Perhaps you have recently moved to Singapore with hubby and kids in tow, or are in the process of packing your bags to move to this sunny little island as we speak? Rest assured, you’re going to love life in Singapore! Its uber-family friendly, very safe, a great travel hub, a shopper’s haven and a culinary delight (putting it mildly). Having said that though, while you can pretty much find anything you need (or want) under the sun here, sometimes it’s the little things from home that we miss the most.
While Singapore certainly does try to make the transition as easy as possible for you, there’s nothing quite like arming yourself with your ‘basic essentials’ to make settling down in the first few months as smooth as can be. Plus, as you’ll soon find out, Singapore isn’t known as the most expensive city in the world for nothing – EVERYTHING is imported, and pretty much NONE OF IT comes cheap!
But don’t stress! We’ve rounded up suggestions from experienced mamas on what you might want to stock up on from home before moving to Singapore — or what to grab if you’re going home for a visit over summer vacation. There’s plenty of overlap on this list (for instance, whatever country you’re from, chances are you will find larger sized, cheaper bras, underwear and shoes there!), but we’ve noted a few specific favourite brands from each country or region. And for mamas from Singapore who’ll be traveling abroad, it’s a good list of things to look for!
Australia / New Zealand
- Meat, meat and meat – sausages, lamb cutlets and steaks. Meat is really expensive here!
- Cheese – again, it’s not that you can’t find it. We import as much cheese as could be possible, but dairy is not cheap in Singapore.
- Kids PJs, socks, swimwear and underwear
- A trusted stain remover
- Medicines for kids
- Raid your local drugstore! Stock up on Advil, NyQuil & DayQuil, Sudafed, Tylenol, Benadryl, Pre-natal Vitamins, Arm & Hammer baking soda toothpaste, hairspray, and your favourite brand of anti-perspirant/deodorant (they mainly sell roll-on here)
- Travel-size toiletries
- Tampax – think bulk packages from Walmart
- Fully assembled BBQs from Home Depot or Lowe’s
- Outdoor shade screens and outdoor furniture from Costco for that instant tropical vibe if you know you’re going to have the space of a house and not a small apartment.
- Clothes and shoes, especially when they’re on sale! Carters baby clothes; J.Crew for the whole family; Rainbow flip-flops; and running / exercise sneakers.
- Under Armour workout clothes and sports bras (much cheaper, and the sizes run larger)
- Nursing bras from Gilligan & O’Malley in Target.
- Luna bars by the box; Rold Gold honey wheat pretzels
- Baby car seats and strollers – they are very expensive in Singapore, plus you can generally fly for free with these.
- If you’re in Europe for the summer sales in July, stock up on great kids clothes and shoes – think upmarket brands like Petit Bateau, Catimini, Pom d’Api and Jacadi
- Large bottles of sunscreen – you think we would have larger bottles here for this weather, but no.
- If you’re a blonde, bring makeup! Anything from hair pins to hair ties, bronzer, self-tanning lotion, eye brow crayons, etc.
- Belgian chocolate – Pierre Marcolini and Cote d’Or – yes, you may have seen the latter in supermarkets, but they don’t carry the full range. If you’re a ‘Noir de Noir’ and ‘Noisette’ lover, stock up!
- Kids’ toothpaste – unless you’re ok with candy flavoured toothpaste.
- Toys – bring back original toys from small boutique toy stores and quality brands, like Haba Toys.
- House linen – towels and bedsheets.
- Shoes over European size 40 and bras for DD cups and larger.
- Weleda Beauty & SantaVerde Facial products
- Micro scooters for kids
- In Germany, stock up on Zwergenwiese products and Pfister Brot.
- Molton Brown toiletries.
- Chocolate – yes, we have Dairy Milk and Quality Street, but it’s cheaper in London! Seriously.
- Hair dye, quick-drying nail polish
- TVs and electrical items – yes, even though they’re Asian made, they still cost a pretty penny. Might as well ship yours over when you’ve moving house anyway.
- Larger size bras and shoes – size 8 (UK 40) is usually the largest size available here.
- Batiste dry shampoo from Boots
- Blonde hair bands and bobby pins
- Jar of marmite
- Stock up on glossy mags as they’re so expensive in Singapore
Bring nothing! Seriously. With Mustafa and (big) Little India here, there’s virtually nothing you can’t find, including freshly cooked homey comfort foods like gol gappas, chole bhature, chat and Haldiram’s range of namkeens. Need Maggie noodles or Chavanprash? Head to Mustafa – they’ve got everything from daals and spices to henna and ras malai!
Happy shopping and welcome to Singapore Mama!