-Where were you born?
Willemstad, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
-In which country and city are you living now?
-Are you living alone or with your family?
-How long have you been living in Singapore?
This is my second stint in Singapore, arriving in 2004. I also lived here for four years as a teen.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Singapore?
Singapore is quite a buzzing little beehive of a country. I like the climate and I like living close to the sea. Also, the people are friendly and the food is great. Last but not least, it's politically stable and very safe.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
Not really. But that was then, in 2004. I hear it's getting harder now. Although, that said, expats are still pouring in. I guess that if you're skilled, they'll let you in. Singapore is a meritocracy after all.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
-How do you make your living in Singapore?
I started a business with the help of an agency. I found my home using an estate agent. Both were a breeze.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.
I speak a bit of Malay, not Chinese, it's too hard. But English is widely spoken here, so there's no real need to learn a foreign language. Although it does open doors when you can.
Singapore is quite westernized in a lot of ways, but there are still plenty of Asian undertones. It only makes sense to try to blend in a little, not to go too much against the grain. It will ultimately work against you.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
I don't miss home so much. Holland tends to be pretty cold most of the year and there aren't as many fun locations to hop to as here in South East Asia.
I like windsurfing, scuba diving and other sea and beach sports. I also go trekking quite often in Malaysia, which has a wealth of natural treasures on offer.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I'll be staying here in Singapore for as long as I can.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I'm renting. Rents have gone up since the time I arrived here, but I feel it's still doable to rent. I've got a good deal on my condo on the East Coast, because the landlord and I get on well.
-What is the cost of living in Singapore?
It's quite a bit higher than most surrounding countries. But I hope things will stabilize from here on end.
-What do you think about the locals?
Singaporeans are quite a nice bunch. Most are OK with the foreign population.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Singapore?
The outdoorsy type of life you live here is definitely a positive, as is the food and the feeling of personal safety.
On the negative side: the lack of space, the crowds, the humidity that gets a bit too much sometimes.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Singapore?
Pace yourself. Don't rush, because you'll be spent after lunch. And don't get caught up in the material rat race. Work to live, don't live to work.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Singapore?
There isn't a lot of pristine nature left in Singapore. That's why many expats and weekend warrior types make frequent trips to the East Coast of Malaysia. This site explains all the fun things that can be done there: http://www.malaysiaseasports.com. Tanjung Resang is a great place to unwind, but there's a lot of sea, beach and outdoors activities on offer too.
Our own site, about the expat/accommodation consultancy that we run, is located at http://www.rentinginsingapore.com.sg. Esther and I assist expats who have just arrived in Singapore with finding a home and generally getting their bearings during the challenging first few weeks after arriving here. In fact, we often get the ball rolling well before our clients leave their country for Singapore, so they can hit the ground running and move into their own home here as soon as possible.