How is family life in Singapore

Singapore: Both parents fully employed

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We lived in Singapore from 2004 to 2009. Or rather: sweat. Because it was actually always hot. Early in the morning, when our three daughters trotted to the school bus, the blazing sun shone mercilessly from the sky. At lunchtime, people hid in the shade or in a room with air conditioning, and in the evenings the sporty life began. I like to run and it was a tremendous attraction for me to jog under palm trees in the dark - with an annual average of around 28 degrees.

Queues as guests

Singapore consists of the main island and around 60 small islets. In our five-year stay, however, we only got to know three of them - the main island on which we lived, the beach island Sentosa in the south and Pulau Ubin in the east, which is ideal for cycling. The densely populated main island is not only covered with many residential and commercial buildings and a sophisticated network of streets, there are also tropical parks and gardens.

In our small private garden around our rented house on Jalan Pandan, everything we put into the ground grew - it looked like a jungle. Queues became normal guests, and we soon knew which ones were dangerous and which ones were just beautiful to look at.

High school fees

Our oldest daughter attended the United World College of South East Asia, which claims to be one of the best schools in the world. It was thanks to my husband's employer that she got a place at school. Because the current school fees are astronomical. In addition, you have to make some kind of basic investment in order to get a place at all.

Our two younger children attended the German European School, which also has a very good reputation. The start was really tough, especially for the youngest in the first grade, as their class teacher gave us the feedback during the parenting interview that she was way behind and was having a hard time keeping up in class. It then turned out, however, that she just saw badly. After getting glasses - one of the few products that are cheaper in Singapore than in Austria, by the way - she quickly became a good student.

Children strongly encouraged

Children in Singapore are encouraged by their parents in all directions from infancy - for example, multilingualism - and almost all of them learn a musical instrument such as the piano or violin and attend afternoon activities such as dance and art classes as soon as they are out of diapers.

My daughter was particularly good at teaching music. She even played in a musical project and performed a song alone on stage for a teacher at the graduation ceremony before the summer holidays. Mum was proud and tearful. Incidentally, this is also typically Singapore - many English words end up in active language use, regardless of the native language in which you originally speak.

Lots of foreign specialists

Singapore leads in Asia and also takes top positions in the development index worldwide when it comes to education, health care, quality of life or personal safety. Although income inequality is high, around 90 percent of citizens own housing and the country has one of the highest per capita incomes. The cosmopolitan nation was home to around 5.5 million inhabitants in 2015, of which only around 60 percent are permanent residents.

40 percent are either so-called expats, i.e. skilled workers from international companies who live in Singapore for a while, or foreign workers, i.e. short-term workers and employees from abroad. Many of them come from surrounding countries such as Indonesia or the Philippines. Above all, they help the Singaporeans to cope with everyday life - as domestic helpers, drivers or road workers.

Both parents work

We have also signed an employment contract with a young Filipino woman. Her name was Marylin and she ran our entire household. Time would not have gone so well without her: She knew about local food, knew how to deal with cockroaches and lizards in the apartment, and was also very loving to the children.

Almost every family in Singapore has a surrogate mom, because prosperity is built on the income of two fully working parents. In addition, household care is not just a side-step - the high humidity of over 90 percent means you are constantly wiping, cleaning and ventilating. For example, we couldn't just lock the house for a few weeks when we flew to Austria on Home Leave. Within a very short time everything would be moldy and rotten - I still have a few books with brown paper pages as a souvenir of the high humidity in the living room.

Optimal balance

The five years in Singapore were very beautiful, exciting, instructive and broadening my horizons. Singapore is not only worth the trip, it is a great place to gain international experience. However, one should not forget that the media is controlled by the government and there is also the death penalty.

Diverse cultural influences also lead to many festivals, whether Chinese, Malay or Indian. These give everyone several holidays a year. This makes Singapore an extremely attractive place to optimally balance work and leisure. I've worked at a business college - never before and never since so much in such a short time. But I also learned an incredible amount and enjoyed it very much and can recommend it to everyone - go southeast! (Maria Kalt, February 11, 2016)

Maria Kalt lived in Singapore with your family for five years.