As well as being awarded first place overall in HSBC’s 2017 Expat Explorer Survey, Singapore ranks third for family out of 46 countries. From this, it’s clear that Singapore is considered a very family-friendly country. But what makes it so, and how can you ensure your family maintain their health and happiness whilst adapting to life in a new country?
Moving abroad with your family can be a very busy time, so much so that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may fall by the wayside. This list offers five useful ways you and your family can maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle whilst living in Singapore – from finding out how to access the country’s healthcare system to exploring Singapore’s array of nutritious food options.
1. Go Outdoors
Singapore, also known as the Garden City, offers a beautiful mix of urban and green space, making it a wonderfully diverse destination for families to enjoy. With a plethora of outdoor spaces and national parks to choose from, you’re bound to find something to appease the kids.
One area that is a must-visit when living in Singapore is the beautiful Botanic Gardens. Here you’ll find plenty of walking trails, where you can enjoy the vibrant wildlife and partake in guided walking tours to explore the fascinating history of the area. With cycling opportunities here, and routes offered in most parks throughout Singapore, it’s easy to make the most of the thriving cycling culture.
An exciting and popular way to keep fit is through inline skating, which can be enjoyed at several parks across the country including East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Sembawang Park, and Bedok Reservoir Park. Another fun and alternative way to keep the family healthy and happy, especially if you’re a fan of water sports, is by heading to the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park. Here you can enjoy kayaking and dragon boat racing.
2. Divulge in Singaporean Cuisine
As a welcoming and multi-cultural country, it’s no wonder Singapore offers a variety of delicious food options. One traditional and nutritious Singaporean dish to try is Rojak, a popular salad made with mixed vegetables and fruits, smothered in a sweet and sour sauce that is sure to tingle the taste buds.
Singapore’s national dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice, is another delectable creation that is sure to please the whole family. This delicious rice-based dish is cooked in chicken stock with ginger and pandan leaves, then served with a spicy chilli sauce.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, why not try the local favorite – fish head curry? Not for the squeamish, this dish is usually made with a mix of vegetables, eggplant, red spicy gravy, and, of course…fish heads. If your kids (or you, for that matter) aren’t too keen on this idea, there are plenty of healthy international options to choose from, including Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, and more.
3. Prepare for the Heat
It can be difficult adjusting to the heat when you’re moving to a country with a hot climate, especially if you’re from a country with cooler temperatures. With an average temperature of 27°C all year round, Singapore’s humid climate may take some time getting used to. But to make the transition as easy as possible, it’s best to be prepared.
To ensure your children stay safe in the sun, make sure you stock up on plenty of sun lotion to protect their skin. Temperatures can reach as much as 35°C, so you may also want to wear light, loose-fitting clothing to avoid feeling hot and sticky.
Thankfully, most houses and apartments, public buildings like shopping malls, restaurants, and workplaces have air conditioning, meaning that you can easily escape the heat and cool off.
Keeping hydrated is essential when living in a humid country, which is why you should take bottles of water with you if you’re heading out and about with the family (though the Public Utilities Board ensures tap water is safe to drink).
4. Prepare for the Haze
Every year, Singapore experiences a month of “haze” that is caused by forest fires in Indonesia. These fires are purposely created to clear the land for agricultural use. Unfortunately, the smoky haze from these fires affects Singapore’s skyline, pollutes the air quality, and can have a negative effect upon residents’ respiratory systems.
Even though efforts are being made to reduce the burning of land in Indonesia, there are still issues with haze spreading into neighboring countries. Luckily, the National Environment Agency of Singapore offers practical advice to help you and your family better prepare for the haze. They even offer a guide during the hazy months that helps you plan your activities to ensure you stay in good health.
This is not to say that Singapore suffers from poor air quality. In fact, pollution levels are generally low, and in 2016, the Singaporean government reported “good” and “moderate” air quality for 99% of the year. To err on the side of caution, however, expats with any underlying respiratory conditions may want to consider how this could affect their health and wellbeing, and the type of treatments and healthcare they might need access to.
5. Look After your Health
Singapore’s healthcare system offers an excellent standard of care which is made clear as it was awarded second place in the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index 2017 for health. Hopefully this will put your mind at ease in the knowledge that you and your family will be provided with high-quality care if you need it.
One thing to note is that the Singapore healthcare system is based on the principle that the individual is responsible for their own health. This means that coverage is funded through a combination of private individual savings, government subsidies (from general tax revenue), and multi-layered healthcare financing schemes. The majority of primary care providers are private, so expats may want to consider having international health insurance in place to ensure they have access to the right level of healthcare for their needs.
From having access to high-quality healthcare and making the most out of the country’s green spaces, to exploring the diverse food options to satisfy those fussy eaters, there are plenty of ways you and your family can maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle in Singapore.