My Singapore Dream

Stage 1 – I was 15 years old.


I started my quest for The Singapore Dream at the age of 15. I studied very hard to do well in exams. My dream is to get into Singapore’s university.


Stage 2 – I was 19 years old.


From where I come from, there are no equal opportunities for tertiary education. When I received a letter from NUS, awarding me a scholarship to study in Singapore with 3 years of bond, I thought, “This is the best day of my life.”


I did not know what I want to be in the future. I have yet to find my place in this world. But that is secondary. My dream for the next 4 years is to keep my scholarship, and get a degree scroll that will get me a job to live comfortably.


So I chose a course which I am confident I can do well providing that I put in lots of hard work. During the 4 years of my tertiary education, I studied hard, practiced past year papers, I chose courses that are easy to score and I did well in exams. I graduated with an honors degree, which did get me a decent job.


Stage 3 – I was 23 years old.


I became a Singapore PR because I wanted to get extra 14.5% into my CPF account, and I want to be able to switch jobs as and when I like without worrying about maintaining an employment pass in Singapore.


Renting a 3m by 3.5m room in a HDB flat (which is costing me more and more), and spending 2 hours on public transport (which is also costing me more and more), I feel miserable. I dream of living in condo and driving a car – the two Cs.


So, I invested most of my time in work.


Stage 4 – I was 25 years old.


After 2 years in the workforce, I started to do some math together with my wife (whom is living the same dream). A condominium will cost us at least S$1m. We do not have such money. Loaning S$1m from a local bank with 3.8% interest over 30 years, we will both need to fork out S$4700 every month (on top of CPF OA). We both have a combine income of S$7000 per month. 20% of our salary is already deducted for CPF, and if we use up 67% to repay our loan every month, we are left with S$910 to live a month. Not a good choice.


So I figured that I will buy a HDB flat using my CPF, since I will not be able to touch these sum of my hard earned money till I am 55 when I withdraw my PR and pledge not to work in Singapore anymore. I did not want to borrow money more than my monthly CPF OA can pay. My calculations tell me that our CPF OA (me and wife) has a monthly input of S$1600. With S$1600 of monthly installment, we were able to borrow S$350,000. So, we selected a 3 bedroom HDB flat at Marine Parade which cost us S$360,000. I thought, “Now we can spend our take home pay elsewhere, Good Choice!”


We spent it on maintaining a car – S$1500 a month. Our standard of living cost us – S$1500 a month. Annual Vacation and other indulgence – S$1600 a month We put S$1000 onto investments.


Stage 5 – I was 30 years old.


I have 2 kids, my monthly expenditure went up. Also, I want to provide top class University Education to them in 15 to 20 years. It is expected that Tertiary Education cost will be about S$100,000 for a degree over 4 years. To save up S$200,000 in 20 years, each month I set aside S$500 at a 5% annual rate of return.


Now, with our increase in monthly expenditure, we no longer have any savings, and no longer earn enough to maintain a car (rising fuel prices, CoE and ERP). No car, no condo.


So, we both decided to work harder for our promotion and pay rise.


To focus our efforts to bring home the money, we hired a maid to take care of our children.


Stage 6 – I was 40 years old.


My kids are older now. I spend most of my time doing work and do not spend enough time with them. I compensate my lack of time by providing them the best possible standard of living. I upgraded my flat so they can each have their own room. Now, I owe the bank even more money, and have to fork out a monthly loan repayment.


I realize that I do not have any passive income. My lifestyle, my flat, my car, my children’s education etc. depends heavily on my wife and my job. We cannot afford to loose our jobs.


Our objectives for the past 10 years were to work hard to secure our income which is our jobs. And it seems like that will be our objective for live. We have lost our freedom.


No time to spend with our teenage children, no time for our ageing parents, no time for sports, no time for friends. Weekends are either for work, or for recuperation – to prepare myself for the next week.


Stage 7 – I was 45 years old.


My skills became obsolete. I was retrenched. And a series of problems suddenly fell into place.


I finally had time to reflect.


45 years of lifetime has passed, what have I done? What have I achieved as a person?   

I realized that I have become part of a system, spending my time and energy to fulfill society’s expectation of me. A robot with no dreams.


What are my dreams? How can I make a difference to the people that matters most to me?


Is it too late for a change?



Which Stage of life am I at now? Is my life a script that is already written for millions of people? Is this what I want?


Stop & Think!

 Disclaimer: The above story is completely fictional. If any events or character in the above story is similar in any way to any real life events, it is completely coincidental.


One Response

  1. […] tougher for me to get out of the flow, and to live life the way I want to do it. We even predicted our future, if we were to continue this flow. And it really hit me pretty hard. Wake up […]

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