Yesterday we moved into our new apartment. We had over 300 boxes, plus furniture. Not quite an entire shipping container, but more than half of one. Here are the things I have learned form my experience, and from the experiences of friends, about moving day in Singapore.
First, the crew arrives early, which is a good thing. If you are living in an apartment, they have to arrange with the guards beforehand so they know what type of truck is allowed on the premises, where they are allowed to unload and whether or not there is a service lift. The service entrance thing is new to me. Having movers knock on your back door, and the gas company as well, is a little strange. It’s like they are not real visitors. It is nice, however, that they are not ruining your front door by banging things into it. In our case, they couldn’t take the big truck into the apartment complex, so they had to leave it on the main street and drive a lorry back and forth into the garage, and take the service lift to our block. It makes delivery take longer than it would otherwise.
Second, in Singapore they are super conscientious of your floors. The Asian no shoe thing has been my house rule since we lived in New York, and in New York it pained me to watch the movers walking up and down the carpeted stairs with their shoes mucking up the carpet. Here, not a problem. The guys delivered barefoot. Seriously! They also taped cardboard down in every doorway and over the entrances so they wouldn’t nick the marble floors. They put the cardboard around every corner, too, so the walls didn’t get nicked either. I thought that was pretty amazing.
Third, in Singapore, tipping is not required, for anything, including movers. My agent told me that, and so did another local. I decided to find out what the expats were doing, so I asked a forum, and got the same answer, but with a caveat that they all tipped at least $50 anyway per day, or $10 per day per person. That is so much more reasonable than in the states, so I was very excited not to have to shell out huge dollars on a tip!
Fourth, expect slow and methodical, more helpful than back home and more careful. One guy helped Kate hang up her dresses, one by one. It was really touching. Another helped me unpack toys, placed books on the shelves, and stacked the kids toys neatly. The last time I had unpacking in the states, they just pretty much dumped things out, creating so much chaos I almost didn’t let them help this time. Boy am I glad I did. They unpacked linens, pillows, assembled beds, set up the dressers and unwrapped the furniture.
Finally, the thing that surprised me the most was that they had already photographed every damaged item, brought things to my attention that they found broken or chipped, and documented everything. At home, movers would never tell me when something was broken, and when I brought it to their attention, always blamed the movers on the other end for not properly packing it. In this case, there was a little of that, but it was probably true too.
Overall, we had a pretty successful move and I am looking forward to having everything set up and settled. We probably have another couple of weeks of unpacking ahead of us, but the big part is complete. Because the kids were such angels today while the movers helped us unpack (seriously, it was like someone else’s children were there), we quit at 4:30 and went for a swim in our new pool. It was crowded with kids, which is great for our little ones. There seem to be a lot of families there. There were fewer parents and more helpers than I would have expected on a Sunday, though. Kate found some boys her age to play with, and once she proved herself tomboyish enough to play with them by dumping them off a raft, they had a great time. Isabel, too, grabbed a squirt gun and was shooting at these boys. It was nice. Turns out one of the boys is in the same international school as our girls, in Kate’s grade but a different teacher. His mom came over and introduced herself, as did another mom with a 6 year old boy. How nice is that? I think we’ll be quite happy in our new home.