Stressed Up Singaporean Mom, J, Needs Opinions

Dear Nix,
How are you? I hope this email finds you well.
This is Jane, yet another Singaporean daughter and a reader of your blog (keep it up, you've written salient points in your posts which are extremely helpful and informative for every Singaporean who wish to migrate down under).
I've gotten my Australian PR visa sometime back and it's time to make the move. You were right about the stages of emotional and mental states. Euphoria in the beginning and the crunch-time stresses of relocating. I hope to share my experience with you and at the same time, understand from you, a fellow "同乡" Singaporean migrant, how you managed to settle in during the initial stages.
My situation is slightly diffferent. I've got the visa with my ex-spouse and had it renewed into an RRV. I'm now waiting for my son's visa to be approved, and it's been 1.5 months. Crossing my fingers for High Comm's reply so that I can at least secure him a place in a school before 4 Feb (Term 1 in Perth). My purpose of migration is to provide my son with a holistic education, a less stressful one.
Here are my plans in the meanwhile:-
I've booked myself and my dad a trip to Perth from 9 to 16 Jan to have a look at the suburbs and schools and have a feel of the place, and hopefully secure our rental (if there are viewings within that week, that is) and get a second-hand car. All these within 1 week and with my dad's help, I hope we can accomplish! Big Sigh!
Back in Singapore, once my son's visa is approved, I'll fly out back to Perth, two of us, and by then, the rented home and second-hand car would have been there already. That is, if me and my dad manage to get these done during our 1 week trip. If not, plan B. I'll need to sell a pitch to either my dad or mum to go with me, at least there's someone to help tend to the little one while I get the important stuff done.
There are some things that are all a question mark to me right now and hopefully you can share your expertise:
Rental housing - I'm looking at I understand that I'll have to produce my visa documents and a bond. Is the bond payable by cash on the spot? What other matters should I take note of, specifically, in the process of viewing and signing the Tenancy Agreement? In most circumstances, the minimum tenancy period is 1 year right? What happens if you break the lease early?
How did you manage to secure a unit before you fly out to Perth? I think if I could do that, it'll be a huge rock lifted off my chest!
Car - Would you have any recommendations on places to get reliable second hand cars?
Assuming I got a car and a rental apartment during my 1 week trip and am flying back to Singapore, in your opinion, is it safe to leave the car in the garage?
Suburbs - I'm looking at Padbury and Melville, as the schools there (South Padbury Primary and Melville Primary) are good according to forums. Have you been to these suburbs? Are you near any of these suburbs?
I'm rushing to get all the above done so that the son could start school on 4 Feb, together with the rest of the kids, instead of joining in at a later stage. All thanks to my earlier procrastination. *kicking myself*
Ok, I think I'll stop here as it's already a screenful of words. Take your time to digest and I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please send my regards to Jen and Baby Albany.
Thank you very much in advance for your advice, Nix!
Yours sincerely,
Stressed Up Singaporean Mom - Jane


Hi Stressed Up Singaporean Mom - J,

You gave yourself one week to look for a car, lodgings and school for your child. To be honest, the only living human I personally know who is qualified to give you relevant advice is that Singaporean Mum, M. Back then I told her she was too ambitious. I was wrong, I found out later she was absolutely insane. She was terrific of bugs, spiders and dirt yet she wasn't afraid to come to Perth with a young son tagging along and even bunked in with a complete stranger (me) for almost a week. Within her 1-2 weeks (I can't remember) "recee", M did flawlessly well. These days, I look at M differently whenever I see her. She can wail about grass or swings or lights or beds or incredulous bad service providers but I'll not be fooled. Within all that, lies a much stronger spirit than I possessed. Secretly, she's an inspiration. I'm not sure if she reads the blog anymore or if she will lend you her helping hands. If she does, you'll get a priceless boost. So we'll see.

Meanwhile I'll give you some of my thoughts on your questions. No, I'm not an expert and I'm still very new to Perth, learning something everyday. That is the reason why I am posting these up publicly - so that others could give you better information or advice than I do. That was what happened to M. So I hope you don't mind.

Rental housing -

We have real stories here of real normal Singaporeans here. There are people whom I got to know personally who had a great success in securing a lease seamlessly. My first friend in Perth, Patrick, got his in a week. Joe and Samantha, another Singaporean couple, managed to find a rental house quickly as well. So did yandao Edmund. Like us, Thusara had a nightmare and we took longer to find our respective places. 

Basically, it is a race to impress the landlord (via the real estate agent most of the time) that you are the person to choose to rent his/her property to. They are worried about 2 things:-

The ability of the tenant to pay rent and on time. The ability of the tenant to take care of their property. 

They tend to access this based on whether you have a job in Perth. The longer you hold the job, the more assuring as a potential tenant you appear. A permanent job looks better than a casual job. A previous rental reference (from the last landlord you rented from) will be a great help, as they deemed it less risky to rent it to someone who had already been crossed-checked by previous real estate agents.

You will realise by now this is a catch-22 situation. You need the chicken to get the egg. That's how things work here. Wait till you get to the part about finding jobs. The reason why I am telling you this is that you cannot expect to walk in and get them to rent a place to you. It is an even harder task if you restrict yourself to a certain suburb/s. 

The second thing that landlords look out for is the probability of the tenant taking good care of their property. Stories about tenants from hell are easily available here. Obviously you will be greatly disadvantaged at point 1 (as you do not have a job or previous reference), so play point 2 to your advantage. Dress well (hard on you in Summer, my sympathies mdm), look docile, get your child to behave like an angel during house viewing. Prepare yourself to apply with the goal to convince them you are a good tenant. Talk to the agent, tell them your story and write a convincing note in the application to remind them.

Prepare ALL your documents, make adequate copies and bring them along. Some agents will not be willing to accept applications on the spot. They'll get you to apply online. Persuade them, tell them you do not have internet access as you arrived yesterday. Show them you have full documents and ready copies and will not take long to fill the form. Always apply on the spot for those agents who allow you to.

Since you have no references or pay slips to show, the only viable thing is to show them your bank account statement. Try to transfer money in time to a local bank. That is probably the only thing you can gain their confidence. Of course, the fatter the account, the better you sound. 

Prepare at least 2 character referees with local contact numbers.  It is mandatory for any real estate agents. And they WILL CALL them. So tell your references you are using them as referees. The last thing you want is to have your references joking around with the caller about sex parties or something. Do not provide references from Singapore. Nobody will call Singapore to incur higher phone bills. So even if Lee Hsien Loong offered to be your referee, forget it.

That's all I have for you about the mainstream rental house hunting part.

Look for the owners direct. They are in free local newsletters (available in shopping malls),, quokka, local newspapers. When you meet an owner-landlord, it is a chance to tell them your plans and situation and apply your soft skills. If you have a school enrollment document by then, it'll help because a landlord will know you are a stable tenant. Every bit helps.

Word of mouth. That's another reason I am posting this. I do not know who is reading the blog. Sometimes things work out this way. It has worked before and it doesn't hurt to try again. Someone may be looking for a tenant at this point of time, or know someone who does. On your part, if you have friends in Perth, spread the word. Tell them you need a place. Sometimes non-mainstream methods work better.

The lease tends to be 6 months or 1 year here. The bond is payable only if you are selected to be the tenant, there should be a few modes of payment. To my understanding, it is possible to "break the lease" on mutual agreement, possibly without penalties if there is a comfortable notice given or if you can recommend someone interested to take over the lease. We may need to meet up with a few experience people to tell you the little details that I have left out (I'm shoddy) as soon as you land so you can go on your hunt more effectively.


I'm glad you asked. I'm not going to have a debate with anyone here. As far as I'm concerned, you NEED a car to achieve your near-impossible goal of getting all these done in the span of a week. The easiest thing to do is to rent one. Rental car is not expensive here, if you know where to look. Search this terms, "$20 a day car rental perth" and go figure. I'm going to drop formalities and tell you to drop out Singaporean choosy traits the minute you depart from Changi Airport. This isn't the time to look for your dream car. In fact, forget about looking for a car for this trip. School, lodgings, car, you don't have the time to do all three. Don't let me stop you though. Remember, that Singaporean Mum, M? She did opposite of whatever I told her and proved me wrong almost every time. The reason why I am suggesting renting for that week is to free you more time to look for what's far more important.

My idea of 'second hand cars' are generally very different from most Singaporeans' expectations. I'll tell you more about how and where to get a car in proper when I know what you are after, in detail. 

"Assuming I got a car and a rental apartment during my 1 week trip and am flying back to Singapore, in your opinion, is it safe to leave the car in the garage?"

Whether or not, you have to leave the car in the garage. That's what every Singaporean do when they return home for visits. Houses here do not generally come with secret stealth basements.

"Suburbs:- I'm looking at Padbury and Melville, as the schools there (South Padbury Primary and Melville Primary) are good according to forums. Have you been to these suburbs? Are you near any of these suburbs?"

These suburbs appeared fine to me the last time I drove across. In older suburbs like these, you can easily differentiate the 'good streets' and the bad. Generally, if you don't feel comfortable about the area of the house you are viewing, you know you don't want to rent it. You should be able to find something nice there even though it may be a bit pricey. Having said that, everyone has a their own opinion about a suburb here. If you collate all their 'absolute bad suburbs to avoid', you'll find Perth there are only three kinds of living spaces in Perth, extremely expensive, unlivable or caravan parks. Choose your poison. Put it this way, if anyone gives me the worst house in either of these suburbs, Jenny will find me smiling idiotically in my sleep for a few nights.

"I'm rushing to get all the above done so that the son could start school on 4 Feb, together with the rest of the kids, instead of joining in at a later stage. All thanks to my earlier procrastination. *kicking myself*"

Let me punch you in the face as well. Now slacker, get to work.


  1. J,

    Warning on online rental fraud.

    Please do take note.

  2. J,

    The 2 suburbs you are looking at is totally opposite directons, 1 is NOR and 1 is SOR. North of River and South of River i.e. Before you start your house rental search, you should decide which school you are sending your son to or you will be driving 1 hour 1 way.

    For a 1 week visit, just rent a service apartment or short stay place and rent a car where you can easily run your errands. Consider getting a local prepaid mobile card which is as cheap as $29 and a SIM for $2, you will then be provided a local Oz number which you can leave with landlords or local contacts. The number is valid for 45 days which you can continue to use once you are back in Singapore but those in Australia can still continue to contact you. They come with 5GB data plan and a few hundred worth of calls.

    Good luck.

  3. Hi Nix,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me. I have just emailed an agency to fix an appointment. I hope to hear from them soon. Will be bring those documents that you have indicated. Would I be able to enlist your help as a character referee?

    Hi Unknown,

    Thanks for the heads up on rental scams. I will make sure I do not transfer money online before viewing any units/houses.

    Hi Jac,

    Thanks for the heads up as well on the prepaid card and SIM card. Would you know if I could get them at the airport?

    Thanks, everyone and have a lovely time ushering in the new year.


    1. Let me know the details of your confirmed flight.

    2. Hi Nix, I just emailed you.
      Happy New Year!
      Much thanks,

  4. Hey J,

    I believed there is a Vodafone shop at the Perth International Airport's arrival hall but I never explore it, I think they do sell phones and SIM card but I usually get mine at Woolworth or Dick Smith. If you are arriving in the day time, you can head straight for a Woolie right after picking up your rental car.


    1. Thanks, Jac!

      I'll get them at the Perth International Airport as I'll be touching down in the wee hours, at 1-ish am. Will get the rental car at the Airport at the same time.

      Happy New Year!

    2. I'm sure you have a phone so you can just get a prepaid sim from airport or shops. Make sure they help you put the credit onto your number so you can start using phone after a short wait. Mine didn't work after getting from airport and the city vodafone told me i have not recharge the credit to my phone!
      Try and get a telstra line as it is well known, even appeared in the news, that they provide the best reception. If you go to the bigger telstra shops in the city, you can ask them to let you choose from the prepaid sims they have in hand. By the way, any number you get can later be transferred between telcos if you need to.

  5. Let me add my 2 cents. I am one of those guys Nix mentioned about in his post above.

    Since many have discussed the housing rentals, let me talk about the schools. Firstly, do not worry overmuch about catching the 1st day of school. The schools here are incredibly flexible. So starting a week or month later will not harm your kid's ability to fit in or catch up. Esp since your kid is fm SG, should be easily able to adapt to the work here. Primary school here is generally play and activities. My son only enrolled in the 3rd term of Year 4 last year after missing more than 8 months of school due to our long migration transition process, but he achieved a great report from his new school in Perth at the end of the year. Most important is that your kid should be outgoing and try to be friendly with others to fit in.

    As long as you live in the suburb of your choosing, the school within that suburb WILL take you in. Most of the govt schools here are pretty ok. Don't fall into the kiasu Singaporean trap of looking for the best schools, etc. I know many kiasu Singaporeans who try and kill themselves to get a house near Rossmoyne Pri to enroll their kids into that. Most schools here have a good rounded education - so don't worry overmuch about which school.

    The house where you stay is the more crucial. How much can you afford to pay a week? Your rental home can be pretty much determined by your budget. If your budget is less than $400 a week, you'll be fighting with most of the other migrants and rental hopefuls to secure a house. Don't be surprised if there are another 20-30 people at the viewing to secure the same house. It would be much easier if your budget is higher.

    That's it for now. Let me know if you need more info.

    1. Hi sgtshirts,

      Thank you for the assuring advice regarding schools. It is indeed mentally straining to get the boy to start Term 1 in Feb, when the rental is not even secured. I am moderating my expectations each day, accommodation-wise, education and the likes. The kiasu DNA is well and alive back here, where the journey to primary 1 is the start of an academic race, which doesn't stop till your kid reaches university.

      Ah, sorry I have to stop here. Will continue later as I need to prepare the boy to visit some relatives now.


    2. Hi there, im back. The boy is asleep and i finally have time to continue my search online. Looks like im going to miss a viewing at padbury as ill be landing much later in the day. The surrounding areas seem expensive. Melville has some units which go slightly above my budget. Im going to ask for an appointment to view. I hope i will see light at the end of this tunnel soon.

      Goodnight all,

    3. Hi sgtshirts and nix, did you guys have the luxury of viewing more than 1 unit/house back then while searching for accommodation? Did you enlist the help of tenant's agents or did you DIY? Fees payable to tenant's agents are something along the lines of 1month comm for 1 year lease? Please correct me if im wrong. Thanks...

      Insomnia J

    4. Hi J
      Not sure about tenants agents - I did most of my searching using and

      My budget was not too high at the time, as I was still looking for a job, so did not want to spend too much on rental at the beginning.

      My considerations include having at least 2 bedrooms (my wife and I in 1, and my 2 kids in the other).

      At first, a good school for my son was a great concern - so I was selective about suburbs. But after spending nearly a month unsuccessfully trying to secure a home, I decided to open my search to ANY suburb.

      As I mentioned before, the budget plays an important part - anything less than $400 a week will see hordes of other prospective renters vying for the same place. So, without good references, a stable job and money in the bank - it's a losing fight.

      The other issue is that most agents will schedule their viewings at about the same time each day - about 4pm to 5pm, when most people just get off work and are able to attend a viewing.

      A viewing will last between 15mins to 1/2hr - so your window of opportunity is very, very small. Miss that time and you miss the house. You CANNOT rent unless you have viewed the property. So, this effectively means that you may not be able to easily get from 1 viewing to another in the same day. Thus, your options are reduced due to this time factor.

      Some agents require you put down a week's rent as a deposit to show your genuine intent to rent. If you manage to secure the place, this deposit counts as the 1st week's rent. But if you are not successful, then they return you the money. The problem with this is - if you attend multiple viewings, how much deposits can you afford to place? Also - if you are successful (perhaps you manage to be successful in 2 or more rentals) but opt out of renting, then you lose the deposit.

      Sounds bleak, right? Sadly, the rental market in Perth is very much so. The few major tips that can help you in your situation:
      1. budget higher than $400 a week, if possible
      2. do not be too particular about the suburb, at least until you secure your first rental home (you can always move later).
      3. try and go for viewings which are scheduled during lunch time or earlier - since most people would be working during the day, this may mean less competition for the property.

      Hope the above info is helpful. If you need to contact me directly - ask Nix to email you my contact info.

    5. sgtshirts: I am not sure who you are, I don't want to give the wrong contact to J so maybe you can give me a hint if I know you.

      J. The maximum number of houses we viewed in a day is 3, across 2-3 suburbs (which makes the possibility of arranging it in such a way higher).

      The landlord will be paying the real estate agent's fee. Normally we'll be paying 1 month's bond + 1 week of rental to get started. sgtshirts has basically said it all in detail. I'll like to add that not all agents or landlord expect a deposit on expression of interest to rent. So it depends, just remember this.

    6. Hi sgtshirts and Nix, thanks for the valuable advice. The agents I've emailed from Sg haven't replied, so I'm just going to widen my search to other suburbs SOR. Beggars can't be choosers. Are you guys in NOR or SOR? Yes, sgtshirts, it'll definitely be a great boost to have your contact. That is, if both you and Nix have established contacts. :)

    7. There is no big hangup about living NOR or SOR. Property in NOR is generally perceived more expensive than SOR. But there are less costly options as well. It's a matter of googling for them on

      Nix is staying SOR for the present and I am NOR. The only problem I see is that we have to take a circulatory route to cross Swan River whenever we visit each other.

      I think having a car is very important when living in Perth. That should be one of 1st priorities when you are here. is a good place to find budget cars. I bought both mine from that. $2000 and $1000, respectively. But you need a bit of luck and legwork to land a generally reliable car. For the 1st car - go for reliability and economy. Save your cash on hand for more important things. You can always buy a bigger and better car later. Even though dealers may offer some perceived guarantee - that is only for newer cars still within their 3-5 initial warranty period. But new cars can cost close to 7-10k or more. That is cash up front, as you may not qualify for loans yet.

    8. sgtshirts is spot on on in so many aspects. I also used initially. Stepped into a estate agent shop and they asked me to look at :) I stayed in a service apartment initially and, with a lot of luck i think, secured the rental unit in about 10 days. I think sgtshirts is correct. Competition is hottest in the median market around $300 to $400. The apartments in my building are often changing hands and i see many people viewing each time.
      Bigger homes above $450 appears to be more available.
      I rented a car a couple of times initially, each time for a week. Bayswater rental do one-week specials on a Corolla hatch which is quite reasonable and they are near the city.
      Definitely rent a car for house hunting. I tried taking the bus and had a very good workout but struggled to see many houses.
      Then i rented for another week to do the shopping and furnishing(my place was unfurnished).
      I live near the city and airport. Nix has my contacts if you need any help.
      All the best and i look forward to seeing you in Perth :)

  6. Ah, ok. Thanks for the info!

  7. If Melville is too expensive or hasn't got any rentals, look in other close suburbs for school zone like Myaree and Alfred Cove which are just as safe, convenient, friendly, suburban as Melville.

  8. If you intend to send your kid to public school, go for the independent public schools. These are the so-called government schools which are given the financial autonomy to hire/fire the teachers. Thus, maintaining and achieving higher education standards than the normal public schools.

    Those KS Singaporean parents who sent their kids to Rossmoyne Primary is because of the lure of natural progression to Rossmoyne High School and Mandarin is offered in the language curriculum. Another popular public school in NOR is Churchlands Primary. Depending on what you would like to offer to your child, some schools have excellent music programs.

    Frankly, if you are planning on sending your child to either Padbury or Melville doesn't matter which suburb school you would like him to attend. You have many selections. It is when you are selective about the quality of schools, then you would need to limit yourself to a handful of suburbs.