Eat the Humble Pie
Are you thinking of migrating? Well, as people say, the grass is always greener on the other side. Yes, but because you're on that side; looking. In reality, this is not always the truth. There are many pros and cons to consider before you send your resumes away. If you're unhappy living in your own country, find out why and then find out if migrating is really the answer. Sometimes happiness lies within you. :)
Read these facts and weigh your decisions carefully anyway if you're that interested to move to the Middle East.
Rules of thumb for migrating to the Middle East:
Expect the unexpected or simply lower your expectations. Don't be surprised that you will have a hard time to get contracts sealed, or realize your contract does not include family visas (there must be a minimum income for that). You might suddenly find you are not doing as you thought you were supposed to do. Everything here takes time, especially government related matters and frequent visits to their offices over and over again. Nobody really knows the answer, but they sure love to direct you somewhere else just to get you off their backs. Few trips later, you'll find that it needs just one officer on a good day to solve your problem. Do not try to be efficient when all odds are against you. It'll just leave you frustrating.
2. Not greener on this side, not always
Grass is not always greener on the other side, I'm sure you've heard that before. Well, Singaporeans, some of you are so action-liao-liao (mengada nak mampus) (snobs) if someone thinks you're from China or Philippines, seriously, what's YOUR problem? We have the same skin, same look and yes we came from same continent, so naturally you'll be mistaken because you don't have a stamp on your head which says "Singaporean". Look, outside of Asia , there is a bigger world, and that world don't know you. Don't think you'll get first class treatment here, because that's how it is. Eat the humble pie, its good for you. If back home you're judged by what you own and what you have, it's no different here. People see what car you drive, where you live and which school your kids go to. Don't be offended when no one in your kid's class invited him to their party because he is not white. Truth. Remember how you were always complaining about FT's and 2nd class citizens? Now how do you like being one?
3. Intentions revisited
Every country has its pros and cons, so weigh your priorities and Intentions correctly. For me personally, religion is the main reason of moving to an Islamic country. With the right intention, inshallah, even in facing difficulty in another country, we will be rewarded just by knowing that we are tasting the sweetness of ibadah. When my beloved grandma ask me to (ask my husband) to find a job in Spore, I simply pass the phone to my daughter and tell her to recite from what she memorized of the Qur'an. This is and still is the most beautiful fruit from our stay in the middle east.
'Umar ibn al-Khattab relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, say, "Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So the one whose hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it, or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was to what he made hijrah for." [Agreed upon]
4. Kiasu, Suaku, Bossy people, read up.
Those Singaporeans with "perfectionist" and "complain" king attitude will not survive here. People come from different countries and systems, the environment is expectedly different. The best advice, keep calm. In some complex situations even though you have evidences to support you, the system might not. E.g in a car accident, if you hit an Emirati's car, or he hit yours, you're wrong. Lol. Refer to point 1, relax ah. People don't queue, no need to scold. In their (home) country they didn't have to. Pushing, Shoving in public places is normal and to be expected. Service staffs like waiters, salesperson are not all attentive and friendly or knowledgable either.
5. Salary Expectations
Compare cost of living here and in Singapore. Make sure if you do find work, your employers cover your medical insurance, housing allowance, education for kids, etc. If you are not getting a good package, it does not make sense to live anywhere outside your home country. Remember the gold rain and hailstones theory? (A Malay saying "Hujan emas di negeri orang, hujan emas di negeri sendiri, lebih baik di negeri sendiri" which basically means, No matter how hard the circumstances is at home, it's much better than the promising life far from home") If you're going to live abroad, why live in hailstones? (hujan batu di negeri orang is NOT an ideal situation).
Don't expect citizenship, esp here in the middle east, where its not granted. Everyone here comes with a work permit or residency visa. Spouses are not allowed to work generally. You are only an expat here and your contract expires when you leave your job (or lose it).
Education standard is far below what we're accustomed to back home. If we complain that its too stressful back home, get ready for a very relax, laid back system here, which you paid for in 5-digits numerals. You will begin to wonder where that money went :p and will be grateful for the fact that the teachers in Singapore bothered to give your child homework and extra classes for a mere school fee of ..what is it... $9 per month???
8. Cost of Living : Nasi lemak is not $1 but $10
While some things are more affordable here, like transport, some things are overpriced - eating out can be expensive without the existence of hawker centres :( Cinemas, excursions are all more expensive. Put that into account. Housing rents are currently hitting the roof. I know and met people who live 2 hours away from their work place simply because its cheaper there for them and family.
9. Life & Death
Birth, Death and sicknesses are inevitable part of nature. If you lose your health, you may lose your job, that means you lose your insurance. Medical fees are exhorbitant - you'll appreciate the medisave more now :) Death is also another complicated procedure and without emotional support, a very tough time on the family, financially as well. Be prepared for bank accounts to be frozen unless you have access to it as a co-account holder. In worst case scenario, be prepared to be buried wherever you made your last breath. We're dead anyway, does it matter? Doa's from family need not be by the graveyard, so if you have a family member that passed on, consider this seriously. The stress, complications, paperworks are just too exhausting for the ones left behind.
10. What are you giving up?
Worth it or not? Think about what are you leaving behind, your family, your network, support system, stability, security, etc. Don't forget while you are finding this experience new and exciting, your children are growing up without grandmas hugs, cousins visits, uncles and aunties pamperings etc. Yeah sure you have expat friends, but embrace this mantra "Nothing is permanent". Every time you think you are warming up to someone, they suddenly decide to go home or move to another country, and you have to start over. That's the norm. Newbies will have a slightly hard time to make friends with seasoned 'expats' because they are simply tired of making new friends or have their own safe circle already. Find other newbies or a really nice seasoned 'oldbie' hehe. (Me! Me!)
The choice is yours :)