Singapore Expats Forum

Expatriate?

Discuss about the latest news & interesting topics, real life experience or other out of topic discussions with locals & expatriates in Singapore.

Hannieroo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 996
Joined: Tue, 22 Jan 2013

Expatriate?

Postby Hannieroo » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:27 pm

What does this mean to you? I'm interested but other threads are not the place to ask.

For me, it means living in a country not my own. That's all. It doesn't mean Western or Caucasian or expensive but here that's exactly what it means for a lot of locals and expats. An expat clothes shop won't stock saris, it stocks things to fit the average American woman. An expat hairdresser doesn't mean fluent in Urdu or French. It means experienced in cutting Caucasian hair, mainly blonde hair. I wouldn't expect to live in a house with a pool at home, so why would I here?

I am frustrated by this. There is an assumption that most of us are more colonial than just plain foreign worker. I'm embarrassed that local people may think I view it that way. I'm ashamed of the expats that do it view it that way.

And whilst I'm at it. I'm also fed up of the people who look at me with pity when I say my children aren't at Tanglin. No, we are not too poor or my children too stupid to attend. We just didn't like it.

User avatar
Wd40
Director
Director
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue, 04 Dec 2012
Location: SIndiapore

Postby Wd40 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:01 pm

In the gulf countries, its very straightforward. Everybody is an expatriate there no matter whether you are a construction worker or CEO. May be because no matter how long you live there, you will never get residency.

In Singapore because we have these labels like "Foreign Talents", "Permanent Resident" etc Expats get categorized as the top end of "Foreign Talents"

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34778
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: Expatriate?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:03 pm

Hannieroo wrote:What does this mean to you? I'm interested but other threads are not the place to ask.

For me, it means living in a country not my own. That's all. It doesn't mean Western or Caucasian or expensive but here that's exactly what it means for a lot of locals and expats. An expat clothes shop won't stock saris, it stocks things to fit the average American woman. An expat hairdresser doesn't mean fluent in Urdu or French. It means experienced in cutting Caucasian hair, mainly blonde hair. I wouldn't expect to live in a house with a pool at home, so why would I here?

I am frustrated by this. There is an assumption that most of us are more colonial than just plain foreign worker. I'm embarrassed that local people may think I view it that way. I'm ashamed of the expats that do it view it that way.

And whilst I'm at it. I'm also fed up of the people who look at me with pity when I say my children aren't at Tanglin. No, we are not too poor or my children too stupid to attend. We just didn't like it.


^^This.

I feel the exactly same way.

But. Sad to say, the local government makes the same erroneous class distinction as well. They don't feel that the Bangladeshi construction worker, who's been here for 8 years, as an expatriate. They don't realize it matters nought the reason why, or how one lives, but the fact that they have left their homes and families to earn a crust in some other land. They have expatriated themselves from their homeland. No difference.
Last edited by sundaymorningstaple on Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
x9200
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9301
Joined: Mon, 07 Sep 2009
Location: Singapore

Postby x9200 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:04 pm

I typically associate this term with skilled or semi-skilled foreigners and their families. There is no race nor country of origin factor in it. Comparing to other migrant workers the economical factor is also present but indirectly. The line goes probably over the point where one moves to a foreign country to address her/his basic living needs (have enough money for basic living) and those who do it based on further improvements of their financial situation or career or just because they chose so.

rdueej
Regular
Regular
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon, 22 Jul 2013

Postby rdueej » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:26 pm

I agree with your sentiments. What I have found to be most irritating is the assumptions that people make even before talking to you. (... Oh, you are Caucasian, so you must be paid big bucks ... ).

I guess it is present in most parts of the world, but is more pronounced in Asia. Also, might be an issue of not willing to correct their own wrongful assumptions, thereby saving face ?

Regarding the term expat, I think that there is still a crude differentiating factor in monetary terms. For example, most of us would know the difference between a 'expat' salary package and a 'local' salary package, both being offered to a foreign worker.

User avatar
PNGMK
Governor
Governor
Posts: 5399
Joined: Thu, 21 Mar 2013
Location: Sinkapore

Postby PNGMK » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:40 pm

When I grew up as a missionary kid in PNG (a white Aussie) we were called 'Europeans' by the locals ("nationals"). Expat never entered my vocab back then. Expat to me has a distinctly British colonial flavour about it though and I agree I don't like the term that much.

User avatar
Wd40
Director
Director
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue, 04 Dec 2012
Location: SIndiapore

Postby Wd40 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:47 pm

Its also because Singapore is unique, in that certain races of people will always be found only in certain places.

Its extremely rare that you will see a white close to HDB areas, food courts etc or even in MRT stations in the heartlands.

Even those rare whites that you see in food courts and HDB play areas, go and ask them where they are from and chances are they are from Russia/Eastern Europe.

So who is to blame?

Hannieroo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 996
Joined: Tue, 22 Jan 2013

Postby Hannieroo » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 1:55 pm

I think some of that is the comfort thing. I go to west mall and the markets and hawkers nearby and don't let it put me off but I think some people feel stared at. You do get stared at. I feel like Brienne of Tarth most days.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34778
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:00 pm

Sadly, the type of package is immaterial as if you are carrying a foreign passport and don't have a "residency" visa, you are an expat. EOS.

Hannieroo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 996
Joined: Tue, 22 Jan 2013

Postby Hannieroo » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:03 pm

That's how it should be. It's a legal status, a geographical one. It's not a simile for white, middle class, wealthy or entitled.

Steve1960
Editor
Editor
Posts: 1106
Joined: Mon, 13 Aug 2012
Location: Singapore

Postby Steve1960 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:04 pm

I agree with many of these sentiments. I live in HDB housing because the location is better than a condo and it suits my wife much better. I don't drive a car, not because I can't afford it I just think its wasted money here. We buy our food at the local wet market because its fresh and tastes good. I don't wear expensive clothing or jewelry because that is not my interest. Our daughter goes to a local nursery school. Only the consumer electronics in the apartment give me away and not many see that.

So what am I perceived as? An 'Expat' in the sense of being over paid and over here (now I am laughing, back to WWII Britain when the Yanks were over paid over sex*ed and over here!!!) or am I just an expatriate and looked down on by the locals because I don't live in a condo, drive an Audi and wear Armani clothes?

I didn't make the move to further my career, I have the same position as I had in the UK. I moved for convenience (most of my working responsibility is in Asia) and for my family who I didn't want sitting around on their own in the UK for 3 weeks every month while I traveled around Asia.

I guess that makes me an expatriate?

User avatar
Wd40
Director
Director
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue, 04 Dec 2012
Location: SIndiapore

Postby Wd40 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:07 pm

Steve1980, atleast you live in Toa Payoh. Can you even picture a white living in a HDB in Ang Mo Kio or Tampines? I cannot.

I had an Indian colleague in my previous company who got a job in Barclays and he "behaved" like a real expat. He lived in a condo in Bishan and he travelled only in Taxi. He stayed here for 2 years and finally he said Singapore is just too expensive with even 9k salary per month. He got almost equivalent of that salary and moved to Pune and now he is living like a true expat there and is happy.

So I agree, it has nothing to do with colour of skin.
Last edited by Wd40 on Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hannieroo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 996
Joined: Tue, 22 Jan 2013

Postby Hannieroo » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:10 pm

Why can't you? You do see that would be as offensive as me saying I couldn't imagine an Indian in a condo in Holland Village, right?

Beeroclock
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu, 31 Oct 2013

Postby Beeroclock » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:11 pm

Speaking truthfully, similar to PNG I was not really aware of the term expat when growing up, and only became introduced to it when I was offered on overseas assignment with a big MNC, and met other colleagues on similar assignments. So my first context and impression of this term was closely linked to the "expat" salary package. After living abroad for over a decade, since switching to a "local" salary, and meeting lots of other expats who live in HDB's here etc etc, I think my definition and sentiment has gradually broadened in line with other posts here, but to be honest it was not the way I initially understood and used the term expatriate.

Steve1960
Editor
Editor
Posts: 1106
Joined: Mon, 13 Aug 2012
Location: Singapore

Postby Steve1960 » Tue, 25 Mar 2014 2:13 pm

Hannieroo wrote:I think some of that is the comfort thing. I go to west mall and the markets and hawkers nearby and don't let it put me off but I think some people feel stared at. You do get stared at. I feel like Brienne of Tarth most days.


That's interesting and possibly true. I expect to be stared at I am an older Caucasian guy with a Filipina wife 23 years younger than me and a beautiful mixed race 3 year old daughter.

It never bothers me in Singapore but when we went to the UK last year I felt embarrassed when people stared at us in the street. I think it is because I understood the UK culture and mentality and I knew what some of those people were thinking.


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests