Between Giving Up or Taking Up

Hi Nix,

My husband and I came across your blog whilst searching for info on migrating to Oz. (No, not as in what to do to get the visa/PR, but on life there after getting the visa.) You see, we felt we were ready, having prepped ourselves since last year and reading up loads, so we did the IELTS test, did all the employment, CV stuff, and submitted our application. The OZ govt has graciously offered us sub-class 190 visa and we decided to take a trip down to Oz to reccee in the true spirit of Singaporean kiasu-ism. It was an eye-opening trip, as we tried to live and see things through the eyes of the locals or residents, and not as tourists. (not easy for we were only there for a week due to limited leave, and the carefree holiday mood did its best to besiege our starry wide-eyed selves!)

The problem we have on hand now is we STILL cannot decide if we're ready or want to make the big move, for there are just so many concerns, so many pros and cons SG and OZ respectively have to offer, and the clock's ticking away. If we do not accept the offer of a visa by 1st week Sept and pay Oz the requisite A$XXXXX moolah to activate the offer, we will forever lose this opportunity, for we will be embargoed, and besides, my hubby would have hit his age limit.

We've been reading up a lot again lately and also speaking to many people who made the move to Oz, not just from SG but also elsewhere. Most ppl it appears, are very happy to have made the move, even if they did so-called 'downgrade' in terms of employment. For instance, several friends have told us they have not been able to obtain the same level of 'white collar' jobs as what they previously worked in back here in SG. Many, in fact, most, have to get by on casual work. Some were quite pai say to reveal more, whilst some were elated that such jobs paid A$15/hr and happy to get their hands on one. Then too, there are others who revealed, quite self-consciously, that they have a low-paying job despite being a uni grad and are on the dole, but Oz is a great place to bring up kids and life there is really quite fabulous.

Now, to cut to the chase, I'd like to remove the veneer of romanticism, the 'grass is greener, air is fresher, space is bigger, cars and houses are cheaper, society is less pressurising, kids have less stress' notions i have oft heard, and for which are significant pull factors and for which reasons we are keen to migrate.

From your blog, I sense you are a very hard-nosed and factual person, and I'd really like a candid opinion from you.
As such, I'm going to be completely transparent so that you understand our push/pull factors and circumstances.

1. My hubby is doing fairly well in his career - he enjoys his managerial job and has a comfortable remuneration. Even though it isn't enough to accord us a large posh house, we are quite comfortable and his salary + our passive income feeds 9 people!
Hence, we are worried if he can get sufficient income or even a stable job there to provide for our immediate family of 5, as well as his parents. i am also worried if he can get a decent, respectable job for i feel he may not take well to the concept of casual jobs and I don't know if going fishing or being idle or a househusband every would drive him nuts.

2. We have managed to create a passive stream of income which we understand will be subject to 'worldwide income tax' in Oz. it is not much, but we were depending on it to survive (read survive only) if we really cannot get a job in Oz, so for it to be subjected to taxes....will be quite taxing on us. 

3. we may be liable for capital gains tax if we dispose of our investments (the same investments which grant us a stream of passive income), or inherit any assets and dispose of them (yes even hdb flat). and if we relinquish our PR in the future, the Oz govt will deem it as disposable of asset and still impose CGT. Non-disclosure is risky due to a disclosure clause with the SG Govt who can rat us out.

4. We have extremely close family ties with our follks and take turns to stay with both sets of parents several days a week. My side is urging us to go to Oz, his is reluctant and even despondent. The hubby is deeply affected as his parents are elderly and sometime have occasional medical conditions. we will also deeply miss them as will the kids, and i forsee we will face extreme loneliness in oz.

5. Our kids are very young, aged 5 & 3 YO, and 6 months. we have managed thus far with both sets of our parents taking turns to help out as well as with domestic helpers. this will not be possible in Oz. i am confident i can manage the household chores and the kids by rolling up my sleeves, but i know it is no walk in the park, and will be exhausting, and there will be no more couple or me time. I know i will be the cook, maid, chauffeur, tutor, cleaner, laundress, maid etc.

6. Age: my husband is in his mid 40s and i am a homemaker in my late 30s. at our age, we are not as physically agile as we used to be so many physically demanding jobs are out for us. it may hamper our getting jobs both in OZ, or back here in SG if it doesn't quite pan out and we have to return.

7. High costs of living in some areas e.g. ambulance insurance, medical insurance, rates, taxes etc. Not to mention airfares for the entire family back to SG to visit!

1. we want out of the rat race. the lack of work-life balance is insane. spending just 2 hours daily with our children after a long day at work, is not what we deem quality of life. we want to take time to spend the roses, to enjoy our kids whilst they are young, need us, and want to be with us!

2. we want the kids to have an all-rounded education where they learn heuristically,and are taught to be independent and creative. Not just rote-learning and being pressurised at such a young age, not just subjecting them to endless enrichment classes even at tender kindergarten age (my children are the only ones in their school NOT attending any enrichment classes, and their teachers have spoken to me about this!) Children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and we feel Oz offers that opportunity. at the end of the day, they can still end up with a uni degree after all!

3. we want space. physical space that is not shared with 6.89m people in a hole in the sky. space that does not involve cramming into subways, getting knocked by trolleys in supermarkets, being elbowed in malls, stuck in endless traffic jams and having to suffer the ignominy of paying ERP at that!

4. Acceptance, openess and a less materialistic lifestyle where we are not judged based on where we live, what car we drive, how big our house is, what brands we wear, what we do for a living. (just to clarify, we have what many deem as a privileged lifestyle here in SG with all its requisite "C's", so it is not a matter of aspiring but failing to live up to social standards, but rather I do not approve of its superficiality and shallowness, and do not want my children to imbibe such values either, hence I want to trade-in for a simplier, more care-free life. yes. idealistic as it sounds)

5. We want a house that is not ridiculously priced and takes 30 years (or all our viable economic years) to slave for and pay off. Ditto for a car. These are things to be used, not bondages that enslave us for all eternity. 
and for my part, i really really would love a small landed house with a small little garden to grow my own herb, plants, fruits and veg.and have space to walk in my bedrooms after putting a bed in)

6. relaxed lifestyle. slower pace of life. ideal for someone like me who sometimes suffers from anxiety and over-worry and hates a frenetic, fast-paced life

7. weather

8. friendly, courteous, civilised people

9. Quiet suburbs. Nature. Big country. Not just a city. Don't like city. Don't like city. Don't like city.

10. Road trips!

P/S You finished my 'chiong-hei' stream of consciousness letter! thanks for reading till here...
i hope i did not offend or come across as being a braggart or daft idealist... i just really, for the first time, put words into those abstract notions swimming in our heads and would really appreciate an honest, objective 3rd party perspective.

Pray, if i were your sister or good friend with the above-outlined circumstances, what, based on your experience and knowledge of Oz & SG, and esp as a parent yourself, would you advise?


Warm Regards, 

Hi Lena,

Oops. It looks like you have only a week before your deadline since I had sat on your email for too long. Was a in bad mood for a couple of weeks. I was told by some that on one of these days, I am significantly worse than a woman during her period.

In summary, you are given a chance to be permanent residents of Australia and will lose the opportunity if you do not accept the offer by 1st week of Sept. So you emailed me some questions. I wonder how much my answers really weigh towards your decision making. If none of my painstakingly crafted opinions matter, I will feel silly making the effort. If my words are worth the weight in gold, I will feel guilty for influencing your final decision because in my position, I will never know what is best for your family. Nonetheless, I'll talk. And I'll be as honest as I can because I felt you deserve no less than my best effort. As a parent I fully understand that having three children, makes such a move gargantuan. Unlike many of us, you do not have the option of 'try-out-and-see-how'. So you will really want to make the right choice.


1. Unfortunately I cannot address this issue. If I may be honest from my own observations, this is the biggest barrier that Singaporean men could not break through. In Singapore, we have been raised to believe we are superior beings and under no circumstance should we get our highly educated hands dirty. In a way, our government did a really good job by cultivating a population of highly valued and confident people. However, our sense of self worth often end up being our biggest enemy. One obvious example being the gradual creation of an obnoxious society where the our dignity hinges on imaginary social statuses. A change of perspective is just a snap of the fingers. There is nothing much to it. It either happens or it doesn't.

2. In an ideal arrangement, if your passive income is under both your names, you will enjoy the first $36,400 income per annum tax free. If the streams of income is only under your husband's name, the bracket will be reduced to $18,200 (per individual). Having said that, tax is not going to kill you. Not being taxed however, will probably kill you faster.

3. I'll take the risk against rats, always.

4. They will have to fly over once in a while to spend time with their grandchildren. Each visit can be up to months if you can stand it. Eventually the elderly will get bored and may prefer to return to Singapore to stir their teh-c in their familiar kopitiams only to miss their grandchildren again after half a year and the cycle repeats. One thing about this, absence does make the heart grow fonder. At least there is something beautiful about this.

5. You'll learn to cope. So will the children. My daughter had to take her soiled nappy to the waste basket herself once she learnt to walk at 1 year + and became the plant watering IC at 2 years old. Many children here are encouraged to take up responsibilities in the household at a very young age. Personally, I had seen a young girl helping her dad install a glass panel, a teen changing his dad's car engine oil with full confidence. If you adopt the local culture, you will have a mini troop of good helpers before you know it.

6. If you can drive a truck or something, you'll get an income. The less choosy you are, the easier life becomes here. Of course, I am not asking you to limit yourselves to your obvious potential. Anyone should never stop looking for better options but if you would take anything that comes along in the earlier stages, mere survival is a non-issue.

7. Like mentioned earlier, get the elders over for holidays instead. There is so many places to visit here. (It's a continent here!) With the weather and beautiful places (you have seen it yourselves, there is no romanticism here), it may be more value for money to reunite this way. Regarding costs, let's put it this way. If you earn too little to be taxed, you will receive assistance to deal with other areas mentioned (eg. rental, rates, medical). If you earn enough to pay high tax, you have no issues dealing with those expenses.


1. Coming to Australia does not take you out of the rat race. It simply enters you into another. Getting back to the endless grind for promotions, recognition and wealth the moment you step into Australia simply meant you never left. Your passive income mentioned earlier combined with a willingness to let it go and to get by with simple family business or jobs, however, may. Work-life balance, in my opinion, still exists in Perth. My colleague knocks off at 2pm every Thursday because his wife works and cannot pick their daughter at the childcare. I worked from 6am to 2.30pm today with adequate time to interact with my daughter before her bedtime. If anything, this alone is worth my trouble moving to Perth. For I know if I stayed in Singapore, I would see my daughter in a horizontal form more than that which brought me bundles of joy. If there is anything priceless but worth a price, this is it.

2. With the academic inflation going  on, it will be shortsighted to subject our children to go through what our parents subjected us to. Australia offers a good environment to instill the young with life skills, which in my opinion, is a much better option in the long run. Having said that, a good academic education is not mutually exclusive. 

3. Yes. Spaceeeeeeeeeeee. No more smelly armpits. You'll only know what you're missing out when you are here. Fresh cool air is grossly under rated.

4. I turned up for work in a hoodie I wore to bed last night. Boss didn't say anything because he looked as bad. That 8-tonner truck driver who looks like a lao beng makes $50 an hour, after taxes and costs. The old chap who walks with a hunch in his socks and sandals, appears at my work compound occasionally spraying at insects or throwing rusted nails around the compound into bins actually owns the entire lot of factories over there. He never fail to greet me if our eyes meet. Who are we to judge anyone?

5. I have a 1998 spare Silver Daihatsu Pyzar, mechanically sound, going for $1,500. Interested? If you don't want to spend a fortune on a car, you don't have to. At least there is a choice here. Same goes for the house. Though houses are not cheap in Australia, cheaper affordable options are available if we Singaporeans overlook some of our impossible requirements. It is easier said than done. Like what they say, we can take ourselves out of our nation but not the nation out of us.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10 - These sound gimmicky at first. Live here long enough, you find yourself unable to compromise later. You will have to experience it yourself to agree or disagree.

Pray, if i were your sister or good friend with the above-outlined circumstances, what, based on your experience and knowledge of Oz & SG, and esp as a parent yourself, would you advise?

My daughter's growing process in pictures:


Animal petting






Kids' swimming lessons @ about $11.00 per lesson.

Graduated from 'Tod 2 swimming'

A field in Wattle Grove

A field in Thornlie

A childcare centre, she attended recently
Child care
Child care

She likes the library. She wouldn't sleep without
 getting us reading to her each night.
She can read some simple books herself
 by now, due to her own interest.
She plays with toys, not iPads
Sitting on the ground. No, not dirty. Don't care. Nobody cares
Toilet trained when she just turned 2,
because we have the fortune of time
 we wouldn't have at you-know-where

I don't have any advice but I had shared with you days of my daughter's life so far. Do you spot anything that is for or against your values? Either, that will be my advice to you to stay put or go.


  1. If you expect working time in Australia, you are dead wrong. I am working 12 hours day straight for twelve days.

  2. Try to think 20 years down the road. Do you want your kids to live in sg?

  3. Hey Lena

    Pardon me for being straight forward in my writing. I don't think the OZ govt has offered you a VISA. However, they prepared to accept your Visa Application 190 based on EOI assessment. Do bear in mind along the way they can still reject you due to the various reason such as Health issue.

    Anyway I am glad you are taking the 1st step which most reader has took.

    Btw, your HDB is not subjected to Capital Gain Tax as it is your principal place of residence.

    Good luck.