Thursday, November 26, 2020

Random perspectives on emigration

I don't have very much to talk about today, I just want to share some friendly perspectives on emigration. I had an update from an old friend and I thought his experience was interesting. As it turns out, some of the folks I gamed with over a decade ago are no longer located in Singapore. 

One, in fact, had left for Australia. Personally, I was kinda glad he did so because he isn't a big fan of Singapore and, if he stayed, I thought he may be a target for radicalisation.  

But my old friend had a much more interesting story. 

He left for New Zealand after securing a job posting there and spent a year or so enjoying the suburban life there. He tells me that he lives in a small town of 50,000 and there's a game shop serving the Warhammer and D&D communities there. Even more impressive is that kind NZlanders open up their large homes to gamers on weekends and six to seven tables of gaming groups can be joined if you contact the community over social media. 

Sadly though, my friend was unfortunate as he was on a business trip in the middle of the pandemic lockdowns and was shunted out of the country. The company failed to renew his work permit but managed to transfer back to Singapore. 

The whole process seemed demoralising and his family no longer wishes to settle down in NZ. A lot of money was wasted as he paid NZ taxes and contributed to their economy before failing to get his PR there. My friend tells me that when his family is ready again, he will attempt another country but this time his wife will insist that it would be Asian with Japan as a number 1 choice.

The second story is more interesting. A top data scientist friend is planning to come back to Singapore from Japan after spending many years in Japan. I really look forward to his return because somehow I think we can think of some interesting project to do together as we have mutual interests. 

The trigger is also the pandemic. After living in Japan for quite a while, my friend feels that he is not getting enough for the taxes he pays and it is much better to get back to Singapore where we get to save or spend more of the money we actually earn. 

For every course I conduct, students are invited to assess the feasibility of living in a foreign country with dividends picked up from REITs and other income investments. Over the months I have witnessed the power of our dividend stocks powering retirement plans in foreign countries, sometimes enabling retirement lifestyles in Western countries if students are able to stomach some leverage in portfolios.

Our paper exercise does not capture the difficulties and adjustments needed to settle down in a foreign country and pay taxes that we Singaporean PMETs will never get used to. In the case of NZ, you need to work for at least a decade before you can be entitled to a pension. 

If you have emigrated or are planning to emigrate, do share your perspective with me. 

I'm now sitting pretty in Singapore, but I will always be prepared to go in case my children can't make it in a highly-strung society like this.

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