What to Expect as a New Migrant

Hi Nix,

I am one of your silent readers.. I have been granted a WA state sponsored visa in 2012 and now just  waiting for the time to move over, which we will do this year.

I came across your blog while searching for blogs of Malaysian living in Australia. 

Obviously I am 'searching/googling' it incorrectly, as the only blogs I could find were of those who have been there for eons and the only thing they do share on their blogs how to bake cupcakes. Don't get me wrong, I love cuppies as much as the next person,  but that was not what I was looking for.

Thank you for sharing your experience in WA, from Month 1 until Month 27 .

Those little details were the stuff info I was looking for.

- What it is like to be WA;
- How do you adjust;
- What to expect;
- How much does groceries cost

My decision to migrate drew a lot of criticism from my side of the family (while my hubby's side are rejoicing).

But I do understand the criticism it is not from 'This is home. It is better here, than there'.. Well, ok, it may be 'packaged' in criticism that way, but the core of it is more about letting me go to live so far away in another continent.

I could not assure them that moving down under will be 100% the right thing for us; and that they need not worry, for we will have a trouble free life.

I could not guarantee either, that I would not come back home 'defeated, with finally some senses  on my badly knocked head' and they will gleefully tell me 'I told you so..'

But I just wanted to them to know even though things will not turn out all right all the time; I will be alright.

That is where I drew inspiration from what you shared in your blogs. Your spirit to make it work is such an inspiration.

I thank you for that..*:) happy


Dear Madam,

Thank you for writing to me. I would have posted pictures of cupcakes if I weren't such a shitty baker but I didn't expect that to win myself a reader. I appreciate your request of me being simple and straight to the point. I will try my best to give you my honest opinion based on my personal experience.

Qns: How did you adjust?

Perth was a strange environment to me and I couldn't even understand what the locals were saying 90% of the time when I first came here. But I didn't have much time to feel overwhelmed or panic because I was very focused on just finding any job for an income right from the start because I have an expecting wife and I didn't bring that much money with me. Being extremely un-choosy about my source of income helped me avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. I know this can be too much to ask for from most people, who came to Australia with expectations of a 'better, easier life'. So I will highly recommend a new migrant to focus on something, such going on a strict exercise regime or make a point to visit a new place each week. For the religious folks, obviously, joining and attending activities of your respective organizations. When one goes into a routine quickly, it relief some of the the discomfort of caused by our resistance to changes. This sounds strangely like a handling a breakup with your gf/bf but in some ways it's quite similar.

Qns: What is WA like?

I'm glad you asked this question because one Australian city differs greatly from another. It is quite difficult to explain this to my own countrymen but it may be easier for you to visualise how a state in Malaysia such as Johor Bahru is so different to another state, say Kedah. It is the same for Australia, especially so when the Australian cities are so far away from one another. If we look beyond stereotyping, we will see vast differences among the Australian states, as well as their capital city. 

Since you are planning to come to WA, my experience should be accurate enough to give you a basic outlook of the place. First off, the weather in Perth is quite stable through the seasons. The Summer is hot, mid to high 30s and a few bad days over 40s in the day and about mid 20s at night. Winter is cold but not that cold as we still have 15s in the day and low 10s at night with a couple of rare ones at zero. Autumn and Spring have pleasant days of a temperature range very comfortable to most. It seldom rain in Perth and a day of "4 seasons" common in Melbourne is almost unheard of in Perth, if there was any at all.

As an Asian, I feel there isn't a racism issue in all the suburbs I lived in. (Redcliffe, Huntingdale, Gosnells and the current place) I rarely go to the city, and never once stayed there after the sunset. I did hear about drunk locals hurled abuse at people who walked past by a friend who is into nightlife. But he did admit, the pissed drunk people probably abused anyone that crossed their paths. They'll have a nasty name to call you unless you look like someone not to be trifled with. Most people I came across in the suburbs were willing to return your greetings as you crossed paths.

At work, at least for men, it was easy to stop for a (rather long) chat if there is a common topic or if you express a genuine interest on what they do. That is very unusual in Singapore where no one will stop and chat unless you are a customer or stakeholder. In fact, sometimes you will even get hurried as a customer to 'make up your mind'. I spent more than 25 minutes chatting with one of the owners of a business at a neighbouring lot last Friday and managed to find out his profession, his birth and adoptive country before he came to Australia, how he bought the business, how is his state of business and his football and rugby teams he supported. That started because he said hi and all I casually commented it had been a busy few weeks and asked him how he was doing himself. I probably spoke to more random strangers here in my 2 years than my entire life in Singapore. So in my opinion, perhaps due to the relatively smaller population in Perth (about 1.9 million) with adequate personal space for everyone, people are less touchy when they come into contact with another. People generally respect one another and seldom judge by their occupations or income.

I see happy children and I believe it is a sign of a good living environment. 

Qns: What to expect?

Expect some frustrations over things that you don't understand because moving to a new country means a lot of habitual knowledge, perception and even skills become irrelevant. It takes time to understanding how and why things are being done the way it is in the new place and learn to put up with the imperfections of the system. We have to understand we spent years, sometimes decades conditioning ourselves to the previous society so it is easy to feel frustrated or even depressed when we are thrown into a very different environment. It shouldn't be difficult to find support groups, such as religion groups, community groups or specific groups (mothers, hobbies etc) that will take your mind away from unnecessary griping.

Job hunt will be generally tough, though I've seen many who found their jobs surprisingly quickly but be prepared for a relentless hunt nonetheless.

At the present moment, traffic conditions around Perth (except for the city obviously) are still generally favourable so commuting around by car is usually a pleasant experience, even for someone who don't normally enjoy driving like me.

Qns: How much does groceries cost?

If you cook, you will find the raw staples, condiments, dairy, meats, vegetables and even junk food reasonably affordable for your self-prepared meals. Over the last 6 months, I had compiled some records of groceries at markets I went to. I don't usually go shopping so places may be limited but I think it still serves as a decent rough guide. Click here [link] to read more about groceries prices and keep clicking on "Load most posts"

Qns: Etc.

Money does calm the nerves a bit so if you have some, bring it but it's not the end of the world if you don't come with lots of it.

While some people are bent on finding a job related to what they used to do, I think it's not a tragedy to try something else out. Keep doing one thing buay sian meh? More over, the more options you open yourself up to, the easier your life will be. If you think about it, that isn't merely pertaining to job hunting but to many aspects of your life in general such as food, house hunt or even finding a spouse. Don't mistaken me for implying you should lower your standards. What I have been trying to emphasize is that, there is a price for expectations so you have to be prepared to pay it, such as a more tedious job hunt for your preferred job. You can't have the best of both worlds all the time.

Have fun. Life is but an adventure so is a migration attempt. If it doesn't work out, so be it. It's not another competition we are participating. All of us tasted defeat in life anyway and we don't cry over it so why be so tense over an adventure? A more relaxed attitude will help us tremendously in such situation. Personally, I also don't believe in over-planning. The notion of "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" doesn't apply to going on an adventure because you GO on an adventure not PLAN for an adventure. A planned adventure, is no adventure. Moreover, it fails to address that people do succeed without planning anyway. That's my attitude towards life and I don't expect people to concur with.


  1. > But I just wanted to them to know even though things will not turn out all right all the time; I will be alright.

    Finally a migrant with the right mindset. Good luck, Malaysian Madam! cheer

  2. Do not underestimate the 'Can Do' attitude.

  3. Thanks Nic. Your blog really gives a down to earth perspective to living in Perth.

  4. I wish this person all the best. I see positive attitude and the right expectations. Just like winking doll said, some days, things will go well, other days it will not. It is a matter of how we handle them.

    overseas sinkie

  5. Updates ..... EOI and SA ss lodged :) .....I did it myself all from your guides...vetasses positive ielts 8 ....you the best

  6. I am a Malaysian and I stayed in Adelaide. I have a lot of friends and ex colleagues in Perth. I have been to Perth or WA numerous time working on projects there. My jobs require me to travel to cities and the most remote sites in the country. My expetience is there is not too much different in Austrakian cities and they are pretty much consistent. The works environment here can be very different. As engineers, some of my counterparts are working from home but have projects or across the country. Internet access is the key. Imagine a truck operator control a truck Perth for a mine in the Pilbara. I am commissioning plant and making live chsnge in DCS for a processing plant 600km away today. A lot of Malaysian engineers work here and I work with a young Malaysian lady today. She was at the mine site and I am in the corporate HQ. Getting a job is the most important step to settle down. You need a permanent full time job to obtain finance to purchase your house. Job situstion today is probably the worst with companies making workers redundant. Greenfield projects are rare community. Australian engineers are adjusting and there are still maintenance and plant optimisation type of work. Good luck.

  7. Hi Nix,

    Reading your blog is a reflection of myself. You are going through what I went through same as thousands of other migrants to this new land. Australians are resilience. We transformed a hostile land to one of the most liveable in the world. Don't expect migration to be easy. Coming to a land where you know nobody maybe few of relatives or friends aren't help you to secure a job in your profession. Australia is still a relative small country in terms of population. Employers are willing to take in people who they know. How many people in Linkdl that you know in Australia? Without connections, it is difficult to break into the circle which is small where almost everyone know each other. One has to build his/her reputation and get connected to be employable. This normally take time and shall grab one when opportunity arise. Often it starts with entry level position and from there you build your way up. Don't expect the same role as where you come from. You have your reputation to build here. In WA, mining is a good sector to break in. Not many people stands the FIFO roster as it finally take a toll on family despite the good wages. Do it initially for a year or two. Gain the local experience as well as save for the down payment for your house. When you have the connections and reputation, you can then look for a desk job in the city. That still might require frequent travels but take that as a work holiday trips.