Rethinking Singapore

Rethinking Singapore

Posted in Family, on May 22, 2024

Singapore from above… looks beautiful
Singapore from above… looks beautiful

For the past eight years, Singapore has been my home. As an Indonesian, I moved here with great optimism, thinking I might eventually change my citizenship. There were so many reasons that drew me to Singapore initially. However, as time passes, I've found myself rethinking whether this vibrant city-state is the right place for my family and me in the long run.

Indonesia, where I grew up, has its own set of challenges that made life difficult. The education system, for instance, is quite inconsistent. Many public schools don't have the resources they need, and there's a big gap in quality between schools in the city and those in rural areas. Although private schools are better, they are also very expensive. Environmental issues are another significant problem. Pollution and deforestation are rampant, and waste management is often poor. This affects not only the environment but also our health. Housing is another area where Indonesia struggles. It's tough to find affordable, good-quality housing, and the infrastructure is often lacking. On top of these issues, there's a widespread feeling that the government doesn't really take care of its citizens. Corruption and inefficient public services are common, making it hard for the country to progress.

In contrast, Singapore seemed like a dream come true when I first moved here. The education system is one of the best in the world. Schools are well-funded, and the curriculum is rigorous, setting up students for future success. The environment is clean and safe, with strict regulations that keep public spaces well-maintained. The government here is efficient and transparent, and public services are reliable. There's also a strong sense of trust in institutions, which is refreshing compared to the situation back home. Moreover, Singapore's multicultural society creates a rich and diverse environment, which I believe is fantastic for raising my child.

Despite these advantages, living in Singapore comes with its own set of challenges. The cost of living is incredibly high. Singapore is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, and housing costs are a significant part of this. Even though the government has policies to encourage families to have more children, the financial burden remains heavy. As a Permanent Resident (PR), finding affordable and quality housing is particularly challenging. The housing market is very competitive, and many good options are beyond reach unless you are very wealthy.

Of course, one can buy a resale HDB flat (subsidized housing, just not new), for half or one-third the price of an equivalent private condos, but one has to sell any property that they own overseas. Which I find a little difficult, considering I do have a home in Indonesia. I feel like selling that away at this point is not a good practice, as I am not even sure if Singapore will be my forever home. Buying a HDB to live in… if only for 10 years… or until we decide we’ll sell the Indonesian home, seems acceptable for me. But the government doesn’t allow it.

My friend said to me, “They want to you to commit first, before they commit to you.”

Additionally, I've noticed that sometimes Singapore exhibits traits that remind me of a third-world mentality. There can be inflexibility. There’s also a sense that people here can be too focused on profit, lacking genuine passion and heart in their interactions. This can create a feeling of disconnection and impersonality in daily life, which sometimes makes it hard to feel truly at home.

Given these considerations, I find myself at a crossroads. While Singapore has provided a stable and enriching environment for my child and me, the high cost of living and other challenges make it difficult to see it as our permanent home. Additionally, the realization that some aspects of life in Singapore may not align with my values has prompted me to reconsider my options.

Returning to Indonesia is not entirely off the table, but the same issues that drove me away initially still persist. Alternatively, exploring other countries that offer a balance of good governance, affordable living, and a high quality of life might be a prudent choice.

I see value in spending most of my productive time here in Singapore, and possibly retiring in Indonesia. Maybe, a move to a new country in between. Plans can still change, depending on circumstances.

In conclusion, my journey of rethinking Singapore as my final home is ongoing. It involves weighing the benefits of stability and efficiency against the challenges of cost and cultural fit. Ultimately, the decision will hinge on what is best for my family’s future, ensuring a nurturing environment for my child and a fulfilling life for us all.

And of course, I think, I’d love to be proven wrong.

Thanks for reading!

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