18 January 2017

Joe Escobedo - Expat in Singapore

Joe Escobedo - Expat in Singapore

We’ve had the chance to talk to Joe Escobedo, 32, an American expat who has moved to Singapore with his family. Mr. Escobedo who has been living there for four years, now works as director of marketing. 

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: That’s a tough one. I was born in German, raised in the U.S., educated in China and live in Singapore.


Q: What made you move out of the USA?

A: I always wanted to study overseas and so when I received a scholarship to get my MBA in China, I grabbed the opportunity!


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Singapore. I didn’t necessarily choose it. I followed my wife here.


Q: How long have you been living in Singapore?

A: Four years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my wife and daughter. My daughter was born here and so this is all she knows. 


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Yes, but we try and text, call or Skype each other whenever we can.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I’d equate them to the New Yorkers of Asia.


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: Growing up, I didn’t fit into one group. Because of this, though, I’ve been able to make friends with people from over corner of the world. I try to socialize with a mix of Americans to keep me rooted and other nationalities to expand my perspective.


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

A: Let’s just saw a pizza here costs me at least four times what it cost me back home (in Oklahoma.)

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Don’t know. I don’t drink coffee but I reckon it ain’t cheap.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: SG$5-7 at an outdoor food court or hawker centre as they are called here.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: That can easily get up to SG$200 to SG$300.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Singapore

A: Ideally find a local bank account that has an overseas branch in your home country.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: The local government is one of the most efficient in the world so the process has been a relative breeze, especially compared to the previous places I’ve lived.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Singapore is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: It’s the same standard as in the U.S. or any other developed country; around the same price too. Fortunately, there are affordable clinics all over the island.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the US or in Singapore? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: I don’t have overseas health insurance. My company here offers basic coverage for me.


Q: What was the most memorable about the process of packing and moving to Singapore? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: When I moved here I moved alone so it was relatively easy. But when I moved to a new apartment here with a family, that was a completely different story! Thankfully our moving company (don’t remember the name) was pretty good.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: For many expats, their biggest challenge is adapting to a new environment, food and culture. For me, it’s more of “where can I find a good Mexican restaurant?”


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

A: Pro: it’s safe, clean and convenient. Cons: I’ll just cap this at one; the cost of living.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a five-minute jog away from my house so I go there to escape the “city life” sometimes.


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

A: I’d like to think yes, but I go wherever the wind blows me.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Make sure you have enough saved up that you can live here up to six months without a job.


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

A: Can’t think of one off the top of my head.