German Expat Shares the Reasons He Loves Singapore

German Expat Shares the Reasons He Loves Singapore

What does a foreigner living in Singapore think about the country? Let's find out.

I came to Singapore for the first time in 2011, just a few months after the grand opening of Marina Bay Sands. However, my interest in Singapore had nothing to do with this strange ship-like building that actually left me totally unimpressed.

I stayed in Singapore for about a week as my friend was living here at the time. As his house was in Geylang, that area gave me my first impressions of the city. While many Singaporeans at that time (and now) would never recommend visiting that neighbourhood, I was amazed by the openness and friendliness of the people in Geylang. 

Confirming all stereotypes, a German does what a German does and heads for the first beer he can find. One thing I didn’t love (and still don’t) was the average price of a beer, even though we are talking about a local coffee shop on Geylang Road. My friend was already friendly with the owner and his friends, who regularly sat with us in the coming evenings. It’s simple as that – I felt welcome.

Several years later, through unforeseen circumstances, I found myself living in Singapore. Having been here for almost two years, my life in Singapore is different than I had expected but nonetheless great. Let me tell you why. 

The racial harmony

Since moving to Singapore, I have been living in Jalan Besar. I love the neighbourhood and I hope that I don’t have to move anywhere else; but this is not because there are more and more bars, cafes, and restaurants opening up.

Within several hundred metres of my house, I can find a church, a Buddhist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple, and the followers of each faith can be commonly found eating at the nearby food court. I am not religious but I love that this is possible without anyone ever questioning it.

Back in Europe, the region is currently facing a serious challenge with inclusivity and living up to its proclaimed tolerance of different faiths. What I encountered in Singapore presents the greatest religious tolerance I have experienced, and not all locals might realise how unique this is! 

The peace of mind

Many people (including expats) might take this point for granted, but let me tell you that I really don’t. In Singapore, I have never had to worry about my girlfriend walking alone on the streets at night. I have lived in other cities around the world where this wasn’t the case. I don’t have kids yet, but it makes me happy to think that if I did, I don’t have much to worry about with regards to safety. 

I believe that being rudely talked to on the streets or even worse, being molested, should never be a normal state or a feature of a global city – although a lot of people tend to think otherwise. Thank you Singapore for this.

The efficient public transport 

Perhaps this may seem like a trivial point, but it is well worth mentioning for me. Public transportation in many big cities tends to be really inefficient and/or very expensive. Personally, I love walking or cycling in the cities I live in (and I do so regularly in Singapore too). However, in Singapore, I actually use the public transportation regularly too. You know why? Because it’s very affordable, it’s extremely organised, it runs frequently and it’s clean and safe.

Let me tell you that there are certain European cities – cities that I love, by the way – where the underground train system stinks and has dark corners that you shouldn’t pass by alone. The bus stations are commonly vandalised, as with the seats and windows of the buses. Sometimes you can be glad if the bus comes at all. 

Guess what? In Singapore, it’s already a major disaster when one line has to stop for an hour. Once, I even saw free meals being distributed by the MRT staff. Are you kidding me? To all those who complain about the public transport in Singapore: go travel to other major cities and see for yourself.

The organisation and cleanliness

I briefly touched upon it already: Singapore is unbelievably clean and tidy. The first time I returned to Germany for a visit after being in Singapore for an extended period of time, I immediately felt the difference. Getting off the plane and making my way into Berlin, I thought that I was in a third-world country. Well – that may be a slight exaggeration. But there was seriously no single wall that wasn’t filled with graffiti, tags or stickers. Playgrounds were vandalised, while rubbish bins were totally broken and overfilled. Dog shit was everywhere and single wheels of stolen bicycles were on every second lamppost. It was a reality that seemed so far removed from the one I had gotten used to in Singapore. 

The accessibility

You might not notice it until you actually need it: the accessibility for elderly people and those who have physical disabilities or need the assistance of a wheelchair. Be it through public transport or on pavements, many locations are accessible for these groups of people. Almost every building, bus and MRT station offers full accessibility. It might not mean much to you, but those who need it would naturally appreciate it. How do you think it feels to be excluded from public life just because you are in a wheelchair? Not nice lah.

Here, I have highlighted some aspects of life in Singapore that stand out positively. Are there areas in which Singapore could do better? Yes, sure there are, but who is perfect? Let’s appreciate what we while working towards further improvements.  

About Author

Peter Schimke
Peter Schimke

Peter is a freelance writer and author of the novel ‘Beyond Blue’. He has travelled extensively over the past decade and for some reason ends up where there are no tourists to be found. Cocktail bars, bookstores and skate parks are the places you might run into him. He currently calls Singapore his home, as he his banned from Shinjuku, Tokyo (after publishing his book).


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