Original article published on The Expat Mama, available here.
In the excitement and build up of our first tropical Christmas I COMPLETELY forgot to post this interview with Amy Bell – all round wonder woman – and Singapore based Aussie expat. In fact, in the time since we first met in November (last year now!), I’ve since become a Brand Ambassador for her brilliant business The Meat Club and she’s become a Mum of two! What a difference a couple of months makes.
So without further ado, I’m delighted to welcome Amy to The Expat Mama…
Amy! Where are you from, where are you now and what’s the plan?
I grew up on the Gold Coast and worked in Brisbane and later Sydney as a lawyer before moving to Singapore some four years ago. We live in Singapore with our daughter Harriet (2yo) and will welcome the fourth edition to our family this Christmas. We’ve been here for four years and the time has literally flown. What was initially a five-year plan has quickly escalated into much more than that. When family and friends ask “when are you moving back to Australia?” I respond with something as vague as “It is anyone’s guess” or “10 years” so there is no expectation that it will be anytime soon!
What made you move to Singapore?
I was a typical trailing spouse. My husband acquired the franchise rights for Guzman y Gomez in Asia. I initially tried my hand at sports consultancy before seeing a gap in the market for two businesses I’ve since started; Cocowhip and The Meat Club.
And what has your experience been like so far?
We didn’t know anyone in Singapore at the time of moving except one couple from Sydney (who we met for dinner two weeks before they themselves, moved here). It worried me at the time because we had a great support network and it felt sad to be leaving them. However, I needn’t have been concerned because the expat community here is very welcoming. I have come to love everything about Singapore and what is offers for young families.
What has surprised you most about your move?
The warmth of the expat community. The cost of alcohol and good quality food. The price of cars and lastly, how quickly 4 years can pass.
What has been the biggest challenge?
For me personally, it has been the inability to readily travel home and abroad while living in the heart of Asia. Running our businesses has meant that we need to be on the ground and accessible 24/7.
Would you recommend Singapore to someone else?
Absolutely. Particularly for families with young kids. The support you receive from live in help makes working here that much easier and more accessible for mothers in particular. For us, we feel we need to make the most of our time here, with the aim of returning to Australia when the right time/ opportunity presents itself.
If you plan on moving again, what would you do differently?
To be honest; I wouldn’t change a thing.
How does your new home compare to your home country in terms of quality of life, family benefits, career prospects, healthcare and opportunities for women?
This is definitely a two edge sword but I do believe the prospects to be a working mother in Singapore is far greater than in Australia. This is because of the cost of childcare back home can make it unaffordable to go back to work. I feel very fortunate to have the support of a live in helper which means I can concentrate on growing our businesses and making the most of our time here.
What is your favourite thing about where you live?
We have recently moved towards the CBD/ shopping district to be closer to our network of friends. It has been a welcomed change to where we were based initially (being a little further out of town), because of the proximity to friends and their kids, as well as restaurants and shops that are now on our doorstep. We regularly ride and scooter with Harriet from one place to the next; a nice contrast to having to get a cab or Uber everywhere we went previously.
What one piece of advice would you give someone who is thinking of moving to Singapore too?
Research where you want to live carefully. At the time we moved, I was more concerned about getting a full time job (my initial prospect fell through) than I was about getting the right apartment. The mistake I made was to think that we’d be happy to cab or Uber everywhere, everyday; but the reality was that it became a little isolating because at the end of a long day, we’d be too exhausted to go to the effort. Comparing that to now, where we can walk down the street and be at a friend’s condominium in less than 5 minutes.
Thank you so much for telling us a little about your expat life Amy. And – editor’s note – welcome to the world little baby Elizabeth! If you’re in Singapore definitely check out The Meat Club for delicious Australian meats delivered to your door. We have a fortnightly or monthly subscription and it not only takes the hassle out of having to source decent quality meat to feed the fam, but it’s also considerably more affordable than going into a shop every week. I’ll be talking more The Meat Club on the blog and on social media, so keep an eye out if you are keen to find out more!
Image courteousy of Vanilla Beige