Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest.
Moving house and changing jobs rank highly amongst the more stressful events that one has to encounter in life. So you can imagine, moving to another country and leaving family and friends behind is an even greater test of patience for most of us.
I have lived happily in the UK all my life and I was based in London for the last 20 years. I had my own private practice and was a part-time academic staff member at the Eastman Dental Institute. It was 3 years ago when we decided that it would be nice to experience the world and up-sticks for Singapore. I was married with one daughter during then.
Needless to say, there were many loose ends to tie up before the move, it includes selling my dental practice, resigning my academic position, renting my flat and deciding what to ship over. We became experts at selling things on E-Bay and stored many items we couldn’t part with, at our parent’s houses. Redirecting mail and going paperless was a mammoth task and having understanding tenants in our UK flat helped in forwarding items missed.
Shipping costs vary considerably and it takes about 1 month or so to arrive. It is inadvisable to ship furniture which may not survive the hot/humid conditions in Singapore. Moreover, it is often cheaper to buy new household items rather than to ship your old kettle/cutlery etc unless you are particularly attached to them. Bearing in mind that you will need plates/cooking utensils etc before your boxes arrive, you will see it makes sense to buy new ones.
Engaging a relocation agent such as Santa Fe Relocation Services and Allied Pickfords helps with the packing and unpacking, which can be a stressful task. Items are insured against damage and are packed very carefully for the long journey ahead.
There are also online help in the form of expat forums, directories and magazines which help you in the preparation for the move. Common questions posted relate to schools, finding a doctor/dentist (not a problem for me), vaccinations needed for adults and children etc.
Cancelling various insurance policies that are no longer applicable if you live abroad has to be done. Life insurance policies that were relatively inexpensive when you were young will now have to be replaced by policies that are probably more expensive now that you are older.
We were not alone – the same goes for you
Three years on, we have met other people who have done as we have and one thing that is obvious is that we all had the same concerns, asked the same questions and made the same mistakes.
I am sure we would have made even more mistakes if not for Dr Ansgar Cheng, fellow dental specialist in Prosthodontics, and his wife, Moonlake Lee, who were founts of knowledge and experience. We are really thankful for the great help they have been to us during this process. They went through a similar process as they made the move to Singapore via Canada, USA and Hong Kong many years earlier. Their hospitality and guidance made everything less daunting and reassured us that it wasn’t all one big mistake.
Stay tuned to the next part of my blog post as I share more about employment, housing, banking and healthcare in Singapore.
Dr Steven Soo is a Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics at Specialist Dental Group. He was formerly a Clinical Lecturer at the Eastman Dental Institute and Clinical Teacher at the GKT Dental Institute, both of which are affiliated with the University of London. Dr Soo has a special interest in prosthetic and implant restorative dentistry.