Have you met the Textpat Wives yet? They brilliantly chronicle mom life in Singapore, and now they’ve written a book that’s equally helpful (and entertaining) for newbies and seasoned expats alike!
For the uninitiated, Textpat Wives is a hilarious, until-recently-anonymous Facebook page and blog that launched in 2016. It documents the gin-soaked musings and acerbic text exchanges of two expat mamas in Singapore, covering everything from the dauntingness of Singapore parking garages to the unique-to-Singapore challenges of life with a helper. (“Two weeks of doing my own laundry? The HORROR.”)
The posts are very much tongue-in-cheek; these mamas recognize their own good fortune and generally make fun of themselves more than anyone else. But there is humour to be mined from everyday challenges like frizzy hair courtesy of the humidity, or having to visit four different markets to complete your grocery shopping list. These mamas clearly love and appreciate life in Singapore, and that’s what shines through most.
Which brings us to an exciting new chapter for the Textpat Wives: they’ve just launched a new guidebook, The Expats’ Guide to Singapore: Finding Your Feet on the Little Red Dot. Newly published this week, it’s a genuinely helpful and comprehensive tome about life in Singapore, covering everything from common children’s medical maladies (HFMD and water warts, oh my!) to real estate and school hunting tips. Of course, it’s all delivered with the wives’ trademark humor and a healthy serving of gin (not for nothing does a cocktail feature prominently on the book cover!) to help it all go down a bit more easily.
Perhaps what propels the Textpat Wives’ popularity is that everyone can read their posts and conversations and recognize a bit of themselves in them – it’s like your life, only funnier.
And the Textpat Wives are just like us: Alison Ozawa Sanders and Jessica Duff are American and Irish mamas, respectively, who met on a playground in 2014 while looking after their 1-year-old children. These mamas are no slouches: despite constant jokes about spa days and cocktails by the pool, both are former lawyers and freelance writers, and each now has three children, ranging in ages from 6 to 12.
How to Plan a Look-See Trip
Not everyone gets this luxury, but if you’re planning a move to Singapore, you may have the opportunity to come for a short “Look-See” visit, usually a few months before your scheduled move. There are two types of Look-Sees: the “Are You Sure You Want To Move Here?” type, and the “You’re Moving Here Whether You Like It Or Not, So Go Check It Out” type. Either way, if you have the chance to do this, do it — even if it means leaving your kids for a few days, even if it means taking time off work, even if it is a huge pain in your personal butt. Because the benefits of a Look-See are huge.
To start, you get to do a dry-run of the trip here, without all the emotional and actual baggage that you’ll have to deal with when you actually move. (E.g., you’ll get a sense of how long that flight really is, and take note of the things you wish you’d brought or done differently.) The real reason for a Look-See, though, is that you get to actually see what you’re getting yourself into (or if it even is something you want to get yourself into). It is about a billion times easier (scientifically speaking) to choose whether to live in a country – let alone choose a school or a place to live – when you’re able to actually see the place.
We won’t sugar-coat it: Look-See visits are not a ton of fun. This is a boots-on-the-ground recon mission, and you are beating the pavement from start to finish. Ali viewed at least twenty condo units, three schools, and about ten malls in her Look-See, and that was the “We’ll take it slow because you have two days and are delirious with jetlag” version.
Read More: Real Mama Singapore Condo Reviews
Our suggestions for this trip are only two: First, come prepared. Even if you’re only here to check it out as a possibility, make the most of it by looking at neighbourhoods, condos, schools, etc. In fact it makes sense to create a shortlist of the things which you’d like to see, and read up on them all ahead of time so you’re not wasting precious time here. And second, take all the help you can get. If you have a corporate relocation agency working with you, they’ll likely offer to send out a rep to take you around. You might also be offered a real estate agent to help you look at housing. And if you have friends, or friends-of-friends, or acquaintances-of-a-guy-you-know-on-Facebook, who live here, take them up on their offers of help. Your goal is to be a sponge, taking in all the information you can, so you can make the most informed decisions. A decisive sponge. That’s you.
Oh and one last thing about your Look-See: You might have the opportunity to bring your kids, so do you? There’s no right answer here. Some new expats cannot imagine dragging their kids across the globe for five days so that they can then drag them through the heat, in and out of 30+ condos and six schools (also, see footnote 1 above, for an idea of the debauchery you can experience with no kids). Others cannot imagine making such a trip WITHOUT their kids, reasoning that they are people too, and this is a huge move for them, and perhaps the transition will be just a tiny bit easier if they know there’s a climbing wall in their new school, or a REALLY deep end in the new condo pool. Do what feels right on this one. We won’t judge.
 Jess: Miss Boring-Pants Ali wrote this piece, and frankly, she is speaking for herself with this statement. My Look-See – which was purely to establish whether I, Miss High Maintenance, could imagine living here – was ENORMOUS fun. I left the kids with my parents, and basically had an all-expenses paid dirty-weekend with my husband. There were cocktails. There was a five-star hotel. There were business-class flights. There were dinners out. THERE WERE NO KIDS. In fact, it was so fabulous that I have been nagging him for the past four years to look into more foreign placements purely for the Look-See holiday.
 Hahaha, we kid; One of us will totally judge. (You have the opportunity to come and prance around the Tropics for a few days, and you decide to bring your kids? You’re crazy. LEAVE THEM AT HOME AND HIT THE COCKTAIL BARS.)
Lead image via Getty / Spyderskidoo