively hire part or full-time help who live out, I’m afraid that it is indeed virtually impossible. The cost of a decently-salaried live-in equates to approx 15 hours per week part-time (wow, so many dashes in one sentence! I am rocking those dashes!!). Even if you’re thoroughly rolling in cash and bathing in Veuve Click, I think you’ll find that you might want to bite the bullet.
4. Get yourself an Expaterati gang
Living so far away from our family and old-school friendses, each and every one of us needs a gang. Several gangs is even better. We need babeses who are there for us in our moments of need, and lots of expat ladees are awesome at this. All you have to do is reach out, and before you know it, there will be babeses needing you right back.
Your gang will hook you up with other gangs (if they don’t, this is not a good gang), and raise new possibilities for you to spread your wings. Kite-surfing, gaming, knitting, pole-dancing, volunteering, kick-boxing, wine-tasting, writing, swinging, chess, yoga-zumba-lates, getting trolleyed with your girlies just because it’s Wednesday… An endless stream of undiscovered potential awaits your embrace.
You also need your gang(s) because you must not put all your eggs in the husband basket. This WSJ article just proves what I’ve said time and time again, that expat marriages are a tricky biz. Should your marital investments start to go offshore, identify one or two truly trusted sistas (not the whole gang) to confide in.
5. Work, don’t work, be a SAHM, or be a M who doesn’t SAH much
The choice is yours, and yours alone. Don’t let anyone tell you which path is the right one, or make you feel less of a humanoid hottie for what you decide to do with your time. But FFS, do what makes you happy (yes, I should be a life coach, but I don’t have time right now).
If you choose to brunch, lunch, pedi, and sun yourself by the pool, do it with gusto, not guilt. Particularly as mammasitas, guilt is a killer, so while you’re doing your utmost to be a good enough mum/ mom to your irritants, get out there and be a good enough sista to yourself. Own it!! Irritants grow up, you know, and when they do, we must not have become dried up anxious old prunes with no other passions. In the timeless words of Voltaire, tend to your garden, babeses. That applies to belowdecks too. Tend to those gardens. Vigorously.
As a brief précis, that about covers the essential points. There are 64 others in my full draft version, but the ones above will pack neatly into your ludicrously expensive carry-on Rimowa, and serve you well while you’re figuring out the rest. Good luck, stay in touch, and viva la Expaterati!!