Five Top Tips for Becoming an Expat Wife in Singapore

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!!

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Two Awful Little Expat Words: We’re Leaving

Since Tuesday, Don has gradually started speaking to me again. It was getting pretty hashtag awkz, with young Angel around. It’s bad enough having marital issues in the presence of little kids like Max and the Millster, but 16-year-olds apparently pick up on the vibe more strongly, even if they “present otherwise” (thus spake cousin Clarathustra the psychologist). Pathetically, Don used Angel as his excuse to resume our speakage (p***y), telling me, “It must be hard for her to be so far away from her mother, her friends, and her normal life. I don’t want to make it any harder for her, with us not talking”.

[Um, us not talking?? It’s him who hasn’t been talking to me! I’ve just been not talking right back!!]

As if I don’t know “how hard it must be”! FFS, I gave up my friends, my family, and my career to come out here. Ok, so I have always wanted to be an expat wife, and I wake up every day to an enviable lifestyle with awesome weather, endless social engagements, and full-time help. That doesn’t mean I don’t get how hard it is!! If you cut me, do I not bleed?! Plus, being the incredibly empathic person that I am, I can’t avoid feeling for what Angel is going through. In fact, I have decided to do a second On the Skype Couch With Emma-Jane (and cousin Clara) to highlight the very important issues facing children and young people in global transition.

Anyway, so Don starts talking to me again, and after a few mundanities like, “Can you please put floss on the shopping list?”, and a transparent attempt at ingratiation, “Your hair looks nice, have you had it done?” (yes, like four days ago!!), last night he said the following spectacularly unexpected thing: “EJ, my next role is firming up. It’ll most likely be Europe or the U.S. So we’ll be leaving Singapore this summer… Or some time in the next two to six months. You knew that anyway, right?”

No, I don’t exacto recall knowing that!!

Because of our precarious relational situation, I smiled my loveliest Kate Middleton smile, nodded a ton, and – as Don left for a work night out – went swiftly to my meditation corner with the Buddha water feature and a nice Nag Champa burn. Once there, I popped open a bottle of Veuve Click (I must’ve grabbed it from the wine fridge along the way), fumbling somewhat due to the tears cascading make-up grease onto my trembling fingers. Nearly dropping the bottle, I commanded my inner adult to pull herself together. When that command failed, I sat down. Abandoned to my grief, I wept.

(And today, I’m wondering if he has just conjured up this moving stuff to avoid talking about Liz? Seems a little drastic, but that’s men for you…)

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Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey

This morning I was at the Forum getting my nails done, and I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. Actually, she struck up a conversation with me, to ask if she could borrow my iphone charger, but anyway. (Ahem, who goes out without a charger?!)

As it turned out, this woman was all doom and gloom about being an expat. Excuse me?! She pretentiously called herself a “reluctant expat”, saying that it was her husband’s idea and she had only agreed to come as a short-term compromise. She was saying that she finds this life un-grounding (what does that even mean?! Who cares about feeling grounded when there are all these exciting new places to go and people to meet?), and not only that, but that she thinks it isn’t the healthiest way for children to grow up. Bizarre. Why would anyone not want their housing paid for, as well as the private schooling for the kids (which would cost an abso bomb at home), and to be able to dash off to Bali at the drop of a hat?? She said they’re not on that kind of package though, and that lots of people aren’t these days. Argh! What a miserable woman, I thought, and I was totes relieved when her nails were dry, her Havaianas back on, and she left.

After that, I had pilates, and then I met up with Michelle for lunch. I love her! She is a major LOLs lady. Champagne and oysters : ) Now there’s a woman who knows how to have fun (and without too many calories). Next we went to a friend’s photography exhibition, and for cocktails with some other ladies, and for dinner and drinks at Marina Bay. Thank goodness we have a helper to put the kids to bed! I can barely type, I’m so tired now. I think I might have to cancel my meditation session in the morning. I am extremely dedicated to my meditation practice (I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m also a committed yogi), but it does get kind of samey.

Some great tunes tonight at the bar in Marina Bay. I’m thinking of adding a new page to this blog: DJ EJ. Likee : ) You can really get to know a person from their musical preferences. Maybe I’ll do that tomoz instead of going to meditation. Just skip it this once.