FRS managed the relocation of Finnish talent Liisa with her move from Finland to Singapore, and now she has shared her experiences of moving to and settling in a new country. Liisa works in the telecommunications industry with international digital services, focusing especially on internal start-ups. She gave us an interview, and we found out why she left Finland for Singapore – and how it felt.
Organizing life in home-country
Liisa has always been interested in internationality, but her international career had been put on hold. Once her children grew up, she once again started to consider working abroad.
Before the move was actually possible, she had to organize her own life: Liisa gave up most of her belongings and moved from a 300 sqm detached house to an apartment half the size in Katajanokka, Helsinki. Living in a smaller apartment eventually eliminated even more stuff and both of her cars. However, the final confirmation came from a 4-month long business trip to Dubai, where she lived in hotels and was able to manage with only one suitcase.
“After that experiment, I knew how much stuff I needed – and that I could do just fine on my own. It was then time to give up the apartment in Katajanokka and move to a small studio to wait for the next phase in my working life.” Liisa recounts.
Liisa’s Finnish employer has offices all around the globe. They feel that this is the best way to have a presence everywhere they do business, thus gaining an understanding of local culture and customers. One good way to do this is an employee from the organization's home country. Sent employees are also valuable for the work culture of the destination country.
“The idea has been to be close to businesses and to learn about cultures on both sides,” Liisa sums up. When the opportunity opened for her to transfer to another office in another country, the options were in Europe and Asia. She wanted to learn about a distinct and new culture, so Asia and Singapore was chosen as the destination.
Moving to Singapore during the pandemic
The pandemic affected the move, and the borders to Singapore remained closed for a long time. While waiting, Liisa had time to organize most of her life for the move, such as taking care of insurance, banking matters, employment contracts, and the necessary healthcare appointments, like vaccinations.
Liisa received a work permit in June, but the entry permit process could only be started in October due to travel restrictions. She was doubting if she would be able to move before the year ended. Finally, one morning, an e-mail was waiting for her from HR in Singapore; the entry permit had been received – exactly one month from that day with an entry window of three days.
“There is never a perfect time for this kind of move. There is always some personal reason to postpone it by a few weeks, Either your child can’t get leave from the army or there is a big presentation at work. I had a big management team meeting, and when everyone else flew to Finland, I flew away”, Liisa reminisces.
She says that her head was spinning from everything related to the move. Although the apartment in Finland was only a 20m2 studio, emptying it is still a proper move.
Relocation and settling in
As in many other countries, FRS has a local partner in Singapore, and with their help, local relocation services can be provided in the destination country, with FRS managing the home country matters and overall coordination. Relo Network Asia operates in Singapore, and their relocation specialist, Claudine, took care of Liisa’s local relocation.
Liisa was really pleased with the help from Claudine during her relocation process. There are multiple things to remember, and they can be overwhelming and too challenging when handled alone.
At first, Liisa thought that she would have managed just fine without external support, but after experiencing the relocation, she was really grateful for the help. During the last two weeks before departure, the FRS relocation specialist and Claudine worked closely together, and those two professionals organized everything necessary for Liisa. When asked about relocation, the knowledge of the changing Covid-19 restrictions was worth its weight in gold for Liisa.
“For me, the number one focus was crossing the border, and luckily, I didn’t have to think about anything else. It would have been challenging to manage everything on my own, starting from booking the plane tickets among all the corona restrictions, worrying whether flights would be canceled, booking a hotel and transport for the quarantine time, Covid insurance, and everything else were luckily thoroughly explained to me by FRS and by Claudine”, Liisa lists.
Liisa says the most memorable moments were when the flight was announced as departing. Because the time window for arrival in Singapore was so narrow, it was important that there were no flight cancellations. She says that the Gin Tonic she enjoyed at the airport before the flight took off will stay in her mind forever, as will the feeling that now this is really happening.
“There was a really friendly and helpful customs officer in Singapore. Even though I had already lost the little sticker on my chest that states that the customs has done inspections, and everything is fine, I got through customs with his help, it was unforgettable”, says Liisa.
The first weeks in Singapore
When the relocation process begins, the first thing to do is map the expat's needs and expectations. It was important for Liisa to get a room with a balcony while she stayed at a quarantine hotel.
“The relocation specialist who booked the hotel room had managed to find me a hotel with a balcony! It was wonderful. The greenery was present, I enjoyed the sun, and when the rain poured and thunder roared outside, I went inside for Teams meetings with my colleagues. Life was smiling, even though I was jetlagged”, Liisa smiles.
Starting a new job during a pandemic brought its own challenges. Quarantine regulations and corona restrictions changed several times. Liisa received help for this as well, and she was introduced to, for example, different phone applications that could be used to order food during the quarantine and, in Liisa’s case, also workout equipment.
“The quarantine was a bit challenging; it included ordering food by phone, measuring my temperature, check-in video calls, and covid tests, but it was all small compared to the fact that I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be right then. It was easy to trust that I would make it – especially when I knew I could contact Claudine on WhatsApp and ask about anything”, Liisa remembers.
Life in Singapore now
Liisa was able to start her life in Singapore smoothly with Claudine’s help. She especially appreciates the help she received with the apartment search. It was easier for Liisa in the heated housing market when a local expert knew the needed practices and checked the contracts related to renting an apartment on Liisa’s behalf.
Liisa enjoys the country’s greenery, numerous parks, and friendly people who are willing to help. She has created her new daily routines, started going to a yoga studio, and found her own favorite restaurants for doing remote work. She appreciates that Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world and that it is easy to travel to other places from there.
We asked Liisa what tips she would like to give to a Finn who wants to move to Singapore or abroad: “Do it if you’ve ever dreamed about it! Even though the process is difficult, it’s worth it. You can always go and see if that is something you like, and if it is not, you can always come back to Finland!”
Liisa’s experience of relocating to a new country was really positive, and things went smoothly thanks to the professionally handled relocation help she received. If your company is considering sending an employee to another country, get in touch – and we will ensure that the process goes just as well for you.
Finland Relocation Services provides relocation services for international talent moving to Finland and talent moving from Finland to abroad. We have an extensive network of international partners in more than 120 different countries, and with their help, we can proficiently support relocations anywhere in the world.