Sunday, 2 June 2013

Migration Chapter 2: It's all in the Mind

If you have not read our overview on migration, please click here.

Our 'official' migration process began proper when I went to sit for the IELTS test in February this year. Soon after in March (because my school required 3 months notice), I tendered my resignation. Over the last 3 months, concerned relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances have been asking what my plans are after leaving the school. My default response is to say I intend to migrate by the end of the year. After being asked the same question by close to 50 people (I kid you not), I have identified the five most common immediate reactions to my decision to migrate and they are as follows:

  1. "Good! You should 出去闯一闯 (go out and explore) while you are still young."
  2. "Good for you! You should 出去看世界 (see the world) since you have no kids."
  3. "What about your parents?"
  4. "What about your job, what are you going to do there?"
  5. "You are very lucky! I would also like to migrate but I have children/no money/no contact there/no such good luck..."

Debunking the Myths 

Myth 1: You need to be 'young' to migrate. Refer to my previous post on eligibility criteria. As long as you are below 50 at the point of application, you fulfill the age criteria for migration. Having said this, I will admit that it is more advantageous to migrate while you are younger of age in terms of the points test.

Myth 2: You need to migrate before you have kids. Again, refer to the points test table. There is no criteria there that mentions you cannot migrate if you already have children. In fact, you may be doing your children a favour by giving them the opportunity to grow up in a less stressful and less competitive environment compared to Singapore. 

Myth 3: You cannot migrate with your parents. Again, this is not true. You can apply for parents visa after you have moved over, to include them in your migration plans. However, I'm guessing most individuals /couples migrating will face parental issues when there is a conflict of interest - You want to migrate but your parents do not want you to. I will speak in more detail about resolving conflict later on.

Myth 4: You cannot/should not migrate without getting a job first. Technically, you can. Some individuals will choose to wait for a job offer before they go over - I will agree that this is the more prudent and preferred option. However, it is not easy to get a PR sponsorship from an Australian company with little or no working experience in Australia (unless you are a headhunted talent), especially if you aren't physically there. Your best chance is to work for an MNC and ask for an internal transfer (one of our friends did so) but in such a case, the company will only offer a temporary work visa, not a permanent one. A temporary visa is tied to the job - if you lose the job or quit, you lose the visa. If you really want to migrate (ie become a Permanent Resident), going over before looking for a job is a step of faith you must be prepared to take. The good news is, it is easier to get a job once you are a PR, compared to if you go as a foreigner.

Myth 5: All the pieces need to fall in place for you before you can migrate. If you think like that and are not born with a tremendous amount of luck or wealth, don't even consider migration. Seriously.

The Challenges 

Remember I mentioned to do a lot of reading as part of your preparation? Well in my own readings, I have come across several challenges that Singaporeans overseas have faced when they migrated to/work in Australia. Some common ones include:
  1. Unpredictable/Bad weather in Australia due to the 4 seasons - not relevant for us because we love 春夏秋冬 (the four seasons)
  2. Excruciatingly hot summers - have you been to Singapore? We do 99% humidity and 36 degrees too!
  3. Racism and discrimination - refer to below
  4. High cost of living - sama sama dengan (same as) Singapore
  5. Difficult to find jobs /adapt - refer to below
  6. No friends and family - OK, currently I do have family and friends there. But I intend to make many new friends!
  7. Being labelled as a 'quitter' - who cares?
  8. Nothing to do after 5pm/6pm - that's great! More time for family and to hang out with friends and enjoy the outdoors. Mother Nature doesn't close at 5pm.
  9. Parents do not want you to migrate - fortunately, we do not have such an issue. However, I do emphatise with those who are torn between their parents' desire for them to remain in Singapore vs their own desire to migrate or stay overseas. There is simply no easy solution to this... 

天下无难事,只怕有心人。When there's a will, there's a way.
Would you rather bask in this or be at a shopping centre after 5pm? Photo by S.

The Positive Migrant's Mentality

After years of mulling and discussion as part of the mental preparation, S and I are prepared to adopt all of the following as part of our general mindset when we cross over. The list is by no means exhaustive but hopefully it will help us overcome the challenges ahead.
  • To remain humble and realistic.
  • To continue to persevere and work hard.
  • Yes, we will be second-class citizens over there, and it's ok. (We already feel like second-class here anyway)
  • To be thankful for any opportunities, friends and support that come our way but not expect it. 
  • To take racism and discrimination in our stride.
  • To adapt outside the comfort zone.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, to take the bitter with the better. There is no paradise on earth.

Nick Vujicic, one of the most inspirational people ever to have lived.

At the end of the day, if you are finding reasons not to migrate, don't migrate. Migration is not for everyone. If you choose to migrate, then IMHO you must embrace the correct mindset, in order to sustain yourself long-term.

Chapter 3 is now ready! If you do have comments, feel free to input them below. =)

- A


  1. Excellent job, A! I am living in Singapore as well. Been in Sg for 4 years now as a foreign talent. It's just 4 weeks ago when I have finally decided to migrate to Australia. I have submitted my application for skills assessment 3 weeks ago and my IELTS exam is scheduled next month. Looking forward to moving to Oz soon.

  2. For Myth 3, the waiting period was 9 years after application lodged in 2000. Understand that as of late last year it has gone up to at least 15 years before parents visa are being granted. Also, significant bonds are to be furnished for parents visa application apart from the parents visa charges and fees.

    1. Well I didn't say it was easy, just possible. Alternatively parents can also apply for longer term tourist visa. I understand IMMI can issue longer tourist visa for relatives of PR/citizens.

  3. Hi, can I submit my application for skills assessment before going for IELTS?

    1. Is your qualification from Australia? If yes, you may submit your skills assessment first.
      If not you may need to take IELTS first to show that you can achieve min 6.0 for each and every band but that is for certain skills assessment authority requirement only.