Life in Singapore, Moving


FullSizeRender (4)We found out a couple of weeks ago that we are being repatriated. It feels like I am being dragged back, kicking and screaming. I am reminded of our many military moves, with short notice and little choice in the matter. I have moved too many times in my life to count, and never have I been so upset about a move.

First and foremost, I feel like I finally found a community where I belonged. This place is crawling with global nomads, just like me. Nobody is near their family. Everyone becomes super reliant on friends, and as a result, it is easy to quickly build up a group of strong friends. They understand a sense of adventure. Every school holiday, my friends traveled to exotic places and came back with fantastic stories about Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Korea, and Japan. They inspired me. They provided me with resources. It was like having a personal guidebook for wherever I wanted to travel in Asia. Who understands travel like a group of global nomads? I have friends who offered to take care of my kids for a week while I went back to the States! I have a friend who sat in the doctors office with me for three hours when I had a miscarriage. I have real friends here who totally get me. I think that’s why so many of my close friends in San Francisco were expats. Hopefully they are still there!

Second, we had such a wonderful experience with Stamford, the school my kids attended. They really seem to care about the kids and my children had a wonderful education for two years. Now that we are moving back to California, I am worried about them being stifled, bored and uninspired. It is like driving a Mercedes for two years and then going back to the Ford Escort without power windows. Sure, we’ll get there, but it will be a shock to us all. I can hear it now, “Mommy, we didn’t get an iPad at school! I’m doing third grade math again! All of my classes are taught in English!”

Turns out I like endless summer. I don’t miss snow one single bit. I like hot weather. I love having a pool. I love wearing shorts and sandals every day. Jackets are confining. Shivering is for the birds. Who needs a hat, gloves, scarf and heavy coat just to run to the store like in Brooklyn? I don’t, not here. I will miss the warm weather. The pity about San Francisco is the cold weather. It is not freezing cold, but the last two years that I lived there I rarely put on a pair of shorts. I am not looking forward to that.

Joel finally figured out what was bothering me, and he asked me a very important question. He asked if I was worried about becoming a potted plant in a sea of potted plants? Yes, in fact, I am worried about becoming a potted plant. He has assured me that this move is temporary, like all the others, and the plan is to boomerang out to some place interesting. I think it would be different if we were moving some place I had never been before. We have lived in the Bay Area numerous times in the last 14 years. I just don’t want to be potted there.

Of course, the Bay Area has a lot to offer. The food is great, the housing is relatively cheap, and the air is clean. I get that. We’ll get to do more outdoors, other than swim, because quite frankly it is too hot here for a hike. We can go camping, we can ski in the winter, we can get our annual passes to Disneyland again. I can reconnect with my friends, whom I love dearly. I can shop at Whole Foods and it will be so much cheaper than the groceries in Singapore. Costco and Target, here I come! I am looking forward to good service in restaurants! These are all great things. However, Singapore will always be dear to me. It is quirky and quaint. The people speak a bit funny, but they are nice (except when they crowd you at checkout). The city works so well, and it is clean. The airport is so efficient. I will miss it here, and I will miss the wonderful community I have found here.


  1. For what it’s worth – I love being an expat, I love being an American overseas, I love travel and adventure, and I love my family thriving and being well taken care of. Plus, I don’t want to be “potted” either. I won’t mind snowboarding, though.

  2. Plus, you’ve been having so much fine that you haven’t posted in a year. You have some “retro” posting to do 🙂

  3. Lovely piece-if it’s any consolation it sounds like you are leaving on a high and timing is everything. You might have stayed longer but your friends here might have left, dynamics change very quickly-best of luck in California!

  4. We just arrived in Singapore. Our kids will attend Stamford this fall. We are seeing different Condos in the East. But the bus commute for my kids seems to be 40 mins. So we are considering Holland village or River valley. Can you share the name of your condo? We have to find a property in the next two weeks. You can email me at Nawaz.

  5. Selfishly, I hope our paths cross when we return to California in December. :o) However, I completely understand how you feel and the thought of this all coming to an end soon makes me sad. You make some great comments about the things to look forward to and IF it makes you feel any better, we dove into Charli’s 4th grade books, from her school at home, in tutoring this last week and the material was MUCH harder than what they learned here in 4th grade…understood my kids are in a private school so the standards are higher than public but know there is hope for a good education in California as well!! Hang in there!! xoxo

  6. Thank you for keeping up with this blog! We are about to move there and I have no idea where to begin. Your words are comforting and I’m starting to get excited!

  7. Thanks Mary for your insights. We have just been offered a role in Singapore and my research to date has left me in a panic about schools for my children and where to live.!Is it really a good place for my 3 boys (6,6,9) to thrive? Reading your blog has given me a bit of excitement about what life in SIngapore could be like.

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