When German chancellor Angela Merkel single-handedly ignored German law and opened the doors to well over a million of unskilled immigrants from backwater countries in the middle of 2015, I realized that I may have to seriously consider leaving Europe for good. I wasn’t overly optimistic about the future of the European Union as a political structure, to begin with. Furthermore, of the more advanced European countries, I don’t think there is a single one without significant problems. If you don’t want to leave Europe behind and you are in a position to move and start over somewhere else, Eastern Europe is arguably your best bet. That was one of my motivations behind exploring a small number of Eastern European countries on a trip last year, starting with Krakow in Poland. There are a few more posts on my other blog.
As the West is declining, Asia is rising. Even a much-maligned Asian country like Japan is in an indefinitely better position than your typical leftwing European dystopian country. The only problem is getting in. On that note, I applied to a large Japanese corporation with an international footprint on a whim some time ago. The manager, an expat from Switzerland, was overly excited, but he pointed out that even though he doesn’t run his department like a traditional Japanese manager, work/life balance would be nothing like in Europe. He had a point, and after some further research, I shelved my plans of exploring Japan. Arguably just as bad are companies in South Korea. Yet, if your professional skillset is in demand, it is not at all impossible to get a foot in the door. Granted, you’ll always be a foreigner in those countries, but as a white Western male you probably feel like a foreigner in your own country already anyway. There is also the issue of the language barrier. Learning a language like Japanese or Korean is tough on its own. Doing so when working 60+ hours a week would be a Herculean challenge. Thus, if you wanted to explore a more traditional Asian country like Japan or South Korea, you would probably be confined to expat circles.
I also thought of exploring China. In bigger cities like Beijing or Shanghai, there are certainly opportunities for Westerners with no or limited command of Chinese. No, I’m not referring to gigs as an English language teacher. Working hours would be quite unpleasant, though. There is even the shorthand “9-9-6”, i.e. working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on six days a week. The money can be pretty good. Based on what I gathered from talking to a Chinese woman who used to work at Huawei, if I recall correctly, as a qualified engineer you could make a decent amount of money.
I don’t know whether I want to bother learning a new language from scratch, though. Thus, there are two Asian countries or, more precisely, city states, that I considered particularly interesting: Hong Kong and Singapore, which are partly English-speaking. From friends working in Hong Kong, I gained valuable second-hand knowledge of how incredibly difficult the housing situation really is, which was a bit of a bummer. Overall, though, I’ve been hearing great things about Hong Kong, and if I didn’t have a personal connection to Singapore, by virtue of being engaged to a wonderful young Singaporean woman, I could as well have explored Hong Kong instead. As that wasn’t the case, I instead flew to Singapore. Here, feast on one of the most iconic vistas of Singapore:
I have applied to a few jobs in Singapore. I got a few interviews, and I even held an offer with a salary that would have led to a better standard of living as I currently enjoy in Europe. I eventually turned it down for a few reasons, none of which this post is the place to go into. There are a few potential downsides to Singapore if you want to settle long-term, which I will cover separately. In any case, even if you only want to go to Singapore for a few years, it’s good to do some reconnaissance beforehand. My almost three weeks in Singapore were largely about that, as well as spending a lot of quality time with my girlfriend.
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3 thoughts on “Experiencing Singapore (1): Prelude”
“From friends working in Hong Kong, I gained valuable second-hand knowledge of how incredibly difficult the housing situation really is, which was a bit of a bummer. Overall, though, I’ve been hearing great things about Hong Kong, and if I didn’t have a personal connection to Singapore, by virtue of being engaged to a wonderful young Singaporean woman, I could as well have explored Hong Kong instead. ”
Whoa, congrats on getting engaged!
Also, for those looking to move to Hong Kong, this is a funny irreverent blog about living in HK (by an ex-pat):
how did you propose?