Buying things

Amazon is building out it’s Singapore offerings. As a hardened Amazon-junkie, I had problems coping with withdrawal.

Craigslist is here, but pretty underwhelming. Gumtree also. The space seems to be occupied by Carousell. If you want high volume, person to person selling, Carousell is a great option. When it’s heavy or bulky, be prepared to spend about S$50 cash to get it delivered by GoGoVan.

Another¬†interesting find were forty two, which delivers and assembles home furniture. It’s a store that handles the whole experience (unlike Lazada), and they have a great tracking system. All my forty two purchases went well.

Lazada is closer to eBay. You can find some great deals there, but it’s a lottery as to when you will received them. Most of the products I received were from China, with tiny Chinese-only instructions. Some arrived in 48 hours, others took over 2 weeks. There’s no standardized tracking system. If you have a non-singaporean phone number, vendors won’t even try to contact you.

 

 

How to get places

If you grew up in London, this part is easy. The MRT is like the tube…. except it’s clean, safe and on time. If you grew up in the USA, life without a car will take some getting used to. While the MRT trains are really good, they are supplemented by an excellent bus system.

There are MANY great apps for routing you between A and B. Because Singapore is small, the routes will mostly take less than an hour. Google Maps has updated it’s public transport options on its mobile app, and honestly, that’s all you need.

Most rides will cost less than $1.50 Singaporean, which is really cheap. Even the airport is accessible if you are on the East-West (green) line. For those who have urgent needs, Uber and its competitors are available. Most non-surge rates are between 6-14 Singaporean dollars.

Bank accounts

A bank account is the prerequisite to basic survival in Singapore.

There are a few selections to chose from. Some of the key factors are: What sort of ID do you have with you (when you first land, not a lot) and also where are the ATMs?

I ended up going with DBS as they had minimal paper requirements (passport and IPA letter). Expect the set up to take at least an hour, and to re-answer the same question multiple times. While they have a good number of ATMs in Singapore, you can also use the ATMs of their sister-bank POSB for free too.

You don’t need cash to set up the account and you can wire money from the US later. You can also set up a multi-currency account, where you have both USD (or another currency) and Singapore dollars. You can easily move money between the two via the website.

A little about me

After approx 20 years of living in the USA (mostly Silicon Valley), I decided to see the world again. I’ve been an avid traveller, but it’s a big difference between visiting somewhere and actually living there.

So in late December 2016, I packed my bags, and moved from Silicon Valley California to Singapore.

I hope to spend 12-24 months here, and travel much of Asia while using Singapore as a base.

I’ll hopefully write about the good, bad, and ridiculous ‘gotchas’ that hopefully I solve along the way