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Meet Brandon and Lin: A Young Singaporean Family Building Their Dream Life in New Zealand

I’ve not met Brandon and Jiar Lin in person, and my first time coming across the Singaporean couple was via a video that caught my eye while I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram. 

The now-viral video detailed the couple’s move to New Zealand in 2022, with their beautiful, sparkly-eyed daughter Ellie in tow.

 I didn’t think too much about the video at first, but watching Lin feed Ellie warm porridge in the middle of a misty morning at Arthurs’ Pass, surrounded by mountains, trees, and the soft glow of sunlight made me think that that’s a beautiful life – one that many would love to have. 

I’ve been curious about their story since – What made these two nurses pack their bags and make a big move to another country? What about the families that they leave back in Singapore? What did they value in life? 

Over the months, I’ve made quick friends with them via Instagram. They’ve been warm, welcoming and generous with their advice as I plan for my move to New Zealand.

Here’s a sneak peak to their life in New Zealand – I hope their story benefits and inspires you as it has done so for me. 

How life was like in Singapore 

 

Back in Singapore, Brandon,30, and Jiar Lin, 29, were critical care nurses. Despite their busy shift schedule, they have always loved the outdoors. Weekends were spent exploring the swamps of Sungie Buloh, hiking from MacRitchie reservoir to Bukit Timah Hill, or indulging in a picnic at Botanic Gardens.

When Ellie came along, there were changes in their schedule that made them consider moving to New Zealand.

“We initially planned to move when Ellie was 6 months old. During that time, we realised that it was challenging with both of time working full time as nurses. I had to manage 3 shifts – morning, evening and night — while Lin had to handle 2 rotating shifts,” said Brandon.

“Co-ordinating our shifts was difficult, since we had different managers. If we had the same shifts, we will need to swap with our colleagues. This arrangement is unsustainable as we didn’t want to inconvenience our colleagues regularly,” he added.

Child care was also not a viable option for the couple – the waiting lists were exceptionally long, some even exceeding a year. Moreover, they were hesitant about childcare as it doesn’t sit well with their parenting philosophy.

“Ellie is our responsibility, and we want to take an active role in parenting,” said Lin.

Fortunately, Lin’s sister was able to help care for Ellie during times when both Lin and Brandon are busy at work. As they managed to get by with an interim solution, the couple knew that this wasn’t what they want for their child.

“I believe we were exploring a different lifestyle that offers a better balance, allowing us to dedicate more time for family,” Brandon said. 

How they considered moving from Singapore to NZ 

 

 

The opportunity to relocate came to Brandon in early 2022, where he came across numerous advertisements recruiting critical care nurses in Australia and New Zealand. Seizing the opportunity, he applied and received a job offer just 3 hours after having the job interview.

“We had to weigh three key considerations: job opportunities, cost of living, and safety,” said Brandon. “Fortunately, finding a nursing job was relatively easy, given the high demand for the profession. Transitioning from Singapore, we were eager to experience life in the countryside, providing us with a detox from the bustling city lifestyle.”

“Properties on the west coast are generally more affordable than in urban areas. We also had to talk to the locals and do our own research to ensure that the neighborhood we chose had a low crime rate,” he added. 

Forming a new life away from the city 

 

Back in Singapore, food delivery was a constant staple for Brandon and Lin due to its convenience, as the couple dealt with work fatigue.

Since moving, they have made the intentional effort to move towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

“The majority of our meals are now homemade,” says Lin. “To counter rising grocery expenses, we took up gardening and now have a steady supply of herbs and vegetables for our dishes, like gai lan, spinach, spring onions, lemongrass, and coriander. We also cultivate a small variety of blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, parsley, capsicum, and kale.”

Their pace of life has also slowed down considerably.

“In New Zealand, we enjoy more quality family time, particularly since Brandon works 72 hours every fortnight. We truly value the extra time off, using it to explore New Zealand, travel, or simply relax by the lakes together,” said Lin.

Moving to New Zealand also meant adjusting to the Kiwi culture, and learning new social norms. “Back home, if we have a question, we go straight to the point. In New Zealand, it is the cultural norm to exchange pleasantries,” said Brandon. 

Working as a nurse in NZ 

 

 

There is also a difference in the work culture for healthcare workers in New Zealand as compared to Singapore. Patient care in New Zealand is more personalised, not rushed, and has an emphasis on building therapeutic relationships.

The work culture is also less hierarchical and rigid, with managers adopting a non-authoritative approach. Unlike Singapore, there is minimal hierarchy between doctors and nurses – senior doctors would take time to get to know Brandon outside of work.

“Jiar Lin and I are currently working in the same hospital and ward. Our manager is aware that we have a 2-year-old daughter, and she was flexible in accommodating Lin’s shift according to our family needs,” said Brandon. “Such family-friendly practices are rare in Singapore hospitals.”

Facing challenges, and learning how to adapt

 

 

While picturesque, life in New Zealand also comes with its own set of challenges. For one, it is difficult sourcing Asian food especially when living in the countryside. Furthermore, a more laid-back culture sometimes comes with inconveniences to the couple’s day-to-day living.

“In Singapore, getting rid of waste is straightforward – you can simply toss trash down the rubbish chute,” said Brandon. “In New Zealand, the rubbish bins are considerably smaller, and it is only emptied once every 2 weeks.”

“This forces us to make a conscious effort in sorting through our rubbish, separating and composting food scraps to reduce waste,” he added. 

Managing finances when migrating to New Zealand

 

For those who are looking to migrate to New Zealand, the couple suggests to check if your company offers relocation packages.

If you are planning to do this on your own, a budget of about $20,000 is good to start out for a family of 3. About half of the money will go towards buying a used family car, and the rest will go to 1-2 months of rent, while you go about finding work to sustain your lifestyle.

If you are a nurse looking to relocate, Brandon advised to start the nursing registration process early, because it takes time and it requires heaps of paperwork.

“Remuneration may vary across healthcare organisations. Check out the nursing union collective agreements to get an idea of the remuneration across public hospitals, private hospitals and long-term care facilities,” he added. 

Closing thoughts 


From the bustling streets of Singapore to the tranquil landscapes of New Zealand, Brandon and Lin had managed to craft a life that many Singaporeans dream about – one that’s simple, and peaceful, away from the noise and stress. 

To be sure, living abroad comes with its own set of challenges, but their commitment to craft a life that prioritises family, and personal fulfillment is inspiring. 

If you are a young family looking to relocate, a nurse looking for an overseas job opportunity, or simply someone who’ve wondered how life will be like living closer to nature, feel free to follow Brandon and Lin on their adventures at @chiaseed.nz on Instagram. 

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