Friday, April 02, 2010
Posted by Julia
While Singapore's multi-ethnic culture is evident in the people, food and languages that you encounter, the country is unified by having English as its first language. This made our lives a lot easier! We got around the city via the MRT, a convenient and fast subway network. Many stations are connected to shopping malls which means you rarely have to face the heat and humidity. Taxis were also easy to get. All we had to do was text the taxis service with our zip code (building code). Since Singapore is a small place, each zip code is usually assigned to one building. Once a confirmation text is sent back (within a minute or two), the taxi will be there in under 10 minutes. How cool is that? Taxis were also cheap.
One of the first things we always hear about Singapore is that it is very family friendly. Indeed our expectations were fully met. I was thrilled to find Jackson's favorite Happy Baby food brand imported from the US, along with a ton of other organic food options (Only Organic, Healthy Times, etc.) There are high chairs in every restaurant, baby changing and nursing areas are abundant and childcare is easy to obtain. In fact our concierge often arranged for a babysitter on a day's notice and the cost was about $12USD/hr. Unreal. We also rented a bunch of bulky toys for Jackson from rent-a-toy so that he would have a somewhat normal first year playing with the requisite playpens, walkers, etc. The service dropped off and picked up the toys but the bonus was that we didn't have to lug around stuff that Jackson will grow out of within a month.
With all the convenience, safety, cleanliness and cheap services, there is certainly a price. Unlike locals who mostly live in public housing developments which are subsidized (in addition to them enjoying a low income tax rate of ~15%), visitors and expats may have to pay a hefty rent. The rent we paid in Singapore is the highest that we will pay anywhere on our trip. But it was definitely worth it for a couple traveling with their busy and growing 10 month old!
Next up: Venturing beyond the one block radius of our Singapore apartment...