Friday, April 22, 2005

Sydney versus Perth.

It is the hour of the wolf again. Fortunately a long midnight conversation with D. over the phone is keeping the wolf at bay..

Unlike the Uniquely Singapore (sic) approach of a Hobson's Choice to the issue of a casino, I face a real personal choice of which Australian city to live in.

The short answer: Perth.

The long answer: It depends.

If I can find stable well-paying work in any major Australia city, I will jump at the chance to relocate immediately for a couple years first. Yes, even if that city is as far north as Darwin or as far south as Hobart.

But to be realistic, what are the chances of an Australia-based employer deciding to hire a candidate situated over 3000km away without even a local phone number and address? And we have no local support structure (family, relatives, etc) so there is no preference to any specific city on that account.

The more likely scenario would be to relocate physically first and try to find work in the immediate area while settling down. An email from a successful Singapore emigrant to Australia confirms my suspicion that it would be less stressful to structure the move in two stages, staggering the transition periods (thanks for the encouragement, you know who you are!).

Before anybody asks me about Melbourne, let me just rule Melbourne for now based the following personal reasons:

  • no significant experience living in Melbourne
  • four seasons per day Melbourne weather does not appeal to me
  • the classy charms of Melbourne of clubs, arts and culture holds little appeal for a boorish soul like myself
And I know little outside of the tourist standpoint for the other major cities of Brisbane and Canberra. And I have not even set foot in the other major cities of Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin, Cairns or Broome.

From a realistic standpoint, my choices are limited to Sydney and Perth for the moment..

I love Sydney from the time I have spent working there. Even after you take away the beautiful harbour, the Coathanger (highly underrated, imho) and the Opera House (highly overrated, imho). Sydney is a much more metropolitan urban city than Singapore will be in my lifetime. And there is always something new to do, something new to see, something new to try. After you tire of the big city, the amazing bushwalking-friendly cliffs of the Blue Mountains are only an hour west. Or miles of empty beaches to the east. And the large population and thriving economy as the business centre of Australia translates into more ready availability of jobs (as compared to the other cities).

So I would not mind at all being a cockroach (Sydneysider).

Perth, by comparison, feels like an overgrown country town. However the undeveloped natural emptyness on the edge of Perth city would be something you have to travel for hours out of Sydney to get. And Perth town city is pretty much urban enough for this city kid. And Perth is a lot more laid-back, lower crime, and friendly than Sydney.

It would not be very hard to learn to love Perth.

Unfortunately the clincher comes down to hard cold cash.

Sydney is expensive. Housing rental - the greatest component of cost - is easily twice of Perth. Food and fuel is about the same. However the operational costs of a vehicle (repairs, tolls, parking) are a lot higher in Sydney. Not to mention the incidental expenses requiring trade and professional services.

Moving on limited cash, there is a risk of running out of cash before securing a stable decent income. The lower costs of Perth must be balanced by the possibly greater difficulty in securing work in a smaller city.

In any case, both D. and myself would most likely have to get local certifications (probably going back to school), and chalk up some decent local work experience before we can get a good chance of landing higher-paying work to allow for the higher cost-of-living in Sydney versus Perth.

So that is pretty much the rough plan. Land in Perth for a couple years and secure a foothold before considering a possible move to Sydney later in life. Or we may - I possibly suspect - fall in love with Perth and decide to stay on, and visiting Sydney and Singapore for holidays. We are hardly teenagers or twenty-year-olds looking for the excitement of living in "the big city". Or we may end up living somewhere totally unexpected. Life throws curveballs all the time, you know.
"Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."
- John Lennon (1940-1980)


Blogger MQube said...

Have you tried MNCs here with operations in Australia? I once landed an interview in Sydney while still in Singapore by approaching their local rep office here. Some interviews can be conducted over the phone, though others preferred that you fly down.

Try it. It would give you a better assessment of the skills in demand there and help you position yourself better.

Good luck!

April 22, 2005 8:52 AM  
Blogger elin said...

Melbourne is/has :
- 3 hours away from the snow
- 3 hours away from horseriding
- where I can satisfy my fetish for hats, scarves, coats, boots
- where u can just be yourself - corporate, grunge, bush, fitness freak, bookworm, comedian, dancer, singer WHATEVER
- where australian open, grand prix is
- best pizza and gelato (bar italy)
- home of footy
- Fitzroy and Kensington

BUT Melbourne has
- bad ASIAN food (except at my house, S's house and BISMI for prata)
- trams and pbad public transport (anywhere is bad comapred to SG)
- too much footy

Basically wherever you lay your hat, thats your home.

No reason why I would choose Melbourne over other Australian states except for the mere fact of FAMILIARITY. After 10 years here, I can pretty much drive myself anywhere without have to pour over the Melways. Thats a very empowering feeling.

Well, Sydney has always been too much like SG for me, but she does have much better Asian food. And the Mardi Gras I guess :). Even the Lion King is coming to Melb afterall.

Meaningless rambling...

April 22, 2005 11:18 AM  
Anonymous michellaling said...

I am looking at Melbourne myself. Not that I really liked it when I was a tourist there.But Perth is way too small & hence lesser work opportunities? while, Sydney is too ang-mo. So melbourne, the other bigger city - hopefully more opportunities, more seasons(ha) but importantly, an alternate life out of this little space.
Been following your ramblings, you echo the fears of people like myself.
But I always believe, Que Sera Sera.
Hence, just do it!
By the way, my registered article reached Victoria (Phew) & I am still waiting for the outcome.

April 22, 2005 2:58 PM  
Blogger vin said...

heh. Melbourne is like a freaking Asian country..too much asians for my liking.

I prefer Perth. It is not as busy compared to Melbourne and Sydney and I like quiet places!

April 22, 2005 6:54 PM  
Blogger sngck said...

I studied in Canberra. Let me know if you want to find out more.

Basically I liken it to Singapore, clean and green and orderly, except that you are FREE. The roads are nice and wide, and it's a pleasure to drive there. No high rise buildings, and the city centre only has 2-3 'big' shopping centre.

For a 'boorish' person like yourself, it could be perfect. As I understand it, you are in IT, and many govt IT outsourcers are located in Canberra.

It could be boring at first, but you will grow to like the place. Houses are relatively cheap, you are two hours from snow and one half hours away from the sea. Sydney is three hours away.

There is a little chinatown where you can go to for Asian fare, and they are not too bad!

April 22, 2005 10:34 PM  
Blogger jeffyen said...

Perth has the most wonderful weather... I still can't understand how it's done...

April 23, 2005 12:57 AM  
Blogger Lianne said...

you're probably better off not looking at cairns too hard either. i grew up around there, and every year i go back it seems to have died off that little bit more.. gorgeous countryside around it though, and beautiful weather, apart from the occasional hurricane. heh.

April 24, 2005 10:41 PM  

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