Navigating property, banking, and grocery stores in Singapore
Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012
Once you’re over the initial champagne-slamming excitement of moving to Singapore, it’s time to drag your feet to the exhausting settling-in process.
Stock up on booze at Changi Airport
Forget heat and weather – the biggest culture shock in Singapore is the price of alcohol. A beer can range anywhere from S$6-$19, and a cocktail is around the S$10-20 range. Duty free alcohol at Changi Airport is one of the cheapest in Asia.
Know your grocery stores
Cold Storage – The cleanest of the grocery stores with the most international products. Compared to other grocery stores, there is a larger selection of international brands from the US and Australia. There’s also a large selection of imported seafood including smoked and frozen salmon from New Zealand.
Compare: 2.4 Liters of Berri Apple Juice $5.80 ($2.41/liter)
NTUC Fair Price – Veggies here are cheaper than Cold Storage but the quality of produce is lower. Frequented more by locals, there is a good variety of local style frozen seafood like fish balls and flat fish cake. Overall, cheaper than Cold Storage.
Compare: 2.4 Liters of Berri Apple Juice $5.60 ($2.30/liter)
Sheng Siong – The “air conditioned wet market” is the most popular with locals as it has the most variety of Asian and some European produce. The fruit is not as fresh but again there is more variety.
Overall, best veggies are in Little India!
Compare: 1.4 Liters of Berri Apple Juice $2.20 ($1.57/liter)
Get Kitchen Basics at People’s Park Complex
Say you’re not in Singapore for the long haul, but are staying long enough to fill a kitchen. Head to People’s Park Complex as this is the place to buy stuff you won’t be sad to toss before another move.
Find dirt-cheap kitchen basics like ladles, spatulas, strainers, knives, and cutlery (all around $1-$5) and at the popular local market.
People’s Park Complex. Public Market, People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road
Install the SMS taxi text app
There’s a number of taxi apps in Singapore but ComfortDelGro is an iPhone app that allows users to send and receive SMS confirmed taxis based on their current location, as determined by their phone GPS.
Each use charges a $2.50 booking fee. Download here.
Pick the right bank if you’re from overseas
OCBC – A large Singapore local bank that’s foreigner friendly. Accounts are open to foreigners and allows for convenient overseas account transfers with the same bank. There’s also a convenient option to pay credit card bills from other banks. See a comprehensive list of ATM locations.
ANZ – If you’re coming in from Australia and have an ANZ bank account, you should consider going with another branch if you need face-to-face service. There are only four branches in Singapore, but if you mainly do online banking it’s not a huge deal. There are 21 ATMs in the city.
Living – Be prepared to share
Renting terraces, bungalows, houses and attached houses go for around USD7,800 and USD23,430 per month, according to PropWise.
High-rise buildings (room rentals, apartments, condos, and penthouses) go for around USD800 (for single rooms) and go up as high as 25,000 USD per month for flashier condos. Even with a mid-range salary, many people live with flat mates.
When real estate agents ask for your “profile”, they’re asking for race, ethnicity, sex, and sometimes religion. Don’t be shocked or offended as this racial profiling is normal – owners have a preference for who they want to stay in their homes.
Image: Artist’s impression of Riversails, sourced from iProperty