A Letter From J*Y*

Hi Nix,

Thank you for sharing your deep thoughts about migrating to Australia.
I appreciate your unreserved perspectives and genuine opinions that you have kindly offered to many people who needed your advice.
I enjoy reading your posts and some key takeaways are still resonating in my head. Kept me thinking and rethinking my options.

I wish to seek your advice, whether or not it will liberate me from the resonance of voices at the crossroads.

1. Here's my story.
I am in my mid thirties, a public officer working for less than 3 years in a distinguished statutory board.
I don't see a career, just a stable job that feeds me until I am due to retire at 55 (or I can continue to work until 62 with a pay reduction under the re-employment scheme), unless policy changes in future, which is expected anyway.
This job is stable, thus offers me secure income to finance my humble 4-room HDB in Singapore northeast.
Prior to this, I have worked for private companies, where job insecurity led me to seek my options - to migrate or to work for the government?
In the end, I chose to work for the government, while I plan my migration. This is one shot kills two birds.

2. Why am I in my mid-thirties?
I led a typical bookworm life just like many Singaporean peers, though I am not bookworm by nature and I enjoy my favourite sports and MMORPG gaming. I know you played Guildwar2. May I offer you to try Rappelz?
All I knew was to study hard, get a good honours degree and get a decent job.
Graduating from a top 10 UK university didn't satisfy my appetite and I took a bond-free scholarship to do my master's at a top Scandinavian institute.
Eventually, I landed on my first job assignment with the government at a D* lab. Later I sprang into private sector to gain exposure.
After I got married, I went back in government because I realised I am no longer a lone wolf trekking in the wild. Unlike before, it is not about me anymore because I got a family to anchor my heart.
I ran a big circle, don't you think?
Well... At least I learnt many things. Nothing is free. We got to stay hungry to motivate ourselves to earn it, fight for it if we must, and share it with our family and friends. There is no hero, only a team working together to tame, if not kill, the nasty beast out there.

3. VISA not used, when I should?
I was granted VISA 175 in August 2011. I am perhaps the last batch of migrants who got this 5-year VISA that permits me to work in any AU state.
As I was waiting for my new BTO flat (just got my keys in 2012) and saving up for rainy days, I delayed until today and still hovering at the crossroads.

4. A deadly disease that crept in...
Later I knew I got a tumour that crept in without me noticing it consciously. It's called Complacency. To some, this is "so what?" To me, it is a deadly disease because I like to work hard and relax to enjoy my fruits from the harvest.
I knew my goal is to save up more, while waiting to collect my keys for my new BTO flat and settle whatever tail-ends that it come with (e.g. some minor installations and renovations).
As part of my plan to keep my finance in scrutiny, I balloted this flat at a very affordable price (<$300k) for a very high floor, a good view and good Fengshui (far from the communal hall, where "dong dong chiang" is usually carried out; situated between two fitness areas and children's playground). At night, I don't need to turn on air-con.
Even my contractor told me my unit is the best in this estate.
That's when complacency crept in...
Stable job, decent house... Why go Australia?

5. What are my goals to migrate to Australia?
I first stepped foot in Australia in 2003 Nov and it was Perth. It was an enjoyable family vacation and I fell in love for Perth.
Back then, in my mind, I knew I love this place, but I have other agenda from building up my career and finding my soulmate etc.
The most discouraging reason was a @#$%^ secondary school classmate who belittled me saying I do not hold an Australian degree, thus that really held me back for some years.
Until 2007, an ex-colleague who studied in Australia told me there is something called Washington Accord that recognises British qualifications.
And he successfully migrated to Brisbane in 2008.
That rekindled my flame for Australia once more. My hunger unleashed again.
Since 2008, I planned my expeditions to Sydney and Brisbane.
The conclusion is I still prefer Perth because of one and only reason - the space that Sydney and Brisbane do not have as much.
Also, the houses in Perth are nicer and the city is also cleaner.
For job, maybe Sydney has a larger job market.
I got a good friend who offers me really affordable rent way below market rate in Sydney. That was really tempting.
Maybe I was born in Singapore, where space is worth more than gold.
Although I don't suffer from claustrophobia, Singapore is getting very crowded day by day, and so is the air quality getting poorer.
That's how space and clean air have become priceless to me.
My heart is longing for Perth.
But my mind tells me to go Sydney.
I am dire for Australia... I know...

6. My wife's position and support
My wife is a no-nonsense person and she said, "just go anywhere in Australia." That statement bewildered me.
She explained. Singapore is so small, everything also must import. Things today is cheap, tomorrow it gets more and more expensive, can sustain?
Now you don't have car. Forever you will never get to own a car of your dream because government will only make it more expensive.
Even if you get a car, must pay COE for 10 years only, then must pay road tax, ERP, season parking, top up cashcard, pay this and pay that. Pay and pay, you shiok?
We buy HDB here can buy landed there, you feel shiok to pay for what you want in Australia or Singapore?
Yes, some things are expensive there, taxes are also higher, but there are 22 million Australians paying taxes, here only 5.2 million Singaporeans paying tax, why worry?
Singapore is an island-state, nowhere to run, jump sea?
Australia so big, if you don't like Sydney or any city, you can move to another city. Worst case, Australia citizen can work in NZ. At least got secondary option, right?
Singapore only allows one passport. Australia allows multiple passports, won't this be better for our children and our children's children?
After my wife did her an Armageddon reasoning, she strengthens my will once more to migrate.
If my grandfather can come from South China to Malaysia, and my father can come from Malaysia to Singapore, maybe it is in my bloodline to continue this destiny.

Nix, I like to hear from you and I need your 2nd opinion being a fellow Singaporean who has migrated to fine-tune my expectations and identify pitfalls that I may not have already known.

Thanks and warmest regards,

P.S. If you find any names, terms, words that are sensitive, you may remove them or replace it with a code :)


Dear Mr Y*,

1.   It is a common practice of asingaporeanson.blogspot.com to reply emails starting with 'Hi bro!' to reflect the casual environment we created as our vision.  However, we are responding to your email in formally as a mark of respect to an email drafted in stat-board format.

Alright, cut this crap...let's get to business.

As an ex-employee of the National Parks Board (NParks) in 2007, I annoyed a couple of my ex-colleagues in my department on regular basis during our lunch debates on various government policies and their effects on Singaporeans' future. Back then, I lost every single debate because the only justification I had was the crystal ball in my hands. While my ex-colleagues licked up meaningless triumphs, they would be begging me for a glance in that same crystal ball today if they met me on the streets. But they knew they wouldn't because we would be walking on streets separated by an ocean and a straits.

Six years had passed since then. Today, it is your turn to share what is the vision of Singapore in 5-6 years time in YOUR crystal ball?

2.   Thank you for your offer. I will be sticking to GuildWars2 for a while because of my childhood friend, who plays and communicates with me via the game. Perhaps one day we will meet in another game when we are done with GW2.

Brother, do not mourn for lost time. I too, did the same and found it meaningless to do so. Take the chance to remind yourself that you would not want to experience a deja vu upon yourself for the next three decades. Your future still remain in your hands and you get to choose the paths to take at this crossroad.

3.    You were granted the Permanent Resident Visa (Subclass 175) in 2011. Why did you apply for that in the first place? Because you have a spendthrift wife who will spent every cent in your bank and you felt that was a wiser way to spend your $3,000? Did you apply for the PR by mistaking that for a French culinary course? Definitely not, brother. Give yourself a quiet hour and to explore the depths of your mind and bring yourself back in time to find out your rationale. You need to know that because that answers your next dilemma.

4.    Do not assume complacency had consumed you. Having a good, stable job, a well picked shelter bought at a more manageable price in earlier times are proper reasons NOT to leave. Bear in mind, Singapore is by no means a bad place to live and work in. In fact, given the legions of foreigners willing to bust a gut to take your place on the island, we have to even agree Singapore is still one of the best places in the world to hang around today. For now, at least. Why go Australia? That was the best and the most important question you asked. Only you can provide the answer and if you are truthful to yourself, you will know what to do. Never be affected by the opinions of the others. If you need to go, go. If you need to stay, rip up Subclass 175, forget about the whole thing and do your best for your future in Singapore.

5.     Till date, I had never imposed my opinion on the others where it comes to which Australian state to move to. There are two reasons. 1) I don't want to impose my opinion on the others. 2) I don't want anyone to come to Perth at all, for my personal selfish reasons. So please do me a favour and FO to the East. Just kidding brother. For my crudeness, I will make up to you by making an exception to share little opinion. I will have nothing to say if someone were to tell me they are moving to Adelaide because they love festivals, arts and culture. Tasmania for the beauty of the land. Melbourne for its vibrancy.

Sydney for jobs? Wtf? Can a Singaporean ever stop thinking about work? Migration is one of the biggest decision you will make in your life and all you are thinking is work? Come on bro, loosen up. Stat board life is the disease you are suffering from now, not complacency.

Put it this way. A man only needs 1 full time job. Well, perhaps you have plans to juggle 2-3 jobs when you move to Sydney that I wasn't aware about. Else, a job is a job. Why is the rationale of moving to a place because it has a larger job market? Bear in mind, in a larger job market, there is an equally large workforce competing with you for jobs. Is there really a difference in chances in a smaller, less competitive market? Let's put it in another perspective. If a Singaporean man is looking for a mail bride order, does he choose China over Vietnam as his hunting source because there are obviously more women in China? He doesn't. The traits of his bride will always be the number one priority. That is how odd it sounds to me when someone tells me they are moving to whichever place because of the assumed large job market.

A good friend who is willing to offer cheap accommodation sounds so much better to me. I was impressed with that good friend - not the cheap accommodation, in case you got it wrong. A friend in need is a friend indeed. A place with a ready-made friend to sit down for coffee and chat during free time. Does it makes sense to venture to other strange places over this? Sydney you must go, brother.

Air. Now we are talking.... Keep going my friend. You are getting closer. Good luck and do drop me a note or two to update me your own incredible adventure.

6.     Your wife's mentality reminded me of my own. We have to congratulate ourselves for marrying wives with great motivation skills. If there is something I thought may be useful to you, it may be this tip. I came to Perth believing in what my wife told me. It was very similar to what you wife said. When we touched down and I asked, "What now?", my wife said something like, "I don't know, I'm pregnant." It was then I - and you, in the future should you move, got to understand quickly that we have to find our strength within ourselves and not from external sources, even from someone as close as your next-of-kin.

If our forefathers could do it, why couldn't we? If the Bangalahs can survive the exploitation from their Singapore employers, why can't we do the same elsewhere? After all we are Singaporean sons, right? Wrong. Many of our forefathers worked as coolies and had to juggle rice sacks while balancing themselves on narrow Chengal planks. Take a tour around one of our foreign workers' dormitory at Yishun Ave 7 or Jalan Murai and have a look at their living conditions. Are you willing to go through similar conditions at worst case to continue the migration destiny in your bloodline? Bear in mind of the items hanging on the other side of the balance. High rise beautiful HDB flat in Punggol/Seng Kang, a comfortable job which you can hang on to till retirement, a familiar home with good friends to hang out with and fireworks to watch every August. 

So what do you think?




  1. Jesus fucking christ.

    I'm always flabbergasted when people say they find Singapore crowded and in the next sentence what do they say? They want to move to fucking Sydney.

    Here's a tip mate. Try Canberra. It's nice and clean, like Singapore. The roads are wide and organised, like Singapore. And CSIRO is based there, so there might be job opportunities.

    But I wonder if you can handle the cold during winter?


  2. I don't know how you do it Nix. You are much more polite and have more patience than me, for sure.

    You must get tons of emails asking you how ah, why ah, when ah, etc.

    It's alright when they know what they want and have done their research, but those probably account for 5%.

    The other 95% will drive me up the wall.

    Which is probably why I don't blog about my experiences, even though it'll be pretty useful for those thinking about it, making plans, etc.

  3. Last weekend, I chat with a Hong Konger HK1 who migrated to Canada pre-1997 handover.

    Back in the pre-1997 days, his Hong Konger friend HK2 applied and obtained Singapore PR, but did not move to Singapore. Years later in mid-2000's, HK2 applied to emigrate to Canada, but probably dallied on sending in his supporting documentation (based on what HK1 shared about HK2). Now in 2013, Canada's CIC suddenly changed its rules and terminated all outstanding PR applications, and drew up new lists of 24 wanted skills for immigration. HK2's application was cancelled as a result and his occupation no longer qualifies for immigration to Canada as a skilled worker.

    HK1 puts it as “ 注定的。” ["It's fated."] IMHO, HK2 has to take at least some personal responsibility for he had chosen to delay his actions (possibly not ready to handle the risks of migrating to new environment) which results in him having to accept the risks associated with staying in his existing environment.

    That said, at the end of the day, migration is a deeply personal choice. We make choices and we live with it. Note: Even deciding "not to make a choice" is making a choice of "letting life happens".

  4. Oops, to clarify, "terminated all outstanding PR applications" refers to the outstanding PR applications for the Federal Skilled Workers visa pre-2013 rule changes.

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  6. I have actually shared something, if only you knew how to read between the lines.

    Chee bye kias like myself are aplenty in cyberspace. We don't STFU just because people don't like us pointing out that they don't know what they want in life.

    STFU because you don't like something you read? That sounds suspiciously like the recent Media Development Authority's regulation eh?

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