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Unsure about relocating on my own

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wilsojer
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Unsure about relocating on my own

Post by wilsojer » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 10:30 pm

It looks like I am just about to be offered a job in Singapore, but because of various reasons, my wife and two children (7 & 5) are going to stay in England. We have said that we will see each other as often as is feasible, but I am a little nervous about spending so much time away from them. It will be at least 3-4 months bewtween times that we can get together.

What is making things worse is that all I am reading about on these forums is familes that have come out here together. I am a bit worried that as a singleton (albeit in appearance only), I might not enjoy myself in Singapore and will be constantly waiting for the next visit or my trip back home.

I haven't had the offer yet, so don't know whether they will match my financial expectations, but it does need to be a good offer as we will, in effect, be paying for two separate lifestyles.

Sorry for the ramble, but I have not thought about much else lately. If they were coming with me it would be a completely different story - I would be really excited (and half of me actually is really excited).

I suppose I am asking if the social life is good and if I will be accepted as a 41 year old 'singleton' ? I do have one friend out in Singapore, who is predictably out there with his family, so I should meet some people through him.

By the way - great forum !

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Post by durain » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 10:46 pm

it's not gonna be easy and you got to be so strong. you just have to weight out the pro and con, and got to think for the long term. do you intend your kids to be educated in singapore, etc. one thing for sure, your kids will be safer from stabbing!

fire any other questions you got. glad to help you out.

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Post by wilsojer » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 10:55 pm

Thanks for the quick response, durain, although I am a little worried about the stabbing comment :wink:

I am planning on being out in Singapore for about 2 years, although that could stretch if things work out. If it is two years, then we will probably leave the kids in their current schools. They are both at excellent schools in Cambridge (costing a fortune, of course !) and I doubt we would want to rock the boat. I doubt that there is little chance of me persuading my wife to drop everything and come out with the kids.

I guess that I will have to throw myself into work and hope that I can pick up a decent social life to distract me ! I've read a little on these boards and on the main website, but I am still unsure of what area to start looking. I don't think that I will have a huge amount of money to spend on rent (probably about $2,500 - $3,000) and would like to get an area with a lot of expats with a chance to meet people. Any suggestions ?

Thanks again and I'll come back with more questions, no doubt !

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Post by durain » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:11 pm

ok, one thing i must warn you. i have seen a few expats working away from the family to see their marriage fall apart! you as an expats is like a magnet to the opposite sex! dont want to throw you off the spanner on this!

another thing you need to factor in is the cost of airfare. because you got kids, school holidays will be peak season. offpeak airfare can be as low as £500 return from UK to SIN, but during xmas holiday, it's more like £1200+ and that's not even on the top airlines!

but, with modern communication, you can keep tabs on yor family all the time. gone are the days you have to write a letter and lick a stamp on it. with webcam, broadband, ip fone, mobile, you can keep in touch just about every second.

definitely, it would be an experience.

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Post by wilsojer » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:28 pm

"like a magnet to the opposite sex" - interesting ! No, only joking - point very well taken - I have no desire to throw my marriage away and hope that I will be able to resist all temptation !

Airfares - you're right - I looked at some airfares and they were around the £500 mark, but didn't think to check school holiday times. What we might be doing is that I will come home for some of the Christmas and Easter holidays and they will all come out for the summer holidays. We will still need to be very canny on trying to get a deal though. I'm not sure how much the company are going to throw in as part of the package. Actually, I have got potential roles at two different banks, so I may be able to play one off the other..........

About areas to live - do you have any suggestions at all - where are most of the expats living ? North, South, East, West, Central ? I'm trying to get my head around the districts - which are good, which are not so good. Ideally, I would like an expat-heavy area with reasonable bars and shopping. Don't mind a slightly longer commute into work - I tend to go in for about 7am - should that miss the early rush ?

Sorry for the barrage of questions - I realise that it is pretty late with you - really appreciate your advice.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:36 pm

As an old timer, I would have to agree with durain on the failing of long distance relationships (marriages included). I've seen my fair share of them fail here. Having said that though, I've also seen my fair share of couples who arrived together fail while here as well. Males tend to end up unchaperoned in a candy store and don't know that candy is expensive here. One way or the other you will pay if you eat. (listen to the music - pay the piper). If your stint is a relative short one, no problem. if they give you at a maximum, 3 & 1 it's do-able but rough. I did the first 12 years here doing 2 & 1 (but my wife was here BUT I was everywhere else in the ASEAN region, but primarily Indonesia. Having regular, PAID home leave is essential especially in view of fuel surcharges.

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Post by wilsojer » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:49 pm

Point very well taken about the marriage front. I don't look on it like a candy store - my wife and my kids are the world to me (which is why it is such a wrench leaving them back in the UK). I hope (and feel) that I should be able to withstand the temptations - I know very well what I have to lose if I don't !

Newbie question - what is 3 & 1 and 2 & 1 ? Is that something to do with bedrooms and other rooms ?

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Post by durain » Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:50 pm

singapore is so small and with good public transport, you are a stone throw away from anywhere. and they got no lame excuse like leaves on the track for their train. it would be better for you to go for viewing and check out the property because you get more feel of the surrounding.

there's not much "no go" area in singapore. everywhere is pretty safe. location wise, have a look at holland village or somewhere near to buona vista MRT. MRT is singapore train/tube system. or east coast which is near the beach but no near MRT there. some condo will have shuttle bus to take you out. and one last one is around tanglin. there's no one place where expat stay or hang out. i think they are EVERYWHERE!

shops and place to eat are everywhere, from very expensive to very cheap. you defo wont need to cook or go hungry.

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Post by Hithnar » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 4:15 am

It seems that you are able to work your way around separation with family, but you sure your kids can? :-|

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Post by durain » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 4:43 am

can la for 5 and 7 years old. daddy got to go to work mah, except work is 6750 miles away. :P

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Post by aussiemeg » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 8:11 am

ok here is my $2 worth. Unless you can get your wife to move I wouldn't do it. Unless you have a really good reason for not moving your family other than good schools then it seems a shame for your children to miss out on such an exciting opportunity and the amazing educational experience of living in a foreign country. Especially when they are at such a prime age to benefit. The schools out here are top notch and medical beats the NHS hands down. The cultural experience willl make your children richer and as it is for a limited period it seems there is no harm to be done. |Their current schools will hold a place for them if you explain the situation and if it is a professional consideration for your wife she can probably get work pretty easily out here too. Otherwise why not just treat it as a holiday for 2 years and bring the family.

That aside my husband worked in north africa for a period when we lived in London and it was very difficult on the relationship. He travels a lot now and I have to say the relationahip with the children is different. All in all I can honestly say that your relationship with your children and wife will be very different from what it is now forever if you do this by yourself.

IS the benefit careerwise to come out here really worth it? I'd be pushing for

2 or 3 monthly reunion fares (ie the 2+1 or 3+1) however as a wife I would find the monthly intrusions very difficult to tolerate as the family will jsut get on with it when you are away and when you come home it is sometimes difficult on the routine!

You should ask for a decent rent allowance as you will want the kids and wife to come out during the holidays.

Why don't you ask for a reconiscent visit for you and the family to see what they and you think. The candy store analogy is very very true!

So to be a downer
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Post by road.not.taken » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 9:55 am

wilsojer -


This is unvarnished, and just my opinion -- totally disregard it if you want, but you seem like a nice guy, so here it is:

How can you put a dollar amount on breaking up your young family? On missing out on their joys and successes? On being their shoulder to cry on? I have seen plenty of 'career expats' do what you are proposing. Family stays here, he goes off to Taipei or Korea for 18 months. But the locations aren't great for kids, assignments are short and so are the plane rides. What you're proposing is not right, and you asked so I'll tell you why:

It's too far (if you can't get home on the weekends, forget it)

You don't mention how long your posting in Singapore will be, but the original contract and the actual time spent almost never match up, there's no offer on the table yet -- it's just too open-ended

There is a reason companies send families (it is much more expensive but statistically the working spouse is much happier and much more productive, the situation more stable). It sounds like a potentially bad decision on the part of your company.

Your children are too young not to have their Dad around, they are at ages when they are growing like weeds and developmentally they are changing by leaps and bounds, you really want to miss that? School plays, math tests, dance recitals, bed time stories? Once it's over you know, you never get it back.

When you go, you are essentially making your wife a 'single parent'. You can talk on the phone and e-mail all you want -- but that's the reality. She'll take over a lot of your responsibilities at home and make them her own -- what do you think will happen when you come home and she's been running the show on her own for the last 4 months? In lots of ways you'll be a stranger in your own home. Consider the strain and the resentment and the alienation when she is forced to make decisions without you over and over again.

You're understandably worried about your own social adjustment, have you worried about their's?

Having and maintaining 2 households will be more expensive than you think.

Why would you want to experience the adventure of a lifetime that doesn't include your family? I'm not sure they're going to enjoy your photos from the golf holiday in Phuket while your wife was home taking care of kids with the barf bug.

You are in the 'golden age' of family time now when they are no longer babies and in school and crave parent time. Soon enough, your 7 year old will be in that awful pre-teen age when things can get very rough, very fast. What happens right now lays the ground work for the teen years.


You are asking all the right questions, and remember -- this is just my opinion. Whatever you do, try to think it through and don't let your company railroad you into making a decision in 24 hours, or something ridiculous like that. Sit down with your wife and talk, and talk some more. I know you know this: but this is a BIG decision. Good luck whatever you decide.

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Post by Matney » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 11:30 am

Just remember each time you are able to fly back home, your wife and kids as well as yourself, will have an adjustment period of getting to know each other again. Your wife and kids have had to learn to do things themselves, have their own routine, established their own schedules and then you come back and upset the apple cart.

Your children are at a great age to absorb the new culture and the adventure. You haven't shared why they don't plan to join you, but I would seriously reconsider your decision or get your family to change theirs.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 12:15 pm

The above posts by R.N.T. & Matney is exactly why I gave up a job that I loved and paid me 4 times what I make today but my family was more important.

I was seeing my kids one month out of every three and each time it was like seeing new kids as they were taller, bigger, growing in size and knowledge in huge leaps & bounds. And what was said about routines is so, so true. I was like a thorn in their side, I disrupted their routines and habits. In my case I was working "offshore" during and after our single and married days, it wasn't so much of an adjustment but when I gave up working "offshore" the first 6 months of our marriage I though we weren't going to make it as the adjustments we both had to make were astronomical. It's was like we didn't know each other at all. But, we are the survivors, and in 10 days we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. Been a lot a rough times and good times.

One thing that did happen in the early days though, was I was the victim of jealousy and for a year or two it put a strain on our marriage. One of my colleagues spread a rumour that I had an affair in Indonesia and as my wife was a public entertainer in those days, words got around of this and while it was patently untrue, the seeds of doubt were sown. This is also something that both have to be aware could easily happen. Jealousy of the husbands position or the cancerous doubts that continually fester when left to ones' own thoughts and loneliness by the spouse at home.

Yes, we are much stronger for all of that, but it's best avoided if at all possible as most aren't that strong.

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Post by micknlea » Sat, 13 Sep 2008 2:37 pm

Just to add to R.N.T and Matney, and SMS.

I went through that scenario as the child in the situation, and also as the wife again later on.

It was hard as a child, when my dad came home on holidays it was like a stranger amongst us, he didn't like the food we ate as he was used to different things, he found it hard to work with our routine and always wanted to do his own thing, which living as a bachelor when working he was used to doing. It almost broke up my parents marriage (at that stage it was 25 years old) and it was really tough to adapt back in when he came home after 2.5 years away. That adapting took a long while, almost the same period again until we all functioned as a family unit again.

My stint as the wife wasn't for as long, but long enough. There is a lot of give and take that has to be done, and it takes a lot of patience and two very understanding people to do this. It took a lot out of our marriage too and it was damned hard work to keep it going.
"My husband said it was him or the cat...I miss him sometimes." - Unknown

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