Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday February 15th 2018

Singaporean family settling well in Sydney and regret not doing it earlier

Describe a little about yourself e.g. name, citizenship history (if any), educational background, work experiences.

Jarod – I am a born-and-bred Singaporean with Australian PR since 2009. I only made the move in May 2012 as during the 2009 it was the GFC and I found the job market stagnant in Australia.

I ‘m a Diploma holder with lots of IT skills and certification working in large MNC’s as a IT system engineer/consultant/ junior manager for over 12 years.

The job search in Australia is tough and I was incredibly lucky to find a role consultant role in Melbourne. If not my PR might have lapse as it was valid for 5 years with just 2 years left on it. So it was a real blessing and I spent 6 months on my own bunking in with a close relative – again another blessing! My wife and 2 kids moved over in November 2012 and we found a small apartment just close to my work outside the CBD near Melbourne central.

Where are you living now and why do you choose that location?

Jarod – I am living in the Ryde area in Sydney and only moved to Sydney from Melbourne when I found a good role at a principal IT software vendor better suited to my previous experience in Singapore and paying more.

As for Ryde it’s fairly close to the city, has a train station nearby, family friendly and good public schools. My wife fell in love with the suburb and the community there which is culturally very diverse. We made friends fast with neighbours, parents of kids from my child’s school / class and  work mates living close by. We have no relatives or friends in Sydney  and actually wanted to make Sydney a short-term stepping stone move career wise. However we’ve both fell in love with Sunny Sydney which has much better weather than Melbourne where the joke of the 4 seasons in a day is very real. I still romanticize about Melbourne alot but my other half is a die-hard Sydneysider!

What are the general challenges faced in living overseas? (Housing, Food, Languages, Culture, Weather, Discrimination, Transportation, Schools, Community, etc…)

Jarod – It’s a apples and oranges comparing Singapore our home country where my spouse and I were born and bred. You can easily make a pros-and-cons list and Australia should win hands down on quality of life and the slightly more laid-back way of life. However, given the amount of time spent in Singapore already and the attachment one forms to routine, food, family, culture, Singapore is a small and pretty convenient city so it’s a tough adjustment when one ventures abroad.

I had a good head start in Australia and relatives to guide and support me in Melbourne so when my wife and kids came over they have the same adjustment issues and doubt but I could offer her “my solution” or my experience – that alone gave her the confidence that she can make it too!

This is a good strategy to have – one foot in to test the water to see if we can adjust to the new environment.

The main issue is that we both do not drive in Singapore, however, driving is easier than we expected in Sydney as drivers are generally safer and there is GPS!

If you need to take a driving test it’s also really easy and cheap…cars are cheap too! Housing was a challenge as there is strong competition for available units which are conveniently located in hot suburbs with top schools but once your application gets approved it’s a achievement in itself! Most other things we get tips from friends and the online sites on social media.

Most are more than willing to share and help new migrants in a pay-it-forward style. There is the occasional racism but it’s fairly predictable from the small percentage of bogans.

The right choice of a safe suburb will give you that extra comfort.

Did your family moved with you and if so, how is your family coping? Are they happy or do they want to move back to Singapore?

Jarod -Yes my family came over 6 months later and we did have to move back for short period to take care of our sick parents and get help with raising our newborn who popped out 3 years ago. Family support for newborns was essential for my wife for our first 2 kids so when the 3rd one came along I fished around for a stint back home. Thankfully I got lucky with an internal transfer.

Was it difficult to get jobs while staying abroad? Describe your job search experience and how different it is from Singapore.

Jarod – The job search challenge cannot be underestimated and unless you have very really strong niche skill or previous working experience you better have sufficient savings and give yourself 3-6 months to find a job.

I got lucky but not everyone has that – the Australian job market has always been a employers’ market because of the global skilled talent pool migrating in every year to the most livable cities in the world – Melbourne and Sydney.

Was the work culture similar or different than Singapore? Describe the working culture, expectations and conditions.

Jarod – The job culture is radically different. While hard work is respected it’s working smart which is really looked upon as an asset. Everyone wants the job done with the least amount of effort and finishing work on time. At my office the lights are timed to go off at 5.30 and most work the 7-4 timing and sometimes 3.30pm if they take 30-minute sandwich lunch break. Working late is looked upon as being unproductive or inefficient- unless you have no choice like if you are on call for support work or special projects needing after-hour work. In such cases you are well compensated. Communication is also very important and although Singaporeans generally speak well we still need to slow down our speech and cut off the Singlish!

What precious lessons did you learn from living overseas?

Jarod – Tons! I could go on and on. The most important is that you never know what you truly made off until you challenge yourself and put your self through the real thing. Moving an entire family over and transitioning work, school, home, finance, etc is no mean feat. You can do a basic plan but have to “wing it” and live through month to month. The rewards of better work life balance, less stressful academic life and chance to have residency in Singapore’s number one holiday destination is a dream come true! And it’s totally doable!

What are your reasons for wanting to move overseas to work, live, study and/or migrate?

Jarod – It’s always been our dream ever since our first holiday here about 14 years ago to live here! Cheap housing, cars, beautiful country, better more holistic education, slower pace of life and government safety nets among others.

At this point, would you want to return to Singapore eventually or prefer to settle down in your new place permanently?

Jarod – Settle down here…we may come back to Singapore for some short work assignments but my family has settled here and love what the Aussie lifestyle offers.

What are your regrets till date and will you do it again if given a choice?

Jarod – Regret not doing it earlier!

What are your advice for Singaporeans aspiring to live, work, study or migrate overseas?

Jarod -Come and talk to us and trial it out if you need to. It’s not for everyone as if you are too used to the Singapore’s city life, the big change can be quite overwhelming. For us, holidaying back to Singapore to experience the local food and get in touch with family and friends is much easier now with budget air travel and travel promos so you can have your cake and eat it kind-of.

What could possibly compel you to permanently return to Singapore?

Jarod – Family sickness taking care of aged parents.

Thank you and end of interview

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