Before I married an NSman, I had the impression that SAFRA was some old boys’ club for NSF/NSmen to gather around and continue their NS stories (the stories they always repeat at BBQs and gatherings, leaving the girlfriends to roll their eyes again).
I had a vague idea that there were a few SAFRA clubs around the small island of Singapore, where many NSmen took their kids to swim at and do their “family” thing. There were also HomeTeamNS clubs that just added to the confusion of “which club for whom?” so I didn’t really bother to find out more then.
Why did I sign up for SAFRA membership?
It’s not surprising that it was my husband who first made the decision to sign up for a 9 year SAFRA membership at a roadshow somewhere, because the sign up gift of a watch worth $70+ was attractive to him (SAFRA still dangles watches as sign up gifts).
Not wanting to lose my couple time with my husband to SAFRA and feel left out, “ok lah just join first” I thought, since dependents pay half price anyway. I calculated, based on the annual fee of $12+ a year, just swimming once a month at SAFRA would help me recoup my membership fees.
Being a SAFRA member without kids
The early days of our marriage without kids was blissful really. We would wake up early on the weekends and be the first few swimmers at our favourite SAFRA clubhouse in Yishun, because HDB parking is nearby (we are still cheapskates who refuse to park at SAFRA carpark) and we can use our NTUC white cards to each buy a $1.40 breakfast set of 2 eggs, kaya toast and teh at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Foodfare just across the road.
Sometimes after my husband and I went jogging at night, we would tap in using our SAFRA cards to shower at the swimming pool toilets and save on our water bill (might as well right?).
Being a pregnant SAFRA member
When I was 3 months pregnant, I joined my husband in SAFRA’s Swim for Hope where each lap swum would raise $1 for charity. We swam more than 100 laps each that day, although it rained halfway and disrupted the event. I remember collecting rubber bands from the volunteers, 1 after each lap, till my wrists had red welts.
As I slowly grew a bigger belly, the Yishun lifeguards would still allow me to swim till my 8th month, where my husband described the sight of me swimming like a whale moving through the water. The lifeguards would also ask me to be careful when I waddled around in my extremely expanded swimsuit.
Having put on 20kg during my pregnancy, my back would hurt often. After swimming 20 laps each and taking a shower, my husband and I would walk over to the massage chairs near the pub and enjoy a 16 minute massage for just $1 each in the cool aircon. Shiok!
Celebrating my elder son’s first month at SAFRA
After I gave birth to our first son, we spent quite a bit of time discussing where we should hold the first month party.
I convinced him to have a BBQ at SAFRA Jurong where I had attended a colleague’s BBQ before, as the area was fully covered, had ample seats and had 2 BBQ pits.
The pits also faced a park and it was just a short walk from Boon Lay MRT. We paid $50 to book the area for the evening and pre-ordered ready-to-BBQ food.
Joining the SAFRA interest groups
Our favourite subclub is the Moviemax membership which gives us discounts off movie tickets and even free movie tickets if we won contests.
We also joined the SAFRA Running Club Yishun (which also has a closed Facebook group) which gave us discounts off Asics shoes and reimbursement for full marathons.
There are quite a few other subclubs for interests like travel, food and entrepreneurship, but we didn’t feel like paying to join those (yeah must pay extra on top of the basic membership).
Other cool stuff at SAFRA clubs
SAFRA members get discounts off EnergyOne gym memberships, if you prefer a less crowded gym than those of the Singapore Sports Council’s (which is super jam packed during peak hours).
We like chilling at Aston’s at the Toa Payoh SAFRA, which also has a see-through swimming pool. If you like al-fresco, Eatzi at Yishun SAFRA has an outdoor area for you to chill by the kids pool.
SAFRA clubs also have karaoke, Cosmic bowling with disco music, weekend sales, lepak newspaper corners, various restaurants/cafés, meeting rooms, ballrooms, arcade games, indoor kids playgrounds, rock climbing wall, tennis courts, squash courts and other amenities for couples, friend gatherings and families.
We haven’t been to the Punggol SAFRA yet but it is apparently the coolest SAFRA of them all.
What else do SAFRA members get?
You can sign up for road trips, free legal clinics and purchase supermarket vouchers at discounts, just check out the SAFRA NSman bimonthly magazine that all members get. There’s also a Caltex discount if you drive.
I’m still pondering if I should join the SAFRA Bay Run, as my membership gives me a bit of discount.
As I’m working class, I don’t have enough cash for a country club membership, but it’s OK as I can get almost all of the perks via SAFRA at a much cheaper membership fee, except golfing and networking with ridiculously high net worth individuals.
So if you’re not an NSF/NSman but you’re married to one, it makes sense to check out what perks you can get from having a SAFRA membership.
Also published on Medium.