Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Can't help falling in love

"Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help, falling in love with you"

This more or less encapsulates how we feel about Perth this time. It isn't our first time. Our first time was 3 years ago where we had lots of fun but came away thinking about how the pace was too slow and how Melbourne was better. Melbourne would always have a place in our hearts because that's where Packrat and I met, went to school, fell in love and decided we would spend our lives together.

When we talked about moving to Oz, it was always a given that we would move back to Melbourne. Moving back there would be easy, there was a certain routine that we would be able to fall into because we've lived there and we know the place and how things work.

But something changed this time. We noticed how much it was like Vancouver, green grass, blue skies, water everywhere. All that was lacking was ranges in the distance and the neutral North American accent. Because we were on the coast and had rented an apartment on a cliff that overlooked the Indian Ocean, we were floored by the sound of the surf, the vast expanse ahead of us and the peace that came from looking out at such an expanse with no one or nothing else around us.

All of a sudden, all we could think about was how we should move here, how our kids would benefit from the sun, sand, surf, green and the open space. All of a sudden, Melbourne became grotty, industrial and not as pretty. It's not an adventurous thing to do, as a Singaporean. Some suburbs in Perth are known as Singapore, Perth because of the large numbers of Singaporean migrants. But we're not setting out to do something different and setting a blazing trail here.

We're wondering if this is where we and our family will be happy and content. No doubt there are higher taxes. No doubt things are more expensive here. No doubt we would be uprooting and there would be the fear of how to make things work here. But are these large enough considerations to stop us from moving?

Something that was said to me resonates loudly though. This person told me he wasn't ready to quit Singapore and move overseas however tempting the prospects. Was I? I thought about the factors that would keep me from moving.

  1. Singapore is easy. I've lived in Singapore most of my life, I know how most of the systems work although the government never ceases to befuddle me.
  2. Our families and friends are here and by moving, we'd be apart from them.
  3. We have a support system and a life here. We have people to count on and help us if necessary. We have a life here. What quality is that life? That's another question altogether. But whatever it is, however unhappy we are or discontent, we have a life, we're used to it and it works. Sort of.
  4. Eating out is cheap. Public transport is cheap. Movies are cheap. Everything else might be costly but those aren't.
Those are factors within Singapore that keep me from moving. There are also factors about where ever we move to, i.e. Perth or Melbourne that keep me from moving as well.

  1. Expensive healthcare. Singapore isn't all that cheap and I know we'd buy health insurance over there but the horrors of the public health system are enough to give anyone nightmares.
  2. Where ever we move to, I worry about having to look for a job. I look upon, with a little bit of envy, those who are posted overseas to work and are given help to relocate. If that was our situation, I would move in a little bit more than a heartbeat.
  3. I fear the loneliness which is linked to the idea that we have friends, family and a support system here. I am a people person. I would feel very lost without friends and people around me.
  4. High taxes.
When I tell that to Packrat, he points out that most of what I see as flaws in the Australian system are not specific to the country but basically the fear and uncertainty of uprooting. And it doesn't make me feel that the kids would benefit from the experience any less so despite my reservations, I'm back where I started, right back at the beginning.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:15

1 thoughts...

1 thoughts...

At 7:56 pm Blogger Jenny said...

I've been through both systems. And I can honestly say that I prefer my lifestyle in Perth better than my lifestyle in Singapore.

I've actually managed to save a lot more money in Perth than Singapore (even though I've got a mortgage now, but didn't in Singapore) because I don't go out much. I've started cooking more (takeaways are so much easier in Singapore), and that's honestly saved me HEAPS of money, even though I occasionally buy the odd pre-cooked meal - where in Singapore can you buy a roast chicken for $3?

Instead of going to the movies, I rent DVDs - $1 for each on Tuesdays! Or if I'm DYING to go to the cinema, and older cinemas don't faze me, I can get tickets at $6.50 per ticket.

I used to take cabs everywhere in Singapore, simply because I'm on my feet enough in the classroom, there's no way in hell that I'm going to stand in a crowded bus full of kids and other rude, obnoxious people pushing their bags into your back. But in Perth, I spend about $20 a week on transport, in the comfort of my own car. I don't even have to wait for trains/buses/cabs! I love it!

Granted, the Singaporean tax system is a lot easier to follow than the tax system in AU, but there are so many more benefits that I've experienced, compared to Singapore. Pay for personal health insurance and be able to claim back expenses on dental, optical, chiropractic, physiological, etc. care, that far exceeds your cost for that insurance? Not having to pay to see the doctor? That's awesome.

Job-hunting will be the same in AU and SG anyway. They will prefer Caucasians over Chinese. So given that the pay is higher in AU, doesn't it make more sense to emigrate?

But in the end, if you're thinking about emigrating, the most important point will be that both of you agree to stick it out. It won't be smooth-sailing from day dot, but IMO, it will definitely be worth it.

Until AU finally turns into Singapore.


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