I guess I can't really comment definitively as I've only ever lived in this part of Singapore, but I do enjoy living on the east of the island and in the Katong area. We live off a road called Tanjong Katong Road, the area fascinates me and I thought I'd share some of this with you.
There are a couple of small shopping malls nearby, admittedly apart from a Fair Price, a Watsons and a Shop n' Save it is a some what limited shopping experience, but conversely we are on the doorstep of a Post Office - always handy! Better than this though there are lots of little independent shops nearby and a variety of places to eat and the area always strikes me as being a real little community.
As well as the supermarket chains, we discovered nearby what appears to be an independent supermarket. Admittedly it is expensive but it does stock some unexpected items including familiar items from home and a bit more choice on the wine front. There is a greengrocers selling fresh fruit and vegetables (including the infamous durians) which also comes complete with a large white parrot overseeing I all the transactions. Just a couple of doors up is a shop selling a variety of birds, it is always a little strange walking past in the evening after it has shut hearing the birds singing.
There are a wide variety of places to eat nearby including Smiths Fish and Chip shop (UPDATE - January 2016 this branch is now closed, if you want your Brit style fish and chip fix you can head to Balmoral Plaza, Bukit Timah Road), which I've written about previously, Fairys and proper fish and chips, it is always very busy and seems equally popular with both expats and locals. Perhaps more traditionally there is the Punggol Nasi Lemak eatery, I have to admit I haven't eaten here but whenever we go by it is always teeming with people waiting to be served. Definitely a good sign in Singapore and several taxi drivers have also raved about the place as we've driven by it, somewhere I think we need to visit sooner rather than later. When I first arrived we even had a local Indian takeaway that delivered (perfect) but sadly this has since closed but there are still several Indian food restaurants in the vicinity to choose from. We just have to go out now to dine but that is a small price to pay.
There are several shops and places I've yet to go too, some I'll probably never venture into like, for example, the landscape gardening and water feature shop. Some though intrigue me, one that instantly springs to mind is the Tricycle Nite Lounge, not a shop as such but I mean what goes on there? The mind boggles to be honest and I haven't been able to find out, perhaps it's just as well I don't know. I kind of suspect too that I'll probably never venture there either but it does not stop me wondering what the place is.
At the end of the road we live on is a petrol station which, just as in the UK, is very handy for emergency drinks or ice cream cravings particularly late at night. The most amusing thing though is the selling tactics of the cashiers. They regularly try to sell me a variety of things which I really do not want. This has included amongst other things a DVD player and something that resembled a bulk buy on instant chicken soup. I always decline but I sort of look forward to seeing what they'll try to sell me next!
There are condo blocks everywhere, building sites are a common sight in Singapore with new condo developments springing up all around and Katong is no exception. This makes for a challenge in that dirt and dust from these sites seems to get everywhere, I've never swept and washed floors as much as I have since I've been living here! I'll be honest in that in the time I've been here I can't actually see any changes in the development they are working on opposite our condo. They just seem to dig over the same piece of land and make a lot of noise doing it but I'm sure something is going on. Thankfully we also overlook, on the opposite side, a road of houses which we've been told are protected from redevelopment. They are knocking down some houses beyond this road though, I presume for another development, but it did take me a while to actually notice that half the row of houses had gone and that not all the noise was coming from the development behind us!
Despite all the aspects that are different in a weird way it also feels a little like our previous home near Twickenham. How? Well there we lived under the flight path for Heathrow and here from our condo we can see the planes coming into Changi. Though they are a little further away now so we can't hear them and as an additional bonus we also get to see the sea and ships as well from here.
Katong really feels like home to me and although we will probably have to move from our current residence (our Landlord is looking to sell the flat) I hope we'll stay in the east of the island somewhere nearby. Maybe I'll be writing something similar about our home in the west at some point though - who knows. Exploring the local shops and restaurants is definitely, I think, important in really learning about the place you live in, makes the whole experience a lot more rewarding and contributes toward what makes being here fun!