Although there are challenges associated with moving abroad, Singapore is the top rated destination in the world for expat families as rated by HSBC and many other similar annual surveys. While there’s plenty to pique the interest of adults, it’s also a wonderful place to raise children. Here are Schoolviews’ ten reasons why Singapore is great for expat kids:
1. The high standards of private education.
Singapore has one of the most successful education systems in the world. With 83 international schools and kindergartens operating in English offering close to 60,000 school placements, expat kids have plenty of opportunities to obtain a first-rate education while living in Singapore.
Some institutions have long wait lists, so applying early is a best practice for ensuring the most options for your child. Even so, many schools have large capacities, some with 3000 students, meaning there usually isn’t an issue securing a place at a great school. Singapore’s population growth is expected to continue, which has policy-makers planning additional international schools. These additional schools and expansion of existing schools should relieve some of the competition and result in shorter wait lists.
John Clark, co-founder of Schoolviews.com says: “Waiting lists have seemed to shorten over the last three years with the introduction of schools like Nexus and Dulwich College, combined with the, seemingly, short-term decrease in the number of expats in Singapore”.
2. The opportunity to learn Mandarin at a young age
Mandarin is challenging language to learn for adult native English speakers. However, although the concept of a completely new and very large set of characters can be initially daunting, sentence structure is similar to English and grammar can actually be easier, given Mandarin does not use different forms for gender or singular/plural. Pronunciation seems to be straightforward for native English speakers, but harder for those whose mother tongue is Latin based.
Expat children living in Singapore have a unique opportunity to learn Mandarin in school. Many curriculums include up to five hours of Mandarin instruction per week.
It is well known that childhood is the ideal time to learn a second (or third, or fourth!) language. Kids have an easier time absorbing and learning a new language than adults do. Jonathan Lavercombe, co-founder of Schoolviews.com marvels: “It’s amazing to hear my sons practicing Mandarin with each other – they’re on their way to becoming fluent. They cannot see the progress they are making but I’m impressed at how quickly they have picked it up – especially as I would not describe them as natural linguists”.
3. Singapore is very safe for expat kids
Actually, Singapore is very safe for everyone, consistently being named one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are so low that people routinely leave mobile phones, umbrellas, and even laptop computers unattended on restaurant tables when popping into the bathroom. Schoolviews would not recommend that but it is certainly a reflection of how safe people feel in Singapore. You certainly would not do that in London, New York, Paris, or Kuala Lumpur.
Parents have peace of mind raising their children in Singapore, and the kids enjoy more freedom than they would in many other places as a result.
4. And it’s extremely kid-friendly
In addition to being safe, Singapore is simply a kid-friendly place. Singaporeans love children, and unlike in some cultures, kids are welcomed and expected basically everywhere. This means there are lots of activities and entertainment options that children can enjoy with each other, or with their parents.
5. Singapore is ideally situated for vacations
Singapore is optimally located in the middle of Asia, meaning many exciting vacation destinations are easily accessible from Changi, the world’s best airport. Because of its central location, travel from Singapore is quick and affordable. Want to visit Thailand? You can be there in two hours. Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Australia? You can easily and quickly fly direct, without jet-lag.
Changi is routinely ranked as the best airport in the world because of its efficient operation and plethora of entertainment, shopping, and dining options for travelers (including kids). Locals often turn-up early because flying from Singapore can actually be a positive family experience rather than something to be avoided at all costs.
6. …And has excellent holiday club options
Travel from Singapore is super-easy, but sometimes families might opt to have their child enjoy a “staycation” instead. Before the economic crash in 2008, many expat families in Singapore enjoyed very attractive employment packages that included schooling and housing costs. The result was that one parent would often opt to stay home and was able to vacation with their children during school breaks. In the last couple of years, given there are fewer expat packages, it has become more common for both parents to work. This means that during spring, summer, and Christmas breaks, parents look for enriching and fun ways for their children to spend their time. Holiday clubs have become extremely popular and enjoyed a surge in popularity. There are now more options, with holiday clubs offering sports like swimming, basketball, soccer, rugby as well as activities like robotics, programming, and app building. There truly is something to meet the needs every expat kid.
7. Singapore has some of the best food in the world
Singapore is paradise for foodies – adults or children! As one of the most diverse nations in the world, Singapore is home to a rich variety of ethnic foods – Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, Japanese, Italian – you name it, it’s probably available in Singapore. Because there is a significant western expat population, there is also never a shortage of western options available for those days the expat kid is looking for something a little more familiar.
8. High-quality child healthcare
Singapore boasts high-quality private healthcare for children and adults with fast access to general practitioners and specialists. Although initially qualifying in Singapore, many of the doctors employed here have received additional global healthcare training through completing residency abroad. Doctors with global health training have often been exposed to a broader range of clinical experiences than their counterparts. In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Singapore’s health system performance as sixth out of 191 WHO member states.
9. Western expat kids grow up understanding the cultural nuances in Asia
Some Westerners who haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time in Asia will not likely understand or appreciate the diversity that exists at a country level within the region.
Asia is the largest continent on earth, both in terms of geography and population. Because Singapore has a large immigrant population and is so centrally located, expat kids living here will be exposed to a wide variety of cultures. This exposure within Singapore along with vacations and school trips to other parts of Asia makes for a real appreciation of the region that they will carry through to adult life.
10. Living so far from home instills confidence and open-mindedness
Let’s be honest – nothing takes a child out of their comfort zone like moving across the world. The experience of starting over in a new place, of being exposed to new cultures, new languages, and new foods is incredibly formative. Once an expat child overcomes the initial barriers and integrates into life in Singapore, they have developed a self-confidence that is not easily shaken. Experiencing life beyond their own corner of the world makes expat kids open-minded in a way that their peers who have never lived abroad are unlikely to be.
There you have it, ten of the advantages expat kids experience when they move to Singapore. Visit Schoolviews.com to learn more.