Life as an expat in Singapore

From archipelago to Red Dot

Ejay Canaria
Ejay’s Life Stories
4 min readDec 15, 2015


It’s almost a year now since I flew here in Singapore. It’s a bit silly to admit but it was my first trip overseas and my first time to ride a plane, yikes! Actually I was able to board a plane when I was in kindergarten but it didn’t took off. Woops.

It was early January of this year. I packed my bag, went to the airport and ride a plane to Singapore. This is not a vacation nor a business trip. I will be working as a Software Engineer in the Lion City. I joined TradeGecko — an awesome startup founded on this very country. It was a very exciting moments for me.

First thing I need to do is to find a place to stay prior to actually moving here. I did a search at the popular room hunting website in SG like EasyRoomMate,, and RoomsDB. I want something close to CBD as I don’t like long commute to work. Obviously, the closer the place to CBD the more expensive it is. Rent in general is very expensive here.

With a help from my cousin who has been working here, I finally able to find a good place through It’s just four train stations away from work plus a couple of walk — not bad.

This is where I live
View from my window
Say hi to my roommates

When I’m not reading or writing (codes) in my room, I’m most probably playing with these guys. Otherwise I’m out for a gym or a grocery. That is my kind of weekend in here.

Transportation in Singapore is very efficient. Primary transportation is by train, bus or cab. You can almost go everywhere using train. I think that’s the safest and cheapest way to not get lost if you don’t have a map or the app.

This a reloadable card used for public transportation. You can easily get one at 711 stores

Buses are predictable. You can download an app like MyTransport to know how much time it will take for a certain bus to arrive at a certain bus station. Taxis are everywhere though it’s a bit expensive. You can always use GrabTaxi if you need a cab.

The train station near my place
Yup, buses here are Mercedes-Benz

Almost always, you need to walk for at least 5 mins to get to the train or bus station (at least in my case). This is a tropical country hence you will find your self sweating under the mighty sun. It’s a good thing for your health as an exercise but I kinda miss the Tricycle in the Philippines. It’s a cheap and convenient way of replacing the walking part. But no, I don’t miss this kind of thing back home:

The dreaded EDSA road | credit:

Food is everywhere and from everywhere. From local delights, Indian cuisine, Filipino food, Italian, Mexican you name it — foods from all over the world. You can easily find them here. Most likely, you have a Hawker Center beside your building or across the road. So far, my favorite local delight is the ever famous Singapore Chicken Rice.

Ironically this is from a food stall called Hong Kong Street

Grocery stores and small shops are easily accessible too. Shopping malls are everywhere — almost always there are malls near or inside the MRT station. Everything is just interconnected. One thing that you will find very expensive here aside from rent are sin products like alcohol and tobacco. The price is more than double than the usual price in other countries. That for sure will lower your alcohol and cigarette consumptions than usual.

Overall, I would say living in Singapore is easy but expensive. Well that’s a compromise. Almost everything is provided — efficient transportation, good housing, plethora of food choices and security. You have peace of mind while walking back home very late at night. There’s a good diversity as well. It’s true that Singapore is a melting pot. It is such an overwhelming experience for me to meet a lot of people from all over the world in one country. It is such a privilege to have live in here.

The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner — Italo Calvino