Expat Life

We’re Moving to Singapore!

We're Moving To Singapore!

What’s that saying about making plans? It’s probably something like – don’t bother making any because 99% of the time you’re going to have to change them – at least that appears to be the case for us, anyway. After signing a contract three years ago for an expat assignment that was supposed to end this summer, then signing a new contract last year to extend our stay in London through 2017, it turns out we won’t be staying for that extra year after all, because, surprise…WE ARE MOVING TO SINGAPORE!

Apologies for the screaming all-caps, but I am thrilled about this. THRILLED, I TELL YOU! (Last time, I promise.)

This unexpected turn of events has actually been in the making for some time now, but it wasn’t officially confirmed until a few weeks ago, so I haven’t been able to tell hardly anyone and I feel like I’ve been keeping this huge, crazy-exciting secret for ages. (Three months totally counts as ages in Terrible Secret-Keeper time, by the way.) It all began back in December while we were in Poland. Cory got an email that his company’s Asia office was moving from Hong Kong to Singapore. And when I heard that, I thought to myself, ‘Well that settles it, we’ll never be moving to Asia!’ because surely I hadn’t racked up enough good karma to deserve something that special. (For those of you that don’t know, I grew up in Singapore as a teenager and have wanted to go back pretty much ever since I left.)

But maybe my good karma bank was a little more cushioned than I thought, or maybe I’m just lucky (doubtful), or it could have simply been fate, but four days before Christmas, Cory came home from work with news that there was an opening in Singapore, and if we wanted it, the job was ours! (Well, technically his, but these expat things always feel like more of a joint venture.) After a few moments of shocked silence, I proceeded to cry like a baby for the next half hour or so, because that’s a normal response to having been given the best Christmas present ever, right? The combination of receiving the news so unexpectedly, plus a little relief that we wouldn’t be spending another year in London (more on that later), and the joy of being handed something I’d been wanting for so long pretty much turned me into an emotional mess for the rest of the holidays.

Like anyone who’s ever been through the expat waiting game knows, I spent the next few months until the contracts were finalized trying really hard not to get my hopes up in case the whole deal fell through. I was completely unsuccessful, of course, because asking me to not think about the future is a little like setting a plate of freshly-glazed Krispy Kreme donuts in front of me and asking me to just eat one. It’s just not going to happen. And while I’m not one for living in the past, one way I got through those months of uncertainty was by embracing my nostalgic side and sifting through memories and old photos at least a few times every week. While not a particularly productive use of time, all of this digging through the past produced quite a few gems in the form of blurry, hastily-composed snapshots from our trip to Singapore in 2007 which you are free to laugh at below. These are, quite possibly, the worst pictures ever, but they are a vast improvement over the 90’s disposable camera photos I have from when I lived there the first time, so…

We're Moving To Singapore!

We're Moving To Singapore!

We're Moving To Singapore!

We're Moving To Singapore!

We're Moving To Singapore!

Can we talk about how cute 5-year-old Lexie is? (And how young-looking 23-year-old me was?!) This trip was the one and only time I’ve returned to Singapore since we moved away at the end of 1999. I still can’t believe I’m about to be moving back again. It’s kind of funny how things work out – 2016 is actually the 20-year anniversary of the first time I moved there. Maybe just a coincidence, but is it also a coincidence that Lexie’s first day of high school will be at the same school where my first day of high school was? That’s probably not unusual for people who continue to live and raise their kids in the same town where they grew up, but in our case, this is something very special. I definitely feel like we are meant to make this move. The timing just feels right.

Speaking of that, I feel like I should address what I mentioned earlier about being relieved to leave London. This is a cut and dry case of It’s Not You, It’s Me. I mean it when I say London is a great place to live, especially for expats. It’s a busy city with virtually limitless things to do and see. Boredom, for most people, is a nonissue. And since such a large portion of the population are expats, assimilating here, particularly if you’re from an English-speaking country, is a piece of cake. So the problem, really, is me. I get uncomfortable when I live in any one place for an extended period of time, and at just over three years, we will have lived in London, in the same flat, longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere as a family. That, coupled with the fact that, thanks to London’s cold, dreary weather, I suffer from something akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder* for about 11 months out of every year, has made me pretty well ready to go for at least a year and a half now.

I do feel a smidgen of regret that we aren’t going to get to experience what I thought was going to be our last year here, though. A few months before the Singapore job came up, we had begun the rigorous, practically college-level application process to get Lexie into the American School in St John’s Wood. We were looking forward to moving closer in to central London and I think the change in scenery would have given my attitude towards London a much-needed makeover, too, if she were so lucky to get in. As fate would have it, we received her acceptance letter to the school right around the same time we heard the news that Singapore was all systems go, too. After so many months of praying for her to get in, it felt strange to decline the invitation. Occasionally I get a touch of what-might-have-been regarding our decision, but I’m sure once we’re in Singapore and enjoying the sun and warmth and another great American School, these lingering doubts will never again cross my mind.

We also had quite a few exciting travel plans in the works, including Greece, Portugal, and Switzerland. With our move less than three months away (and only one school break in between now and then), I don’t think we’ll be able to see any of them before we go. But you know what? I’m not even the least bit sad about it. Even if we’d stayed in Europe for 10 years, I would still be leaving with a laundry list of places I’d wanted to see, but hadn’t been able to. And that’s totally fine – no one ever gets to go everywhere. I do, however, have a brand-new, completely empty passport (with extra pages) that I can’t wait to fill with a bunch of stamps from southeast Asia!

My mom asked me last weekend if I knew where we were going to travel first once we got to Singapore and, surprisingly, my answer was no. As excited as I am to start planning our trips through Asia (especially those island vacations!), now that we know we’re leaving, I’ve been trying really hard to live in the present as much as possible. I’m paying more attention to the everyday – riding the tube, walking through the streets, and just generally going about our usual routine – because there is so much about living here that I know I’m going to miss once we’re gone. I want to experience as much of it as possible before we go. I’ve also made a list of all the things I’ve yet to do in London, and now that it’s warmed up a little, we’re going to start tackling those things on weekends. Given everything we’ve already done, I’m positive when we leave London, it will be with the satisfaction that we took full advantage of our time here.

As of right now, our official leaving London date is the 24th of June. We’ll return to the States for almost two weeks, and then on the 4th of July we’ll board the first of three flights to Singapore! July sounds so far away, but if the past few years are any indication, moving day will be here before we know it!

*I don’t actually have this, but cold days, especially grey and rainy ones, do a number on my sun-loving spirit.

Also, I just did a quick Google and it was Robert Burns who penned the phrase I was trying to remember in the first paragraph:

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

That sounds a lot more poetic than my interpretation, but hey, the sentiment is the same.

Share this post:

  • Tanja / The red phone box trav
    June 15, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    have fun in Singapore!

  • Mandy Southgate
    April 24, 2016 at 2:34 PM

    Congratulations Sarah! This is fantastic news! How wonderful that you get to back to the one place you missed so much. I relate on two levels – one, I always wanted to come back to London. I felt like I’d arrived home when I stepped off the plane, even though my home had been up north; and two, I’ve never, ever stayed long in one place. We stayed in our previous home 6 years and it was the longest I’ve ever been in a house! I need to move a lot but after our last move, I think I’ve found my forever home.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 25, 2016 at 10:28 AM

      That’s got to feel really good to finally find where you’re supposed to be. One of these days, I hope I’ll find that, too, but in the meantime I’m happy to keep searching for it! :)

  • Emmymom
    April 12, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    Oh my gosh I am so excited for you!!! So many crazy coincidences like same school for you and your daughter. That is so awesome!! We have been in our current house for 5 year nows which honestly feels forever long. I absolutely love it and for my kids don’t want to move, yet at the same time I feel ready for something new.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM

      It’s definitely easier to stay settled when you have kids, but I think it’s a good thing to move at least once when your kids are growing up. It teaches them a lot of life skills they won’t learn if they stay in the same place their entire childhood. So if something ever did come up for you guys, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about taking it! :)

  • Ashley
    April 8, 2016 at 9:25 PM

    How exciting! Congrats!

  • rorybore
    April 1, 2016 at 4:45 AM

    Wow! I cannot wait to see pictures. And recipes. And those islands. How exciting!!

  • Jennifer @This Off Script Life
    March 31, 2016 at 5:52 PM

    Congratulations on your very exciting news! Enjoy your last few months in London, and I can’t wait to read about your expat adventures in Singapore. P.S. I know what you mean about leaving Europe with a laundry list of places to see. The longer I’m here and the more I see, the longer the list seems to get.

  • Sara
    March 30, 2016 at 5:32 PM

    First of all, welcome back to blogging! Great to see you back, and CONGRATULATIONS! What a incredible opportunity and especially one you’ve wanted for so long. Can’t wait to read and hear all about the next chapter x

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 31, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      Thanks, Sara! We’re pretty stoked about it! You’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up, too, that I can’t wait to read about! :)

  • Stacie Stamper
    March 29, 2016 at 1:50 PM

    So excited for you. I love your sense of adventure!

  • Stacey @ One Trip at a Time
    March 29, 2016 at 1:29 AM

    This is such exciting news! I’m so happy for you, especially since you’ve been dreaming of returning. I’m already looking forward to reading your posts about all the adventures you guys get up to in Singapore.
    Have fun soaking up every moment left in London!

  • Rachel G
    March 29, 2016 at 6:33 AM

    Wow! Congratulations! Singapore is a really great place–I’m your neighbor to the north, up in Malaysia, and we do like to visit Singapore when we’re in the mood for seeing a big city. :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:44 PM

      I remember that you were in Malaysia! What city/town do you live in? We will have to make a point to get together when we’re in each other’s countries! :)

  • Romeo
    March 29, 2016 at 5:10 AM

    First of all, you look exactly the same. First again, how adorable is the kid?!? Ain’t it funny how life turns out? I just wanted to send best wishes for your relocation, relocation. We’ve never been but we know it’s a wonderful place. We’re gonna be as close as the Vietnam and Cambodia a bit later in the year. WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE Y’ALL! Take care as always and congrats again, very exciting.

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:43 PM

      First, I love that you said y’all. :) Second, we need to make a meet-up happen! I have no idea what kind of place we’ll have in Singapore yet, but if we have a spare bedroom (or if you’re cool with the living room) you will have a place to stay with us if you decide to make a pit stop in Singapore! Or maybe we’ll just meet you in Cambodia. I’ve never been!

      • Romeo
        March 30, 2016 at 7:08 AM

        Any of that would be Fantastic. As far as Singapore goes, we’re fine with a sofa surf in the living room being it is literally the most expensive city in the world and if something crazy happens with the elections over here, we may end up staying. We’ll send you a puppy in August. Hopefully, Lexy’ll have him house trained by the time we arrive. Don’t worry, we’re partial to smaller breeds.

        • Sarah Shumate
          March 31, 2016 at 12:59 PM

          Perfect. Send a female. I’m partial to animals that don’t try to hump me every time I sit on the floor.

          • Romeo
            April 1, 2016 at 3:38 AM

            Your house, your rules Boss.

  • Diana Bockus
    March 28, 2016 at 10:09 PM

    Exciting!!! It’s the next chapter!

  • JasminCharlotte
    March 28, 2016 at 4:32 PM

    Ohh this is so exciting! Glad that it has all worked out for you and I will be very jealous of all the sunshine!

  • jayneytravels
    March 28, 2016 at 10:28 PM

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for you but also excited as a reader to see what expat life in Singapore has in store for you and the family. Enjoy your last few months in London. J x

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    March 28, 2016 at 9:51 PM

    How exciting!!!! So happy for you and this next adventure!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    March 28, 2016 at 3:17 PM

    This is so exciting, Sarah!! (I also totally checked the date before clicking on this post, just to make sure this is no April’s Fool joke on your side! ;) ) I’m sure this new chapter in your life is going to be an interesting one! Do you already know how long you’re going to stay in Singapore or is the contract open-ended? In any case I’m looking forward to your pictures of Asia – I’m sure you are going to make me long to go back very soon! I also just have to mention that Lexy’s facial expression in the hotel lobby family picture is pretty much the best! ;) I hope you will enjoy these last few months in London. The good thing about leaving in early summer is that your last memories will be of (hopefully) beautiful spring days! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:36 PM

      Too funny about the April Fool’s joke! Ha! The contract we signed is for 2 years, so we know we will be there at least that long.

      Her expressions is so many of these photos cracked me up! She was a trooper doing all that walking over Singapore on such hot and humid days, but her face gives away exactly how she felt about it!

  • Jen Mc
    March 28, 2016 at 3:04 PM

    HOW EXCITING!!!!! (that was my caps yelling for you…) I have enjoyed your adventures and look forward to further adventures.
    HUGS!

  • Kelly Michelle
    March 28, 2016 at 1:29 PM

    Congratulations on the big move! Singapore is such a lovely part of the world and with excellent links to Australia and New Zealand…just saying ;-) xx

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:33 PM

      I fully intend on visiting both! :)

  • Cynthia
    March 28, 2016 at 7:25 PM

    Congratulations!! I loved hearing about you growing up in Singapore… that makes it all the more special for your daughter to have the same experiences at the same age. So happy for you! My dad used to live there and I visited as a teenager…. there is something so very magical about that city. Enjoy your last London months!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:37 PM

      I agree! I am so excited to get to experience living there in a different stage of life. I think we are going to have a LOT of fun!

  • Jodi
    March 28, 2016 at 3:39 PM

    WOW!!! Just…..WOW! So happy that your dream is coming true.

  • Jenn
    March 28, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Ahhh! That’s so exciting! I’m so happy for you guys, it will definitely be a great adventure and it’s so neat that Lexi will get to go to the same school you went to :)

  • Connie Weiss
    March 28, 2016 at 2:17 PM

    This is very exciting news!! I can’t wait to hear and see more from your next adventure.

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    March 28, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    I am so, so thrilled for you lovely – I remember a cold grey wintery day near Kew Gardens where we huddled over a cup of tea and you told me how much you’d love to go back to Singapore. The expat heart wants what the expat heart wants!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 29, 2016 at 6:35 PM

      I had forgotten about that conversation. :) Funny how things work out!