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bluphoto
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To relocate or not?

Post by bluphoto » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 9:33 pm

We just got hit by a bolt from the blue yesterday. Our facility, here in Scotland, is shutting down in approx 6mths and transferring all operations to Singapore. Out of around 80 people at the plant, they are looking for three people, one of whom is me, to relocate to Singapore to facilitate the introduction of the products to our facility there. The assignment would be for approx 2yrs.

I've always lived in the UK, but travel overseas often, but only for periods of a couple of weeks at a time. I am pretty sure I could handle it, but I'm less sure of my partner, who is 25 and ten years my younger. She is currently coming to the end of a bout of depression and isn't confident that she would be able to handle the move. Neither of us have a big social life here in Scotland, but she is very attached to her family, who have supported her through her depression.

She doesn't have a job, but spends her day looking after our four year old until I get home. He is signed up to start nursery school in September - right around the time of the proposed move.

The thing is (and I don't mean to sound bigheaded here) that the company values me greatly and I am one of the most experienced people in our market (which incidentally is Oilfield Downhole Monitoring products). People all over the world call me up as they recognise that I'm one of the few industry experts. I know that my specialised knowledge in this field won't help me much to find another job here in Scotland as there aren't many other companies working in this group - and of those which do exist, I've spent the last three years telling everyone what a bunch of cowboys they are. I've no doubt my salary would drop by GBP10-15k if we stay here.

I have no idea what life is like in Singapore, but I know I could handle it. What I couldn't handle is if my partner and son were unhappy there.

My main hobby is Photography - people mostly, fashion, dance and fine art (http://www.bluphoto.co.uk). Our place here in Scotland has nice big rooms with high ceilings which was ideal for setting up a studio. We would need a property with a garden / garage which has the big rooms with nice high ceilings if I were to continue my work during my assignment over there. Is this asking too much? Is this type of work even acceptable in Singapore?

I have heard that schooling in Singapore is excellent, and is paid for by my company - although Alex has just turned four and would need nursery before Primary school. I also understand that there's a very supportive expat community (you guys) which I'm thankful for - but I'm not sure it would be enough for Anna - my partner.

Any advice or tips would be appreciated as this is a decision which will affect more than just me.

best regards
Guy Carnegie
Last edited by bluphoto on Fri, 16 Mar 2007 11:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

germangirl
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Post by germangirl » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 9:57 pm

Hello,

I don't know what caused her depression so it is really hard to tell... might be, that as she is getting over it now, a new start could be good, new environment etc... on the other side might be the worst you could do and it would put her right back to where she was (sory if this sounds hard...) loosing what she is used to....
guess this decision you guys have to make yourself and advice is hard to give.
singapore is great for living, I can tell you that much.
What is she saying about the idea to move? it doesn't say in your post.
U know, I think it's great, that you think about it so much.... not many guys would do so I guess but just think about thejob opportunity. I hope you two can find a way that works for you 2 and makes both happy !
we know what we are, but know not what we may be

bluphoto
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Post by bluphoto » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:15 pm

Thanks so much Germangirl for being so understanding. None of us really know what started Anna on her depression - she's had it on and off ever since childhood, and it manifests itself as anxiety, stomach cramps, and occasionally panic attacks.

How do other partners of expat movers get on? Is there enough to fill their day? Last thing I want is for her to sit around staring at four walls for two years without the obligatory hour-long phonecall to mum every morning!

That said, I think it would be a fantastic way for her to cut (or at least loosen) the family strings which I'm sure are choking her her. She realises this too - in the same way that smokers know that smoking is bad for them, but they still keep doing it anyway!

Bottom line is that to stay here, things will be financially tough for us all, and my career will be "reset". If we go, we risk not being able to handle it because of Anna's dependency on her family (mum & sisters). Sounds like a no-win situation all round, doesn't it?

I'm trying to sell her on the "having a maid" thing - so she can put her feet up and take up painting or something, but I'm not sure if we can swing it financially. Right now I'm on GBP50k and I guess that would go up 10% if we move. I don't know just how much that would pay for in Sing. Our 2 bed semi here in rural Aberdeenshire costs us about GBP500 per month, and our total outgoings are about GBP1500pm. Just what would we get for that sort of money in Sing?

I've no idea which area in Sing my office is, but it's listed in our directory as "Benoi Crescent". Do you know where that is? Are there any nice areas to live around there?

You guys are the best!

best regards,
Guy

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Post by germangirl » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:29 pm

Hi guy,

living can be quite affordable here, depending on your lifestyle. maids are not too expensive, so shouldn't be a problem for you.
regarding different areas to live, I am also still quite new here, so don't want to give you any wrong advice on that one. also i don't know how other expat wifes and moms are doing it all day long, as iam working here and actually left my fiance at home hoping it will hold on for 2 years.
this forum is great to meet other people, and also there are other ladies not working here, so she should be able to meet some nice girlfriends.

is she seeing a doctor regularly due to her depression? if so, maybe you shoudl seek him/her for advice on the medical side....

I really wish you that you will make the right decision.
we know what we are, but know not what we may be

bluphoto
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Post by bluphoto » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:34 pm

Anna is seeing a councellor, and will talk with them next week - maybe I should tag along!

I admire your courage to leave your fiancee behind for a couple of years, and I'd probably have considered that too, if we didn't have children to consider at the same time.

Thanks so much for the tips, Germangirl, and if I ever do make it over there, I'll buy you a Pina Colada!

Of course if anyone else has any advice....

Wishing you well.

Guy

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:41 pm

bluphoto,

I've not too much to add or subtract from germangirls' post. She's right, it is a situation that we could not have enough info to process. Only the two of you will be able to try to sort this out.

As far as the Salary is concerned 50K converted is around 150K SGD. You can live quite confortably here on that and save a good portion of it as well. Especially if your company will pick up the schooling and maybe housing & Car. This is not too much to offer although these packages are getting harder and harder to score. You being in the O & G sector however, it is still pretty often done. (I spent 17 years in O&G Exploration myself-different facet as you can tell my by avatar). Retired from that back in '88.

Try this link to another thread for living costs here: http://www.singaporeexpats.com/forum/ftopic38863.html

You can also check out some of my links in my signature for additional info.

sms



http://www.singaporeexpats.com/forum/ftopic38863.html
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by micknlea » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:50 pm

Wow, what a hard decision to have to make. It is a difficult question for anyone to answer without knowing the details.

Being an expat wife can be hard if you are not an outgoing person, so having depression will make it difficult for her. If you decide to come then you will have to be prepared to help your wife a lot during the first few months to settle in and get used to it all. She will really miss her family as well, that is one of the major things that you have to get used to being an expat living half way around the world from home.

Living in a house will be expensive here and can also be very lonely too, moreso than other places, well that is what I have found, but others may think differently. I think in a lot of way a condo would suit you better as there would be places for your child to play and easy access to facilities etc, which would enable your wife to mix a lot easier than if in a house.

It is doubtful that you will find anywhere that has suitable rooms etc for a studio though as most places here are not that large and do not have garages at all. Then again this is only a two year stint you say, so perhaps you could put it on hold.

Schools are good here, lots of good places for your child to go, and I am sure that he will love it, if you get a maid she will have a network of friends who also have kids around the same age as well. Guaranteed.

The maid bit is a tough one too. Having a maid is not too expensive, but it can make life a bit difficult learning to adapt having a full time live in person thrown in to your life as well as well as all the other stuff. It is ususally ok for the husband as he only sees the maid for a short time each day, but for the wife, especially a stay at home one, well the maid is there all the time. It can be overpowering if you are not used to it, but also wonderful if you get the right one, you also have an instant babysitter for those times when you just want to go out the two of you. It can be easier to employ a part time person (a legal one I mean everyone) to come in and clean a few times a week rather than a full time live in one, but it may cost you more in the long run.

I do think that in your position it is going to take a lot of work from you in particular to help your wife settle in and not let her get into that depressive state of not wanting to do anything or go out etc. As germangirl said, it may just be the thing needed to bring her out and give her a spark. Perhaps find out before coming about things that are of interest to her as hobbies and see what is available here. Are you getting to come on a trip to check things out before you have to say yes or no? I am sure that seeing things up front for yourself would give you a much better idea.

Good luck with it all. You are obviously a very thoughtful person and going about it the right way to make the right decision. I hope I haven't sounded too negative, we really like it here, our kids love it here, it is a lovely place to live with kids.
"My husband said it was him or the cat...I miss him sometimes." - Unknown

germangirl
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Post by germangirl » Fri, 16 Mar 2007 11:14 pm

bluphoto wrote:
I admire your courage to leave your fiancee behind for a couple of years, and I'd probably have considered that too, if we didn't have children to consider at the same time.

Thanks so much for the tips, Germangirl, and if I ever do make it over there, I'll buy you a Pina Colada!

Guy
If you end up coming here I will definatly come back to that one !!! :D

well, regarding my finacee, he made it very easy for me to come here... iwas still thinking about it, if it wasn't for him i would have said yes right away, he knew it... so he kind of made me say yes, didn't want me to stay at home and regretting it after a while, blaming him. he has his own business, and didn't want to give up on it, as it just starts running better and better the past year.... but i know he gets along by himself, so i dont hv to worry about it.... in your situation, with her being depressed its not so easy.... wish you all the best to figure out the best way for both of you! would not want to be in your situation to be honest!
we know what we are, but know not what we may be

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Post by bigapple » Sun, 18 Mar 2007 3:17 am

sometimes environmental change can be excellent for emotional issues. As you have stated, the attachment to the family can go either way-she will feel terrible being so far from them or it might liberate her somewhat to be away from them. It sounds like it would be an economic advantage to move to Singapore-one that your partner needs to consider. Is she on medication for her anxiety? Depending on how debilitating her depression is, this could give the much needed boost that she needs to come outside of herself. There are also many psychological services for expats in Singapore. Is the company providing you with a recce? Then mabe te three of you could come over and see how it feels. Good luck.

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Post by jumping_gene » Mon, 19 Mar 2007 11:00 am

depression or not, relocating is always a risk, especially when there are children involved. but they're right, it might just be what she needs to overcome her depression. the climate is good (always sunny and warm), and the first few years of the move is almost always busy. it feels like some kind of extended holiday as there are always new things to see and discover. however, it is important that you find our how she really feels about the move. a bit of anxiety is normal, but if she doesn't feel positive about it, it might not be a good idea to pursue.

as bigapple mentioned, it would be good for both of you to have a preliminary look-see, perhaps for a couple of weeks or so, before you commit.

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Post by Louiza » Wed, 28 Mar 2007 4:36 pm

bluphoto,

Hmm, may be get her to join the forum and meet some new people?

I've just moved to Singapore (husband relocated here for work) last week and yes, indeed finding staring at 4 walls in a house with our dog a bit mind numbing (but also trying to catch up on some backlog of work from Sydney that never got done because we were packing). So am entertaining myself on the forum to keep my mind intact, since I have no friends in Singapore, am an introvert, no kids to meet fellow parents with and find meeting friends a tad hard.

Am happy to communicate with your wife so that at least she knows someone friendly when you guys get here if you wish and still contemplating moving here.

Louiza.

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just a suggestion

Post by nicoletta » Fri, 30 Mar 2007 2:19 pm

you know i have loved england so much when i was living there.
i like singapore too and I'm sure you and family will love it, a change of scenary could be good

there are a few things you need to be aware of if you decide to move and then relocate before the end of the tax year

There is a double tax law between uk and singapore
in the uk you pay your tax from your salary right?
here in singapore you pay tax once a year and it is definately less - but here is the catch - if you are coming back to the UK - the inland revenue
will ask you to declare the money you have earn in singapore and the money you are taking with you back - so they are going to ask to pay the remaining tax

i have a guideline web page which you can use http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/singapore-dtc.pdf

i hope everything work out for you guys

besos Nicoletta

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Post by Leone and John » Tue, 03 Apr 2007 9:12 am

All of the above comments are very helpful with regards what to think about and how to plan. Yes it is a big move for you to take.......but the decision must be a joint decision, can't be any other way.

I have been here 7 weeks already and really settling in well. My husband works about 11 hours a day and I am 'at home' with two little dogs.

At first I thought I would never be able to cope without going to work on a daily basis like I did "back home".

But now have been filling every day and wonder how I had time to work in the first place!

Have been thru depression myself quite a few years back, this move can go either way for you both though and that is why I say it must be a joint decision.

Phone support (to and from home) can also go either way, depends on how much the pressure is from family! But don't forget that calls are very inexpensive if you use Skype or the international phone cards. (ie 380 minutes for $9.00) and for that you can be on the phone every day!

There is a lot of expat support here ..... either by a phone call, email or in person......anyone of us on the forum would help too I am sure. Once you leave home and family , no matter where it is, then we are your family and we all need support at times like you will.

One thing to note is the great opportunity for yourself too ...... you probably will not get it again..... and if you can both hang in there for 2 years it will be worth it.

You are lucky to be able to get a good salary, car and schooling allowance......most of these packages are now few and far between.

My husband is on a "local contract", (company does NOT pay our rent, car, allowances etc) yet we still think the move is worth the effort and the experience.....and for an extra bit of "useless information" we are only about 10 years off retirement so not in the usual "younger bracket" of the expat community, yet we still feel happy about living here and have made a few friends already.

Whatever decision you make, will be the right one for you. I know by your original email that you have given a lot of thought to your situation.

Good luck!
Leone + John Fabre
[ Singapore ]

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Post by iis » Thu, 05 Apr 2007 10:36 am

I live here for almost 2 years as my husband relocated to his office here in Singapore. I don't work, taking my time to care my 2 children 7 & 5 yo full time ( I used to work full time back home). Using part time maid, makes my live easier...

The first few months is quite difficult, cannot deny that I miss my friends & family as well as other things I used to do back home, however I found moving to a new place is also interesting, you get to know different things, different culture which you can explore, and also the opportunity to travel around to get to know other new stuff is a wonderful opportunity.

In regards to your partner's depression, talked to your counsellor whether they can continue to do it in Singapore. Phone supports can also be done, so that she's always in touch with her family back home. 2 years is not that long, it's nice to have certain exposure out of the country.

However, having been in the situation like that my self. I found that the two of you will have to make the decision, cause everthing has plus & minus factors, must weigh it one against another.

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Post by ShellyMay » Tue, 10 Apr 2007 8:25 pm

Go, it will be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Your partner will be fine.
I suffer from depression, the idea is to identify the
signs of when it is coming on and then do what needs
to be done to change that.

You will have an awesome time, and your wife will make
loads of new friends and experience a completely different way of life.
You will both grow as people in a way you cant imagine.

As a child of expat parents and I am an expat currently, I can
only say GO FOR IT!

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