What Should I Expect?

You do not need to read flowery accolade about Australia from a tourism board website. You do not want to hear 'life is great' accounts by your Singaporean friends who, you suspect, glorify just about anything to justify their decisions to move to Australia. What you need is an honest post to tell you the things as they are. I wrote this because I wished somebody did when I was searching. You would be surprised to know how little literature there was in the seemingly unlimited vault of the Internet. Like you, I searched because I wanted to better mentally prepared if I could have a glimpse of what to expect here. You might have noticed I could never stress often enough throughout the blog how mentally tough one must be to overcome the odds of a new migrant in Australia. And preparation is the process of toughening up the mind.

Most of the Singaporeans I met in Perth knew somebody here before they moved. I didn't know a single soul I could depend on back then. If something happened to my pregnant wife, I wouldn't know where to look for help, who to cry to and what do do. On hindsight, that was such a chilling thought. We were fortunate that things turned out alright in the earlier days and somehow fate brought us a small group of reliable friends that we could trust.

Don't get me wrong. The message I was trying to convey was not to be as prepared as boy scouts with contingencies for every little detail. In fact people who expect a well paying cushy job and a clean house with a hot bath tub filled with scented flowers all waiting for them before they decide it is a good idea to migrate irks me more than anything. No one, be it your friends, migration agent or even God, can or will guarantee you absolute security for a move. For even if you receive an expat package bundled with a filled hot tub with scented flower, and a blonde leggy babe waiting to serve you grapes straight from the Swan Valley, you can die in a car accident the moment you turn left to Tomkin Highway. With so many different people I've met with their own unique stories, I came to learn that the level of preparation is not relevant to how things will turn out.

I came to Perth with the mentality that everything was going to turn out fine at the end, somehow - though I didn't know how. I didn't have a job and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I would be contented to do anything to get by. Washing cars, stacking stock on supermarket shelves, picking fruits, whatever that could help bring back the bacon. So it was natural for me to pick up an unusual job for a Singaporean as a trade assistant in a steel fabrication factory. Boy it was the toughest time of my life, dwarfing National Service by a mile. I didn't expect two eye surgeries and a burn that left a permanent scar on my thigh as memento. Still, things didn't turn out too bad for me in the end, to date at least.

My apologies for bringing up old memories. I didn't mean to sound like a broken record. But the more new people I met, the more I realised people have different definition of the word 'anything'. In Singapore, it was universally accepted that 'anything' means 'chin chye'. So when I had someone wasn't eligible by conventional methods and claimed he would do anything to get here, I thought he wouldn't mind taking up a Cert III in Aged Care and punt on a reasonable chance to find sponsored employment upon graduation. But no, because "I cannot see myself working in that profession." I was dead wrong about Singaporeans defining 'anything' the same way as I did. Due to adequate conditioning, I had became apprehensive when I was told anywhere, any job, any house or any car. I realised even when someone tells me 'any girl' it could very well mean a buxom leggy blonde drizzling Manuka honey on her luscious body. So it is beyond me why will anyone already with something in the mind bother to ask for an opinion.

The formula about what to expect is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think there is no job, you won't find a one. If you want only a IT Project Manager job, you find one eventually even though everyone else tells you there isn't a possibility. You'll survive a lot better with plenty of common sense and realism. To find a $100k job will be of a much higher level of difficulty and require more time, tenacity and luck as compare to a job on minimum wage. A house which is of a good location, mint condition, good size and low price - doesn't exist. You'll be surprised to know how many people I've met who seemed totally out of touch with reality to me. Or perhaps they didn't even know what they really wanted. 

So manage your expectations carefully. If you think you are stepping into a racist country, you will receive racism. If the mind habours doubts, it will breed regrets. Happiness will seek you if you always remember the balance between expectations, reality and compromise. Instead of expectations, come with an open mind to learn and most importantly, enjoy the audacity of your adventure being the 1% of the Singapore population who walked the path before you. 


  1. Agree with most of what you wrote.

    Australia is a second chance country. You want to start afresh then this is the best place to start. The only person that stops you from doing what you set out to do is ultimately yourself.

    Don't have the right qualification? Plenty of open universities or TAFE or traditional universities to sign up to.

    The dole payment is way way more generous than the US who like to sell itself as the shining example freedom and democracy but treat the poor and unemployed far worse than other OECD countries.

    Aussie will do alot more to look after the elderly much more than SG or HK. Like I said before I work in the Healthcare in Australia and I met doctors from HK (where old Chinese ways and confucious custom are more entrenched than SG) who said that the Australians actually look after their old parents much more than Hong Kongers (no one from HK call themselves Honkkies) and they are actually a bit embarrassed at the difference.

    Sure, it will not happen overnight but it can happen if you want it to. Plenty of former labourers/ brickies become famous Hollywood actors, famous lawyers and doctors who were blue-collar works or from other professions like teachers.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.