I have to be honest. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I’ll be living in a foreign country some day. It was never my intention to migrate away from the homeland, much less try to raise a family in a place other than the Philippines.
Nevertheless, I was always curious as to how other people live in another country. So in the hopes of helping out a kindred spirit, I’ll try to best explain in this post what are the usual views and conveniences we have here in our home away from home-lah.
The people (most of them) are nice and one of the most courteous I’ve countered in my travels (in and out of the home country). You can see the pride they have for their nation and their way of life.
A lot of the people here live in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats. It's a government initiative that started years before aiming to provide every Singaporean a place for them to call home.
And these are not your run-of-the-mill shoebox units, mind you. Unlike in the Philippines where tons of developers pass off ridiculously priced, 20-something square meter (or even less!) rectangular apartments as “decent” living spaces; here in Singapore, flats are usually huge and spacious.
Only recently have the market been infiltrated with these shoebox units. From what I’ve noticed, these types of flats are usually offered by private developers, but there are still a number of private estates that offer the usual spacious 2 to 3 bedroom units.
To Void or Not to Void
Most residential towers (both private and HDB estates) here have void decks at the lower floor. Usually equipped with tables and a few seats, these areas serve as a place for residents to get together and socialize with their neighbors. Weddings can even be done here. J
HDB towers do not have reception areas nor are they staffed with security personnel. It’s very open and almost anyone can just climb up to your floors. Although it’s relatively safe here in Singapore, you’d still hear instances of petty thievery like missing shoes and clothes stolen from outside apartments. You can never be too careful.
The Husband (and to some extent, the Little One and I) have, at one point or another, lived in a total of 3 different flats here in Singapore since 2008; all housed within private estates.
From all 3 units that served as our home here, I’ve noticed that developers, with some aspects as required/mandated by the government, have included a number of conveniences you’ll have difficultly finding in our home country. (Please note that these are from what we have had enjoyed in our past homes located within private estates. I cannot speak for those in HDB flats.)
First off, electrical outlets here are installed with on/off switches to control the current that passes though them. No need to unplug appliances when not in use. Simply switch the outlet off.
There is also a built-in water heater for those who simply can’t start the day without a warm, relaxing shower/bath.
To save on space, washing machines here are mostly the top-loading kind...
... with the washing hung on thick poles usually placed outside the windows for quicker drying. How, in heaven's name, they could have carried these laden with just washed, slightly wet clothing and attach it to the sockets outside their windows is way beyond my comprehension. It is good exercise for the arms, though. J
Us? We usually just hang our washing on drying racks located inside our flat.
Units are also usually equipped with their own trash chute that directs refuse in central containers at the bottom of each residential tower.
Although the stink sometimes can roll up on to the lower units, something we learned the hard way when we rented a flat on the 2nd floor of a private estate. It wasn’t so bad, though, as the scent clears once the central trash bin is taken out (which, thankfully, they do so everyday).
Be Kind and Recycle
Although Singapore has yet to curb/ban the use of plastics, it does encourage everyone to recycle. One way of doing this is by providing trash bins that will encourage recycling.
Although flats are installed with trash chutes, residents are required to segregate their recyclables and drop them off directly at the proper bins located off the side of each towers’ void decks.
Green, Open Spaces
There are also an abundant number of public parks here. Green patches located in various areas of the Lion City maintain and provide cool areas for the public.
Considering this country is closer to the equator than we are, I’m always surprised to find that I’m not so much bothered by the heat here as compared to when I’m in Manila. It’s not as humid and dirty (in a way).
We were lucky enough that one of our homes had a public park beside it. Way before I was pregnant, I’d usually go there in the mornings for a quick jog, or simply to stroll along and take pictures of the animals and plants.
Play and Exercise Areas
Play and exercise areas are also scattered in various locations here, most provided for by the government. There’s also a small area serving this purpose for private estate residents as well.
It’s a very good initiative and keeps both the young, and older, ones physically active and healthy.
Home Sweet Home-lah
It is quite an experience living in a different country. Although I am missing my own family in the Philippines, the thought of the Husband, the Little One and I being a physically complete unit here is enough to keep me going. J