Settling from Singapore

By Adeline Chen, Contributor @ Kids In Perth 08 Mar 2022

thought piece - settling singapore

Now, I can truly call Perth home and proudly regard myself as West Australian.

I never always felt this way.

Migrating from Singapore as a family, it was my husband’s career that brought us to Perth and we faced the daunting challenge of settling into not only a new environment, but also, lifestyle. Leaving behind everyone and everything we know to make a new life.

Upon receiving confirmation of his Perth-based role, we quickly got started with planning out the big ticket of migrating to Perth. Browsing websites for homes within our budget, looking at schools, family cars, as well as, joining various facebook groups to scout and get a feel for what Perth is like.

Sure, we’ve been here on holidays and driven around but now we’re living here.

Our kids were excited by the prospect of living in a house over an apartment.

My husband loved the thought of finally being able to upgrade to a new car which would otherwise be unrealistic because of Singapore’s high import and registration taxes.

Like most things, figuring out the large ticket items was easy but the real challenges came once we got here.

For my husband, the work transition seemed straightforward, he figured out which buses and trains to take and quickly got used to working and socialising with his new colleagues.

However, for myself, it was more challenging.

Like my kids, it felt like going to a new school not knowing anyone except worse.

Everyday life was a routine of waking up, seeing my husband go to work and getting the kids to school and their activities. Our first year was especially tough and, personally, felt incredibly isolating. What made it worse was my husband came home from work happy and not recognising my sacrifice...

For the first time, I thought of divorcing him just to go home but, thankfully, I had the support of close friends encouraging me to find a solution rather than an exit.

thought piece - settling singapore 2

Quickly, I started to create an Action Plan, which I’m sharing with everyone to help any migrant mother settle in Perth or create empathy among locals to what someone goes through when they settle abroad.

  • Humble yourself
    Putting aside the pride of being a career woman back in Singapore, I started to find casual and part time work just to regularly meet new people and make friends.
  • Start a hobby business
    I took the opportunity to learn new skills by registering for really affordable business courses at the Small Business Development Centre. It gave me a chance to figure out a side hustle that keeps me busy throughout the day while I’m home by myself.
  • Explore through food!
    Quickly, we found food that reminded us of home such as Tak Chee in Northbridge for their Chicken Rice. Being brave, we explored all around us, so far, we went to Girrawheen for Vietnamese food and Nollamara for African food!
  • Mix with other cultures
    Like Singapore, Perth is a melting pot of different cultures and more so.
    I woke up to this fact and started to introduce myself to all the “Ang Moh” around me and found them to be welcoming and friendly once you introduce yourself. Some people are cliquish but that’s to be expected, however, I’ve made many close friends from lots of different cultures including a family from South America.
  • Find fun!
    Ignore Western Australia (WA) being the butt of jokes such as “Wait Awhile” or Perth being boring because it’s not. Yes, you do have to find fun around you but there’s uniquely local things to do that you can’t do back in Singapore such as:

    • Crabbing in Mandurah or Swan River, just don’t be “kiasu” or selfish, it perpetuates embarrassing stereotypes.
    • Every week, there’s always a local festival or family event happening in every corner of Perth! You just have to find them on a variety of websites and parent blogger sites such as… Kids In Perth. We recommend the Office of Multicultural Interests (omi.wa.gov.au).
  • Communicate
    After letting my husband know how I truly felt, he was sweet to tell me that the worst part of his day was leaving me alone at home with only housework to occupy my mind and time and this pain would dwell in his mind all day.

Here is my action plan, I hope it serves you and your family well.

Migrating to a new country, culture and lifestyle is challenging but, incredibly, rewarding as well.

Have you got a similar story or advice? Please contribute to this article by sharing in our comments section.

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