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Bidding Singapore adieu



Why are Singaporeans so ready to emigrate?

As a young child, I was told, "go overseas if you can," by my parents and friends. With over 20,000 Singaporeans already overseas and this number steadily increasing, I realise I am not the only one who received such advice. 

This August, the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers community conducted a survey with 177 Singaporeans aged 18 to 35. 

Seven in 10 said they would pack up and move "to advance their career". 

Why are so many Singaporeans thinking of emigrating?

For one, migrating overseas is a fight for independence. 

In Singapore, singles can only get a flat at the age of 35, which means many live under the watchful eyes of our parents until we hit our midlife crisis and start to wonder if there's more to life. 

In other countries like America, over 65 per cent of youths aged 18 to 24 have already moved out to take on the world by living on their own. 

Carina Lim, 20, a sound production intern in a local production company, said: "Being home is good but it can also sometimes make you feel trapped." 

The gloomy Singaporean
Being in Singapore has become stale and robotic for some youths, which might explain why many want to move.

Some youths see going overseas as a way to broaden their horizons and expand opportunities. 

"The Electronic Dance Music scene in Singapore is really tragic," said Timothy Ng, 20, a National Serviceman who plans to go overseas to seek opportunities to get his music produced. 

The aspiring music producer cited Myrne, whose real name is Manfred Lim, a 20-year-old self-taught Singaporean producer who became successful after he was picked up by American producer Diplo last November. 

Most of Manfred's opportunities to produce and mix come from events in Los Angeles, Shanghai and Australia — He's barely heard of in the local scene. 

Singaporeans who are passionate in their field but fail to meet the high standards of Singapore's education system also see going overseas as a way to pursue their interests.

Nardine Samy, 30, moved to Australia in 2005 to pursue her interest in conservation biology when her grades did not meet the criteria to pursue a similar course in Singapore. 

She said: "I couldn't understand why my only option was to study Arts when I had no interest in it…I probably won't be coming back to Singapore anytime soon. Being here has allowed me to experience so much more than if I had stayed in Singapore." 

By moving overseas, Nadine was able to study her dream course
Going overseas allowed Nardine to study her dream course.

Parents and students have also cited Singapore's pressure cooker system as a reason to move out of the country. According to a survey done by Nanyang Technological University, academic stress was a top concern faced by parents who are spending over a billion dollars every year on their children's tuition fees.

Ang Wen Ting, 25, a sales manager, said: "If I could move overseas, I would. Singapore's education system is very competitive, and it's really not worth the effort to stress over, I'd rather go somewhere with a slower pace of life." 

Since 2010, over 20,775 Singaporeans have emigrated to New Zealand, citing a slower pace of life as one of their main reasons for moving.

However, not everyone is trying to get on the next flight out of Singapore. Permanent resident Elmer Tiangsing, 20, moved here from the Philippines in 2008 and hopes to stay. 

"Nothing beats the accessibility and orderliness of Singapore," said the National Serviceman. 

He hopes to get his citizenship after he finishes his National Service. 

Sean Leng, 17, a junior college student, agreed. He said: "We have such comfortable lives that we sometimes take for granted. Who would move away when life is so much more efficient here, as compared to other countries? We've got trains and buses to get us anywhere, and we're never far from comfort, so why move away?"