Back in 2014 when we were seriously contemplating a move from Edinburgh to Singapore, we started thinking about where we would like to live. Singapore isn’t huge, but like all cities, it has its various neighbourhoods and districts, most of which have seen massive changes since we last lived here. Certain areas I used to frequent are practically unrecognizable.
Knowing the longer hours involved in work and school over here, our priorities were to be close to Daddy Chu’s workplace, near a decent school for the girls and not too far from our parents. So we began poring over possible locations in Google Maps…when we suddenly spied it: “Edinburgh Rd”.
“Honey – look – we have to live here!” I declared excitedly, jabbing the screen with my finger. Upon closer examination however, we realized that only one person lives on Edinburgh Rd. And that is – the President of Singapore. Darn.
But although our perfect address had sadly been taken, the presence of “Edinburgh Road” got me looking around the neighbouring area. I discovered Mount Sophia, a place I had never heard of but which started to look very interesting as I (virtually) explored its surrounds. It ticked all the boxes. Reasonably short commute for Daddy Chu, school and kindergartens within walking distance, close to public transport. We got that feeling about the place; and even after several rounds of considering other areas, kept coming back to it.
In fact, Mount Sophia (more of a wee hill, really) is in a strikingly similar “location” to our old home in Edinburgh. We used to live in Broughton, a ten minute walk from the East End of Princes St, the main shopping street in Edinburgh. Mount Sophia is, funnily enough, just under a ten minute walk from the East End of Orchard Road, the main shopping street in Singapore. Our old flat was also near Waverley, Edinburgh’s main train station – and our new flat is possibly even closer to Dhoby Ghaut, Singapore’s main MRT (subway) interchange.
We will be similarly surrounded by bars and cafes, shops and cinemas, as before. And I will still be able get a pint of milk within a five minute walk (my rule of thumb for convenience).
So I’m not sure what this says about us. Maybe we have very fixed priorities. Maybe we just want what we used to have. Maybe, despite our occasional hankering for broad horizons and complete isolation, we really are city-centre people at heart.
Whatever the case, we are delighted to finally have the keys to our new flat!! Except of course, they are not keys. That would be too low-tech for this city. We have coded entrance cards which we wave over the electronic door handle.
We will be moving in soon and are super excited to explore our new neighbourhood. Mount Sophia is at the edge of Singapore’s Arts and Heritage district, and is a stone’s throw from the Singapore National Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, the National Design Centre and historic Fort Canning Park – the oldest part of the city. Being surrounded by the city’s key arts institutions also means we have a surprising number of local galleries, exhibition and performance spaces on our doorstep which might make me a little less sore about leaving Edinburgh’s thriving arts scene behind.
All that’s left to find out is whether we will have new neighbours who are as lovely as the ones we sadly had to say goodbye to!