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Interview with Bry – a Dutch expat living in Singapore

Updated 24 Jun 2010

Bryan Norman is the liaison for an accredited estate agent and has been living and working in Singapore since 2005. His passion is getting newly arrived expats into quality accommodation with the minimum of fuss. 

For more information on expat life in Singapore, visit the Expat Arrivals Guide to Singapore or read more Expat Experiences in Singapore

About Bryan

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Curaçao, Netherlands' Antilles. But I spent most of my life in Holland.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: Singapore, East Coast.

Q: How long you have you lived in Singapore?
A: Since August 2004. I also spent 4 years in Singapore during my teens.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: No. I'm single.

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I loved living here the first time, and I wanted to relive some of that joie de vivre.

About Singapore

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Singapore, how’s the quality of life?
A: I love it. It's very comfortable. I love the weather, the mixing of various nationalities, the food, the little surprises, the differences compared to back home, the food, the proximity to the sea. Did I mention the food? I also like the way Singapore is a springboard to a lot of other great destinations and numerous idyllic islands. The quality of life is high here, on a par with Holland.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss the occasional "frikadel speciaal", a pretty sinful ever so delicious Dutch treat. Negatives? Perhaps the way things are getting ever-more expensive here.

Q: Is Singapore safe for expats?
A: The local slogan here is "Low crime doesn't mean no crime". I feel completely at ease here, even late at night. And certainly in terms of serious crime, the numbers are very low.

About living here

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Singapore as an expat?
A: Popular areas are Holland Village and the East Coast. Many expats like the city too.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: Nowadays, there's more of a space constraint issue in Singapore, so most new condos are a little too modest in size to my liking. Find a condo from the mid-'80s, however, and you've got space galore. Take Bayshore Park for instance, in my view it's simply resort living.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Singapore compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: The cost of accommodation has been climbing ever since 2005. It's the biggest hit on any budget. If you're keen to live here, make sure your company gives you a generous housing allowance. Owning a car is quite expensive too. Buy one only if you really need one, because taxis are ubiquitous and public transport is superb. Alcohol, chocolate, yoghurt, cheese are all more expensive than in Holland. Local food, however, is quite affordable.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I joined a local club and, as a result, I tend to hang out more with locals than with expats. The locals here are a great, pretty inquisitive and mostly kind. Pretty much everybody speaks English. I feel very at home here.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes, very. If you're open to meeting new friends, you'll find that you'll get on with most people here.

About working in Singapore

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: No. I had an agency apply for me, and we've been able to extend my work permit several times without any problem.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in Singapore, is there plenty of work?
A: The recession has been left behind (It's June 2010 now) and things are picking up with a vengeance here. Manufacturing, export, construction, it's double-digit growth everywhere. I'm not 100% sure about employment, but you'd think that hiring would be on the uptick.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I don't know. I work mostly from home. But I gather from my friends that people here clock more hours at work than back in Holland.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: Yes. I chose an international moving company with a solid track record, and I'm happy I did; their estimation of space and cost was spot on and packing/unpacking was superb at both ends.

Q: What are the schools like, any particular suggestions?
A: I attended UWC as a teen and it was awesome.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: Very high. People come from far to get treated here.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Pace yourself. Embrace the heat and the humidity, or they'll wear you down by the afternoon.

~ Interviewed June 2010

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