Questions About Having a Second Go in Australia

Dear Singaporean Son,

Chanced upon your blog and was amazed by the similarity in experiences. My husband and I went over to Melbourne in July 13 but have since returned to Singapore for the following reasons:

1. Employment- my husband got a job within two months, but this was a significant downgrade from his previous managerial post. In addition, I couldn't find a job despite applying for hundreds. (Presumably, they didn't recognise my Singaporean undergrad degree)

2. Health - I suffer from sever dry eye after LASIK surgery and found the dryness in Melbourne unbearable. The cutting winds during winter especially gave my eyes much grief.

Despite these, our short stint in Melbourne was heaven and we are still hoping for the chance to go back before our visa expires. Your story resonates with us and we were hoping for your inputs on the following questions:

1. Do you know anyone who's employed in an Australian firm without an Australian degree?

- wouldn't it be better to wait till say 45 years and move over to retire instead of work?

2. How's the weather like in Perth? Is it pretty close in terms of humidity and temperature to Singapore? How bout other states? Can one get used to the dryness after some time? (Am asking this as a sufferer of dry eye)

3. Citizenship- would it be better for our child (male/female) to be an Australian or Singaporean citizen?

Did your wife enjoy the maternity leave, baby bonus etc?

Appreciate any advice. Thanks and god bless!

Additional questions in another email:

Btw, just noted that your wife had an accounting degree and used to work in audit (which is similar to my case except I have a local Singaporean degree and CPA singapore).

Did she manage to secure an accounting role in Perth based on CPA Australia + an Australian degree? If so, would it be advisable for me to obtain australian accounting qualifications?

Thanks and sorry to bother you with so many questions!



Hi Charm,

1a. Do you know anyone who's employed in an Australian firm without an Australian degree?

Yes, that would be me.

1b. Wouldn't it be better to wait till say 45 years and move over to retire instead of work?

That depends on how you define retirement and what do you mean when you say "better". Since you have been to both sides, you should have a clear answer to that. If you are confused I can help you with organising your thoughts but the answer eventually lies within thyself.

There are two components, work and retirement. If you are able to retire at 45 years old and come to Australia for retirement and not work a day more, I must congratulate you for a financial planning well done. In such a situation, you should have enough money to retire in Singapore as well. Other than a bout of haze every now and then, Singapore retirement living should be relatively comfortable. I don't see any significant differences Australia can offer you unless you have a thing for sparse land like me.

As for work, if you enjoy the working conditions in Singapore, I'll agree with you it is perhaps a better idea for you to stay put in Singapore and continue working instead of going through the hassle of finding work in Australia. Come over for a cup of coffee when you are 45 then. Oh wait - you're aware that our PR visas have an expiry date and there is a minimum er.... occupancy period we need to fulfill to extend the visa. Assuming you are close to my age, there are a few good cycles to fulfill before you can finally come over for retirement. Unfortunately, the only person I know who attempts to defer her migration does it by servicing her "MOP" by using up all her AL and off days visiting Australia. That is barely enough so she may have to take a bit of no-pay leave to top it up at the end.  I do not have any suggestions how to do this better. I think the immigration designed this so that they can grant visas to people who wanted to come to Australia now and not later. I'll leave you to make your decision. Worse comes, there is always investor visa to consider, for retirement.

2. How's the weather like in Perth? Is it pretty close in terms of humidity and temperature to Singapore? How bout other states? Can one get used to the dryness after some time? (Am asking this as a sufferer of dry eye)

I have not visited any other states than Perth. Perth is definitely dryer than Singapore but it can be annoyingly humid (though not as bad as Singapore) during Summer. I'll pretty sure your eyes will be comfortable during Summer but I cannot guarantee you that for the rest of the year. How about wearing a nice pair of goggles? It sucks being seen as a hipster but it's better than going blind. Yes - one can get used to the dryness after some time, if I may use my skin as a gauge. If you care to flip through some very old pages of this book, (sorry I can't remember which post) you'll find that I had cracks in my skin on my legs such that I bleed slightly from it. I don't experience that anymore. Since the weather didn't change that much through the season cycles, I am assuming I have, using a word some Singaporeans like to use here, "climatised." I also know some friends who had difficulty adjusting to the weather here (breathing and other what nots) but have since adjusted.

3a. Citizenship- would it be better for our child (male/female) to be an Australian or Singaporean citizen?

I don't know. I guess it depends on where you decide to be.

3b. Did your wife enjoy the maternity leave, baby bonus etc?

She didn't because she is presently a stay-at-home mum until my daughter goes to kindergarten. There was a baby bonus and some on-going family tax benefits. Read up more on family tax benefits if you are interested.

4. Btw, just noted that your wife had an accounting degree and used to work in audit (which is similar to my case except I have a local Singaporean degree and CPA singapore). Did she manage to secure an accounting role in Perth based on CPA Australia + an Australian degree? If so, would it be advisable for me to obtain australian accounting qualifications?

My wife is a stay-at-home mum and she hasn't work since our arrival. It will be helpful to get Australia accounting qualifications but I will strongly advise doing it locally.

Since the both of you are not new to Australia, having moved here once and even landing a job, I think you will know what you are getting into if you choose to revisit again so I will not elaborate much. You should be encouraged by the fact your husband got a job within the first 2 months. That meant he was employable and he had the essentially skills to get through an interview process here. There is no stopping him from trying for a better job with a higher position since he seems to have the calibre. Excuse me for being blunt, but do drop the "high and mighty" mentality that typical Singaporeans hold and change the way we look at jobs. In Australia, we have to hold the dump truck driver next door with high regards if he earned it. It isn't about his higher-than-the-Singaporean-norm salary, type of work or what cars he drives. It is about how be behaves towards the people around him. If you are about to break through this mental barrier, you will not see an "upgrade" or "downgrade" in any jobs offered to either of you. If I had mistaken, I apologise. You might be referring to his salary instead. Yet again, you will have to fight your way up and earn it. There is money in the market and it is not unattainable for migrants but nobody is going to serve it to you at the waiting table. You will have to decide if you have the humility to start all over again.


  1. "Citizenship- would it be better for our child (male/female) to be an Australian or Singaporean citizen?"

    Why don't you leave it for your child to decide?

    As a healthcare professional I would strongly suggest Ms Charm to remain in Singapore, or find another country along the equator, as everywhere else north and south of the equator will be too dry (or have dry seasons).

    Also, as asingaporeanson has pointed out, she is not mentally ready.

    Just because other people drive a golden Merc, doesn't mean you have to drive one. Just because other people are moving out of the country, doesn't mean you have to follow.

    We could all be wrong, and Singaporeans could have the last laugh.

    1. They can always try Darwin or North Queensland (Townsville or Cairns)

    2. But it's flat and boring. ;)

    3. This Singaporean is laughing at the way at the moment, who cares whoever gets the last laugh?

    4. CK

      Darwin is flat and can be boring. Townsville and Cairns definitely not flat, but can be boring

    5. Yes, I've been to Darwin.

      The point is I suppose if Charm can't find a job in Melbourne, then the chances of finding one in Darwin or Townsville or Cairns might be even smaller.

    6. Obviously tassie is out of question. Too dry, too cold, and jobs that r not to her standard. Dearest Charm, stay in sg until you are ready to let go of sg comforts.

  2. The weather in perth can be daunting during the summer season. If weather means a lot to you, it is better that you stay in singapore.

  3. There are pros and cons with staying in any country. We have to weigh both the pros and cons and see if the push factor for us to live in another country is sufficient to make us move. In Singapore, I only get to sleep 6 hours a day due to 10 to 12 hours of work daily + 2 hours of commute. Here, I sleep 8 to 9 hours. Push factor anyone?

    Overseas sinkie

  4. May be she might want to try Darwin, its weather should be hot and humid just like Singapore since it is very near to Indonesia but not too sure about jobs there.

  5. Employment: Congratulations to your husband for having the skill-set and job-search skills to land him a job related to his previous work experience within 2 months. Here in Metro Vancouver, I've met immigrants who still have trouble finding jobs related to their previous work experience despite being in Canada long enough to gain citizenship! To them, your husband is like an Olympic gold medalist in the "sport" of immigration job search.

    Health: I hardly ever experience "dry eyes" until living in Canada. Here, my dry eyes make wearing contact lens over full-time work-hours (e.g. 8 hours) difficult/uncomfortable. My lens have even popped out of my eyes on their own accord a few times. Workaround: Always carry lubricating eye-drops. Since landing in Canada, I never jog for leisure. The dry air and my history of asthma puts me into very bad panting mode even if I was merely jog/sprint for a short distance (say less than 20metres) to catch a bus. Workaround: I plan my life such that I avoid having to run. That said, my friends have managed to get me up on mountain hikes with fabulous views here.

    > 3a. Citizenship- would it be better for our child (male/female) to be an Australian or Singaporean citizen?

    To put citizenship into perspective:
    1. How easy/difficult is it for an Australian to become a Singaporean PR/citizen?
    2. How easy/difficult is it for a Singaporean to become an Australian PR/citizen?
    3. For the male off-springs: What is the cost of 2 years of NS plus cycles of reservist recalls to your son's career if he stays in Singapore? Enough said.

    I've met PRCs who migrate to Canada only to beat a hasty retreat to China. Some of these return for a 2nd attempt at adjusting to their host country. My observation is that those who beat a hasty retreat tend to have the "comparison attitude" -- i.e. always comparing life back home vs adjustment period of life in new host country. My deduction is that, for them, migration is an option, not a MUST, and thus that attitude reduces their flexibility in adapting to their new norms, which in turns reduces their chance of successfully settling into their host country.

    There's no right or wrong. Migration is a very personal choice. Not everyone is cut-out for migration.

  6. Hi,
    When I came to Melboune in late 80s I landed a job paying 1/3 of what I was earning in S'pore.
    I eventually move to a better job paying better money. Now retired.
    Took us nearly 7 years to settle down. We renounced our S'pore citizenship after 2 years and never look back.
    Please do not come here, if you are looking for a WIN. No apology for saying that.
    You have to take the good with the bad. There is no heaven in this world.
    Emigration is a completely new lesson with trials and tribulations.
    There are no schools which will train you for this "adventure".
    Not everyone succeed and end up living blissfully thereafter.
    Be aware, retirement benefits are deteriorating, it will get worse. Like S'pore, AUS gov is also raising retirement pension age.

  7. Hi,

    My husband and I are living in Mel. My hubby got his current job after 6 months and that was thru him going for meet ups.. It was an intimidating experience for him but he said he had learnt so much in these 6 months. My Hubby is not a degree holder or whatsoever.. His current job pays him the same as what he was getting in Sg. He is very very happy with his job and working environment though has to travel about an hr every morning. We are grateful for what we have here in Mel, everyone has got better things to do than compare what car you drive and all those branded stuff... Well i reckon its what you want in life, you can't have your cake and eat it all.

    1. Joey,
      Spot on ! In AUS "Networking" and ability to articulate is far more important than paper qualifications.
      All those who are here for a "WIN" maybe disappointed. You have to take good and bad.
      Winking Doll,
      You are also spot on. If I can take you out of S'pore but cannot take the S'pore out of you, life maybe miserable. Cultures are very varied and norms are different in a foreign land. If you do not quickly blend in you will stand out like a sore thumb. Your young children will blend in very, very quickly.

  8. Life overseas is not for every Singaporean.

    Unlike Singapore, things are less structured (or more flexible) with certain things are less strict (or people given the benefit of the doubt) as well as slower paced (or less stressful), more freedom (or less control) and more spacious (or less civilised).

    In fact a great comparison for a Chinese Singaporean is almost like leaving Singapore to live in Malaysia! (Sorry Melayu readers, it is unfair but it is a close equivalent to the Cina readers here)

    Much bigger space

    Sometime a bit havoc

    Sometime dodgy

    Politicians are less smart, can be shooting their mouth off and spend more time scoring points than doing work (more than Singapore politicians who also spend a lot of time scoring points but less the Oz/My)

    Majority population controlling government (and you don't belong to them). Civil servants are not very smart.

    Like My, in some parts of Oz, you are 'tolerated' as temporary stayers (even though you have been in Australia longer than in Singapore)

    People have different priorities in life other than the 4Cs of Singapore pursuit (or is it 6Cs now?)

    If anyone think they can come to any country and step into a job are the same level or higher than their home country, I advise them to get the job then migrate. Most of us real Singaporeans (not CEOs or some high flyers) accept that you have to prove yourself to be as good as you claim to be and can adapt to Australian working environment.

    If that is unacceptable to any of you, be prepared to be disappointed when you come over.

  9. BTW, while I am not an accountant, I have first and second degree relatives who are accountants in Malaysia Singapore and Oz, more than my fingers, though it still does not qualify me to say the following:

    If I am an employer in Australia, with one of the most complicated tax system in the world and ever changing all the time, I will find it strange to have an applicant for an finance related position to send in their CV with qualifications solely fom overseas, including CPA, particularly when the applicant is currently in Australia.

    Furthermore the mutual recognition for CPA Australia and ISCA (which I assume you are a member of since you say you are CPA Singapore) is relatively easy and straight forward unless you did not do the ISCA program itself and only became a ISCA member by mutual agreement with another pathway. This also assume you are a full graduate of a recognised Singapore university program and not by accelerated pathway. As you know you don't have to be an accounting grad to be a CPA though it helps a lot. ( you did not declared you Singaporean undergrad degree to be in accounting)

    If you had applied for positions heavily involved in tax related work, you would probably had no chance at all.

    Therefore I find it very strange that you made no attempts so far to acclimatised your work qualification to suit the local Aussie environment.

  10. The good thing about Australia is that each state/city isn't homogeneous like how Singapore is. That means life in Perth can be dramatically different from life in Sydney, Tasmania, or where my family is located now - Alice Springs.

    Alice Springs is a small, desert town that appears rough and just seems like there's nothing happening here. On the contrary - jobs are really easy to find because it is a transient town, and people don't stay for the long haul. My first job at as a casual salesman (30-36 hour workweek) in an electronic store saw me earn as much as my job as a writer in Singapore (after 5 years, no less). I could earn more some weeks, depending on what I sold.

    Another job bonus: They pay more because it is a "remote" location, and it is hard to attract workers to this town. In the larger cities, jobs are hard to find, pay less etc and it is definitely more competitive. I am unsure about the accounting side of things, but it can't be too shabby as literally every industry in Alice Springs is short-staffed.

    Now I'm working in the correctional services, and because there's so much overtime available, I can work while the wife stays home with bubs. There's a bloke I spoke to who's on 120K already, as of March. He's probably going to break 150K easy, at the rate he's going with clocking extra shifts.

    Work is available in Aus, just depends on how willing you are to to get yourself out of that comfort zone. That's good, because not everything's dependent on academia like how Singapore is. This is the type of environment I'd like my children to grow up in.

    1. Actually, correct me if I am wrong Hoey but:

      Alice Springs is a unique place, almost 50% population during peak season are some sort of tourists or on working holiday or just passing through

      Wages may have extra 'remote' loading, but so are the costs. Quite expensive place to rent or buy (almost as bad as Sydney) since there is very few land releases allowed by the town council to limit development (ironical since the surrounding land is not suitable for anything like farming etc) as there is a limit on utility capacity in the area.

      Furthermore foodstuff and various items are also sold at a premium since every things is trucked in by road trains (which adds costs). In fact fresh food sometimes costs as much as 40% extra compared to Adelaide (which most of the road trains come from)

      Violence can be real here and even the high security apartments here does not deter burglers. Todd Street is definitely a no go zone after 7 pm. Several health care workers living in the hospital compound (high level security) has been assaulted when they tried to walk to the petrol station 2 mins away in the middle of the night to buy some food to satisfy the late night hunger. That's why I recommend that everyone DRIVES at night to avoid trouble.

      On pension pay days on Thursdays every fortnight, people (of certain ethnic background) used to drive into the drive-in bottleshop and buy large amount of alcohol without even having to get out of the car.

      Despite these issues I love Alice and every time I stay in town for work I spend more money than I usually do in Sydney

      Some tips on where to spend your hard earned money (other than paying off electricity bills for the aircon)

      The Lasseter Casino Bristo is very nice and great place to chill out.
      Another nice restaurant is the Hanuman restaurant at the Crown Hotel.
      Get a family season pass to Stanley Chasm and the Desert Park (need NT ID to get them)

      I have seen Todd river flood more than 10 times.

      I am the only crazy person you will ever know who drove a 1000 km round trip From Alice to Ayers-Olgas to Kings to Alice......... in one day (and yes, I drove at night for 7 hours! Lucky to be alive!)

  11. In regards to citizenship - we have a son and he can hold dual citizenship until 18 or 21 y/o. However, at age 13, if he is to leave Singapore for more than 3 months, the parents need to put down a 75K bond to the govt, in case the child defaults NS. There won't be much interest I think...

    Aussie citizenship not only grants you the right to vote, it opens the doors to many new jobs that arent' available to PRs. Jobs like the army, the federal police, customs/border protection etc. These are secure, well-paying government jobs.

    1. Also Aussie youths can come to Canada and many other countries on Working Holiday visa. But not Sinkie youths, despite also being part of Commonwealth.

      Guess who's to blame. (h)

  12. There are a lot of professional in Australia without any degree. For example engineers. You do not need degree or registered to practise. You can be an electrician but works as engineers. The only exception being Queensland. A manager not necessary earning more than a plumbers or sparkies. The rate of engineer is around $160 an hour. That's what your firm charge its client. They might pay you a third. If you are a contractor, you will be paid the full rate by your client. If you engage any trade to repair your house, be prepare to pay $80 an hour. Do you still want to be a manager? Managers are overhead and unfortunately thay are the first to go when company cut cost. You better off possess a skill.

  13. .....lucky I dunno this lady who wrote this to nix..i prolly whack her upside down