Opinion

The 2 Biggest Reasons Singaporeans are Retiring Later, and How to Avoid the Same Fate

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Joanne Poh

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There are some Singaporeans who wish they were retired every morning when their alarm wakes them up for another day at work.

Then there are others who have never given retirement much though. Why worry about a day that may never come when you can spend that money on a handbag/holiday that you can enjoy right now?

Whatever the reasons, more Singaporeans are retiring later. For some, it’s because they like their jobs or want to stay active. And for a great many others, it’s because Singapore is an expensive place to retire.

Here are the most common reasons Singaporeans choose to retire—or not.

 

They do not have enough money

Planning for retirement too late is dangerous because when the time comes, you might not have enough money. A great many of the elderly people working in menial jobs do so because they aren’t financially able to retire, and are unable/do not wish to rely on their families for financial support.

Part of the reason for this is the breakneck speed at which Singapore jumped from a developing to a developed country. The wages people earned in Singapore’s developmental years would be peanuts in real terms.

Young Singaporeans today may experience immediate hardship due to the high cost of living, but are unlikely to be as badly affected by inflation as their forefathers were, since future economic development will surely not be as fast as it was in the Pioneer Generations’ prime

At the same time, family units are smaller, and more young Singaporeans are choosing to remain childless. That means less reliance on families for financial support in retirement will be possible.

What this means is that it is more important than ever for young Singaporeans to plan adequately for retirement as early as possible.

The good news is that, thanks to the Internet, there is more information than ever on financial and retirement planning, and Singaporeans are also better educated today. This will hopefully lead to a more financially-savvy generation.

 

They fear boredom, isolation or a loss of identity

Singapore’s current crop of senior citizens grew up in vastly difference circumstances than their children. Back then, security and stability were key, and most focused more on achieving material comfort than, oh, trivial matters like chasing their dreams or pursuing hobbies.

That’s why compared to millennials, a great many older Singaporeans don’t have much in the way of hobbies or interests outside of work and family. They probably weren’t spending all their weekends partying at Zouk or going on Tinder dates either.

To many of these older folk, stopping work means running the risk of isolation, and losing their professional identities.

Young Singaporeans, on the other hand, have grown up in a safe, stable environment which has afforded them the luxury of focusing on higher-order needs rather than bread-and-butter issues. What’s more with the Internet and the lower cost of international travel, their horizons are probably a bit broader than their parents’, with a wider range of hobbies and interests within easy access.

This is why not as many will feel afraid that if they retire, they’ll be “bored”. The rise of young Singaporeans taking gap years and sabbaticals is evidence enough that many are finding fulfilling pursuits outside of work. And thanks to the Internet, connecting with like-minded communities is much easier.

Those who, however, in spite of it all do not have a much of a “life outside of work” should take care to cultivate a well-rounded lifestyle while they’re still young and energetic enough to do so.

Put in the effort to let friends and family into your life. If you’re always so busy working and you don’t have time for others, you’re going to feel very lonely when you retire. Likewise, be curious about the world and actively pursue your interests rather than always letting your life take a backseat.

That way, even if you decide to continue working much longer than your peers (bearing in mind that your health or retrenchment might dictate otherwise), you’ll be doing so for positive reasons—because you enjoy your job—rather than because you fear that you’ve got nothing else outside of it.

At what age do you want to retire? Tell us in the comments!

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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.