More than just skyscrapers and neatly mapped streets, Singapore is an urban playground with an international population. It’s nightlife is constantly in motion, as this “city that never sleeps” hosts a plethora of activities found in every corner. Before you get into the groove of living it up here, some basic essentials need to be taken care of; here are a few tips to follow when planning to make Singapore your home.
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One of the best things about lodging in Singapore is the variety of options available. These range from campus residences and public HDB flats to private housing options like condominiums and serviced apartments in Singapore.
For international students choosing to set up base in Singapore, it is best to approach your respective tertiary institution to check for accommodations available.
For example, the National University of Singapore has plenty of dormitories available on campus, however, these rooms have to be booked early because they’re often snapped up before the term begins. Other educational institutes like LASALLE College and Singapore Institute of Management also provide accommodation for their international students situated a stone’s throw away from the school. Even if some institutions don’t have on-site hostels, most will aid their international students to find accommodation.
Private student hostels are highly affordable too and serve as a focal point for international students to meet and mingle. Most of them are located near train stations or in centralised locations like the Eton Hall, Scholars Residence or the Singapore International Campus, which is situated near Holland Village on Lutheran Road.
If you want to venture off-campus, work out a budget and create a checklist of amenities before deciding on the best lodging option. In general, HDBs are easily accessible via MRT and buses, while some private estates can be far from public transport. Dining options in HDB estates can also be cheaper than those around condominium clusters.
Many tertiary institutions in Singapore are often situated far from housing estates, however, there are a few exceptions like the British Council, which is surrounded by numerous housing estates: Tiong Bahru, Bukit Merah, Holland Road and River Valley. These are connected to the rest of Singapore by train or bus.
You can look for rooms for rent in HDB estates or private condominiums, or rent an entire flat with a few of your friends – that way, you save on rent and it’ll help ease the feeling of homesickness. You can look to websites like www.stproperty.sg and www.keylocation.sg to find a Singapore property that suits your needs.
For a well-rounded active lifestyle, it’s easy to find a place to fit your sport of choice. There are at least 25 swimming complexes and 16 gyms peppered across the island. Public swimming complexes have entry charges of S$2 - S$3.50 (depending on your age) while public gyms charge a flat fee of $2.50.
For group sports, there are several 24-hour indoor futsal courts like the Kallang Cage, FICO Sports Hub and Khalsa Centre. Additionally under the “Free To Play Spaces” scheme, you can use public table tennis, basketball, badminton and volleyball venues (and equipment) for free via the Singapore Sports Council website (www.ssc.gov.sg).
Alternatively, a myriad of private gyms – like California Fitness, Fitness First and True Fitness – offer a lot of options, at a price. A basic membership will set you back by about $90 a month inclusive of a range of classes like mixed martial arts, hot yoga or pilates.
HIT THE BOOKS
Catching up on revision or preparing for that major exam can be taxing, but a state-of-the-art library certainly helps. Public libraries in Singapore have won global recognition for breaking the stereotypical notions, creating a holistic experience for visitors.
Equipped with free WiFi, digitised media and comfy furniture, public libraries in Singapore double as havens to find a little peace and quiet while poring over your books. An added feature are the cafes within most public libraries, so you can enjoy your book over a cuppa.
Students studying English at the British Council will not have to head far to find study spaces, as the school’s private library and dedicated Learning Zone include audio books, textbooks and WiFi. There’re also computers available if you don’t have a laptop.