The Elderly Woman Clearing Tables and You

Good morning,

My name is Steven and I am a Singaporean (born and bred).

I am 41 and I am married to a Singaporean as well. My wife is 42.

We have two boys aged 8 and 4.

I work at the Singapore-based branch of a NZ-owned company who deal in marine jet propulsion. My work sees me travelling overseas for about 70% of the time. My travels has undoubtedly taken me down under to WA and I must admit that it was during my last trip there that the thought of bringing our kids up in WA would indeed be a fresh idea. Simply put, the quality of our lives would be better.

Well, initially I thought about the kids but recently I was having tea at a food court and Singapore and looked over my shoulder to see an elderly woman clearing tables. My dad, who had worked in UOB for almost half his life was relegated to being “retrenched” on the account that he reached 65. He is still mobile and active, but alas, rules are rules.

He is looking at becoming a bus captain.

Many of us able-bodied Singaporeans, who aren’t lucky enough to inherit any sort of family business, will be sidelined to doing menial jobs such as picking up old cardboard boxes, clearing dishes or becoming security guards.

I need to make this push towards migration, even if I do not complete the process, at least if would show my kids that the option is there for them to exploit.

An escape.

I have been reading your blog and I am taking down notes.

Our eldest boy is 8yrs old and in Primary 2. I am giving myself 3yrs, at the most 4 to get us out of this rut. That would take him to Primary 5 or 6.

I have conveyed my thoughts across to my wife and she sees the benefits but is fearful of taking the plunge. I guess that is where the PAP has been successful. Instilling fear in us of the un-known, un-tested and un-chartered.

I too have my fears, but I have to give this a shot.

At least in my lifetime, I can say that I am “living”. Learning the ropes, finding out the process with the hope of changing my life and the life of my family, for the better.

I hold a steady job here in Singapore and I was toying with the idea of asking my company to keep me on their Singapore payroll for as long as possible even after I complete the migration process and eventually set foot in WA.

Will this be a feasible option? I have read that I would need to reside in WA for at least the first 2yrs of the 5 that is required. Am I reading this wrongly?

Do I have to pay taxes to the Australian government during the first 2yrs of my stay in Australia?

I am all for paying taxes to the Australian government, but I was hoping to at least be assured of a job upon landing in WA, with family in tow (you can be sure I am a true-blue Singaporean from that one statement right? Job security… ). Eventually, I will be looking out for a job in WA and relinquishing my current one based out from Singapore.

What are your thoughts so far?

Appreciate your words of advice.

Have a good week ahead

Hi Steven,

First and foremost, follow this [link], scroll down and click on the "Points test" tab then click on "How points are awarded" and run through the categories. You will be getting 15 points for your age, for example, and so on. Please note that your "nominated occupation" must be on the SOL[link] in order to claim the points. Make sure you have at least 60 points, or the project is over. If so, you may want to look into another suitable country. Otherwise it is time to plan how to stand up for Singapore. As you mentioned how you saw the harsh reality for old folks who have reach their expiry dates. it is better to plan early than to die cock standing. Prolong standing is admirable but not always healthy, as we usually find out - often too late.

The rest of your questions:

The PR visa is valid for 5 years. When it is near expiry, you decide if you want to become an Australian citizen or extend the visa and stay as a PR. The extension visa is called Resident Return Visa (RRV). The requirement for a RRV is a stay of 2 years out of the last 5 years in Australia. It can be an accumulation of your stays, staying a full 2 year length is not necessary. It is possible to get it extended despite not fulfilling this requirement by appealing but results are not guaranteed. I will leave it to your discretion about whether your plan is feasible or not.

You don't have to lodge a tax return if you do not earn more than $1 in Australia for a financial year.

I'm glad more people are looking over their shoulders and realise there is something seriously wrong with our elderly taking on peculiar exercises to keep fit. One of the reason why I chose to leave is that I realise most Singaporeans I know have became completely oblivious, resigned to their fates or whitewashed deluded that they will never walk the same paths as these pioneers in future. If this is what they call, "Stay and fight" and because "the grass is never greener elsewhere," I will rather bring my fight to a strange place, where I have a realistic opportunity to own a small plot of harsh, barren land and grow my own grass - I decide how green it shall be. Believe me, there is more fight involved in such a project than you can imagine. Unless you are very lucky, a red carpet job-ready move is unlikely. Perhaps it is worth die fighting for an internal transfer to your NZ HQ, you will have your job and nice, cold glutinous rice balls.


  1. Ask your company to relocate you to NZ. Work on becoming a citizen there. Once you become an NZ citizen you should find it easier to get into Australia but NZ is nice you might decide to stay there instead.

  2. Appreciate the advice guys.
    Yeah, at the back of my head, I too realized that asking for an internal transfer to NZ would be an easier bet.
    It's just that since Singapore is pretty much a travel hub with what seems like the best like to everywhere else in Asia.
    I would think that my travelling needs would not change if I am successful in getting that transfer to NZ.
    Travelling out from CHC to anywhere else in Asia more than likely involves having a stopover in Singapore.
    It's a 10hr flight from CHC to Singapore.
    Will give this some serious thought.
    I guess you guys have got a point in me seeking an internal transfer to NZ instead of starting out cold in WA.
    Will keeo you guys posted as I trek my way through this maze.
    Thanks again and have a good week ahead.


  3. It is admirable that you are thinking ahead for your children and is entertaining the thought of taking the risk of being a migrant to a new country.

    Everyone's circumstances and timing are different and the thus the migration outcome varies.

    Before I continue, I would like to state (for the record) that I am a Singaporean living in Australia for the past 3 plus years.

    You would have experienced the good things about being in Australia (the open spaces, the parks, less crowded, much cheaper cars etc) so I choose not the dwell on the good stuffs.

    Now comes the hard truths, no one can assure you of a job in Australia. What kind of jobs do you have in mind? Similar jobs as the one that you have currently in Singapore? You can mind paying taxes in Australia but you cannot avoid it.. it is the law that you pay your due taxes here and if you do not, it is tax avoidance and is a criminal offence just like in Singapore.

    If you value job security and steadiness in life, why are you thinking about migrating to Australia? In Singapore, you are the norm, you were brought up in the Singapore's way and know its ins and outs. It is to your advantage since you are in home turf. By migrating, you are giving up all of the home court advantage and it is a far cry from the job security and steady life that you hold so dear.

    My advice (if it is worth anything) is for you to stay put in Singapore. Australia is a great holiday destination for you and your family but from the contents of your letter, my gut feel is that you will be not be better off in Australia.

    As for your observation on the elderly clearing tables.. this won't happen to you. You are 41 and work as a professional (based on your comment that you travel frequently overseas for work). The Singapore government has instituted the CPF life system so that you don't have to clear tables when you are after 65. The amount of money that you would have accumulated (if you have worked in your said professional until 65) would have paid an annuity of around $2000 per month until your last days on Earth. The analogy of the elderly cleaning person does not apply to your case due to the competent government and their foresight.

    1. my mum is 60, she has been working professionally for 30 years, her CPF cannot sustian 2k a month after age of 65 and she was ask to go at the age of 60. dunno where u get the idea that ppl of our gen 1970-1980 wun have chance to clear tables for a living becos we are working professionally? DUH?

    2. hi engineerinmelbourne,

      thank you for your comments and sound advice.
      most of us have heard of the saying "all that glitters may not be gold!"

      you commented "If you value job security and steadiness in life, why are you thinking about migrating to Australia? In Singapore, you are the norm, you were brought up in the Singapore's way and know its ins and outs. It is to your advantage since you are in home turf. By migrating, you are giving up all of the home court advantage and it is a far cry from the job security and steady life that you hold so dear. "

      if you do not mind me saying... i think if i were to think of things they way you out it simply... "job security" and "steadiness in life"... then i would be a sitting duck.
      i'd be a prize for the hunter.
      heard of the term, "a rolling stone gather's no moss"?
      it would be absolutely insane for me to rest on my laurels and accept that just because i was born and bred a Singaporean that i would have job security in Singapore.

      you also mentioned that since i was born and bred here in Singapore that i am at an advantage because i know of its ins and its out.

      have you recently not heard of this very common phrase, "i no longer recognise this country."?
      again, your theory of a singaporean knowing the ins and outs of this place doesn't quite hold water in today's context.

      simply put, that is 100% BULLSHIT!
      pardon my language.

      but again, i still wish to thank you for taking the time to pen your thoughts.