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9 practical international school teacher relocation tips in Singapore

Moving to a new country can be an exciting yet daunting prospect. For international school teachers planning to relocate to Singapore, the process can be smoother with some practical tips. From understanding the local culture to finding the right accommodation, these tips will help you navigate your relocation journey with ease.

1. Understanding Singapore’s Culture

Before you make the move, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with Singapore’s culture. Known for its multicultural society, Singapore is a melting pot of different ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western cultures. This diversity is reflected in the country’s festivals, food, and languages.

English is one of the four official languages in Singapore, which makes communication easier for English-speaking teachers. However, you might also come across Singlish, a colloquial form of English mixed with local dialects and languages. While it’s not necessary to learn Singlish, understanding some common phrases can help you blend in with the locals.

2. Finding Suitable Accommodation

Finding the right place to live is one of the most critical aspects of relocating. Singapore offers a range of accommodation options, from high-rise condominiums to landed houses. While the choice depends on your budget and lifestyle, most expats prefer living in condominiums due to the amenities they offer, such as swimming pools, gyms, and security services.

When choosing a location, consider factors like proximity to your school, accessibility to public transport, and nearby amenities. Areas like Holland Village, Orchard Road, and Bukit Timah are popular among expats due to their central location and vibrant lifestyle.

3. Navigating the Education System

As an international school teacher, understanding Singapore’s education system is paramount. Singapore’s education system is renowned worldwide for its rigour and high standards. International schools in Singapore offer various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, and Australian curriculums.

It’s also worth noting that the academic year in Singapore starts in January and ends in November, which might differ from your home country. Familiarising yourself with the academic calendar can help you plan your lessons and holidays effectively.

4. Getting Around Singapore

Singapore’s public transport system is efficient and reliable, making it easy to get around the city. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is the quickest way to travel across Singapore. Buses are also a popular mode of transport and can take you to places not accessible by the MRT.

If you prefer driving, bear in mind that owning a car in Singapore can be expensive due to the high cost of Certificates of Entitlement (COEs). Alternatively, you can use ride-hailing apps like Grab or Gojek for convenient travel.

5. Embracing the Local Cuisine

One of the joys of living in Singapore is its diverse and delicious food scene. From hawker centres offering affordable local dishes to high-end restaurants serving international cuisine, there’s something for every palate. Try local favourites like Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, and laksa to immerse yourself in the local culture.

While the local food can be spicy, most places offer non-spicy options. Also, due to Singapore’s multicultural society, finding halal, vegetarian, or vegan food is relatively easy.

6. Staying Healthy in Singapore

Singapore’s tropical climate can be a significant change if you’re from a temperate country. The high humidity can lead to dehydration, so it’s essential to stay hydrated. Also, protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and light, breathable clothing.

Healthcare in Singapore is excellent but can be expensive. Ensure you have comprehensive health insurance that covers both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Most international schools provide health insurance as part of the employment package, but it’s advisable to check the coverage details.

7. Networking and Making Friends

Moving to a new country can be lonely, but making friends can make the transition easier. Join expat groups, participate in community events, and engage with your colleagues to build your social network. Singapore has a large expat community, and there are numerous groups and clubs where you can meet people from your home country.

Remember, it’s also important to interact with locals to understand their culture and way of life. Singaporeans are generally friendly and welcoming, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation.

8. Managing Your Finances

Living in Singapore can be expensive, especially when it comes to housing and car ownership. However, daily expenses like food and public transport are reasonably priced. It’s crucial to budget your expenses and save for emergencies.

Opening a local bank account can make managing your finances easier. Most banks offer online banking services, making it convenient to pay bills, transfer money, and track your expenses.

9. Enjoying Your Time in Singapore

While moving to a new country can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity to explore a new culture and lifestyle. Singapore has a lot to offer, from its stunning skyline and beautiful parks to its vibrant nightlife and shopping scene. Make the most of your time in Singapore by exploring the city, trying new foods, and making new friends.

Remember, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed during the initial stages of relocation. But with time, you’ll adapt to the new environment and start enjoying your life in Singapore.

Elevate Your Teaching Career with iQTS

As you embark on your exciting journey to Singapore, consider enhancing your professional credentials with The IQTS at UWE’s International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) Programme. This prestigious Level 7 qualification is designed to support your career progression, increase your adaptability to international curricula, and connect you with a global community of educators. With the iQTS, you’re not just preparing for a new cultural experience; you’re also boosting your potential for a 45% increase in promotion rates and a 30% salary uplift. Don’t let the common barriers to international teaching hold you back. Make Your Next Step towards a fulfilling international teaching career with iQTS.

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