The Perth Survival Guide for Singaporeans

Last update: 16 October 2011

The challenge: Move and survive in Australia bringing AUD$1,000

Get Qualified
 Get a VISA which allows you to work in Perth. Skilled migration (Subclass 175) is the most common visa that Singaporeans. However it is not the only working visa you can obtain.  For example: Subclass 176 and Subclass 457 are also possible to obtain.

Note: Subclass 457 would be irrelevant to this challenge because it would mean you already got a job secured before you leave Singapore. Work Holiday Visa (subclass 417) is only available for citizens of the countries listed below. It is not available for Singaporeans, so this option is out.

Get Free Lodgings

With AUD$1,000, if you want to get anywhere in Perth, you will not last very long. The only possibility to avoid a quick return to Singapore is to get free lodging.

Couch Surfing - There are people offering free lodgings from time to time in return for either company (elderly), housekeeping duties for a few hours per week or even housesitting while the owners are away. Occasionally you will find couch surfing offers in websites such as but you got to act fast as they are very popular. Some motels or back packers inns also offer free rooms for a few hours of cleaning per week. Surf around the net for more options.

**Tip: Call them from Singapore. Ask ask ask. Don't feel shy about it. If you get a deal, it's the first ticket to your success.

A typical advertisement may look like this:
AUSTRALIA - HONEST CARETAKER required for a beautiful, unique, heritage property in the Perth. Common sense, experience in farming and gardening are essential. You must be clean and tidy. Business skills are an advantage. 1.5 days work in exchange for shared accommodation and use of a car. There is also room to earn extra money. This caretaker position would be suitable for a mature minded person or University student. Sorry, no indoor animals are allowed.

Other than Couch Surfing, look for homeshare opportunities such as this one:

Buy A Bicycle for $90.00

Go to Big W, Target or K-Mart, you will find a range of low end bicycles for a good price. You will not be able to buy a car yet, a bicycle will be a great help for a start.

Get A Prepaid Calling Card

It will cost you an average of AUD$30.00 a month. You could get a plan which you give local calls, overseas calls and mobile broadband at the same time. This is very important in your job search. No one is giving someone a job without a local contact number.

Cook Your Own Meals

If you cannot cook, you're a goner in Perth with AUD$1,000. Raw ingredients should not cost more than $50.00 per week per person if you are clever in your buys. For example, buying your vegetables in Canning Vale Market on Saturday morning and Subiaco Market on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check with your housemates or friends in Perth or even any local strangers while waiting for a bus, they will be very happy to give you some valuable directions. You will probably not be able to enjoy these advantages at first unless you live near to such places. Meanwhile, just buy your stuffs in the hyper-mart nearest to your location.

Look For Night Fillers Job

Whenever you buy an item from the hyper-marts such as Coles, Woolworths, K-Mart, Bunnings etc; you will find the Store Manager of the mart and his office number. Call them straight and ask them if they are in need of any Night Fillers. The duty of a Night Filler is to replenish the stock in the hyper-marts at night to prepare for business for the following days. This job pays about AUD$18-22 per hour, the older you are, the higher you are paid.

If you are reliable, hardworking and enthusiastic, the Store Manager will start giving you more hours. You could be looking at 25-30 hours a week in this job. That works out to be an average of AUD$500-600 per week. If you scrimp and save and cook your own meals instead of dinning out, you should be able to save at least AUD$1,200 a month.

**Tip: NEVER, EVER reveal your previous occupations in Singapore. If you are over-qualified, you'll never get a sniff. You don't have to be dishonest and say you have super market work experience previous but don't tell them you were a Senior Project Manager or a Research Engineer either.

***Another Tip: If you have the Singaporean mentality, you'll find it very difficult or slow to get a job, even a casual job. You'll need to be thick skin and very aggressive in job hunting. Call them, call a lot and even walk up to the store in person to ask for a job if you are up to it.

Meanwhile send in a lot of job applications everyday. Since you are doing Night Filling, you should have time to attend job interviews if any company calls you up.

Casual Jobs

If you could not find Night Filling jobs, you can try many other Casual Jobs such as car cleaning, gardening, house and commercial cleaning, dog walking or even laborer jobs. There will be quite a selection in or

Fruit Picking

If you saved a couple of thousands from doing casual jobs, buy a used car for around AUD$2,000-3,000. You have to do a lot of homework to understand the market. If you are in Perth and at this stage, feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to assist you in this.

If you are fit and adventurous enough, some farms offer accommodation in return for work. You should still be able to earn a small excess of money from around $50-$100 a day. With a car, you will be able to travel to farms and do harvesting work. The following document will show you where work will be in high demand during certain part of the year. If you follow the harvest, you could find work all year round. Check this out for more harvesting job information.

With regular income coming in, you'll be at least able to survive until that full time job comes in. Meanwhile, plan your own time, juggle 2 jobs if you are able to and save as much money as you can. Meeting people is extremely crucial. From them, you'll learn a lot that can help you avoid pitfalls or even refer a job to you if you are lucky. Moreover, you need some referrals when you attend a job interview. The locals call them referees. The employers will feel uneasy to give a job to someone without referees.

With that, you will be able to sustain long enough until you find that full time job.

Some references:


  1. This is a good one which helps a lot but isn't it too risky to bring just AUS1,000?

  2. By the way, I remember that Malaysian can aply for Working Holiday Maker in Australia. I suspect there is another category for it that might also apply to Singaporean.

  3. @Peyning: No. Work Holiday not available to Singaporeans

  4. this article is very informative, many thanks! :)

  5. Thanks for this article! Very useful

    I'm interested to work in the farms at AUS but not sure how it goes. Should I get a job from them first then apply VISA or apply VISA, go AUS and do casual jobs along the way?

  6. @Unknown: are you that 'unknown' I know?


    If you are Singaporean, we are not entitled to Work-Holiday visa. It's a pity for it would have allow you to do what you wanted.

    Else, you'll have to go for a work visa (subclass 457) or get a Permanent Resident visa. There should be other options but these are what Singaporeans usually apply.

    Follow this link, u'll meet some likeminded folks. Bug them till someone replies u. :)

  7. Hi, I've been reading your wonderful posts. Like U, I intend to migrate to Perth with my family too. Unfortunately the nominated occupation quota is filled. So most of the people said student visa or company sponsored visa is the best for me. But personally I would prefer a 175 or 176. So what visa did u get when u migrate there?


  8. @curious: thanks for your compliment friend.

    We applied for permanent residency. if i remember correctly, that would be subclass 175. we sent in the application in 2009

  9. Hi. Thanks for your reply. Wow dats pretty long :( Well i guess the only option i have would be to take up a course or get a job b4 we shift there. Meanwhile, i'll continue reading up ur very informative posts :) U really have a flair for writing. ~ Curious

    1. Hi. Well, we got the PR in 2010. It took about 1 - 1.5 years. We did not come to Australia immediately.

      Thanks for your compliment.

  10. How should i "sell myself" if I am i am keen for a nightfiller job?
    I am a Technical Consultant in Singapore and currently waiting
    For the approval of my spouse visa.

    1. 1) if u got called up for an interview, just be keen throughout the session. participate positivity and speak as clearly as you can when being asked any questions

      2) if u get a 2nd interview, DON'T mention you were a technical consultant.

      3) mention you do similar roles in supermarket back home before.

  11. Hi there, actually I am curious, why would any professionals, like a Consultant in Singapore would be a supermarket packer in Aussie? When you move to Aussie, should you already got a position there waiting for your arrival in a nice office somewhere?