Friday, 12 July 2013

A personal account from a Singaporean who migrated to Australia

A nice chap on MCF sent me a private message some time back in response to my earlier blog post. He's been kind enough to allow me to publish it verbatim here, except that he requests that I not publish any identifying details or his name.

In short, he paints a (pretty realistic IMHO) picture about emigration to Australia. I agree wholeheartedly with him, although I'm sure our experience could vary greatly, for better or for worse.

I came over last year with my family. We are living in WA. 

Let me list some of the good and bad points of migrating. I don't want to raise false hopes or paint an unfairly bad picture, but this is the reality. So it is good that you at least know some of these things:

Some background about myself. 
I am a graduate, but not young any longer (but not too old also, la, haha!). I was middle income in Singapore, in middle management, with car and 5 room flat. My wife is a housewife and I have 2 school going kids. 

I have relatives in Oz, and for the longest time they had been asking me to migrate, and for the longest time I had been saying no, believing Singapore was the world's best place to live. But about 5 years ago, I swallowed the red pill, and my eyes finally opened, and I woke up from the Matrix. So after dilly dallying for some time, I finally started applying for PR to Oz a couple of years ago. And in January 2012, suddenly the PR was approved. And then the die was cast. We quickly sold our car, our house, the furniture, and packed up all the barang barang and put into storage.

I came over alone first to recce and find a job and a home. I spent 3 months applying for jobs in my field and trying to rent a house. I was unsuccessful on both fronts. 

Bad news first:
1. Even though I am a very qualified and educated person, and my vocation is available in the SOL, AND there are tons of jobs available that I am fit for - it is VERY, VERY, VERY difficult to land a job in your chosen field.
2. Out of 10 pax, perhaps 1 or 2 will land the job soon after coming over, but 80% of migrants spend a long time applying for jobs - some several months (like me) and some even a year or more.
3. Some get so discouraged that they give up and go back to their motherland. 
4. The problem is all the companies looking for "Aussie Experience". Well, how the fcuk to get "Aussie Experience" without a job? And how to get a job without "aussie experience" - and remember we are actually very qualified and experienced persons back home in Singapore.
5. Rental housing (in WA, at least, is fcuking expensive and hard to get). Everyone, and I MEAN EVERYONE, requires to have references from previous rental landlords. Well.. that's another chicken and egg situation, isn't it? Without the 1st rental - how to get references? And without references, how to get a rental home? LOL!

Anyway, now the GOOD NEWS:
1. the above are the only bad news. haha!
2. If you are not too particular, there ARE jobs available. So after 3 months trying to get a job in my own field, I finally expanded my search and was willing to get any job - AND almost immediately I landed a blue collar job. 
3. Blue collar jobs (or tradie jobs), pay extremely well in Oz. Easily $50K and above annual salary. With overtime and hard work, can even get about $60-80K. That's AU$! That's a lot of moolah, even by Singapore white collar middle management standards. Only if you are willing to "lose face" doing a "coolie job", by Singapore standards. But, no one looks down on tradies in Oz... as they earn more than some of the office workers here. It all depends on YOU!
4. I managed to finally rent an apartment - still fcuking expensive, but the money I am drawing from my salary is more than enough to pay for the apartment, so no worries there. 
5. If you are willing to live further from the city, the rental prices are cheaper. So it depends on where you work and how far you want to drive.
6. Ok, eating out is very expensive, but my wife (still a housewife) cooks at home, so it is very affordable (even though groceries are more expensive than in Singapore). So if you are willing to cook at home, cost of living is affordable.
7. Every one says taxes are high in Oz. That is true. BUT, the take home pay after taxes (their version of CPF) is still a lot of moolah! Much more than what you can get for similar jobs in Singapore. So you are definitely on a plus here.
8. My kids are in school here. Man, they are loving it 110%. IMHO, its much better to get one's education here than the crazy pace of the Singapore education system. AND there is no die die must pass 2nd language to get ahead here.
9. The cars are cheap - nuff said! I own 2 cars here now, one for my wife to drive my son to school which is just 2 mins away (damn, she should walk and get the exercise!!) and one for me to drive to work. AND NO fcuking COE - these cars are mine. All mine! Forever!
10. The weather is fantastic! I love the aircon like weather here. No more sweating like a pig in Singapore, even in the hottest summer. But need to put on skin lotion otherwise skin may dry and crack.
11. Driving here is wonderful, every one is so patient and gives way - it's really a pleasure to drive. But I think so many migrants are coming, soon the roads will be as crowded as Singapore, and I guess we'll all get impatient again.
12. People are extremely friendly - especially the Ang Mohs - everyone greets each other, even strangers on the street. And people are very helpful. So far no experiences of racism that Oz is so infamous for. As long as you are willing to embrace and integrate with the Aussies, they are willing to be friendly and helpful. The only idiots are the other Asian immigrants who bring their sullen habits and no smiles at anyone and kiasu ways. 
13. There are lots of ex-Singaporeans, and most of them helpful to other kaki migrating from Singapore. 
14. There are lots of other good things as well, but I shall stop my rambling here for now.

One major tip I can give you is to visit and read this blog from start to present. This is written by an ex-Singaporean, who like you, started a blog when he was about to migrate and faithfully wrote down all his experiences. He is one of my close friends in WA now, and we regularly meet each other, and other kaki, for beer and barbie. 

Many people who migrated subsequently came upon his blog and found the info very helpful. I am sure you will find it helpful, too. Let me know if any other info I can help you with.


Posted by S

For more on migration, do check out our overview post.


  1. I probably have guessed who this person may be as I have read most of the blogs written asingaporeanson.
    I am proud of Mr E

  2. Hi good morning. I'm a Singaporean Malay and currently working as a security manager in Singapore. I would like to work in the Security Industry in Australia. May I know what's the job market is like for the security industry in Australia.

    1. Hi,

      Sorry for the late reply and hope this info is still useful to you.

      I'm also in the security field. My opinion would be to find a job first before coming over to AU, or if possible find job in a company that's wiling to post you over. I went with the latter.


  3. Hi,

    My hubby and I are planning to migrate to Auz. Both of us are S'porean.
    He is master graduated from NTU, and now working as data analyst in a MNC firm. I am working in trading industry, degree holder. Could you pls share the job opportunities for us? and how shall we apply Auz PR in Singapore? thanks a lot ;)

  4. Hi, when you mentioned about Aussie Experience? does that mean a lot of companies don't bother to consider your application if all your prior work experiences have been in Local SIngapore companies?