Congratulations, you’re moving to Singapore. Selecting a school might be the most difficult task but don’t worry, we have all the information to decide the right school for your child. We’ve also put together some basic information to help you navigate your relocation. Below, you will find answers to all your biggest questions, everything from a district and neighbourhood guide to helpful list of childcare options.
What you should look for in a school
Selecting the right school for your child seems like a big task. Will your child be able to fit into the new school, or will the environment be similar to what you have back at home? There are many factors that you can think about. Below we’ve done a summary on some important factors that you should consider.
Ultimately, curriculum is the deciding factor to choosing the right school. The international schools in Singapore offer a variety of curriculum. Whether it is an American, Australian, British (and many more), the curriculum chosen will determine the path for your child in the future. These are the top 3 curriculums the schools in Singapore is offering:
- American & IB curriculum
- International Baccalaureate Diploma and the Australian Higher School Certificate, IGCSE
- British curriculum (English National Curriculum (IGCSEs))
Quality of teachers
As a parent, we want to make sure that our kids are in good hands. The quality of teachers are one of the important factor and counts the most. We encourage parents to ask school leaders about their teacher hiring policy, how they ensure their staff are valued, what programmes for development are provided, what the turnover of staff is and how dedicated are the teachers in your child’s education.
The international schools in Singapore have one of the best school facilities. As a parent, we would want our child to have the access to the best facilities they could have so that they can achieve more than they believe they can. Some schools have Olympic-sized football fields, swimming pools, tennis courts and many more. At Stamford, we have the following world-class facilities for your child to capitalize on your child’s sporting and performing arts talent:
- 3 swimming pools
- 2 sports arena
- 1 outdoor football field
- 500-seat professional theater with 60sqm LED lighting
- 1 Golf Academy
- 2 Rock Climbing walls
The ideal location for a school is to be the closest to your home. Some of the popular areas that’s close the major expatriate area, Orchard Road would be Orchard, Serangoon, Lorong Chuan, East Coast, Bukit Timah.
There are also schools that are located in neighbourhood areas of Singapore (North, East & West) such as Woodlands, Bukit Batok, Yishun, and many other neighbourhood areas
Age range of school
In Singapore, we are fortunate to enjoy the opportunity of putting our child from a young age. The international schools in Singapore offer education from as young as 18 months to 18 years. This is one of the perks as you can put your child in the same school throughout without having to transfer from a preschool to an elementary & secondary school. At Stamford, we offer an education which starts as early as 18 months.
How do I set up a bank account?
Living in Singapore you will find you need a local bank if you want easy access to ATM’s and to use NETS (a local form of debit transaction). Banks like UOB, DBS and OCBC have convenient ATM and branch locations around the island; they also offer superior customer service and waive many types of local transaction fees.
Come prepared, you will need the following items to open your account…
- Singapore ID Card (EP / SP / LTVP or DP): Setting up a bank account before you receive your valid Singapore ID can prove difficult, as all banks require some sort of domestic identification. Some banks will let you open an account with a letter from your employer stating your working status, position, monthly salary, etc.; submitted with a copy of your pay slip. However, don’t expect this to be a straightforward process.
- Minimum Deposit: The amount for a minimum deposit varies by bank and type of account. For a typical checking account, expect an initial deposit of between $5,000 to $10,000 SGD.
Expect to fill out several rounds of paperwork. Once you have completed your part, it may still take a few days for all parts of your account to be accessible.
What phone service should I subscribe to?
Singtel, M1 and Starhub are three main phone service providers in Singapore. Which one is best is a widely debated topic, check with each provider to see how strong their network is in your area. Your best option will be to bundle your plan with internet and cable options, as well as add all your family members to the same plan.
Where Should I Live?
Many factors will influence your decision on where to live… Will you have a car? Is it important to be close to work? Do you want to live near shops and restaurants or in a quiet neighborhood? How will your kids get to school? Do you prefer a condo with all the amenities or the privacy of a landed house? Fortunately, Singapore has many diverse neighborhoods to choose from! Below we’ve highlighted several popular areas for expats and locals, alike.
Property Agents are eager to help and are easy to find. The most popular website to search for a home in Singapore is Propertyguru.com, and listings by agent allow you to search and check availability with relative ease. Note that most rental conditions are negotiable, and any commissions to the agent should be paid by the landlord.
How do I get around?
While nearly everyone in Singapore uses the Metro Rapid Transit known as the 'MRT', taxi’s are also a popular way to expedite your journey. GrabTaxi and Uber apps are the most reliable (and typically the fastest) ways to call a car in a hurry. When you have the time, learn the bus stops near your work and home. You will be surprised how quick, convenient and inexpensive they can be!
Things to Note:
- If you flag down a taxi on the street, they may not stop (especially if you're in a bus lane!) Look around for taxi stands, where available cabs will frequently pull in to pick up passengers.
- Purchase a reloadable EZ link card at any MRT station. You can use this card for the trains, the bus, as well as for the tram on Sentosa.
- Public Transportation in Singapore has a reputation for being clean and safe. There is strictly no eating or drinking aboard the MRT or on a bus, and when you are transporting food or drinks, make sure they’re tucked away in a bag... That goes for your morning coffee, too!
- Children are free to ride public transportation. Use your discretion according to the maturity of your child and the length of their journey to decide when they can start using the MRT alone. Keep in mind, you won’t see many kids below age 10 riding alone.
What if I need help?
Expat Community and Support Groups
There are so many foreigners here it’s not hard to find new friends. Moving with kids can make this process easier, as you can quickly get connected with other parents through school supported networks. Some international schools provide connections to home country groups, religious groups, language support groups, and groups that bring parents together around a common interest (allergy support, wine clubs, fitness, etc.).
Your embassy is also a great resource for your family to stay connected to your home countries holidays, traditions, and events. Check with them for recommendations to popular cultural organizations and associations, they may even provide their own.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of the internet! Popular family websites feature calendars filled with events (kid friendly and otherwise). Facebook is filled with expat support and activity groups, including the infamous ‘Singapore Expat Wives’ group. If all else fails, meetup.com has an incredibly active community in Singapore, so join up!
Should I hire a helper?
The decision to hire a live-in maid or “helper” is personal for each family. If both parents are working and you have young children, it might seem impossible not to go with live-in help. However, some families with older children find it’s not only unnecessary but slightly invasive. A helper can take responsibility for grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, childcare and petcare – which can be a huge time saver for busy families.
Live-in help is strictly regulated by the Ministry of Manpower, it’s highly suggested you research all your obligations as an employer as well as the reputation of the agency you use. You may be surprised to learn that different nationalities are regulated in terms of what type of jobs they can work. You can expect that you and your helper will go through a period of cultural adjustment, and you will need to be patient and clear with your expectations.
Agencies Recommended by SAIS Families and Staff
- Prestige Management Services
- We Are Caring
- G & A Services
Part Time Help
For families who don’t need full-time help or don’t like the idea of sharing their home with a stranger, there are several agencies that provide part time maids or child sitting services. However, part-time help and child sitting services can be costly, as you are most likely hiring a local Singaporean who has a household to support.
Part Time Babysitting Services Recommended by SAIS Families and Staff
While the best way to find a good sitter is by personal recommendation, below is a list of popular websites that offer reliable services.
- Nanny Pro
- Babysitters SG
- PEM Maids
Part Time Maid Services Recommended by SAIS Families and Staff
While the best way to find a good cleaner is by personal recommendation, below is a list of popular websites that offer reliable services.
- Sauber cleaning
- Home Cleanz
Useful Emergency Information
|Emergency Ambulance & Fire Service||995|
|Non-Emergency Police||1800 255 0000|
|Traffic Police||6547 1818|
Private Hospitals with Emergency Service
|East Shore Hospital||6344 7588|
|Gleneagles Hospital||6470 5688 / 6470 5700|
|Mount Alvernia Hospital||6347 6210|
|Mount Elizabeth Hospital||6731 2218/19/59|
|Raffles Hospital||6311 1555|
|Thomson Medical Center||6350 8812|
Government Hospitals with Emergency Service
|National University Hospital||6772 5000|
|KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital||6293 4044|
|Singapore General Hospital||6321 4103|
|Tan Tock Seng Hospital||6357 8777|
What if I need to see a doctor?
With plenty of qualified doctors and dentists, Singapore’s well-established healthcare system consist of 13 private hospitals, 10 public hospitals and specialists clinics. Patients are free to choose any public or private hospitals (walk-ins are typically welcome), although you will want to check ahead of time which providers accommodate the insurance policy provided by your employer. For emergency services, dial 995 to access the 24 hour Accident & Emergency Departments line.
How do I use the postal service?
Just like transportation in Singapore, posting a letter is an efficient and straightforward process. Head to your nearest Singpost to weigh your letter and purchase stamps. The postal workers are happy to advise on how much owe, based on destination and bulk. While Singpost is the most economical choice, you may opt to use a private service like DHL or FedEx, which have a handful of locations across the island.
You may find yourself accumulating art and furniture from your travels that you want to ship home at the end of your stay (or perhaps you want to bring your own furniture to Singapore). When the time comes, there are dozens of companies that will help you pack, label and ship home bulky items back to/ from your home country. Allied Pickfords, Geometra, Crown, Vanpac, and Santa Fe Relocation all have excellent reputations and offer competitive prices.
Where do I go to buy food?
Fairprice and NTUC Fairprice Finest
Fairprice is a popular choice among locals and expats, due to its competitive prices (especially on produce) and wide product range. With at least 15 outlets around Singapore, it offers a wide selection of Western, Asian and local brands, as well as fruit, vegetables, organic produce, meat, poultry, fresh sushi, fresh seafood, alcohol and more. Western brands are more readily available at Fairprice Finest outlets.
Located in many With locations in all major expat communities, Cold Storage has a large range of international brands and stocks a wide variety range of organic produce, seafood, meat alcohol, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and more. Home delivery is also available, and you can sign up for a Passion Card or use your UOB debit card to accrue points.
Another market option in Singapore, Giant stores can be found in many neighborhoods. Offering very affordable prices, on produce and dry goods, primarily from local or regional providers. Some outlets also sell general merchandise including clothing, furniture, toys, stationery and more.
Jasons and Marketplace
Jasons and their sister brand, Marketplace, are high-end supermarkets in central locations which offer prepared food options as well as a wide range of international products. Likely your best option for finding ingredients from home, including an excellent selection of cheese and other international snacks.
A 24-hour institution in Little India, where it is possible to buy anything and everything. The supermarket selection is extensive and includes a large range of Indian ingredients, but there’s plenty of western brand names too. There’s also dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables and dry goods - all at competitive prices. Be warned, the Mustafa Center is rarely a rushed outing, due to the sprawling layout. Arrive early and take your time strolling down the maze of aisles.
Online Grocery Shopping
Singapore also has a convenient network of online grocery ordering and door-to-door delivery. For very busy parents websites like Redmart, Fairprice, Giant, SuperNature, and HonestBee can be a big help! Save yourself a trip to the store and give delivery a try.
Where can I send my kids for Holiday Camp?
Camp Asia is the leading holiday camp provider in Singapore. They offer weekly and holiday camps for children aged 3 to 16 years. Camp Asia has 15 different camps stimulating children through sports, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, music, drama, Mandarin and electronics.