Lola at the farm, Moving to Singapore
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Packing for expat life

Lola saying it is nap time, at the farm

Ok, so I have lived overseas before but I didn’t own anything. Packing back then was easy for me, literally everything fit into one suitcase. Two at a stretch. Easier to pack one suitcase into the other and take both in case I bought things and wanted to bring them back when I returned.

This time it was different. There was the unit we lived in, full of furniture. Years worth of stuff, collected and stored.

Even though the job was an internal hire, we didn’t get any moving allowance. So everything we brought with us, came as luggage.

We did have extra allowance with Qantas due to our frequent flyer membership levels but that isn’t enough to move everything you need in a house.

Singapore isn’t known for being cheap and while some things are, the comforts of home probably aren’t. So here is the list of “random” things that we packed that we couldn’t live without.

We did have a huge list of things and packed and repacked it. No matter what we did, it was still over the weight allowance. We have about a third of the stuff we want to bring over here with us so we had to prioritise what we would need first or soon after moving from the hotel to our new unit.

Plus all of Lolas’ stuff but she needs it there. We have some things here for her when she arrives. Some things will be sent in a crossover period after she has left home but before she gets here so it will be here about the same time as her. Other things, like her beloved bed, we will get at a later time and bring back.

10 things to pack for your expat move

1. Bed linen

Our sheets

We rented a fully furnished apartment and spent the first month in a hotel but our sheets and covers got us through. At the hotel, it wasn’t as big a deal because they had everything. They don’t do a top sheet here and we are top sheet people. Especially when I got sick and the aircon went off at night. A bottom sheet and nothing on top, because the doona was too hot and heavy, just wasn’t comfortable. So, we got our own sheet out and slept with just our top sheet.

Not just sheets but the pillowcases. I thought we brought a few sets of sheets with us, it turns out to be just one set. We do have many pillowcases though. The washing machine here is a washer dryer so I can strip the bed and remake it in a day.

2. Pillows

gift pillows

If you have a favourite pillow, pack it. I packed mine, TW forgot to pack his. It was about 6 weeks before we went about bought him one, it still isn’t right. Better than before but he thinks it is still too soft. That one pillow here cost more than a set of two of the same kind of pillow at home. The ones he liked. He has the fancy memory foam pillows, I have the health hazard chopped up foam pillows. I can’t sleep without my pillows so they come everywhere with me. Even back when I backpacked. My pillows were the first thing in the bag. Don’t get me started on the time my pillow was left in the hotel when TW packed up the room while I was at work.

We did get two pillows on the bed when we moved in. I moved the one on my side and TW used both of those until he got his new pillow. One remains on the bed, the other is in the lounge room (we washed them of course and they are in our own cases) along with pillows/cushions we got as gifts. My mum made the butterfly one for me for Christmas and the long one was a gift from the Taj Mahal Palace (Hotel) in Mumbai after our wedding. A very sweet gift, we also got sweets and balloons but that is a different story.

3. Dyson upright vacuum

Dyson Vacuum
We have the pet hair attachment

We own more than one vacuum cleaner but the big barrel vac wasn’t really going to fit in our luggage. Our apartment has wooden floors and tiled bathrooms. Having our little vacuum with us meant we could keep the place clean as soon as we moved in. There isn’t too much mess because shoes are left at the doors and we only brought suitcases in. We mostly buy take away in packaging that we also consume the food in so there aren’t many crumbs but once cat arrives having our pet hair vacuum here will be fantastic.

4. Mop slippers

Mop slippers

I got these just before we left, well about 6 months before. They aren’t really slippers, I got the super cheap ones. You put them on your feet or over your shoes and just wear them around and they basically dust the floor. We have a lot of space and don’t use all of it so our feet can get pretty dusty. Relaxing on the lounge is often when we find out how dusty the floor is. Put your feet up and accidentally wipe all the dust on to the sofa.

We could pick these up cheap from eBay here as well, I think, I haven’t looked. They take up no room and we already owned them so it was worth packing them.

5. Towels

Some of our big fluffy towels

We love our towels and we used them to stop things from breaking on the way over. We have big fluffy towels. Actually, they are bath sheets, not towels but the big thick fluffy ones. I paid quite a lot for the originals which are here with us but then I found the manufacturer and bought a whole heap at wholesale prices. We bought them as gifts for people too. A normal towel just doesn’t cut it once you are used to these ones.

6. Knives

Our knives

Our general cutlery all got left in the flat but we did take our knives and a couple of pots/pans and our cheese knives. We brought our steak knives and kitchen knives with us. Having proper chefs knives to cut through things, ah. So good. Not that we have cooked a whole lot at home since moving in.

The cheese knives were a gift. I think it is nice to have some things with us that have special meaning. We used those probably in the first week of arriving. There was some nice cheese on sale, we needed a knife to cut it. Well, I had 5 in my bag. It was a nice evening in with TW. Making the hotel feel like home, a very small home without a kitchen or laundry but much less like a hotel.

7. Retro glass Soda Stream bottles

soda stream bottles in the fridge
We have already used most of the bottles today and it isn’t even lunch time here yet. I need to refill them and put them back int he fridge.

Now, these are heavy and not heavy at the same time. I own a lot of these bottles and 2 systems to run it. I sold one set of bottles before we moved because they didn’t fit my system.

We didn’t bring gas but we did bring the Soda Stream machine. There is a part I am going to order and then we will get a gas tank for a keg/home brew so we can use the machine how it is meant to be but this is not about the machine it is about the bottles.

Our shopping habits haven’t really settled down yet. We did 35 nights in total at the hotel and got used to eating out. As we were on a budget we found loads of cheap places to eat and with the exception of one or two meals everything has been extremely tasty. Our unit is 150m from the hotel so all those places we found are all easy to get to and still cheap. So, ordering our dinner is a bit cheaper than buying food and cooking. Everyone else is a better cook than us as well.

This leaves a lot of room in our fridge for water bottles. We use these bottles every day. All of them. I brought 9, I had to leave some for weight limits but we will get those at some point. You can buy water bottles, I like glass, it gets colder. Cold water is much nicer to drink than warm, to us at least. We do need more as I have 7 other water bottles in there as well. Every single one is used at least once a day.

It will be better when I have the gas for the Soda Stream set up but right now we don’t have enough bottles for that anyway. The best thing about these bottles is their size. They are just the perfect size.

8. Nespresso machine with milk frother

The crystal decanter and glasses were an engagement gift. They hold the nespresso pods well.

TW loves to start his day with a coffee and he isn’t a huge fan of the coffee available here. His work did have coffee in a can and he did get addicted to those. There was a lot of sugar in them and usually, he doesn’t have sugar so there was a bit of crankiness from him as he went through the sugar withdrawals. Having our own machine with us means he can make the coffee he wants when he wants.

The coffee pods are Nespresso and we were buying a different brand at home so I think it isn’t as strong here. It is better than the coffee from the cafes though so we might import some of the pods he is used to or he will just have to get used to the Nespresso flavours.

9. Our techonolgy

wireless charger

Laptops and phones are a given but we also brought our Google home and chrome cast, Apple TV and wireless chargers. TW and I have different phones, he has an Apple and I have Samsung so the wireless charger is handy. We know we can both charge our phone without having to find a cord (say after a holiday when we both pack all of our cords). Not at the same time. It was a free charger and only charges one device at a time but we can both use it without issue.

There is nothing better than coming home and feeling at home. Everything is set up. Well, Google Home is a bitch most of the time, she is a mini and always was so set up but not perfect. As imperfect as ever though, so that does make it feel like home.

We had Netflix and still do. The apartment comes with wifi and pay tv. The wifi is in use constantly but the pay tv is a bit difficult to use and there isn’t a whole lot on it that we watch. The new Mcgyver, old Las Vegas and CSI Las Vegas, a few movies. Because it is so hard to use, we just watch Netflix if we want to watch something.

We used this stuff in the hotel as well. The hotel had easier to use pay tv but if we wanted to watch something from Netflix there was a port in our room, beside the desk. We could plug in the MacBook and send it over to the tv and watch what we wanted. This stuff makes anywhere feel like home.

10. Power boards and converters

TV powerboard

This is a pretty big one. Adaptors are great, we take one everywhere. TW has one in is work backpack at all times but we wouldn’t be able to do much without the power boards.

The Nespresso machine is always plugged in. It has a direct adaptor. Over at the tv however we have a few things plugged in and there are only 2 power plugs. One had the TV and the other our pay tv box plugged in.

The TV doesn’t actually have the right pins on it for Singapore but they shoved it in and it works. I have seen it a lot so it might be the done thing. We unplugged that cord and used one of our adaptors to convert the pin to Australian and then plugged it into the board. Using a converter (the one with the wattage thing inside) adaptor to plug the board in, so now actually the TV is better.

One power board is at the desk with phone and laptop chargers plugged in along with the wireless phone charger so we don’t need to worry about fining the right cord. I thought we brought three with us but there is only two. A third would be handy, we wouldn’t ever need to unplug anything. At the moment we unplug a phone charger to charge the vacuum. No big deal.

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