I can’t believe the time has come for me to write this post. It feels like yesterday when I made the decision to move abroad. I still remember the confusion, anxiety and the stress I felt on my first few months in Singapore, while consciously trying to adapt to everything new.
Five years later and here we are, already a week passed the day we left our second home. Ge’s work commitment ended in July and mine was supposed to finish mid-August. However, in an unexpected turn of events, I was retrenched from my job a month earlier. It sounds like bad news, but it actually worked in my favor.
My team have always known about our plan to immigrate and were very supportive from the start. When our permanent resident visa in Australia was granted last year, I’ve told them immediately about my impending resignation and they were just as excited as I am.
Six weeks before my last day in the office, my manager told me about the company’s direction to downsize costs and employees. And that I was a part of it. I couldn’t understand it. Not that I feel bad, but because I don’t think the business will benefit from the decision since I’m leaving anyway. But I was told that it was exactly the reason why they chose me. So they won’t have to force people who need the job to go, and so I’d have the extra moolah to start anew. Win-win!
It was a blessing in disguise. I had a few weeks without work (which I conscientiously used to meet with old friends), I still got paid and more.
Aren’t my bosses awesome? :)
Now that we officially left the Lion City, I figured that it’s a good time to list some of the things I’m going to miss about Singapore.
1. It’s safe.
Known as the safest country in Asia, Singapore has always been on the top spot for having the lowest crime rate in the world. Children can travel home by themselves without their parents worrying about their safety. There are no muggers or strangers roaming around suspiciously. And never once did I feel threatened even when I had to walk home at 2 AM.
Singaporean slogan says, “Low crime doesn’t mean no crime”, but low crime is still a lot more than what other cities can say for themselves, right?
2. Convenient public transport.
I’ve always been a commuter, and have tried almost all common public means of transportation in the Philippines – jeepney, tricycle, LRT, MRT, pedicab, habal habal, van shuttles, padyak, patok, bicycle, multicab, taxi, buses – just to get to the destination. And no, not one is good enough to be classified as convenient. Most of the vehicles’ condition is bad. Traffic is worse.
So you can imagine how impressed I am when I’ve tried the public transport in Singapore. There are lots of lines and railways that connect almost every corner of the city. Designated seats are reserved for elders and handicaps. The roads are bigger. Traffic lights and bus stops are always operational. Transport schedules are strictly followed supporting punctuality and productivity. Drivers are responsible. Passengers are disciplined. People use one universal electronic card to pay for fares in both buses and trains, making the process more efficient than having someone collect money from passengers one by one.
Seriously, it’s first rate!
3. Low-income tax rate.
Losing a third of my income every month on taxes in the Philippines sometimes feels like I’m being robbed (sorry for the lack of better term!). Government benefits is a whole different story so I’m going to skip that.
The cost of living in Singapore is expensive but it becomes manageable because of the low-income tax rate. There’s a huge difference (hint: not even a tenth), thus, we get to take home most of our earnings and save more.
4. Ease of traveling to anywhere.
Being one of the central layover hubs to many other flights around the world, traveling around Asia, Middle East, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand has never been easier. With flights going on sale almost every week, it’s just so easy to get to anywhere.
This is one of the things I’ll miss the most since we’re moving in the far end of the Earth.
5. Multi-racial celebrations.
With a population mix of different ethnicities, there’s always something to celebrate all year round. Chinatown spruces up every Chinese New Year, Geylang Serai is adorned with street markets on Ramadan season, Little India lights up with vibrant displays during Deepavali, and Orchard Road attracts attention on Christmas time. Each festival is celebrated with equal passion and enthusiasm, and I love how the city transforms into each one.
6. It’s very systematic.
Got a complaint? It will be attended to. Boarding a bus? Just tap and go. Need to pay bills? Do it in a few steps on your mobile phone. No need to sacrifice lunch break over a long queue in the bank. Most government transactions are done online too and follow a step-by-step procedure. Some may say it’s robotic, but Singapore takes their system seriously to keep things organize and running smoothly. And it works!
I’m seriously going to miss how convenient everything is.
7. The sheltered walkways.
Getting around has never been comfortable with the effective use of sheltered walkways that link MRT stations, bus stops, healthcare facilities, nearby schools and residential buildings. The covered pathways make the move from one point to another seamless and accessible rain or shine. As a traveler, I’ve never seen something as intentional as this anywhere. I appreciate it all the more when I can get home as usual without waiting for the rain to stop when I don’t have an umbrella.
8. Oh, Changi Airport.
Singapore has mastered the art of making an airport a destination on its own. Butterfly Garden, Koi Pond, free cinema, massage chairs, huge selection of food and shopping, clean toilets, big open space, comfy lounges, great wifi. Need I say more?
9. Deals are always everywhere.
With a consumerism culture like Singapore, it’s not hard to find great deals staring at you in the eye. Malls have clearance sales, discounts and freebies are given by just signing up for something, and there are always rewards for return customers. It’s a shopper’s party especially on Chinese New Year, Christmas season, and the celebrated GSS (The Great Singapore Sale) which runs for weeks.
I’m not much of a buyer but I like that I can easily find anything I need in Singapore, and get savings from deals. My go-to sites are Klook, Shopback, Carousell and Eatigo.
10. Friends and Colleagues.
Of course, the saddest part of saying goodbye is leaving our treasured friends behind.
These were the people who went through different seasons with me – my mentors, my prayer squad, the friends who came to see us off at the airport – our second family. The ties we weaved together all these years can’t be broken, but it’s still hard to imagine a life away from them.
Have you experienced living far from home? How did you deal with it?
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