Where to Live – Singapore or Melbourne?

27 Jun

My husband and I moved to Melbourne from Singapore because opportunities were opened up for us here. Our immigrant visa was approved, and my husband was offered a job here in Melbourne. It was a long decision-making process, as it wasn’t easy for us to leave good jobs and close friends that we had in Singapore. After much contemplation and prayers, our resolution was to give this opportunity a try and see how it goes once we’re here.

So more than five months into this trial stage of living here in Australia, particularly Melbourne, we thought of writing down what we think so far to help organize our thoughts and give you a few points of comparison between Singapore and Australia –

HOUSING

In Singapore, people tend to buy or rent HDB flats and private condo units. Landed houses are pretty much for the uber rich or expats whose homes are provided for by employers.

In Australia, there are also condo units and apartments equivalent to flats in Singapore. But families opt for landed houses.

In terms of cost, homes are more affordable in Australia. Basically, the amount you will need to buy a flat/condo unit in Singapore can already be used to buy a landed house here. New apartment type units like the one we are renting now cost about the same, though.

Rental price just varies a little from those in Singapore.

Currently, we are renting a two-bedroom unit apartment less than 30 minutes away from Melbourne CBD by train. We pay AUD1700 (SGD2200 as of this writing) per month for this. Our rent is considered high by local standards. But we opted for this because our main consideration is accessibility. We are still deciding whether to buy a car or not because we have no kids and we are still in that trial stage of staying here.

Restaurants, markets, and shops are just five minutes away and a couple of minutes further, you can hop on the train or tram to get to the city. Also, this unit is brand new and the rent comes with a reserved parking space.

For the same amount of space, but not as new or a bit farther away from transpo/amenities (which is not a problem if you have a car), rent can be as cheap AUD1300-AUD1500 for a decent landed house or unit.

One thing to note, though, is that when renting here, the place would usually be unfurnished. Only the stove, oven, and dishwasher would come with the rent. So when moving here, you need to consider this when determining your start-up budget.

TRANSPORT

The cost of brand new cars here start at around $17,000, which is just a fraction of Singapore’s COE. You can pretty much picture out how big the difference is in the amount you have to put up to own a car.

As for public transport, Melbourne has quite an extensive transport network compared to Singapore (and Sydney). But the fares are incredibly expensive. A single day pass covering both zone 1 and zone 2 would cost around 11 AUD. If you are buying a monthly pass, it will be reduced to around 6 AUD. Still considerably higher than what you will spend going to and from work in Singapore, where the maximum you pay would be less than 4 SGD.

WORK

Work passes are not as common as in Singapore. So normally, the path one would take is to get an immigrant visa first, then find a job. As for finding a job, it is usually quite challenging and takes a long time, because most companies would hire only if you have prior local experience here. My husband and I have been blessed on this area, though. He was able to get a job from outside Australia (while we were still in Singapore). I was able to get hired three months after landing. Both of us did not need local experience. So we believe it depends on the need for your skill, and on God’s will πŸ™‚

It is common knowledge that the working hours in Australia are family-friendly, which is the ultimate selling point for migrants to decide to come here. Being an IT professional, I was doubtful about this before we went here. But I was pleasantly surprised that the same applies to my field, too. People go off at 5 PM, or earlier, and do not do overtime unless required.

Now about work compensation (are you glad I’m finally touching this topic? :p ), we believe it depends on the field. Top earners here are those in the mining industry, the ones largely supporting Australia’s economy and are based in Perth. As in any country, the IT industry pays well, too. But whether IT is paid more here or in SG, there is no general index that can be used as basis. It depends on which IT field you are in. For the sake of my friends in mainframe, I have good news for you, though. The NET pay here is largely higher than in Singapore. If you are curious about how much your field is being paid here, the answer lies in just a simple Google search πŸ™‚ But for estimating your net salary, you have to consider the high tax rates here, which takes off a big chunk from your pay.

PEOPLE

Australians or residents of Australia have been migrants at one point or another, so there is quite a mix of races in the country. Melbourne, in particular, is a melting pot of racial origins such as Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and many more.
So going into the concern of most people about the problem of racial discrimination, considering the fact that there are so many migrants here, I believe it is not that much of an issue. Also, there are laws against racial discrimination to protect an individual. Though, come to think of it, the fact that there are laws such as these means that the problems exists.. But personally, we do not have an actual, evident experience of being discriminated. We have been asking around as well for opinions on this problem, and people’s stories and observations differ.. So I guess, yes, there will still be instances that some sort of prejudice will come to surface, but then, does this not happen in any country where there are differences in culture? From my five years of living in Singapore, I can attest that this can also be felt there, too.. Especially now that locals are becoming increasingly threatened by the large influx of foreigners in the country.

So far, I find the people I come across with and the people I work with quite friendly. I am still getting used to the standard small talk that one engages you in when you enter a shop or when you meet someone you know – “Hi! How are you today?”. And you are actually expected to answer or ask back πŸ™‚ Having lived in countries like the Philippines and Singapore, I’m certainly not used to this. Not wanting to be misjudged as a snob or a non-English speaker, I eventually adapted and learned to reply. So hmm, I think the culture here is on the friendlier side.

FOOD

For groceries and fresh produce, the cost is about the same. There are products that are more expensive here, but there also products that are cheaper. So the difference in amounts just cancel each other out. But there is definitely more variety here. Not just food itself, but in the kitchen tools and trinkets that you can buy. Probably because, unlike Singaporeans, Australians normally cook at home. Not sure though if it’s because they love to cook, or because as we have observed, eating out here is quite expensive.

In Singapore, hawker centres are everywhere, and probably more than half of the population would like to eat out. You can get a decent meal for as low as 3 SGD. Here in Melbourne, a meal would cost at least 6 AUD. A more elaborate meal in Singapore for about 15 SGD will cost you more than 20 AUD here..

When it comes to variety, on the other hand, a typical food court here would contain stalls for Western/Aussie, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and occasionally, Thai food. In Singapore, the variety includes Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Western and Indian.

SHOPPING

If you like faire des courses, then we can tell you outright that shopping is definitely better in Singapore. There are more brands, and retail is definitely generally cheaper. Yes, one can still stumble upon good finds in sales here, but it still doesn’t compare to those authentic, branded items you can buy for a fraction of its cost in Singapore.

The only place where you can find cheap buys that I’ve come across so far here in Melbourne is Queen Victoria Market, but I still find myself missing Bugis Junction or Toa Payoh πŸ™‚

Only big supermarkets and a few stores are open til late night daily. Stores usually close at 5 or 6 PM on Saturdays to Wednesdays here, but are open til 9 on Thursdays and Fridays. Something to adjust to when you’ve been used to shops closing at 9 or 10 PM everyday in Singapore.

WEATHER

This did not seem like a big consideration for us before coming here, but moving from a warm/tropical country to a cold country definitely requires a change in lifestyle. If you like the warm weather in the Philippines/Singapore, you will really miss that, especially when you are in Melbourne, where it can still be cold even during a summer day. I can now understand why Australians are loving Singapore “because it’s summer all year round”.

So there. Again, we are still in that trial stage of living here.. Not really leaning on a particular decision yet. As you can imagine, there are a lot of things to consider. But basically, it all boils down to what your preferences in life are πŸ™‚

==========

Update on 2012/02/26:

For information on Family Life, I’ve created another post –Β https://livinginmelbourne.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/family-life-in-australia/

==========

Advertisements

45 Responses to “Where to Live – Singapore or Melbourne?”

  1. xian June 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

    thanks for the info. it gives me a better picture on the difference between living here in Singapore and migrating there in OZ. hopefully, me and my family will be there next year πŸ™‚ Godbless po πŸ™‚

    • weych June 28, 2012 at 8:36 PM #

      thanks, God bless din πŸ™‚

  2. aolee June 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

    Thanks for sharing. it’s really a nice blog article. Happy you manage to settle in smoothly there in OZ. I’m currently here in SG and on a dilema whether to pursue my OZ dream because of the new Ruling this coming july 2012.

    BTW saw this link from http://www.pinoyau.info (a filipino australian community), shared by a member lctan1.

    You may want to join use there too πŸ™‚

    God bless.

    • weych June 28, 2012 at 8:38 PM #

      I’m a bit lazy sa forums πŸ˜‰ Kami rin is still weighing kung san ok.. Really depends on what you want in life.. God bless your decision-making πŸ™‚

  3. aldousnow June 27, 2012 at 9:54 PM #

    Just to add, you can also shop branded items/clothes at factory outlets for cheaper price πŸ™‚

    • weych June 28, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

      yep true, cheaper than actual retail prices πŸ™‚ but i’ve gone to factory outlets here, and i still find them more expensive than those on sale in SG, or in outlet stores in the US..

  4. xian June 28, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Hi Rachelle,

    It’s me again. I got this information from pinoyau.com and would appreciate if you can give us another picture about it since you can compare both sg and au from your own experience.

    4k SGD/month == 80k AUD above (annually), is it somewhat close?

    Consider the condition that you are PR in both countries.

    Source: http://www.pinoyau.info/discussion/comment/414#Comment_414

    Salamat po ng marami πŸ™‚

    • weych June 28, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

      hi xian,

      not sure if i understood your question correctly.. are you asking kung ang translation ng salary mo if you are earning 4k SGD/month sa SG is around 80k AUD naman dito annually? hmm.. somewhat close.. pero can be much higher.. it really depends on your field.. have you looked at the salary guides for this year? makikita mo dun exactly ung range for your given field..

      • lctan1 June 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

        AUD80k per year would translate to about a net of AUD5k per month after taxes. Which is approx 6.4k SGD. There is a 9% superannuation fund that the company is required to contribute on your behalf similar to the cpf, but you cant use it to buy a house unlike in sg. Clarify that your salary is exclusive or inclusive of this superannuation fund.

      • xian July 2, 2012 at 4:18 PM #

        thanks @weych and @lctan1

        I have a better idea now. it’s time to apply since the new points system is already implemented. πŸ™‚ hope we’ll be there soon πŸ™‚

  5. Joey July 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM #

    Hi Weych,

    Would like to know which suburb do you stay in Mel?

    Am migrating to Mel end of the year and considering which suburb to live in.

    Thank you and God bless πŸ™‚

    Joey

    • weych July 23, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

      Box Hill πŸ™‚

  6. Mr.Nitsuga September 6, 2012 at 6:59 PM #

    Hi Weych,

    Thanks you for sharing your views about sg vs Aussie.

    I am like you, PR in SG and been lucky to achieved Aus PR too. I am living in Singapore for the past 17 years and believe me I ‘ve seen how Singapore unpredictably changed their Foreign talents policy. Unfortunately , now they came up with more unfavorable policy

    My family is PR of Aussie since 2007 and it will expires this coming Nov 2012. We are planning to move there by 15-Nov-2012 but our visa will expires on 20-Nov-2012. You think this is still okay?

    After thinking hard for the past 5 years we finally decided to pursue our plan to move down there. I probably studied, read thousand of blogs, argued, reflected, etc, etc. convincing myself to arrived in this decision.

    I can say that we are considered settle here in SG having our own HDB flat, own car and well paid high position jobs. I am writing this not to boast but to let others know that if you are planning for much better welfare for you and your family….SG FT’s unstable policies + tough education system for Children + Retirement Benefits + Healthcare will make Australia more attractive.

    So May God Blessed our decisions!

    Cheers!

    • weych September 6, 2012 at 11:19 PM #

      I assume you went to Australia and landed just to meet the landing deadline time soon after you got your visa, is that right?

      If you are going to Australia on Nov 15, then you would only have 5 days remaining on your visa.. Not sure how that would work out when you go through immigration. I am thinking that you may need to get a new visa already… Because you should have a valid visa for the duration of the stay.

      From what I’ve understood about how you described your situation, you weren’t able to serve your minimum stay as a permanent resident, so the extension of your permanent residency may not be as straightforward.

      You may want to consult with the Australian High Commission there in SG regarding this the soonest you can.

      • Mr.Nitsuga September 7, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

        Weych,

        Hi, yes we did visit OZ last 2008. I’ve checked with SG’s OZ High Commission and yeah as long as we arrived prior to that date, that is not a problem. What expires is the multiple entry and not the PR status.

        As for renewal of RRV we need to stay there for continuous 2 years to be eligible for renewal.

        Yeah I guess we are set to move there…btw I am an Engineer and my wife is IT Business Analyst presently working here in a bank in SG. Sad to say that we sent tons of resume and interest for the past 3 months already thru SEEK and others but to no avail and we got nothing but “Thank You for the Interest”. My wife said that maybe it’s because we are still in SG and maybe better if we are already there. I hope she’s right.

        Hows the job opportunities in Melbourne now?

        Once again thanks for your time sharing your OZ views. Hope that my family and yours can get acquainted there in the future.

        God Bless,
        Jay Agustin

      • weych September 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM #

        That’s good news then πŸ™‚ So I guess the only complication is that you can’t leave AU for 2 years from the time you arrive.

        As for the jobs here, it depends on the field.. Even in IT, the demand varies based on the platform.. To have a feel of our jobs’ demand here, what we did was to monitor the postings in different jobseeker websites here for several months before we went here.

        Sure, if you’ll be residing here in Melbourne, feel free to get in touch with us πŸ™‚ God bless you on your plans.

  7. KH Lee May 18, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

    Really thanks for sharing your experiences in Melbourne. I would like to migrate to Melbourne one day. Is it convenient if I could get more tips from you? I am a chinese Malaysian guy married but no child yet. I have a mother. Hope to get a job here and bring my family to Melbourne.

    Sincerely,
    KH Lee

    • weych May 21, 2013 at 10:57 PM #

      No problem. Just ask or let me know about any info you need, will be happy to help you in any way I can πŸ™‚ We have a lot of Malaysian friends here from our lifegroup in church πŸ™‚

  8. Sandy May 22, 2013 at 3:18 AM #

    Nice blog.. I really appreciate…

  9. tigerlily1986 June 16, 2013 at 7:53 PM #

    Lovely blog – I will soon be moving to Melbourne from Oxford, UK and I have been looking for some blogs to give me a taste of what life is going to be like there. I know this was comparing Melbourne with Singapore, but some points you’ve made here have been really useful. I’m appreciating the ‘insider knowledge.’

    • weych June 16, 2013 at 7:58 PM #

      Glad to know my blog has been of help πŸ™‚

  10. Mike August 2, 2013 at 6:43 PM #

    Thanks Weych for insights.
    Indeed a very good blog and good starter kit info.

    I’m planning to move from SG to Melbourne next month (still contemplating between Sydney and Melbourne though). ‘wondering whether you know or can recommend any affordable accomodation for 1 person (the rest of the family will come later when I find a job or at least settle down for 2 months)?

    I’m still looking for a job in IT and will continue my search when I get there.

    Pinoy din po ako. I moved to SG in 2001 and got my SG citizen on 2007 and recently got my AU PR this year;

  11. jolin ma August 9, 2013 at 9:28 AM #

    Hi Weych!
    I am a NUS student from Singapore and looking at the possibility of migrating to either Australia or the UK. I have been on e leisure trip to Melbourne and Tasmania recently and realise how much I prefer the lifestyle there than in Singapore. I always loved Europe and the UK so that is why I concluded these 2 countries as the potential ones I may consider to migrate to. After reading your post, it makes me feel like this thought may well be possible to action upon. I would like to know more Singaporeans who have migrated overseas and would love to hear from u soon!
    Jolin

  12. Michael September 4, 2013 at 5:30 PM #

    Hi, I really love your blog here as it gives us an honest and straight from the source overview.

    As a proud father of 11 months old superboy, I’m considering OZ (esp Melbourne) for long term to stay. Singapore is a great place too in terms of security, and facility. However it becomes quite pricey for foreigners like us.

    Another personal aspect for me is that I prefer creativity education than exam-oriented like Singapore style. It’s not that it’s bad, but I think kids should have a lot of time to play and learn. To explore and having their own time, than focusing on scores in paper based.

    Oh, and I love driving. Back in Indonesia i love to drive to different areas to explore but I can’t do that in Singapore (u know why). I dont mind buying a used car, as long as it’s clean, and working properly.

    So yeah.. im working on it now. Hopefully my family can be there next year πŸ™‚

    God bless.

  13. Movers Singapore September 18, 2013 at 5:24 PM #

    Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels.

    I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  14. Linda October 2, 2013 at 1:51 AM #

    Hi, I would like to know the education difference between SG & Melbourne? I know there are private sch ….. whats the difference between public & private sch?

    Cheer!
    Linda

    • weych October 5, 2013 at 3:57 AM #

      Hi Linda,

      I’m not sure if I’m the best person to answer your question, because I did not study in either Singapore or Australia and I don’t have kids yet. I could only relay what I’ve been told by friends.. Have you read my other post on Family Life here? I discussed a bit on what I gathered about the difference between the educational system here and in Asia ->
      https://livinginmelbourne.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/family-life-in-australia/

      On your question on the difference between public and private school, all I could say is that in my circle of friends, it seems that a majority of parents would normally opt to have their kids study in private school if they can afford it, for reasons that are about the same as why parents in Asia send their children to private school as well.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Saravanan December 23, 2013 at 10:23 PM #

    Hi there, thanks for sharing. My wife and I toying with the idea of moving to Melbourne. How has life been for you since you wrote this article? Thanks for replying and merry Xmas! Cheers!

  16. lakshmi February 28, 2014 at 1:32 PM #

    Thanks for this wonderful post. It has given me a better picture in understanding about Aussie migration.

  17. Joji Thomas (@iJoji) March 17, 2014 at 4:18 PM #

    Thank you so much. Very useful information for me at the right time.
    May i ask you a question since i don’t have much information about melbourne.
    If i am offered a job with 120k package (base salary + superannuation), is that sufficient to have a decent life in melbourne for a family of 3? Will we able to save anything?

    • weych March 18, 2014 at 12:53 AM #

      Hi Joji. Glad to know my blog has been of help to you. For a modest lifestyle, you can actually get by with 80k. So 120k should be more than enough in allowing you to save up πŸ™‚

  18. Rochelle March 24, 2014 at 10:06 PM #

    Hello. Thank you for your blog. Your blog is useful and informative.
    I am thinking of working in SG, but I have relatives in Aus. They want me to work in Aus. Dahil Aus citizen na sila at may bahay at lupa na rin. They want me to apply for a student visa then apply for another visa once I’m done studying.
    Btw, 3 months pa lang ako sa aking first job. So most probably, I’ll be applying for a job in SG or a visa in Aus.
    I want to ask you which place would I fit in? SG where there are more job opportunities or in Aus where I have my relatives but with less job opportunity?

    • weych March 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM #

      Hi Rochelle. What’s your undergrad or line of work?

      • Rochelle March 24, 2014 at 10:17 PM #

        I’m a Management Accounting graduate. Graduated March 2013. I’m working as an Invoice Clerk at a Petroleum company.
        If i would choose Aus, my relatives suggested to take bridging courses before working.

      • weych March 30, 2014 at 8:45 AM #

        Sorry for replying late. You must have heard this before, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide based on your preferences and goals in life.. Have you been to both countries? If not, I suggest you go and visit both and have a look at the culture and people’s lifestyles to get a better understanding of what’s in store for you in either country. Do you really have a lot of opportunities in SG? From our stay in SG from 2006-2011, I’ve come to know that your field is popular among locals so they seldom have an opportunity for foreigners.. What does your research of the SG job market tell you? As for AU, we’ve only been here for 2 years so I have limited knowledge still of the market here.. But what I can tell you is it is not easy as well to take the bridging courses path.. Personally I’d rather gain experience first before going here. But then if you have the resources and are willing to patiently spend time for it, it is an option, I guess.

  19. jonathan October 23, 2015 at 9:06 PM #

    Hi, that was a very insightful and informative blog. I’m Chinese Australian citizen (i was issued my Australian citizenship/passport when i was 6-7). When i was 12, i moved from Melbourne to Singapore and i spent just over 12 years studying in SG (now i’m currently working my first job in Singapore for the past 3 months). In terms of finding employment in Melbourne, when you talked about needing local experience to find employment in Melbourne, does that mean if i have accumulated work experience in Singapore (as opposed to Australia), the chances of securing employment in Australia is affected to some degree? I just wanted to seek clarification on this part.

  20. Nuramalina September 17, 2016 at 8:18 AM #

    Hi.

    We are at the final stages of pr. Do you have any pointers such as what items need to do prior to arrival in melbourne?

    1. Housing rental – any agency to recommend
    2. Which bank in melbourne to open up.our savings account?

    • weych September 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

      Hi Nuramalina,
      Real estate agencies here are generally ok, normally just looking up at properties for rental in domain.com.au or realestate.com.au should suffice. As for the bank for your savings account, the safe options would be to go with any of the Big Four banks here – Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB or ANZ. Then when you are here already, you can explore other banks which sometimes offer bigger interest rates.

      • Lina September 17, 2016 at 2:44 PM #

        Hi.

        What will be rental fees for an apartment or a house in melbourne? As we have 2 young kids, is it wise to view the property 1st or must we book a property agent through the websites u given to me?

        Is it a weekly payment for rental?.must we pay upfront cash payment to the agent or is there any duration of the contract?

        Is it wise to find a jobs 1st in melbourne before we rent out the house? Btw, how many mths u took before u make yr 1st land after the pr visa approval?

        Rgds
        Lina

      • weych September 23, 2016 at 8:47 AM #

        The rental fees will depend on the property. You will have an idea how much from the websites I provided. Iy is always wise to inspect the property first, public inspection times are listed under each property. If there’s none listed, you can email the agent or use the links in the site to book an inspection. Weekly rates are listed, but you still pay monthly (monthly rate is computed as weekly rate Γ— 52 / 12). You normally pay 1 month advance and a bond equivalent to a month’s rent as well. Note that the bond here is for insurance in case of damages to the property, not as insurance for the rent you are paying.

        We took about 6 months after approval before making our first landing.

      • Nuramalina September 29, 2016 at 9:31 AM #

        Good morning and hi again.

        Thanks for the clarifications. Next, i would like to enquire about the following items:

        1. The tax file number
        2. Medicare

        Should we apply these during our 1st landing? Below are the items we plan for during the 1st landing plan march 2017.

        1. Housing rental
        2. Job interviews
        3. Medicare
        4. Tax num
        5. Savings account

        Are these the basic things we need to do 1st? Thanks for your assistance and valuable feedback.

        Rgds
        Lina

  21. apols October 6, 2016 at 7:24 PM #

    Hi Weych, i have a dilemma of moving to AU. Just like you we are in SG having well paying jobs, stable and PR for more than 9 yrs. I also have a job offer from Australia now, and may I know if I need to include the 30% Tax in my asking price? As singapore has 7% tax and we are also not paying any rent as we own our HDB. looking forward to ur reply

  22. Dodo February 1, 2017 at 8:24 PM #

    Hi, I’m a student who is still concerned where to move and study. I need to choose between Singapore and Australia (Brisbane or Sydney) to study arts in university but I don’t know which place will be better option for me because,I’m not trying to offend anyone but I feel if I stay in Singapore, I will feel bored because it a small country whereas Australia is big and has much more adventure and freedom. Anyways which country do you think its better option for me? xx

    • weych February 3, 2017 at 10:27 AM #

      I can’t really answer you properly from a stranger’s point of view, but having lived in both countries, what I can say is that both Australia and Singapore can offer you the adventure and freedom that you want. In Australia, there is plenty of things you can do and see within the different states in the country. Singapore, on the other hand, being a travel hub, aside from its tourist attractions, gives you the ability to travel quickly to different countries. What I suggest for you is to ultimately decide based on which country offers better education in terms of the field you want to pursue (for you, the arts). God bless on making the decision πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: