Living in Singapore has allowed me the opportunity to employ a helper, more commonly known as a maid in the US. While this is beyond the imagination for most Americans, both black and white, having a maid in Singapore is a common occurrence. Many Singaporeans have a maid/helper to help them cook, clean, and look after their pets, elderly, or young children. In Singapore, employing a maid is not only for the wealthy. Here are a few facts about having a maid in Singapore.
Foreign Domestic Worker.
Maids in Singapore fall under the Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) category. There are more than 200,000 FDW’s in Singapore, and possibly 1 out of every household employs an FDW. Maids or helpers as they are known in Singapore are from nearby Southeast Asia countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Thailand. These maids work as helpers in Singapore to support and/or educate their families back home and save money to buy land or a business when they return home.
Requirements to employ a maid.
Although costs for having a maid are not as prohibitive as in other places, not everyone can employ a maid. An employer must meet specific eligibility requirements. First, they must be over 21 and have the mental capacity to supervise and care for their helper. In addition, first-time employers must attend a mandatory employer orientation program. Employers are assessed on their mental and financial ability and other requirements to employ, maintain, and upkeep the maid in acceptable accommodations.
Costs of maid/helper.
The average minimum cost for having a maid in Singapore is $550.00 per month. Yes, I said that correctly; that is the cost per month. Of course, monthly salaries are commensurate with the duties required and/or the number of people in the household. There are also agency fees, health checkup fees, and a security bond to consider. In addition, there is a monthly levy fee anywhere from $60 to $300. Employers also must provide health insurance and a yearly round trip ticket for the maid/helper.
Why a maid?
When you consider the costs of childcare, cleaning, eating out, and or senior daycare or a live-in nurse, employing a maid simply makes sense. Some households have a maid for cleaning and another for the child or elderly care. The maid/helper is often responsible for running the home, shopping, and cooking to meet dietary restrictions. In some cases, the Singapore government may help defray the costs of employing a maid/helper.
Personally, I have a helper in Singapore because I don’t cook or clean. Although that might seem like a vain statement, it is my lived experience. Having maids in Singapore allowed me to live in Singapore and still work in the USA for many years. I had help raising my kids, and I could go to work knowing that someone was taking care of my children and home. Now, as an empty nester, I simply enjoy having a maid who takes care of my dog, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking. In addition, I can travel anytime I want because someone is always there to take care of my home. If you had the opportunity, would you hire a maid? Let me know in the comment section below.
Singapore is a great place to live as an ex-pat. It has an excellent infrastructure, schools, and healthcare system. It is also one of the cleanest cities I have traveled to and one of the most popular ex-pat destinations. I Have lived in Singapore for more than ten years now, and although I’m used to the way of life here, there are a few things I think travelers to Singapore will find interesting.
Drunk in public
In Singapore, you need to worry about drunk driving as well as being drunk in public. The legal drinking age in Singapore is 18. Selling alcohol to anyone under 18 is a punishable offense, but there is no penalty for those under 18 if caught drinking. There are plenty of bars and places to drink in Singapore but being drunk in public is an offense. Anyone who appears in public drunk or annoys another person is guilty of a crime. The punishment can be up to a maximum sentence of six months in prison or a fine of up to $1000.00 for a first-time offender.
Abusing a public servant.
It is not uncommon to see peoples’ frustrations boiling over at government officials in the US. However, doing so in Singapore is against the law. Anyone who speaks or behaves indecently to a public official is breaking the law. Furthermore, any act that prevents a public servant from carrying out their duties is also an offense. Punishment can be up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5000.00.
Chewing gum in Singapore.
Most people think it is illegal to chew gum in Singapore, but that is not a fact. The chewing gum ban is on importing and selling chewing gum in Singapore. Currently, the law is less strict as it allows for selling gum for health-related purposes such as nicotine gum. However, you can only buy from pharmacies. Selling gum in Singapore can get you a fine of up to $100,000.00 or up to two years in jail.
Littering in Singapore.
Singapore is one of the cleanest cities, and it is because littering in Singapore is an offense. Anyone caught throwing anything on the ground, even a cigarette butt, is considered littering. The maximum fine for a littering violation is $2000.00 for the first offense, $4000.00 for the second, and up to $10,000. for the third offense. In addition, there can be a penalty of community service.
Caning in Singapore.
Caning in Singapore is indeed a fact. There are three types of caning, judicial, caning in schools, and parental punishment. Judicially an offender can be caned for several offenses but is compulsory for acts such as robbery, drug trafficking, and vandalism. Caning is only applicable to males under 50 and deemed medically fit for the punishment. Women and those sentenced to death are exempt from caning. Interestingly, the court will notify the offender of their caning sentence but no advance notice of its execution. There is a limit of 24 strokes for an adult and ten strokes for a minor.
I hope you found this information fascinating and that you be careful of local laws wherever you may travel. Singapore is a beautiful country, but it is best not to disregard any laws while visiting or working in Singapore. If found guilty, you may have to serve punishment before being deported. In addition, you will have a criminal record and may not be allowed to visit or work in Singapore in the future.
As an immigrant and having been a Singapore ex-pat, it’s not unusual for me to consider moving to another country. While living in Singapore I met and was embraced by many other wonderful African Americans from all over the world. Leaving my Singapore friends back in 2014 to return to the US, was a bittersweet time. Historically you can think of James Baldwin or Josephine Baker, to name just two of the famous black Americans who chose to live their lives overseas. In recent years the term “Blaxit” has become a familiar concept amongst African Americans considering the possibility of living their lives abroad, free from the racism and oppression they face in America. Here are a few realities for Americans who might consider leaving the US to live abroad.
Is the grass greener on the other side?
As fascinating as the concept of Blaxit is, the first step on this journey is to get a passport. I have heard many people talk about living abroad but do not even have a US passport. Additionally, if you don’t have a passport, it means you’ve likely never traveled internationally. How will you know if the destination you are seeking to move to even fits the imagined concepts that you have? Before anyone thinks about leaving the country, I think they should first get some international travel experience to see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
Ways to move abroad.
For those who manage to pass the first hurdle the Blaxit process, there are several ways to start the Blaxit journey. Historically, many black Americans have been exposed to living abroad from an overseas military assignment. Many more options are now available such as a student, a government assignment, an employee of a multinational firm, or simply packing up and leaving the country.
Whatever option you choose, know that a lot of paperwork needs to be completed. Many countries will allow you to visit as a tourist without a visa, but you are often allowed only a certain number of days to stay in the country. After those allotted days and you are still in the country, you will have overstayed your visit and be subject to whatever penalties the country sets. Those penalties could include jail time or a lifetime ban from the country.
Finding work abroad.
If you do not have the income to support your moving choices, you will have to find work. Working overseas is not as simple as applying for a job. Many jobs are reserved for citizens and not immigrants. If you find a job, you will have to obtain a work permit unless you become a citizen. Becoming a citizen is not a simple process as you may have to give up citizenship or become a dual citizen. In some cases, even though you are living abroad, you are still liable for US taxes.
Overall, the Blaxit decision is not an easy one, and there are many more considerations that must be made. There is no simple checklist of things you need to do to move abroad. Careful consideration and a broad review of the paperwork and fees required to complete the process are necessary and individualized. Be informed before considering Blaxit. Have you ever considered living overseas? Please let me know in the comment section below.
It’s my second time living in Singapore as an ex-pat. I told my husband that if he ever got an opportunity to live here again, he needed to sign on the dotted line; my approval was a given. I did not expect to be back here again, but I love living on the little red dot. If you’ve ever thought about living in Singapore, here are a few reasons why you might find it appealing.
Singapore is a city/state and an island, also known as the little red dot. Oddly the name was coined as an insult during the 1997 Asian financial crisis but has since been embraced by Singaporeans. The island is about 50km or just over 31 miles from end to end. It has a population of just over 5 million, with over 1 million non-residents or ex-pats. It has been ranked as one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Most people in Singapore speak English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Not speaking another language is not a deterrent to living in Singapore, as English is widely spoken here. Additionally, Singlish, an English-based creole, is also a standard dialect and very easy to understand after a while.
Singapore and travel
The location of Singapore is great for traveling. You can get to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, or Vietnam within two hours. Many flights to other parts of Asia, Australia, and Europe are also available. It is a great place to explore all the beautiful destinations of Asia, and it has one of the best airports in the world. Traveling to and from Singapore can be challenging with the ever-changing travel restrictions due to Covid. Currently, travel to Singapore requires a travel pass application, and transit through Singapore is only by approved airlines. Therefore, please do your research if you plan to travel to Singapore.
Singapore is safe
If you ask anyone about living in Singapore, safety will be one of their top answers. I loved raising my children here in Singapore because it was so safe. They could get in a taxi or public transportation without worries or concerns. I even left my wallet in a taxi years ago, and it was delivered back to me with an apology. Be aware that Singapore is considered safe because it has very strict and harsh laws against even minor crimes like spitting or shoplifting. Visitors need to be very careful as things you might not consider in your country can land you in jail in Singapore. However, low crime means no crime, so awareness is always helpful.
Singapore has some of the most diverse and delicious foods, and there is something to meet everyone’s taste. Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese food is plentiful. But Korean, Japanese, American, and European food choices are also readily available. Although Singapore is expensive, you can find great food at the many Hawker centers throughout the island. Here you will find many cheap food stalls with great food and something to fit every budget. One of my favorites is the Newton Hawker center famously portrayed in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” as it is within walking distance from me. I often have an Indian feast here on the weekends.
I could go on about why I love Singapore, but I like to keep it short and sweet, so I’ll leave the rest for later. Have you ever visited Singapore? Would you like to? Please drop me a comment and let me know.
Recently a friend traveled from Washington DC to Egypt. She discussed with me the harrowing experience of trying to get a required Covid test for travel. With recent federal guidelines, the need for Covid testing has increased, and availability has decreased. As the holidays are a busy travel season, it stands to reason travelers needing testing during the holidays will also surge. Here are a few things to think about regarding Covid testing and the holidays.
A surge in Covid testing
Many of the issues involved with the current availability of Covid testing affect the recent executive order requiring Covid vaccination for federal employees. Companies with over 100 employees will be required to comply with the order or face significant fines. As expected, there are many questions regarding the order and implementation that need an answer. However, the demand for Covid testing has risen, and so travelers need to prepare.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s usually one of the busiest times for people to travel. In 2020, many suggested curtailing travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and many ignored that suggestion. In preparation for the upcoming busy Thanksgiving travel season, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act may require all passengers on domestic airlines to either be fully vaccinated, tested negative, or fully recovered from Covid.
Preparing for holiday travel
In essence, travelers should be aware of travel restrictions and Covid guidelines. They should know where their Covid testing sites are. Find out if they need to have Covid symptoms or can test as a precaution. Research the timing of their test before seeing friends and family as exposure varies. It’s also good to know the different Covid test options, PCR or antigen.
As with any travel experience, preparation is critical. Stay safe this holiday season and if you choose to travel, do it safely.
I spent twenty-three years in the airline industry as a flight attendant. In many of those first years, I was often the only person of color on the crew. Therefore, my experiences in being looked at differently have been more than eye-opening. Being back here in Singapore has once again opened my eyes to the possibilities of a multicultural society.
Singapore is a multicultural society. Chinese, Malay, Indian, and others (CMIO). Here in Singapore, I am other, and my color is not as noticeable as in the US. Here I am simply different. Different in the kind of way that’s the same but different. Here the racial harmony that’s supposed to exist is reflected in the many cultures that co-exist.
Singapore became a sovereign nation in 1965. The following year the four racial groups CMIO were expected to be treated separately but equally, and there was to be no discrimination or favoritism of any race. In Singapore, all races, religious practices, customs, and traditions are accepted. As I came to understand it, the Singaporean way is reflected in the appearance of social harmony.
In Singapore, I see co-existence but not people that intermix with each other. Here race is downplayed yet elevated at the same time. As a black ex-pat, I often get mistaken for African descent, and the distinction is a relatively common occurrence here. When I go into public spaces, I’m seen as other. When I speak, the recognition of my racial identity becomes apparent in the subsequent interactions I have.
I have experienced many acts of travel bias and microaggression. My experience here in Singapore is much the same but different. Often, my experiences have left me with a less than pleasant travel experience. Multiculturalism is embraced here in Singapore, and the diversity I see here tends to be an aspect of Singapore I simply love about Singapore.
My first excursion in Singapore to end my quarantine was with a taxi driver. A typical Singaporean whose first attempt at conversation is not unlike many I experience. “Where are you from” I’m often asked? As an immigrant, my answer can be as deep or varied as I decide. I’m from an island like this. I’m from the Caribbean. I’m an American. All are true, just as with the many aspects of Singaporean culture I experience— Chinese, Malay, Indian, Singaporean, ex-pat. My story is unique and varied.
We’re all different, yet the same. A friend once told me to see the human race, not black people, not old people, not Asians, not fat people, not old people. I choose to do that, and here in Singapore, that is ok.