Our Neighborhood

Gene and I love the architecture and urban planning here. One of our favorite activities is walking in our neighborhood and in other beautiful areas that are so easy to get to by train. Every neighborhood seems to have a walking path, playground, park, public shelter, covered walkway (to shade sun and block rain) covered over street walkway, seating, and exercise area. We see many people outside playing and exercising including the very old.  Practicing good health and exercise are practically mandated here. (please see the photos below).

There are often shops and medical services on the ground floor of the public housing and schools nearby. The developments we’ve seen are attractive, well kept, clean, and have lots of green spaces and activities. And, since owning a car is relatively uncommon, transportation is amazingly convenient, inexpensive and arrives every few minutes, and every kind of shopping is readily available.

With Singapore’s population of nearly 6 million people on an island that is 14 miles by 27 miles, high rise living (25-45+ stories) is the norm. We live on the 18th floor of a 44 story condo. The high rise housing for the vast majority of Singaporeans, whether owned or rented, is government built and affordable based on income. If you’re not Singaporean like us, or you are and you want a higher-end place with amenities like a pool and gym, there are many private condos to own or rent. These two housing types are intermixed across the island.

And, Singaporeans who are found to be homeless  are provided housing. We’ve been told that police keep an eye on people who are seen for a few days on the streets and they refer them to a government agency. Homeless are provided with a single room occupancy alone or with a roommate in a building with services and amenities. You won’t see many single family homes or even low rises in Singapore since land is at such a premium.

Worth noting, a cultural shift has begun where more younger adults and married couples are moving out on their own, not choosing the tradition of living with their parents into their 30’s, or living with the husband’s family permanently. As a result, senior citizens do not have young family members to take care of them. Now there is a growing need for senior housing and assisted living and many projects have begun being built.

The experience of Singapore’s urban planning and architecture is a big part of what makes this place a world class city-state.


 

Expatriates

Expatriates (expats) are people who are either permanently or temporarily living in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The term is often used for professionals or skilled workers sent abroad by their companies, like Gene and her colleagues.  Also, people who retire abroad are usually considered expatriates. There are many ex-pats from Asia and India here, and not that many whites (Brits, Australians, Scandinavians, and Americans) when you are out and about.

People who come to another country as manual laborers might be considered immigrants or migrant workers. From what I have experienced and heard, Filipinos make up a large percentage of domestic help and manual labor in Singapore. I am considered a tourist so I can remain in Singapore for 90 days and then must leave the country for 24 hours or more.  What a perk!  I will be planning these get-aways which will ensure that we do go to strange new lands where we have never ventured before. And, you should hear and see about them here.

I met a Canadian expat in the gym yesterday. A married woman who has three kids; they are all going to school orientation today. Her husband moves around for his job and is transferred every few years. They just moved from Beijing, China and before that Tokyo, Japan. She hoped for a transfer to Singapore and is very glad to finally live here. They will be looking for an apartment soon, too.

We’ve gotten to know a woman, Danni, from Australia who is married and has two kids in school here. Her husband travels throughout Asia. She and the kids are staying at the Treetops as a home base so the family can see each other more often; they will also get an apartment here soon. This morning I saw a number of cute kids in uniforms at breakfast. Each of the expat families who have school age kids get them enrolled and into a school shortly after arrival. One mom told me that the schools are very good assigning the new kids buddies so they get familiar with the school and find friends quickly. And, all kids in Singapore wear uniforms.

(6 months later) Interestingly, most of our condo neighbors are Asian and expatriates like us.  They have moved here for work mostly and can gain residency if they want to stay. We also have met a number of Westerners who have become Singapore residents, a few of them are people Gene works with.

See the purple dot on the map below to see where we are living.

Singapore-map[1] narrow

Living in The Treetops

The Treetops Executive Residence is a lovely place to stay for a longer period of time while in Singapore; the units have kitchens and separate rooms. Gene’s employer often has its employees stay here when they come from Wisconsin to work on team projects at the Singapore office. If they are here a few months, they often stay at The Treetops the entire time. If the project is longer, like Gene’s of 15 months, we will stay here a month, get acquainted with the city, find an apartment, furnish it, and stay there for the duration of the project.  And, have fun!

Great breakfast every morning.
Great breakfast every morning.
Prawn and Tofu Laksa
Prawn and Tofu Laksa
Kitchen cooking meal Treetops IMG_1902 30
Making dinner of catfish
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Treetops courtyard

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View from our living room window
View from the lobby and restaurant
Pool from room window
Pool from room window

 

Street view after rain
Street view after rain