The Singaporean Bad Suburbs

A lucky Singaporean chap had three employment options in Perth and asked me which suburb (where the employers are) should choose. I noticed the same question is being asked over and over again even for people who are familiar with the Australia setup doing just an interstate move.

When I moved to Perth I met new people (mostly Singaporeans) who actually volunteered their expertise on which suburbs to avoid without me asking. Needless to say, I welcomed the advice like it was the most important thing in the world, since that seemed to be always among the first advice I would received. As time goes by, I found that there are way more important things than figuring where to live. For instance, if you are piss poor like me, bread and butter issues like where and how to get a free refrigerator, a free baby car seat, a baby gate, pram and other stuff which will amount to hundreds by buying from the shop. Where and how to get a $1,450 Daihatsu Terios to solve the first logistical handicap. Where is the best place to get food efficiently at the best price? Or the fastest way to get a job. Then later, perhaps, the best way to get a well-paying permanent job and so on.

Suburbs to avoid began to slip down the list in terms of priority rather quickly after I found how insignificant it is to our daily life. Suburb fanatics will, of course, disagree with me. How can I say that? Our daily life will definitely affected by the type of neighbours we brush shoulders with, no? Our safety is surely compromised if we live in a crime ridden, war torn area of the bikies, no? Our children cannot be living among druggies or drunks, no? I've heard these concerns from so many Singaporeans that I got sick of it. Well, I understand that having embedded with a kiasu, kiasi chip in our bodies makes it difficult not to worry about such things. However, asking around for bad suburb suggestions will do nothing of value to you.

If you seriously get around interviewing enough people of different nationalities and background, you will find that the whole fucking Perth is too dangerous to live in. That is because everyone has a different opinion of a particular suburb based on their personal experience, hearsay or information being passed down from the previous generation. What we do not realise is that, like everywhere else in the world, Perth is constantly changing, especially so at its current rate of development and most of these information is no longer accurate by the time you are given it.

It is also important to consider who is giving you his or her personal opinion. A local who happen to have a bias against a certain nationality will indefinitely condemn a certain suburb where this nationality tends to move to. For instance, someone who find Singaporeans detestable will deem Canningvale as a bad suburb because every fucking new Singaporean migrant with kids seems to be moving there. If you see by now, the reason why you like a particular suburb can be the same reason why another person dislike it - because the likes of you are congregating there, actually. Over the years, these personal biases simply got into a rumor mongering viscous cycle.

This kind of mentality is also common in our own country. For example, the Serangoon Gardens residents were up in arms over the authorities' decision to build a workers' quarter in their neighbourhood because they deemed workers dangerous. Another one would be the Sengkang West columbarium saga. Thus when I first came to Perth, I was given a list of dangerous suburbs by Singaporeans to avoid at all cost or risk endangering my family. some of the first southern suburbs I heard about was;

Belmont - Aboriginals (people who are supposed to kill you for bread)
Victoria Park - Burglars
Redcliffe - More aboriginals
Gosnells - Aboriginals, burglars, and rednecks
Maddington - Murderers and burglars
Balga - Bikies
Kelmscott - Druggies
Kenwick - Muslim terrorists
Langford - Aboriginal war zone
Cannington - Car thieves
Kwinana - Druggies and terrorists
Bentley - Rapists
Huntingdale - Hoons
Subiaco - Racist drunks
Hamilton Hill - Italian Mafia
Armadale - see all of the above

etc. etc

Believe me, by the information I was given, there seem to be very few places safe enough to live. Interestingly, most of the people who told me about dangerous suburbs had not even live a second there in their lives. In contrast, I have lived in 4 of the above suburbs without coming to any harm whatsoever. So was I just lucky?

Well if you go by statistics, the claims also did not quite make sense.

Statistic in 2012, around the time when I first came to Perth

Statistics from the WA Police showed most of the "dangerous" suburbs I should be avoiding were actually among the top safest suburbs in Perth. Well, awkward.

Even more awkwardly, most of the Singaporean favourite suburbs such as Wiletton, Rossmoyne or Canningvale aren't even in the "safe list."  So should we go by sentiments or statistics?

I'll tell you what I feel about this. I'll re-quote what I told the gentleman who contacted me for suburb information. "If I tell you that the whole Aljunied GRC is a bad constituency to live in because Geylang is within it, does it makes sense?" Think about it, if spent a lot of money and buy a landed property along Joo Chiat, only to find out that your neighbour is the infamous families behind the Joo Chiat saga a few years back, how good is your high class home if you are being harassed almost every day by some weirdos?

Truth to be told, if you are unable to access a particular suburb, street or house be it by your own genius or gut feel and land yourself into a terrible position because you take for granted that choosing your house or rental place blindfolded is wise because everyone tells you that the suburb is "safe", you'll likely to land yourself into trouble wherever you go. Counter-wise, you will be safe even in a supposedly "dangerous" suburb if you put in some effort to look and feel. For the rest, who may not even realise it, you are the ones who give suburbs their bad names.


  1. Why move to a country full of ex-convicts and then be concerned about which suburbs to live in???

    Better stay in Sinkiepore where work experience is valued and where it's too small to have a few hundred refugees but more than 1 million foreigners (? many with fake degrees) were welcomed in the last 10 years.

  2. Your stats are inadequate. You are only showing stats up to Feb 2012.

    Perhaps the crime rates in those suburbs you lived in only increased after you lived in them? Maybe there is a correlation to consider there.... :-# :p

    1. It couldn't be because I didn't get caught.

    2. There was a time in one very well known migrant enclave suburb that property prices significantly increased because the local drug dealers want to move into the area to avoid selling drugs on the streets in public area.....

  3. I do not consider myself a suburb fanatic nor conscious about class status but would like to offer a different view from Nix

    I travelled and worked most parts of Australia and despite Australia calling itself a classless society the truth is far from this in many places.

    In cosmopolitan capital cities there are often enclaves of migrant population who congregate out of convenience and support for each other; the irony is that the more multicultural it is the more likely that suburbs of certain migrant identities will emerge. As well as this there are certainly good and bad suburbs and even bad streets relating to housing commission projects, these are real differences that locals (migrants or locally born Aussies) themselves will be happily point out for you.

    Although prices or rental alone is not a good indicator when the prices are unusually low there is often a good reason, the property is not taken up for long period of time and both landlords and real estate agents are not stupid as people will find out.

    While it is unfair to point to an area and call it a bad area due to certain groups of people or class living there, the fact is that you will find that all it takes is to have a bad household in your street or next, to make living in the area a living hell. And the chances of finding such household is definitely higher of suburbs of certain repute than others.

    Similar for Sydneysiders for example, if you are one of those SG who cannot stand smelling curry day in day out there are some places you don't want to live in, if you cannot tolerate poorly maintained public area because certain Asian (eg Chinese) population have poor public spirit and civil minded ness and throw rubbish around, then you shouldn't live in other places. There are reasons stereotyped images are formed regarding migrant group though most people are aware not to attribute it to individual people.

    In rural towns the contrast may be even more distinct; some towns are so small that migrants are seen as equals whereas in other towns or cities the migrants can be seen as different from true blue Australians, in a positive or negative light.

    I would conclude that new migrants should avoid living in locally acknowledged troubled or bad suburbs initially and when they are used to the area after a year or two then they can decide to settle on where they want to live permanent