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'I felt very stagnant': This Singaporean man quits TikTok job after 18 months to become a berry picker overseas

'I felt very stagnant': This Singaporean man quits TikTok job after 18 months to become a berry picker overseas
PHOTO: Jordan Lim

From the hustle and bustle of corporate Singapore to the quiet and quaint town of Pemberton in Western Australia.

It's a stark contrast in lifestyle but one that Jordan Lim and Chloe Ng were seeking.

The couple left their jobs and embarked on a new adventure in Australia at the beginning of April.

Take a guess at their choice of occupation down under. In comparison to the corporate world they left, it's like chalk and cheese.

Jordan and Chloe are now picking berries at a farm, under a working holiday visa.

This visa lasts 12 months and is for young adults, aged 18 to 30, who are looking for an extended holiday while working in the country.

Jordan explains to AsiaOne: "It's a visa meant for you to travel to Australia and then you can find short-term work to fund the trip."

The idea of working overseas came to him as recently as last July when he and his girlfriend were vacationing in Perth.

"It feels like a good time to do it. When you're in your 20s and you haven't settled down, you can basically choose to do anything and everything," the 27-year-old says.

Life of a horticulture worker

On May 16, Jordan posted a series of photos on TikTok showing what a typical day is like for a berry picker in Australia.

His day begins as early as half past five in the morning and it's off to the farm to start picking and packing some berries.

Jordan mentions that, due to the different seasons, working hours may differ day to day. 

If there are fewer berries to pick, work can even end as early as 12.30pm. 

In the TikTok video he posted, the working day was "done and dusted" by 1.45pm and it was time to head home.

That doesn't sound too difficult, right? Also, the money seems pretty decent.

Jordan reveals he can rake in "close to AU$800 (S$720)" on a good week. 

"After working two months [as a horticulture worker], I've earned $4,800, after tax.

"It's definitely lower than what I [would] get back in Singapore, but because I'm living in a small town, there isn't much to spend on so I do save a bit," he shares.

However, just like any job, it ain't all roses.

Although the working hours may be shorter than the typical eight-to-five office job, there's no denying the laborious nature of the work.


When asked about the best part of the day, Jordan was swift with his reply.

"To be honest, the best part was coming back from work," he quips.

That's because mornings can get cold, between six to nine degrees Celsius, and it's generally "not very enjoyable", according to Jordan.

He adds: "But towards the end, in the afternoon [when] it gets hotter, everybody [at the farm] is in a better mood."

During their stint in Australia, the couple have had numerous opportunities to interact with people from all over the world.

Jordan tells AsiaOne that everybody who came to Australia on a working holiday visa has their own reasons. 

Whether it be an Argentinian couple or Taiwanese backpackers, speaking with them and listening to their stories have been an enriching experience for Jordan and Chloe.

Being in a completely new environment has also allowed the couple to experience life through a different lens.

"All the national parks we've been to, the sights we've seen and people we've met, I think [that] having a genuine connection with people is something that is very memorable," he tells us.

Goodbye corporate Singapore

Before his Australian adventures, Jordan was going through the life stages of a "typical" Singaporean young adult.

He completed his university studies, majoring in Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore.

After graduating in May 2021, Jordan found himself a corporate job, doing user operations at TikTok.

"It's a nice place to work. The culture is good [and] the office is great," he notes.

Despite that, his time at TikTok lasted all of 18 months. 

Jordan found the job to be a bit too mundane for his liking. 

"I don't feel like I learned very much. I felt very stagnant at that point and, at one period, I wasn't very happy with what I was doing as well."

Chloe was also working at TikTok, and the duo left the multinational corporation life for something more unconventional.

The couple felt the time was right to try something different in life.

But they had to convince their parents first.

Working overseas, are you sure?

Jetting off to Australia for work wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. 

It's an idea that had been bubbling away since last July, but Jordan's parents weren't particularly keen about it initially.

"They weren't really sure whether it was a good idea so I did a lot of research to find out how to put myself in Australia," he says.

The fact that Jordan did his research eased his parents' doubts.

His research pointed him towards the working holiday visa, which was likely to be his best bet.

Jordan explained to his parents that it'll be three months of work in remote Australia — this is the criterion to extend the visa for a second year.

Ultimately, he might still return to a typical office job eventually. But for now, he and Chloe are in the process of completing the three months of work.

Given that the berry season ended in late May, the couple are now picking truffles instead of berries.

"The dogs owned by the farm will sniff the truffles [out] and then, we will dig the place where they mark," Jordan explains.

To him, there's really "no harm" trying out the working holiday visa. It serves as a good litmus test if you've ever considered emigrating. 

"I will say, just embrace it. Step out of [your] comfort zone and try something new.

"Because once you pass [the age of] 30, you really can't do this anymore," he advises.

ALSO READ: 'They call me a unicorn': Singaporean moves to Melbourne, colleagues tease him for grinding 5 days a week

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