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Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth it?

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pagophilus
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Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth it?

Postby pagophilus » Tue, 07 Sep 2010 6:08 pm

I'm an Australian pharmacist and I'm considering moving to Singapore next year to work as a hospital pharmacist. I'd like to hear some of your opinions on whether it's worth it.

I currently work in a public hospital, earn over AUD$70,000 a year, plus I have salary packaging tax-free of $9095, therefore lower tax. From my conversations with a recruiter in Singapore and my friend in the same profession who has moved there, I've been told I'd earn around SGD$4300 a month, possibly plus a $500-600 housing allowance. I'm told I would get a 13th month, plus possibly further bonuses. However, money isn't everything. For example, we plan to retire in the Philippines, so we don't need such a large amount of savings upon retirement as we would in Australia.

Reasons to move:
I have a comfortable, safe job, but I've been at it for 13 years and wouldn't mind a change.
Singapore is expanding its health system and needs staff, Australian public hospitals are managed by anal managers with lack of foresight who only seem to want to make cuts.
My job would be more interesting, and I'd have the opportunity to specialise if I want to go in that direction. Australian pharmacy job market is saturated with too many graduates. I'd only be able to easily move into another rural job, probably more remote than mine.
Wife is Filipina. I wouldn't mind living in Asia. My mindset is not typical Australian. (I'm a child of eastern-European parents, conservative Christian, I don't mind the stricter rules.) Singapore is close to her home country and not too far from mine.

My concerns: Housing costs - I'd end up living in an HDB flat. I wouldn't want to get stuck with constant overtime. I'd like to go home reasonably on time and spend time with my wife. I hear workplace stress is an issue. I'm told there is a high turnover of pharmacists due to them leaving seeking greener pastures (higher salary).

What are your thoughts?

Pagophilus

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Re: Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth i

Postby FlyingScotsman » Wed, 08 Sep 2010 2:06 pm

pagophilus wrote:
SGD$4300 a month, possibly plus a $500-600 housing allowance.

Possibly? You will need as much as you can get.

I'm told I would get a 13th month, plus possibly further bonuses.

Don't believe a word about bonus and 13th months. It may happen, but for my husband at his interview, it was an outright lie that keeps being told. Check any contract with a fine tooth comb.


My concerns: Housing costs - I'd end up living in an HDB flat. I wouldn't want to get stuck with constant overtime.

Hours are long and public transport makes the day even longer.
Cars cost too much so don't expect to drive.


I hear workplace stress is an issue.

Stops you worrying about living on a small dot with nothing to do in your spare time (what spare time?)

I'm told there is a high turnover of pharmacists due to them leaving seeking greener pastures (higher salary).

Seemingly the only way to get an increase in salary once you arrive, is to change jobs.

What are your thoughts?

Good luck !

Pagophilus
Hey ho...

pagophilus
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Postby pagophilus » Wed, 08 Sep 2010 9:05 pm

Stops you worrying about living on a small dot with nothing to do in your spare time (what spare time?)

When these questions pop up there always seem to be peope particularly negative toward Singapore replying. If it was really that bad, then nobody would go there to work. I realise it's not utopia, but neither is Australia. For example, in my town we have the highest level of alcohol-related violence in the state. I'm sure that's not a problem I'd have to contend with in Singapore when being out late at night.

Doesn't matter how small Singapore is, I could find plenty to do in my spare time (if I have any). I can amuse myself, I don't need to go and find things to do. I can play music, write music, explore the city, read, work on my MSc degree, annoy my wife etc etc.

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Re: Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth i

Postby poodlek » Wed, 08 Sep 2010 10:19 pm

pagophilus wrote:Singapore is expanding its health system and needs staff, Australian public hospitals are managed by anal managers with lack of foresight who only seem to want to make cuts.

My concerns: Housing costs - I'd end up living in an HDB flat.


I have no reference in the healthcare industry, but I wouldn't count on finding many open-minded managers here in Singapore. At least not more so than in Australia.

HDB isn't so bad, but you'll definitely want to hold out for more than $600 housing allowance. Otherwise, (unless your wife is earning significantly too), you're going to have a hard time saving anything, unless you live extremely frugally. I suspect that going from a A$70k/year lifestyle to a S$50k/year lifestyle in a country with a high cost of living might be tough.

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 09 Sep 2010 8:45 am

pagophilus wrote:When these questions pop up there always seem to be peope particularly negative toward Singapore replying. If it was really that bad, then nobody would go there to work.

Coming here is often and mostly about the money and you have not even been offered a reasonable package comparing to what you have now. Personally I do not complain about my contract condition, my bosses are reasonable and I do not feel that stressed. No long working hours neither. What is a real challenge for me is the working culture. But if you browse through the threads you would rather see opinions similar to FlyingScotsman's than mine. Apparently ppl come here with your open, optimistic attitude and get disappointed.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 09 Sep 2010 9:16 am

Ain't it the truth! :-|

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Postby pagophilus » Thu, 09 Sep 2010 6:14 pm

x9200 wrote:Apparently ppl come here with your open, optimistic attitude and get disappointed.


I don't want to try to convince myself that it's some utopia. I realise I will be paid less and have a higher cost of housing (other costs don't concern me so much).

As to work attitudes, that's something I'm trying find out more information on. I have a friend who has moved there recently, also working in pharmacy, but for Guardian. (It's very relaxed working as a pharmacist for Guardian apparently.) He has friends who work in the hospital system, and I'm trying to find out from them what the work culture is like.

Ministry of Health Holdings is having regular recruitment drives for allied health professionals in Australia, and I intend to talk to them at one of these sessions. I can't see droves of Aussies taking up the opportunity, but a few do, mostly those of Chinese origin.

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Postby hello_20 » Fri, 10 Sep 2010 11:21 am

Hi pagophilus,

Yes, I noticed the pharmacist working at Guardian near my place is very relax.

Every working environment is different. You have to decide what are your expectations and manage it if you decided to go to Singapore to work. Heard that there are more hospitals been setup and pharmacies been open in the new malls around the island.

Yes, accommodation is the one that will cost you. I'm sure you have checked out this website's housing section. It is pretty helpful. My friend told me that . is also helpful.

As for food, depending whether you prefer local or western. The cost would vary. Expect to spend between A$4-$8 for each of your meals. That is comparable to going to McDonalds for your lunch in Australia. However, you have a variety of food here which are not your burgers. Therefore, if you are not picky food would be your least concern.

All the best.

Cheers


pagophilus wrote:
x9200 wrote:Apparently ppl come here with your open, optimistic attitude and get disappointed.


I don't want to try to convince myself that it's some utopia. I realise I will be paid less and have a higher cost of housing (other costs don't concern me so much).

As to work attitudes, that's something I'm trying find out more information on. I have a friend who has moved there recently, also working in pharmacy, but for Guardian. (It's very relaxed working as a pharmacist for Guardian apparently.) He has friends who work in the hospital system, and I'm trying to find out from them what the work culture is like.

Ministry of Health Holdings is having regular recruitment drives for allied health professionals in Australia, and I intend to talk to them at one of these sessions. I can't see droves of Aussies taking up the opportunity, but a few do, mostly those of Chinese origin.

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Postby pagophilus » Sat, 11 Sep 2010 6:54 pm

Actually, I haven't found the housing section on this website terribly useful. It doesn't seem to find any HDB flats for rent. It finds non-HDB apartments, condos etc, but my budget will likely be HDB. Unfortunately, if I decide to move, I won't be on any "expat contract". I will get relocation allowance, and a housing allowance, but I will otherwise be earning standard Singapore wages. ., on the other hand, has been useful in looking at Singapore property rental prices.

Food and other things aren't really of any concern to me. I can eat anything (within reason) and I feel quite comfortable in other cultures. I'm comfortable with Singapore's food costs, both ready-prepared and the cost of vegetables and fruit. Really, I believe it's going to come down to 2 issues - housing costs and possible workplace attitude/stress.

I have one question though - why do so many HDB apartments for rent show photos of the exterior of the building, and not the interior of the apartment?

Leo

hello_20 wrote:Hi pagophilus,

Yes, I noticed the pharmacist working at Guardian near my place is very relax.

Every working environment is different. You have to decide what are your expectations and manage it if you decided to go to Singapore to work. Heard that there are more hospitals been setup and pharmacies been open in the new malls around the island.

Yes, accommodation is the one that will cost you. I'm sure you have checked out this website's housing section. It is pretty helpful. My friend told me that . is also helpful.

As for food, depending whether you prefer local or western. The cost would vary. Expect to spend between A$4-$8 for each of your meals. That is comparable to going to McDonalds for your lunch in Australia. However, you have a variety of food here which are not your burgers. Therefore, if you are not picky food would be your least concern.

All the best.

Cheers



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Re: Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth i

Postby pagophilus » Sat, 11 Sep 2010 7:13 pm

poodlek wrote:HDB isn't so bad, but you'll definitely want to hold out for more than $600 housing allowance. Otherwise, (unless your wife is earning significantly too), you're going to have a hard time saving anything, unless you live extremely frugally. I suspect that going from a A$70k/year lifestyle to a S$50k/year lifestyle in a country with a high cost of living might be tough.


Actually, my wife wouldn't be earning anything, not in the short-medium term anyway.

As for the cost of living, I'm not a big spender (at least I don't have to be, my biggest single spends are air tickets),and we don't eat out much at all (2-3 times a year at best, and budget places at that), though with hawker food prices that might change. We don't drink alcohol, don't smoking, no real vices that I can think of (I like freshly-squeezed orange juice and am prepared to pay for it). My wife is very frugal. She even tends to wait until she's in the Philippines before getting a haircut or buying most of her clothes, because she's not prepared to pay $40 for a haircut when she can get one for $1.20.

So, I think I can live with the costs. I'm thinking of a cheap-end 2-bedroom HDB flat to live in, or to go through JTC's SHiFT program.

Leo

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Postby Asian_Geekette » Sat, 11 Sep 2010 7:18 pm

pagophilus wrote:
I have one question though - why do so many HDB apartments for rent show photos of the exterior of the building, and not the interior of the apartment?



The interior design depends on the taste of the owner. Not all owners would take photos of their flat and put it online (it's like publicly displaying your most private clutter or palace depending on the set-up). So it's easier to just search for the photos of the exterior of the building. ;-)
My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best out of what God made. -Robert Browning

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Re: Want to move to SG to work as pharmacist - is it worth i

Postby poodlek » Sat, 11 Sep 2010 9:30 pm

pagophilus wrote:

As for the cost of living, I'm not a big spender (at least I don't have to be, my biggest single spends are air tickets),and we don't eat out much at all (2-3 times a year at best, and budget places at that), though with hawker food prices that might change. We don't drink alcohol, don't smoking, no real vices that I can think of (I like freshly-squeezed orange juice and am prepared to pay for it). My wife is very frugal. She even tends to wait until she's in the Philippines before getting a haircut or buying most of her clothes, because she's not prepared to pay $40 for a haircut when she can get one for $1.20.

Leo


You sound like you'd do alright here. I'm not much of a partyer either, but my biggest expenditures have been on Ang Moh food, especially since getting pregnant (I can't tolerate anything with fish/seafood/most meat in it so that limits my options greatly). Anything particularly western is quite expensive here, at least compared to North America, and the processed food (spaghetti sauce, breaded chicken, soups etc.) you get in the grocery store seem to leave something to be desired. Best to stick with local food in hawker centres and the grocery store!

$1.20?? Maybe I should consider going to Manila for my next hair appointment!

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 12 Sep 2010 9:26 am

pagophilus wrote:As to work attitudes, that's something I'm trying find out more information on. I have a friend who has moved there recently, also working in pharmacy, but for Guardian. (It's very relaxed working as a pharmacist for Guardian apparently.) He has friends who work in the hospital system, and I'm trying to find out from them what the work culture is like.

The source of the stress is not necessarily a demanding boss or tight schedules but the standards of work conduct you are used to. So you may have basically some problems with yourself to adapt to the environment. Perhaps your area is somehow exceptional but being already sold some expired medicines from one of the well established medical service chains in this country I have some doubts.

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Postby Splatted » Sun, 12 Sep 2010 2:05 pm

x9200 wrote:Perhaps your area is somehow exceptional but being already sold some expired medicines from one of the well established medical service chains in this country I have some doubts.


Not sure I follow. What has expired medicines got to do with adapting to the work environment?

Are you saying there's a pressure to make a profit, even if it means ripping off the patient?

Also, did the medical centre replace your expired medicines with in-date ones when you brought it to their attention?

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 12 Sep 2010 4:13 pm

1. Something like this should never happen and it never happened to me earlier. It simply indicates low quality of the service in the area where one should expect to have it up to a certain standards. And this is not a CD player to be concerned about the replacement. This can simply endanger your health.
2. I do not think it was about making more profit - rather an ordinary negligence.
3. To the first point: if you follow certain standards because you think this is right and it reflect in your opinion the level of professionalism you may get frustrated having your colleagues not doing so. In some cases like this one, in a bit more extreme situation you may also be held co-responsible.


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