1 August 2016

Elaine Friedlander - Expat in Singapore

Elaine Friedlander - Expat in Singapore

We’ve had the chance to talk to Ms. Elaine Friedlander, 38, a British Expat living inSingapore.

Moving back to Singapore for a second time after studies in the UK, Ms. Friedlander has nothing but praises for the sunny island. She now lives with her Dutch husband and three children. On what to do in Singapore, she enthusiastically recommends, “visiting the national libraries, taking pony rides at the saddle club on weekend mornings, scooting at East Coast Park, having a picnic at West Coast Park, Botanical Gardens, Sentosa, and more.” However, she warns that schools, cars and housing can be costly.

Read more about Ms. Friedlander’s tips as an expat in Singapore, in her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: UK, and Singapore (sort of).


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: After I left the UK, I first moved to Hong Kong, then Singapore. I moved when I was nine years old with my family because of my dad’s job. When I was 18,I left Singapore to go to the university in the UK, which was a huge culture shock.

I had met my now husband, who is Dutch, when I was still a teen living in Singapore. We both lived in the UK for our 20s and early 30s, and have been scheming for the longest time to move back to these warm shores. Recently, the opportunity arose so we snatched it up. I couldn’t think of a nicer place to raise my three kids.


Q: How long have you been living inSingapore?

A: This time almost 1 year, first time round 7 years.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Singapore?

A: Leaving it the first time round!


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in Singapore? What was your experience with these?

A: No, just a bit stressful as we had a baby due at the same time!


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: With my family, husband and three kids.


Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Very well indeed.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Singapore? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: Most of my year group from school have also returned to Singapore so I have a very solid group of friends whom I’ve known for a long time. We are 3rdculture kids who feel at home here. In addition, I have met new friends mainly through baby and kids groups who were very friendly and welcoming.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Eat everywhere! In Singapore, there are loads of family friendly things to see and visit. There are free splash parks in main attractions such as the zoo, Jurong Bird Park and science centre. I highly recommend getting annual family passes to save money on the cable car rides. Other activities include visiting the national libraries, taking pony rides at the saddle club on weekend mornings, scooting at East Coast Park, having a picnic at West Coast Park, Botanical Gardens, Sentosa, and more.


Q: How does the cost of living in Singapore compare to your home?

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: $1-5

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?


  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $100+

  • How much is a bottle of wine?


  • How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Don’t smoke!


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I like most of them.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Singapore?

A: Too many positives to list. Negatives. Mouldy shoes in cupboards because of the humidity.Cost of schooling, cars and housing.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Sometimes, but luckily they come to visit us.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Skype, or have them stay for 3 weeks by which, we are tearing each other’s hair out and I don’t miss them so much! Just kidding!

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Move probably. The world has so many interesting places I don’t think I want to limit myself.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Not seeing my family as much as I did when we all lived in the UK.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Make the most of it because before you know it you’ll be moving on.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Singapore?

A: I am following Diary of a Singaporean Cabby at the moment and I am really enjoying. He has an interesting viewpoint and seems like a genuine straight up guy. Sometimes, it’s good to see the world through someone else’s eyes. I also manage a blog about cooking, shopping and family fun in Singapore when I am free.