Comparing Singapore to Australia and Vietnam – Life and Career Prospects

Recently, we’ve welcomed a new member of our family at our new-found home in Australia. I began to wonder or think harder rather about our future: Are we REALLY STAYING here for good?

I am almost 30yrs old and almost completed my masters programme. I have had offers in Singapore, Vietnam and here in Australia. Of course, these offers didn’t come easy and there are some trade offs too. The bottom line is, I have been luckier than many who are still trapped in the ‘cocoon-like’ environment in Singapore. ‘Cocoon’ may be exaggerated but the recent causeway toll/fee hike and PM  Lee’s rally speech telling people having no degree can be a good/preferred life choice in Singapore, demonstrated the desire to head that path. Tell that to the PRCs’ parents who send their children overseas to study and they will tell you 95% of the Masters’ students in my course are PRCs, and good luck being the one without a degree compared to the sea of PRCs each with a masters degree. If you need more persuasion on whether to send your kids to university, please read what Prof Andersson (NTU president) has to say.

Anyway, I’m not in direct competition with those PRCs because I have some work experience and considered a PR here. The Aussie govt has a strict criteria on employing FTs. Most PRCs balik kampong within 6 months upon graduation. In Singapore, HR just have to wayang in jobsbank for 2 weeks to hire an FT. I am sure most Singaporeans are not daft to spot the ‘wayang’ and companies are not stupid enough to hire a citizen so that they don’t have to pay comparably more salary into the CPF and risk losing them to reservist. Till today, zero resolution from the gahmen.

Okay, let’s compare apple to apple:

Career prospects Singapore (as a citizen) Australia (as a PR) Vietnam (as an expat)

(Consumer level)


Sales Management

Expect 6.9 million consumers and cheap credit. If you are good in sales, you will rise fast. On the whole, better than Australia and Vietnam.

However, competition is so high that if you don’t hit target in 3-6 months, goodbye.

Then again, I was a salesperson in SG and I know you don’t need a masters degree to do the job. Just be a people person. There’s a saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Rating: 7 / 10

Unless you deal with property investment for PRCs, you don’t stand a chance against the locals (‘Angmohs’) here even though they are comparably less hard working. Angmoh customers discretely prefer Angmoh sales person. Then again, if you persevere long enough (in years) to master the trade and culture.

Labour relations are pro workers, so you don’t get fired easily.

Rating: 5 / 10

High / senior level only

Nobody will employ you as an expat to do a sale unless you are specialised in a trade. You become a consultant or senior manager instead for a B2B level jobscope. I am targeting for that kind of job. I’ve heard the starting payscale is 3-5k. The cost of living is low compared to Sg and Au and life as an expat there can be fantastic.

Rating: 6 / 10

Accounting and Finance


In Banking, you start as a sales person even as a degree holder, refer to sales above.

If you choose a non-sales job, it will be pretty much down to the need for such a skill you possess. From what I know, a lot of work has become automated. There is a need for customer service officers in the branches to cope with long queues of frustrated customers. Non-degree holders can apply.

On a higher level, a multi-skill specialist especially in IT, accounting and finance, I heard its good. How good? I don’t know for sure. Previously, I have witnessed a 7K starting pay for a PRC masters degree holder working for a foreign bank.


Aside from banks, other companies are hiring accountants aggressively. But to be CPA qualified, 5 years relevant experience is needed compared to 3 for the rest of the world.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Credit is not cheap here. Don’t expect any career progression in Banking unless you obtain a CFA (very hard) or you work for the superannuation fund houses (Equivalent to our CPF but its transparent and privately owned).


If you are a trader, trade in Sg is way better than Au because you have capital gains tax and income taxes applied.


But if you get a job here, you have the much desired work-life balance, better pay compared to Sg and Vietnam and job security. I have a kid now so this may be a choice.








Rating: 7.5 / 10

Many banks in Vietnam are not doing well; some are on the verge of collapse.


However, accounting firms and big companies require a lot of accountants and high-level specialists for the booming economy. This is one area I’m targeting.
















Rating: 6.5 / 10

Starting your own business Fuck no, unless you start a small time online retail business. But how far can you go?


Office rent: Sky high

Manpower: depend on FT lah.

What I mean here is that only if you have a lot of money to invest in an established franchise, you stand to gain.


As a low budget entrepreneur, flying kites may be a better life choice.

Rating: 3 / 10

Tax rate is comparatively higher.


If you are a one-man show and your trade is much desired, i.e. Plumber, Carpenter, Mechanic and repairer etc. Welcome to Australia, the land of opportunities.


If you are looking to invest in a franchise business here, you don’t get much sales compared to Sg.


Rating: 6.5 / 10

Vietnam is a booming economy. Labour is very cheap. Very good place to start and it can be better than China too. However, you must know you way around there.


I’m looking to start a business there in the next few years since I am well connected there.





Rating: 8 / 10

Other Aspects: Cost-of-Living etc.
Eating out A bowl of noodles: $3-7


Kopi: $0.90 – 1.5 depending on location.


Starbucks Grande ice-blended coffee:



Food Variety: A lot… food heaven, anytime!


Food worth dying for:

Chilli crab – nobody does it better than sg.

Bak ku teh – uniquely sg

Frog porridge – love it!

And more…


Rating: 7 / 10

A bowl of noodles: $9-12 (you get larger serving) Sometimes they provide free tea and tissue.


Kopi: not available


Boutique style coffee:

$3.60-5 (Latte, flat white, etc)


Ice-blended: $6.50


Food Variety: no late night supper exists and not much variety compared to the other 2 countries.


Food worth dying for:

None… only Dominos pizza and Mc Donalds still open after 10pm.

Rating: 6 / 10

A bowl of noodles: $2 (city area)


Vietnamese coffee:

$0.50 (quality better than kopi)


Highland coffee: price comparable to Sg starbucks.


Food Variety: Freshness guaranteed, lots of Vietnamese variety and eat anywhere and any time!


Food worth dying for:

Vietnamese Escargots or snails


Vietnamese bread

And many more…

Rating: 9 / 10


(Cooking at Home)


(On the Cheap)

NTUC, Sheng Siong, Shop N Save, wet markets etc. (mostly imported from China and Malaysia)


Budget for a family of 4: $200-300











Rating: 6 / 10


(On the Cheap)

Asian food markets (comparatively cheaper than sg cheapest and better quality because its locally produced)


Their super markets such as coles and woolworths consist of a range of prices. In-house brands are dirt cheap, and way cheaper than sg but the others are priced higher and similar to sg’s Cold Storage.


Some stuff are cheaper here while some are more expensive compared to sg.


Budget for a family of 4: $200-300

Rating: 6 / 10


Wet Markets, Coop supermarket.


Budget for a family of 4:

$5-10 per day. $35 – 70 per week


Free grocery delivery services for purchases $20 and above.









Rating: 8 / 10

Public Healthcare Pay as you use, subsidies are gimmicks. Lack of hospital beds and facilities. Genuinely bad service unless you choose private care. There’s a saying, “In Singapore, its better to die than getting sick.”


90% of the FTs I know take Singapore as a stepping stone to other developed nations. The other 10% who are filthy rich want to stay here to take advantage of the economic conditions and tax benefits. However, many tell me that Singapore is not their home, simply because they have houses in many other countries or they are well established back home.

Rating: 4 / 10

Public healthcare is Free of charge and plenty of facilities available except for Sydney and Melbourne.

Brisbane is good, service is good. My wife just had a baby here, with epidurals, free midwives house visits for 12 months, free doctor consultation for children till 16 years old. Surprisingly, some medicines are cheaper compared to sg!!! This is one of the chief reasons why many foreigners are queuing up to migrate here and stay permanently.




Rating: 8 / 10

Filthy, corrupt and inadequate.


Rating: 1 / 10

Transport Public transport: Cheaper than Au but its crowded and you have nowhere to sit. Operates till midnight.


Taxis: Cheaper than Au, hard to find during peak hours.

Rating: 5 / 10

Public transport:

Some buses and trains operate till 5 or 6 pm while the high usage ones run till 11pm.


Taxis: Always available in city area or near city suburbs.

Rating: 5 / 10

Public transport:

Non-existent. Most people rely on own motor-cycles or taxis.


Taxis: Very Cheap and freely available. Main mode of transport for those w/o own vehicle.

Rating: 7 / 10 (because its cheap)

Motor vehicles 10 year ownership entitlement. Plenty of ERPs and parking charges everywhere. I don’t need to say more… world’s most expensive.


Rating: 1 / 10

In Sg 1 Toyota Camry = 4-5 Au Toyota Camry


My friend bought a 2003 Mitsubishi Magna (brother of Lancer) for equivalent SGD 3500 with 1 year road tax paid for.


The secondhand market is vibrant and very active. The quality of life shoots up with an ownership of a car.

Parking is expensive in the city but completely free elsewhere.


Rating: 7 / 10

Mopad or scooter is better than a car because there are too many of them around. Driving a car is not convenient in city areas.


Price range: $500-3000

The Vespa costs about $4000


Rating: 7.5 / 10

Houses in the Suburbs HDB: $300000 – $500000

(65sqm – 120sqm)*


Condominium: $500000-1.5 million (60sqm – 130sqm)


Landed: $1 million and above **

*Foreigners not eligible except for PRs subject to a 3 year waiting period.

** Foreigners were allowed to buy townhouses or landed in a condo area, but not anymore since the cooling measures.


Rating: 5 / 10

Depending on state and location:

(Semi-detached) Townhouses: $215000 – $400000 (300-400 sqm)


Landed and detached:

$215000 – $600000

(500 – 800 sqm)


Landed nearer to city:

$600000 – 2 million

(450 – 700 sqm)

Foreigners are only eligible for newly developed apartments and condominiums and can only sell back to locals.

Rating: 7 / 10

I have no idea. Foreign ownership is not permissible except for condominiums.


Note: My spouse is a Vietnamese so she can buy. In time to come we will buy 1 there and live there during the holidays or do some rent seeking activity.


Rating: 6 / 10



Shopping A heaven, but becoming more expensive compared to Hong Kong.


Rating: 6 / 10

Not many varieties and expensive.


Rating: 3 / 10

Cheap knock-offs available. Luxury shops are non-existent there.

I prefer to shop on the cheap while my wife likes the LVs and Pradas.


Rating: 6 / 10

Entertainment Night life: Very happening!


Alcohol: 2-3x Au price.


Rating: 8 / 10


Day activities:


Gardens by the bay

Frankly not much considering sg’s relatively small size. That’s why many travel overseas during holidays.


Rating: 5 / 10


Night life: So-so. I seldom chiong since I moved here but my friend Phil who clubs a lot loves it. He prefers Angmoh clubs because there are way more girls than guys and some girls like to dominate/manage smaller build Asian men. That’s a perception anyway.

The last time I’ve been there was quite funny. My wife and her colleagues were dancing wildly and surrounding them were very timid Angmoh dudes. I have to give them tips on how to pick up women. Lol. Its true.

And I was approached many times by gays. I always introduce them my wife standing beside me.


Alcohol price: S$5.5 for a Vodka orange.


Rating: 7 / 10


Day activities:

Lots of adventure trails, nature and outdoor fun!

Great Barrier reef, Flowers etc!


Rating: 8 / 10

Night life: never been to one. Heard its quite happening too…


Alcohol: super cheap.


Beer: $1


Rating: 8 / 10


Day activities:

A lot too! But Au is better.


Rating: 7 / 10


Government and stability Autocratic and Pro rich

Rating: 7 / 10

Democratic, inclusive and consultative

Rating: 8 / 10


Rating: 4 / 10

  Overall Rating 70.5 / 130 (C-) 84 /130 (B) 76 / 130 (C)


  1. 30 year old Male
  2. Masters degree
  3. Specialised in Accounting, Finance and IT
  4. 3-5 years work experience
  5. Willing to work hard and take on most challenges thrust upon him.






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