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From England to Singapore: MR E in Singapore

19 October, 2015 09:38  Erin Erin

MR E Singapore Hi, I’m Jason, alternatively known as Mr E thanks to my job. I’m originally from Dartford in England. I moved to Singapore in August 2014 with my partner.

1. Why did you move abroad?
I was 29 when I moved here, living with parents and having struggled for the previous 5 years to make any significant progress in saving for a deposit. With teachers in the UK being hit year on year with a pay freeze (now entering its fifth year), and the cost of living ever increasing I began looking for alternative options. A few interviews passed and a few months later I had flight booking confirmed and the move was on!

2. How do you make a living?
I’m a teacher at one of the international schools here. There’s a myth in the UK that teaching abroad is an easy alternative to back home, however I can whole-heartedly confirm that that is not the case! We are worked very hard, but this is paralleled with high reward, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. I often dub my Singapore school a ‘teacher’s playground’ where the budget and resources available mean that lesson you dreamed of teaching back home but couldn’t due to the usual constraints associated with teaching in state schools.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Skype! It’s great, and what with 4G phones being so quick you can Skype on the MRT if you wanted to! My regular slot to chat with family is Sunday evening.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Singapore?
How accessible other countries are in the locale, complimented by how hassle-free it is going in and out of Changi Airport. I once touched down at Changi (admittedly without check-in luggage) and was home on the sofa with a cup of PG tips less that half an hour later.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Singapore?
At this time of year (September) the haze! Sumatran farmers burn their crop fields on order to increase their fertility (the field’s that is, not their own) and the subsequent haze caused by this descends upon Singapore during the latter months of the year. Apart from that, the fact that Singapore is 135th in the most recently published World Press Freedom Index means that you have to be careful what you say at times.

6. What do you miss most?
Actual I blogged about this recently. Apart from the obvious (family and friends of course), I still have a season ticket at Chelsea back home and really miss going to the footy with my mate Stella. Because of the time difference it’s on much later here meaning weekend games are accessible, but not without the kind of detachment you feel a few weeks after having broken up with someone – you know they’re still there, but you’re just not that close any more!

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I joined a football team, great bunch of lads, it was a new team when I joined which made it a little easier than breaking into an existing team which would have been more difficult on both a footballing and a social level. It’s a mixture of locals and expats, but mostly expats.  My partner and I even used this app once, ‘Meetup’ it’s called. There are loads of groups and meet-ups on there that you can sign up to. We played table tennis one Tuesday night with some locals in a sports hall. It’s a shame that most expats here get sucked in so easily to the ‘expat bubble’, which is rife here with so many expats on fairly high incomes and subsequently miss out on forging friendships with locals.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Philippino maids. I just don’t get it! I can see the benefits, particularly to parents of younger children, and this is by no means true of all, or even most expat families, but the over-reliance on cheap labour to bring up your children boggles my mind. It’s also rare to find a Singaporean thinking creatively in order to solve a problem. Our internet conked out once last year at the same time our provider ‘upgraded’ our wireless router. So I rang our provider’s customer service centre to get them to send us a new one, which the person on the other phone simply would not do before strictly adhering to the predetermined questions on the flow chart on the screen in front of him. Infuriating!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That it’s a democracy? – ha, I am of course joking of course. That it’s illegal to smoke in public. People do it all the time here, it’s littering that’s illegal. Singapore is known as the ‘fine’ city thanks to its strict laws. Another myth is that the pavements and streets in Singapore are pristine, but they are no more noticeably clean than anywhere else that doesn’t have litter/pollution problem.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is higher, but the remuneration for the work I do by far outweighs that. Rent is expesnive here, but it’s ludicrous in London. For what we pay here in rent we could indeed get a 2 bed flat in a decent part of London and not have to look far to find something we like. But it won’t have a swimming pool, gym and guards at the gate as is the norm in most condos here.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
My advice would be simple: Do you, embrace every day and make the most it.

12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog really as a means to keep folk back home updated. I didn’t expect to get daily traffic from all over the world tuning in! As it picked up I was encouraged to write more and more, that was until I went back home to Blighty for the summer. Now I’m back I’ll pick it up again.

Blog LinkJason's blog, MR E in Singapore

Guide for expatriates in Singapore
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