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Top 6 Countries Where Singaporeans Might Actually Be Able to Retire

top 6 retirement countries

Joanne Poh

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Why bother saving for retirement, right? The cost of living in Singapore is going to be so high by the time you get there that whatever you have in your CPF, assuming you’re even able to get it out, is going to be worth peanuts.

But wait—there is a reason you should be assiduously saving for retirement rather than thinking of your savings as money to spend at your own funeral. There’s a whole list of countries around the world that offer retirement visas, many with a much lower cost of living.

In exchange, you’ll usually be asked to demonstrate proof that you have enough money to live on in retirement, as well as promise not to work.

While the amount of retirement income you’ll have to show is probably going to be higher than your CPF payouts (if you can even get them by then) renting out your home in Singapore and then taking an extended vacation as a retiree is an option that just might be within reach.

 

1. Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia
Penang, Malaysia

While Johor has long been a popular choice for Singaporean retirees, many still snootily think of Malaysia as Singapore’s poorer, more dangerous cousin.

But ask any Malaysian working in Singapore and they’ll tell you that Singapore’s overcrowded shopping malls don’t hold a candle to Malaysia’s beautiful beaches, verdant jungle and more laid back way of life.

Malaysia also has one of the world’s best retirement programmes, offering the possibility of a 10 year visa and the right to invest in Malaysian property.

Length of visa: 10 years

Minimum age: None, although there are less onerous requirements for those above 50.

Requirements: Applicants under 50 must have liquid assets above 500,000 MYR (188,650 SGD) and a monthly income of over 10,000 MYR (3,770 SGD); applicants over 50 must have assets of over 350,000 MYR (132,100 SGD) and a monthly retirement income of 10,000 MYR (3,770 SGD).

Upon approval of the application, you must maintain in a Malaysian bank account a fixed deposit of 300,000 MYR (113,200 SGD) if you’re under 50 or 150,000 MYR (56,600 SGD) if you’re over 50. Some withdrawal is allowed for property purchases, medical insurance or children’s education expenses. Those receiving a government pension of over 10,000 MYR (3,770 SGD) a month are exempt from this requirement.

Visa holders are allowed to invest in businesses, although only certain applicants will be granted the right to work up to 20 hours, depending on the usefulness of their expertise.

Click here for more info.

 

2. Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is one of Singapore’s favourite countries, and practically every Singaporean knows how to say “sawadeeka” or “sawakeekrap”.

At the moment, you can live a fairly luxurious life in Thailand for under $1,000 a month including rent. Whether you’ll be lazing on a beautiful Thai beach with a cocktail in hand or finding out how 60 is the new 20 at Thai discos, you won’t have felt this good since never.

Best of all, the visa requirements are pretty easy to satisfy.

Length of visa: 1 year

Minimum age: 50

Requirements: At least 800,000 THB (32,000 SGD) in a Thai bank account OR proof of a monthly income of 65,000 THB (2,660 SGD) OR a combination of the two.

Click here for more info.

 

3. Indonesia

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Bali is already a hugely popular retirement destination for foreigners, but Yogyakarta with its cultural gems and Bandung with its relatively cool weather are also great choices.

Length of visa: 1 year, extendable to a maximum of 5 years

Minimum age: 55

Requirements: A minimum of 1,500 USD (1,970 SGD) per month and proof of accommodation costing at least 35,000 USD (46,000 SGD) if purchased, 500 USD (660 SGD) a month if rented in Jakarta, Bandung or Bali, 300 USD (390 SGD) a month if rented in Java Island, Batam, Medan and 200 USD (260 SGD) a month if rented in other cities. Retirees are required to employ an Indonesian maid during their stay in Indonesia.

Visa fees are typically about 5 million IDR (530 SGD) to 7 million IDR (740 SGD).

 

4. Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Long before Singaporeans starting fleeing the country, US citizens were retiring in Costa Rica, known as one of the world’s #1 retirement destinations. While Costa Rica is home to stunning beaches and rainforests, it is also the Central American country with the highest standard of living, so you won’t have to worry about not being able to find modern amenities or services

Length of visa: Renewable every year so long as you show proof of income

Minimum age: none

Requirements: At least 1,000 USD (1,300 SGD) a month through pension or a social security benefit, or proof of a 2,500 USD (3,300 SGD) monthly income for at least five years.

While you’re not allowed to work, you can run a business.

 

5. New Zealand

Wharariki, New Zealand
Wharariki, New Zealand

Singaporeans often refer to New Zealand as the perfect place for retirement, ostensibly because it’s slow paced and full of jaw-dropping natural landscapes.

It is also the closest “Western” country to Singapore that offers a retirement visa, ever since Australia closed its doors to new applicants.

If you want to spend your golden years gazing at glaciers and looking at the stars instead of fighting your way through crowded shopping malls, consider retiring in New Zealand… if you’re loaded, that is.

Length of visa: 2 years, renewable if requirements are met

Minimum age: 66

Requirements: Investments of at least 750,000 NZD (765,000 SGD) over 2 years. You also need to nominate 500,000 NZD (510,000 SGD) for maintenance funds and prove that you have an annual income of 60,000 NZD (61,100 SGD).

Click here for more info.

6. Canada

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It’s easy to see why so many Singaporeans flock to Canada, given it’s wide diversity of cultures. With Vancouver ranked the 3rd most liveable city in the world, and Toronto following after at number 4, Singaporeans can choose between living in the city or in a much more rural area. Also, with income tax

Length of visa: To live in Canada per­ma­nently or for more than six months a year, you usu­ally must apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus.

Minimum age: None

Requirements: If you’re well edu­cated, you speak flu­ent English and French, and your spouse also has a uni­ver­sity degree, you’re more likely to qual­ify. Also, another fac­tor is the amount of sav­ings you have.

Even though you’re retired, if you can demonstrate that you have ample finan­cial resources to take care of your­self and your fam­ily, Canada will usu­ally look more favor­ably on your appli­ca­tion. And if you have funds to invest in Canada, that’s another plus.

They have a simple and short survey you can take to find out if you are eligible for permanent residency.

Are you thinking of retiring overseas? Tell us where you’re considering in the comments!

Image Credits:
Adeeb Aqil, Trey Ratcliff, killerturnip, Kim Seng, Chris GinDoug,

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • HarriSmithy

    The title says “Top 6 Countries”… but the article only lists 5…
    1. Malaysia
    2. Thailand
    3. Indonesia
    4. Costa Rica
    5. New Zealand
    So what is the correct number? The standard of editing/proofreading on MoneySmart is atrocious.

    • JonnySazaki

      No shit lah
      Their standards have really dropped.
      Should call it joannepohsmart.sg

    • Canada is also inside

  • Leela

    Hi Joanna

    Have a question about your article. For almost all of the countries you have mentioned, they require an annual/monthly income and you’re not allowed to work. May I ask how this is possible?

    • Hi Leela, you’ll need to show proof of a pension (or in our case CPF payouts), investment income (eg. rental income or share dividends) or cash savings. After all, you’ll need an income if you’re going to be able to retire.

  • Zuijiadeai

    Why China is not even on the list? They don’t provide retirement visa or what?

    • There isn’t a specific retirement visa for China. If you want to stay long term you’ll have to invest in the country or have worked there for a few years prior.

  • RD Jay

    What about Philippines? Any idea, advice or suggestions?