Singapore is a great place to stay for expatriates with active children. Safe, efficiently managed and super clean, the city boasts plenty of activities for children to explore not offered in other Asian countries. Public transport and health care facilities are top notch, while the city-state is ranked highly both in terms of quality of life and career progression (recent HSBC Expat Explorer Survey).
If you’re an expat parent moving to Singapore with children, here are the top 5 kid-relevant essentials you should take note of:
1. Getting a Domestic Helper or Babysitter
Many expats in Singapore hire nannies or domestic helpers (maids) to help out with household duties, as it’s pretty inexpensive to do so compared to hiring nannies in Western countries. If you’re intending to have someone help out full-time or part time, do make arrangements ASAP – as part-timers are not easy to come by. If you work or need some childfree time, one of the first things you need to take care of is finding childcare around the neighborhood you’re in.
2. Cool Thing To Do In Hot and Humid Singapore
Singapore is just 1 degree north of the equator where sun rays hit the hardest! Average temperatures are between 25 and 33 degrees Celsius, with humidity hovering above the 90 percent range. The heat can be quite unbearable for expats who come from cooler climates, all year round, so it’s wise to opt for housing with a pool. Before you move into that condominium, make sure to check out what kind of kids’ facilities are on the grounds and explore around to see just how kid-friendly the building really is.
The water-play area at VivoCity is also a popular kid-friendly destination for bored kids, while parents are mid-shopping. Just don’t forget to bring along your sunscreen! Another way to escape the mid-day heat is head to the shopping malls with plenty of children’s’ stores to discover – from international brands at Paragon, Great World City and VivoCity to tinier boutiques at Forum and Tanglin Mall.
3. Lots of Ways to Play and Reasons to Sightsee in Singapore!
Some of the top activities favored by expat parents and kids alike include hanging out at the children’s garden at Gardens by the Bay, with lots of playground equipment – not to mention great water-play features to wash off all the sand and sweat once everyone’s done!
Other popular activities include kiting at Marina Barrage; scooter and bike rides at the West Coast Park or at the kids’ play area in Paragon; walks along Robertson Quay (where you can bump into other expat moms like yourself and chit chat about your kids!); and picnics at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The Westgate Mall rainforest theme park is highly recommended for kids aged three to five. Singapore also boasts world-class nature and wildlife attractions, and entertainment for the entire family, including the Underwater World, Marine Life Park and Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa Island; and the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and River Safari operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
4. Meet Other Parents And Build Your Circle of Support
There’s no better way to learn about all things Singapore than from expat parents who can share first-hand experiences. If you’re new to Singapore, start off your journey on the right note by building your circle of support and joining a club that has social events for wives like the American Club or ANZA, special interest support groups like the New Mothers Support Group, or related online forums.
5. Eat The World!
Singapore is famed for its obsession with food, and it’s a great place to train your kids’ inquisitive taste buds to adopt flavours from all over the world – from Greek, to Indian, Australian to German, British, Belgium, Mexican, Italian and more! Most restaurants offer kid-friendly menus and are a welcome change from the usual fast-food joint! Some notable must-try child-friendly hotspots, among others, include:
- Paulaner Brauhaus – A Bavarian-style restaurant and popular expat haunt with great snacks served on wooden boards. Sunday brunches are a hit, served buffet style and costs only $12 for kids (six to eleven years old), with special activities for kids like face-painting, mask-making, glitter tattoos, corn-popping and balloon sculpting.
- The Pantry – A casual outdoor British café at Loewen Gardens that is surrounded by lush jungle, where kids can play on the trampoline and small swing sets while mums chill over a steaming cuppa.
- Brussels Sprouts – While your kids might not like the taste of Brussels Sprouts, they will love the idea of going there! Great for family gatherings, the eatery has a truly relaxed atmosphere and large grass areas for kids to run around freely in. On weekends and public holidays, kids under 10 years old eat for FREE from the children’s menu… Now how child-friendly is that!
- Zaffron Kitchen – This restaurant comes equipped with a dedicated nursing room and a kiddies’ toilet (quite extraordinary!), not to mention a wooden playhouse, kids’ kitchen and an array of wooden toys. The menu also features several non-spicy and mildly spicy options fit for kids.
Got any other child-friendly tips and treats to add? If you’re an expat parent living with kids in Singapore, do share your experiences in the comment box below.