Saturday, July 26, 2014

Migrating to Australia Good Meh? by Ken Soong & Michael Soong

This is the book the I picked up in MPH before I migrated to Australia last year. It is a very good book to read especially for those who are deciding or have already decided migrate to Australia.

Since I"m here for > 6 months already, perhaps I can share with you my opinion about migrating to Australia. What I'm going do here is I will try to write down my own opinion in summary for each chapter. I may agree or disagree or neutral but ultimately this is my opinion. Please don't be too sensitive of it if you disagree.

Chapter 1 - Is The Western Culture Better for You?

There are lot comparisons & explanations about cultural perspective in this chapter (which is good) but for me, there are only 2 main reasons to decide whether western culture is for you:

First one is do you like to speak and write in English? Basically everything is English and you live within it. If you migrate to Australia with the mind that you're still preferring to speak your own language, then the western culture is not for you.

Second reason is do you like corruption?  For instance, driving test is way easier to pass if you know "how" in Malaysia. Here in Australia, there is only one way. Will you get used to it?

Chapter 2 - Land of Opportunities?

The authors talk a lot about business here but I can't comment much about business. For being an employee, I think getting a job in Australia is harder than in Malaysia. There are 2 reasons for that. :)

The first reason is you do not need to 100% master the skill in Malaysia to become an expert. So if you're an expert in Malaysia, you may not be expert in Australia. In Malaysia, you can fake your expertise easily and yet getting very high pay and this cannot be done easily in Australia.

The second reason is there're a lot of competitions in Australia than in Malaysia. The competition is not from Australian but the rest of the migrants from other countries like you. So you need to be better than all of them in order to secure a job.

Chapter 3 - Starting a Business in Australia

No comment on this chapter but if I want to guess, starting a business in Australia is harder than in Malaysia due to similar reasons above.

Chapter 4 - Customer Service Australia Style

I have a lot of bad experience with customer service since I landed here but it doesn't mean it is worst than in Malaysia. My take is customer service is as bad as in Malaysia. The customer service interaction may be is better than in Malaysia (for example they can talk very good) but no action is being taken seriously. The authors mention along this line too.

Chapter 5 - Choosing the Right Suburb

Honestly, no matter how much you read about a particular suburb, you still need to visit there and experience it by yourself.  The next important thing to know is whether the suburb is an established suburb. If it is not, what is the government's development plan for this suburb? It can be none or there is something and all these information can be found in the government website. This drives the potential property's value of this suburb.

The authors talk about certain suburb may not be good even if it is close to the train station and suggest to stay 50 mins walk away from the train station. I totally disagree with this. If a suburb is not good within 15 mins walk to the train station, it is the same if it is 50 mins walk to the train station. It won't make any big difference.

Anyway, I think what the authors mention is very special case. I think having your property close to the public transport is a "MUST" considered element. This is especially useful for new migrant, you can't go wrong with a property that close to transportation. It is matter of whether you can afford it or not.

The authors also suggest not to buy property and hold off your purchase until 2016 and move your money to gold.  I disagree with that unless you're not sure whether you will settle down permanently. If you have already decided to settle down, you should start researching and buying a property when you've found a suitable one. About moving your money to gold, I don't think is a wise choice too. The gold price has already reached it's peak - see my previous post: Can Gold Price Peak Again After 2012?

What about property bubble burst? Similar comment that I have with property bubble burst in Penang, I don't think it will happen, it will probably stable down for few years if economy turns bad. The property price in Australia is mainly driven by high population growth which primary as a result of high migration. As long as the government doesn't stop the migration inflow all the sudden, I don't think property bubble will burst.

Chapter 6 - "Rustbelt Schools" in Australia

Sorry, no comment in this area. :)

Chapter 7 - Schoolyard Bullying

This shouldn't be consideration at all if you plan to migrate. It happens everywhere, maybe in Malaysia it never gets reported. Unfortunately, I was the one who bullied those kids when I was young. I don't think this is ever reported. :)

Chapter 8 - How Good is an Australian Education for Your Child?

I don't have much comment here but I think everyone agrees that Australian education is better than in Malaysian education but let me share my perception about Australian education vs Malaysian education. 

  • Malaysian student can take more pressure. It is true in my generation but I"m not sure generation now. It seems like youngster in Malaysia lately also cannot take much pressure
  • Malaysian student is lack of communication skill. I think this is very true. Even for myself today, I have difficulty to communicate my message or express my feelings.

Chapter 9 - Assimilating into Racist... Australia?

This chapter is not that important. Racist is everywhere and nowhere. Whether you want to assimilating to Australia society is matter of choice. It is back to the fundamental question, do you try to avoid English? If yes, Australia is not good place for you.

Chapter 10 - Tips for "Succeeding" in Australia: Career-wise

The authors give a very useful information about how you can succeed at different stage of your life before you migrate to Australia. My opinion is if you want to migrate, the earlier the better. The older you're, the more difficult for you.

As mentioned before, getting a job is challenging here in Australia but I do not buy in the idea of "lack of local experience" (not by the authors but by most of my friends). Please don't blame it and give this reason as why you're not hired. You're not hired because your skills don't have the direct match of what they are looking for and they don't see your potential. This is the same for all the companies around the world. 

Chapter 11 - The welfare state and you

Just a piece of advice, don't rely on this system and therefore you don't put this as part of your migration consideration. If you do, you won't be living good here in Australia. Furthermore, if you're a new migrant, you need to wait for 2 years before you can apply for this benefit unless you have children. So if I were you, I won't put this in my financial planning so that whatever that I get from this system is an extra. 

Chapter 12 - Migrate for What?

Although the authors mention that they provide independent view but I feel that they're more biases against people migrating to Australia especially in this chapter.What they discuss here in chapter are mostly explaining why Malaysia could be a better place. :)

The fact that everyone knows is Australia is better than in Malaysia and we cannot deny that. If not, why so many people migrating to Australia? It is not just Malaysian but all the nations in the world. It is a very nature thing that human always migrates to a better place. That's why you see there are quite number of increasing foreign workers in Malaysia . This is simply because Malaysia is better than their countries, no?

Whether or not migrating to Australia is better, it is very personal thing. I can say Australia is good but I can also say Australia is bad. So, migrate for what? You're the only person can tell. Australia definitely is a better place but can you make use of it?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Do Not Buy Studio Apartment in Australia

I almost wanted to buy a studio apartment in the city for my own stay and future investment few weeks ago but at the end, I didn't make it because the bank won't lend me money. This is not because of my credit record but it is simply a RULE. No wonder there are still few studio units left over for quite some times in such a strategic place.

There is a rule by banks that they won't lend you money for buying a small property that less than a certain square meters. A studio apartment is a good example. The rule was used to be less than 50 square meters and now I think they change it to less than 40 square meters. Please note this measurement is for internal area and excluding the external (i.e. balcony).

The reason why bank does this is because small unit has no resale value according to them. Oh my God, isn't this a chicken and egg problem? Isn't that you set such a rule that people can't borrow money from you and thus no resale value? No matter what the reason is, "studio apartment has no resale value is a fact". So, I decided to pull out and luckily I hadn't put in any deposit yet.

I can continue to find a way but it may end up getting a higher interest loan which is unnecessary. For renting out, maybe there is value but what if I want to sell it one day? I'm going to have hard time. Now I start to understand why developers are building dual-key apartments. It is basically 2 studio units that stick together and selling it as a whole. I guess this is a loop hole for this bank's rule. :) Smart, isn't it?


So my conclusion is "Do Not Buy Studio Apartment in Australia" even if it is for investment. : ) Dual-key apartment may be an option for investment but I would rather go for either 1-bed or 2-bed rooms apartment which you can use it as investment or for your own stay. This is my opinion of course.

Hope this sharing is worth because it was a surprise to me that bank has such rule here. It becomes worst especially if you have made your deposits or booking fees and yet you fail to get a loan. Good luck!

P/S: Personally, I think studio unit has no resale value is caused by the bank not buyer. It should have high demands due to the higher living cost, higher rental yield and etc.  10 years ago maybe this is true because property price is still at very affordable price for larger property. What if bank removes such rule now? I bet Studio units will be sold like crazy especially in city like Sydney!!!

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