“(Wikipedia) ‘An Expatriate (often shortened to Expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).
This blog aims to discover people who are adventurers like me, venturing out in a new place to call home and creating memories. I have previously lived with my parents and siblings in the Saudi Arabia when I was in high school. I have enjoyed and cherished my memories in the beautiful Sandbox I once called my home. Now, I am in a new adventure with my husband and son here in Singapore.
I am featuring Expats in different countries every two weeks to share their experiences and adventures with you and me.
Today, I am featuring a cool gal who I met at work here in Singapore who is also a blogger and a mom. She just recently move to Sweden with her husband and adorable toddler. She is currently back here in Singapore for few months. Meet Rebecca.”
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are originally from?
My name is Rebecca, 23, married to a British (he’s mixed Iranian, Swedish and Finnish born in the UK) with a son turning 2 this September. I am born and bred in Singapore for 23 years of my life and my husband came to live in Singapore with me for a little over 2 years. We’ve recently made a decision to move to live in Sweden with our son.
- What made you move to Sweden? How long have you been here?
My mother-in-law is Swedish and she moved back to her home country from the UK 2 years ago. When my husband went out of job due to his company relocating to Taiwan, and I was unemployed as well. we decided take the opportunity to visit her and my grandmother-in-law with our son. They have not seen him since they came to Singapore to visit for 2 weeks when my son was 4 months old. He was 18 months old when we finally visited them, and they have missed out a big part of their (great) grandchild’s first year of life. We wanted to let them spend as much time with their (great) grandchild as we can, and my Swedish permanent residency has also been approved, so we decided to book a flight with a 3 months return.
3 months is quite a substantial amount of time that we considered living there permanently if my husband manages to get a job within that 3 months, and he did! And tada, we’re moving to Sweden! We made this decision also because I want to take care of our son on my own and that means we will be a single income family. In Singapore, my single income and ‘solebreadwinner-have-no-CPF-as-he-is-a-foreigner’ family would not be able to get our own home. We are able to get our own place and survive on single income in Sweden. Nothing beats being there during your baby’s first few years, as they are only going to be babies for that long…
I have only been in Sweden for 3 months during the visit. My husband has already went back as he has work there and I will be flying back with my son early September.
- What do you miss about your home country?
I will miss my family and friends, of course. And I will miss the nightlife as Sweden’s everything closes at 5-6pm, with only a few pubs open till midnight whereas most places close late at night or are open 24 hours in Singapore. I will also miss the warm and sunny weather here as I can do much more things in hot weather than in the cold. It is cold and gloomy almost all year round in Sweden, seeing greens and feeling warm only for 1-3 months out of 12.
Being able to get deals on groupon.sg, deal.com.sg etc. and shipping cheaper items from China with readily available shipping agents here will also one of those things I’ll miss in Singapore once I’m there. They don’t have such offers or services in Sweden.
- What are the wonderful discoveries and things you like about in Sweden?
Sweden is really beautiful in summer. There are greens and pretty flowers of all colors everywhere. They have a lot of different places of nature where you can see moose, horses, cows and other animals running freely or in a farm at the countryside. I also like that healthcare is affordable/free for all people who resides there. Having said that, their hospitals prioritize emergencies and might not even see you if they think you have a minor sickness that will go away on its own with rest and fluids. They don’t advocate medications and prescribe them unnecessarily as much as some doctors in Singapore do.
The houses in the countryside are also very affordable and comes with a big piece of land for you to do whatever you want with it, be it to build another small guesthouse, a children’s playhouse, a garage, a fruits AND/OR veggie garden, and just about anything.
Preschool fees are 1-3% of your pay (capped at ~ SGD$201/month) or free if you’re unemployed. School for children aged 6 to 19 (preschool class through upper secondary school) is free of charge, with free lunches. It is a great welfare for single-income families or those with financial difficulties.
- What are the 3 tips you can give to fellow expats in Sweden or those you planning to move here?
According to Sweden.se, after you got your residency permit, the first important thing to do is to register with the Tax Agency and obtain a personal identification number, and get a resident ID card. You can only open bank accounts, use credit cards, pick up packages from the post office etc. with the card.
Second is to get insured by registering with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan). Every resident is entitled to certain benefits such as basic healthcare, parental benefits, child allowances, disability coverage and other insurance payments, so getting set up with the Social Insurance Agency will ensure that you are covered, should something unforeseen occur while you’re still settling in. You will have to bring your letter of decision by the Swedish Migration Board.
You can find more tips on the Sweden’s website www.sweden.se so the last one will be a personal tip.
When you move to a new country to live in, it will be difficult initially but with time, you learn and apply, you experience and adapt. There are goods and bads in every country but seek for all the good and appreciate them.
- The LITTLE MISS HONEY community gets inspired through travel, food and books. Can you tell us your current FAVORITE TRAVEL SPOT, current FAVORITE FOOD/RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES & current FAVORITE BOOK?
My favorite travel destination so far is Gran Canaria. It is a really nice holiday island with good food which are not overpriced.
My favorite food is the mix and match salad from The Salad Fork. I like their combination of veggies and carbs, especially the sweet potato!
My favorite book is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. It was my secondary school literature text but I still love it now.
- Where do you get your inspirations? Who or what inspires you?
My environment and life situations I’m in inspires me.
- Tell us more about your personal blog.
I have been blogging on and off since 2009 and I do it mostly as a hobby. I like to experiment with HTML codes as well so I always try and look for new templates to try and also edit it to how I like it better. I hope to able to be a successful blogger one day with sponsorships and collaborations.
- I believe you are also quite an entrepreneur, can you tell us more about your online business?
I started out with Carousell, selling brand new/preloved stuff that I don’t use (anymore) and they sell really well so I thought why not earn some extra income from buying and selling. I source for cheaper than local retail price products from all over the world and resell it online. I have also registered for a company and my own domain, www.mommyslittlehelper.com.sg. As I haven’t been doing much advertising and the website is not SEO optimized yet, the sales are not very good but I’m sure with time, more people will know about it and buy it from my online store.
- I know that you are a mom to a very adorable toddler. Can you give some advices on raising a boy? My little boy just turned one last month.
Thank you very much for your sweet compliment! He can be quite a handful at times, especially with similar aged friends around. I try to be firm when disciplining him and talk in a stern tone when he gets naughty. When he starts being rough with people, I would smack his hand and say not to do that, and tell him that it’s painful. I will also ask him to ‘sayang’ and hug the other party. He understands. You have to keep explaining things to him whenever you can and repeat it. Babies learn through imitation and repetition, visually and aurally.
Also, don’t panic if he falls down and sustains superficial injuries, instead, assure him that you will clean it, apply some medicine and it will be ok. When you panic, it makes him feel more afraid, and he cry and fuss more as he thinks it’s normal to do that each time he falls. Boys will be boys, they are more rough in nature. Let them learn to be independent from young.
- Lastly, can you share with what is your inspirational mantra in life?
“Once a person is independent of all things, his happiness will be unlimited.”
Thank you Rebecca for letting us see a bit of Sweden and sharing your tips on raising a toddler and moving to Sweden. I am sure you are well on your way to be a successful blogger and online entrepreneur. For collaborations and sponsorships with Rebecca, head over to her blog: http://sapphirebones.blogspot.sg.
If you are an expat or know any expats who are interested to be featured, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.”