So you’ve spent the better part of your life working and you think you’re now old enough to stick it to your boss and retire.
But with the cost of living soaring year on year, it looks like you’ll have to shelve your retirement for yet another year and continue working even as you inch closer to the grave.
Or do you? Not if you retire overseas in a country with a lower cost of living and that offers a retirement visa—like Malaysia, recently voted amongst the five best places in the world to retire.
But before you join the other retirees by breaking out your Tai Sing slippers and putting on your batik shirt, know that retiring abroad isn’t just about buying a ticket on some budget airline and planning for a life of cheap massages. Here are four factors you’ll need to take into account first.
Check visa requirements to retire overseas
There is no country in the world with an open-door policy. Before allowing you to retire in a foreign land, you’ll have to prove to the authorities that you’ll be there to spend money and won’t be a burden on their system.
So be prepared for quite a bit of paperwork! You may even need to consult an immigration lawyer or agent based at your destination before you’ll get the green light.
You will most definitely be asked for proof of income of some sort. If you are relying partly on your monthly CPF payouts, you must ensure that they can be counted towards the requirements imposed by the country.
For instance, in addition to a monthly income of over 10,000 MYR (3,327 SGD), those wishing to retire in Malaysia must also show proof of liquid assets of over 500,000 MYR (166,342 SGD). If you’re planning to retire in Malaysia, you might want to keep a larger proportion of your retirement funds liquid rather than depositing them into your CPF account.
You might also be required to invest a certain amount of money in the country or spend on certain things. For instance, if you intend to retire in Indonesia, you will need to rent accommodation worth at least 500 USD (670 SGD) a month or buy a home costing at least 35,000 USD (46,600 SGD) and also employ an Indonesian maid.
Make health insurance arrangements
You might adore the cheap massages and food at your new retirement destination, but when you fall ill, you might not love waiting in terror to see a doctor who may not speak English.
As you age and your healthcare needs rise, you’ll want to ensure you are taken care of. Where possible, make sure you have the option of returning to Singapore to seek medical help if affordable healthcare is not available to you at your destination, or if you do not trust their healthcare system.
Some countries will require those on retirement visas to purchase their own health insurance to ensure they are covered if they fall ill.
Even in countries that do not impose health insurance requirements, you might want to purchase your own medical insurance policy. And assuming you will not be travelling back to Singapore every 90 days, you will need to purchase a policy that covers you for indefinite travel or life abroad.
Depending on your proximity to Singapore, you might also want to consider maintaining a Singapore-based health insurance policy as well. This is recommended for those retiring in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, which are a short plane flight away.
Decide on your accommodation
For many Singaporean retirees heading overseas, renting out their homes in Singapore will provide them with a significant proportion of their retirement income.
Obviously, you’ll need to find a new home in your retirement destination. You have the option of renting or, if the country allows it, buying a new home to retire overseas.
Do note, however, that many countries impose restrictions on retirees hoping to buy a home. For instance, in Thailand, foreigners are generally not allowed to buy land, so you’ll have to go for condos or apartments.
Handle banking and currency exchange matters
While opening a bank account should not be a problem once you’ve moved to your destination, it’s likely that your income will be in the form of Singapore dollars. You will thus be faced with the question of when to change currencies and how.
You’ll thus want to watch the exchange rate like a hawk and change lump sums of cash when the Singapore Dollar is at its highest.
It might also be worthwhile to open a multi-currency account in Singapore so you can store your overseas currency locally, and withdraw it at your destination without paying ATM fees.