By 16, he had lived in four different cities.
But even then, Kyle Brendan Coughlan, an Irish-Singaporean who held dual citizenship, was certain he wanted to become a Singapore citizen.
He did, two years later.
Like all Singaporean men, Mr Coughlan, who turned 20 last week, went on to do national service.
He did so well that he was posted to the Specialist Cadet School after Basic Military Training (BMT) and graduated with a Golden Bayonet award yesterday. The Golden Bayonet is awarded to the top 10 per cent of all Specialist Cadet trainees.
Explaining his decision to become a Singaporean, he told The New Paper: “I really like the food and I’ve assimilated well to the culture here. I also have many close ties in Singapore.”
Mr Coughlan, who has plans to study in the UK, said he never really had a place to call home. His family moved around a lot because of his father’s work as a hotelier.
Born to an Irish father and a Singaporean mother in Singapore, he moved to Hong Kong with his family when he was about seven months old.
The family went on to live in Macau and Bangkok, before returning to Singapore about five years ago, when Mr Coughlan enrolled in United World College of South-east Asia.
“I’m kind of like a nomad,” he joked. “Wherever I go, I make the best of it.”
He added that as a sports lover – he plays football, rugby and does track and field – the local climate suits him, compared to Ireland’s, where he visits relatives often.
His outgoing personality also meant he could adapt easily. During BMT, fellow recruits were initially hesitant to approach the only “international recruit” in the platoon but he initiated conversations and quickly struck up friendships.
Mr Coughlan, who was the top cadet in the Combat Service Support Command (Transport), said he felt “truly honoured and humbled” to receive the award. He is now a Third Sergeant.
He credits his family for being his pillar of support.
Mr Coughlan has a younger brother.
“My parents did not influence my choice of citizenship. They were very open and supportive of my decision.”