New Zealand woos Singaporeans to move there
Thinking of going? Here’s what you need to know – By Catherine Robert for The New Paper Singapore News
It was an unusual invite from a foreign government that got people here talking in November.
Emigrate, said the New Zealand government, and enjoy a better quality of life in a less crowded country.
On its website, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) compares the lifestyles of the two countries, saying New Zealand isn’t as densely populated as Singapore.
It was a repeat of a call first made in 2010 and, yes, it appears that some Singaporeans have accepted the invitation.
Since that year, 20,775 permanent resident visas have been granted to Singaporeans although not all of them have moved there, INZ tells The New Paper on Sunday.
The invitation was primarily aimed at working holidaymakers and students. Singapore was chosen for a number of reasons. Singapore-New Zealand relations are long-standing and friendly, and are based on close political and economic ties. In addition, INZ’s research division found that Singapore was a good demographic match for this campaign (such as language and education levels) and that there was already a strong tradition of studying overseas.
INZ area manager Michael Carley says that Singaporeans have the financial means to enjoy premium travel, making them a valuable market for New Zealand in the long term. The INZ site is direct in trying to appeal to Singaporeans, even comparing life here to that in New Zealand. It says: “New Zealand is less hot and humid, less crowded and more relaxed. Plus, people here enjoy a work/life balance that is the envy of the world.” The site also zooms in on hot-button topics like education, healthcare, family life and cost of living. Mr Carley says: “Feedback suggests that travellers from the Singapore market enjoy New Zealand’s open space, scenery and fresh air.”
The INZ site also has specific invites for people from Malaysia, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Australia and the US.
Who are the Singaporeans who want to move to New Zealand?
“Most migrants are families that want a more relaxed lifestyle, free education for their children while others move to join relatives,” says Mr Pearce Cheng of migration agency Aims Immigration Specialist (Singapore and China).
Mr Cheng, 36, says his clients also choose New Zealand because it is an easier option as a migration destination but he stresses that it is not always that straightforward.
“It is not that easy to move to New Zealand,” says the managing director who has 10 years’ experience in the industry.
“The first part is to make sure you have enough points. On the New Zealand immigration site, it says you need 100 points but over the last three years, we’ve noticed that applicants who have less than 140 points don’t have a chance of getting through.”
Points are awarded based an applicant’s age, qualification, employment and work experience. Applicants get more points if their occupation is one that is on the skill shortage list.
According to the list, New Zealand is looking for those who can fill positions, predominantly, in the construction, engineering, healthcare and IT fields.
With enough points, applicants can express interest. If successful, the New Zealand government will then reply with the second step, the Invitation To Apply (ITA).
Madam Dora Yip, 39, who moved to New Zealand last year, says: “While moving here has its perks, there are some things that I miss, like the supper culture. “I live in a small town of 120,000 people. I yearn for alfresco supper places such as 24-hour prata shops. It is also a slower job market here than it is back home, purely because it is a smaller economy than Singapore.”
Mr Shih Liang Chye, president of the Singapore Club in Wellington, says the challenges he initially faced were higher costs and shorter retail hours. “When I first got here, I wasn’t used to the shops closing at 5pm and on weekends,” says the 65-year-old. “On top of that, we had to learn DIY skills because even simple repairs can cost a lot due to the high labour and transport charges.” But he describes the challenges as minor.
Madam Yip adds: “Anyone who moves to a new country and culture will have amazing days – everything is novel and wonderful. There will also be terrible days, where you wonder if you’ve made the greatest mistake of your life in migrating. How I deal with it is to live by the mantra that ‘the grass is greenest where you water it. I constantly remind myself to make the most of what I have and not dwell on what I don’t.”
Are Singaporeans considering emigration to mitigate higher cost of living?
National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan 52, says: “I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that. But if it does reach a point where it is too expensive and people need to move away, then we have a serious national crisis.I don’t think we are at that point yet.” She adds that people who end up emigrating need to be of a certain status in the first place. “The ordinary Joe can’t just pack up and go. Not everybody has that kind of choice,” she says. “Most people emigrate for, perhaps, a particular quality of life or a slower pace.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Between July 1, 2010, and June 30 this year, these visas were granted on arrival to Singaporeans entering New Zealand:
113,610 Visitor visas
19,401 Residence visas*
*This includes Singaporeans who hold residence visas but may not live in New Zealand. They could be just visiting but granted a residence visa on arrival. The residence visa is for life.
2,788 Work visas
2,244 Student visas
472 Military visas
SOURCE: IMMIGRATION NEW ZEALAND