17 Real Struggles of Leaving Singapore
It is always difficult to relocate, but somehow, when moving abroad you tend to fall in love with your new home, making moving anywhere else incredibly difficult.
This September marks 10 years since I "left" Singapore to begin our "expat life" in Dubai. Actually, for me it had started about 16 years ago when I left India for Singapore. So even though I technically am a Singaporean I have always been an "outsider" of sorts, and rightly so. Doesn't stop me from loving the country any less, I still miss the place and jump at the chance of going back - for a bit and then run right back.
I remember crying myself to sleep the first six months in Dubai (1)... I missed everything about Singapore. I was told that adjusting to any new place takes up to 8 months but question was would I survive that long? What were the choices though? My house in Singapore was out on rent and I had sold all of its contents before leaving, I didn't even own a rice cooker (2)!
I missed the fact that my family and friends were always a phone call away, 10 years ago being the pre-Facebook and pre-WhatsApp era (3). I had lost touch with my friends once before when I left India but this time was different.
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These were the people who went through the "phases" of marriage and child birth with me (4). These were friends who stood by me as I struggled to adjust to my new life in Singapore (5). These were friends who came to see me off at the airport and whispered in my ear "I'm pregnant, you're the first one I'm telling" (6). It's hard to break those ties. It's difficult to imagine a life without these people.
And ohhh how I missed the food (7)! The glorious glorious Singapore local food! I tried "experimenting" in the kitchen and each time it was a major fail - "something is missing" was the response I always got. We would constantly be on the lookout for people coming from Singapore to Dubai. Our "list" would prioritize the local and frozen food, which didn't cost me a small fortune as it would here (if they were available that is). The baby stuff (bottle cleaners and sanitizer) could wait for the next one to come or you know, the one after! These "goodies" made me forget the rice cooker dilemma even!
10 years ago Dubai wasn't the same place as it is now. We have literally seen the country grow in front of our eyes. No Dubai mall, no Dubai Metro and cabs were almost impossible to come by! I missed the "system" Singapore had offered and one I had gotten used to (8). The public transport system actually worked.
SEE ALSO: 10 things I love about Singapore
The trains ran on time, the cabs were available easily, buses had the best network. And here I was waiting in 50 degrees on the streets of Deira for 30 minutes with a toddler in my arms for a cab (9). But I was still desperately homeless and without that rice cooker. So standing in the heat it was!
Standing outdoors wasn't so much as a problem, standing without the green and clean air was (10)! Singapore is blessed with the cleanest of air and the greenest of landscapes! I admit it's humid and the air is heavy, and it (now) takes a day to get used to it, but when you do, you would rather spend every minute outside than be stuck in indoors in a mall. The fact that we could take a walk at the reservoir or spend the day at the park or cycle along the beach. Honestly, no amount of air conditioning replaces the goodness of the fresh air. Sigh!
Travelling out of Singapore was so easy (11). Everything seemed like just an hour away by boat or by flight from there. In a matter of hours, the scenery changed. You're out from a city to a beach resort or a small village or simply to a less expensive shopping destination! The little red dot is the heart of South East Asia and oh the perks of living in the heart!
SEE ALSO: Expat clubs and societies in Singapore
I could go on about the how "systematic" Singapore is. Some say "robotic", and they may be right but this "system" ensures that everyone living in the country is safeguarded against threats both internal and external (12). The country is safe, kids go to school using the public transport, women enjoy their evenings out without the stress of getting mugged or worse (13).
The system works. And to this day how I long for days when certain decisions are made for me, I don't care if that makes me a robot, at least I know the next course of action without the need for running from pillar to post!
On the topic of schools and decisions... The admission process is pretty simplified too (14)! More often than not your kids go to the neighborhood schools and you hit jackpot when those happen to be the most sought after schools. And the fees? Let's just say you won't be breaking the bank or selling a limb to pay for those (15)!
SEE ALSO: Top tips for life in Singapore
The advantage of living down the road from the school is - no not that they save time in transit - but that your home help could walk them to and from school (16)! Helper! Yes! Help is easily available through referrals else the agents there are super-efficient. Each one is vetted and approved by the government though bringing the domestic help into the country is a simple process, one that can be done by us online if need be!
I just have to mention the crazy shopping trips to Mustafa at 3 am (17)! No traffic, empty lanes, shorter queues! And really you can't be going home to bed after a heavy dinner can you? Win, win I say!
Ummm I'm beginning to wonder why I moved from Singapore! Surely kicking the tenants out and buying a rice cooker won't be very challenging, right? Right!?
17 Real Struggles of Leaving Singapore
About the Author
Just a regular person born and raised in India, married to a Singaporean and now living an expat life in Dubai - yup just a normal regular "global citizen"! With an innate love for travel, fashion and all things "healthy", am often referred to as a "junkie" - a tag I wear proudly! My name is Harshika Daryanani and I am an addict - to loving, to laughing, to living! Follow me at Only One Way to Find Out.