The Financial Samurai left a comment on my post the other day, asking if I would consider moving to Thailand, where an early retirement on my current networth would be possible.
Geographical leveraging has been something I have been turning over and over in my mind ever since I decided I wanted to retire early. This is one of the most frequent pieces of advice seen on early retirement blogs and forums for those who have trouble saving enough for retirement in high COL places, and I would be a fool if I didn’t even consider this in my planning.
Unfortunately, this is a decision that is more than just mathematics. At least for me, it is.
These were the factors I considered in my decision making, which may offend a few, but then, it is what it is:
- No homogeneous-cultured countries. The last thing I want is to stand out like a sore thumb and be subjected to weird looks every time I do something that is perceived to be different. I would never be able to feel at home.
- As an Asian who grew up in the 80’s, I am still pretty sensitive to racism towards Asians. And from my experience so far, racism towards Asians in the West has not been abolished, just perhaps heavily disguised. Or maybe I am just ultra-sensitive? The only Western city I have visited so far that ever made me feel like I could fit in comfortably was Vancouver, though I think I could also like Toronto from all I have heard. Even the various Australian cities with their heavy Asian population did not make the mark (with respect to my perhaps over-sensitivity towards racism, not anything else). I personally think that Asia is still the best place for Asians, but perhaps I am biased.
- NB: Vancouver ain’t exactly the cheapest place to retire in, but for someone who has been saving for early retirement in Singapore, well…it’s all relative.
- Destination city must be a religion-neutral area or a multi-religion area with no dominant religion unless the dominant religion is Taoism or Buddhism (or some local form of Paganism).
- No rural areas. Me – city girl born and bred.
- Politically stable. Not prone to frequent riots and strikes.
- Must have reasonably efficient public transport system and preferably walkable layouts. I don’t really drive well, and I am also not interested in maintaining a car.
- Preferably not prone to natural disasters. Singaporeans are blessed since our neighbours shelter us from everything. We are not equipped with skills to cope with natural disasters since the worst we get on the island are heavy thunderstorms. This is not a make-or-break condition though, and I guess learning to cope with earthquakes and hurricanes in my forties could be an interesting experience. Perhaps.
- Language…well, I only speak English and Chinese. Both fluently, but still, just the two. Again, not a make-or-break condition, I could always learn a new language. But if I had a choice…
I am also not so sure about my personal feelings for Singapore. I consider myself a patriot and love my country deeply. Now. Currently, I cannot see myself living in another country. But Singapore is undergoing a lot of changes, physically, politically, socially. I cannot be sure that the Singapore of the next decade will still be the Singapore that I love, and it may one day make sense for me to leave.
Anyway, after all these considerations, I think I just about ruled out everywhere except Singapore for the immediate future. Sam’s suggestion of Thailand may be possible if the political climate stabilizes in the next few years. Canada is also still on the list, but definitely not while my parents are still living.
And that brings me to the last point – my parents.
I cannot leave them. I also cannot, in good conscience, uproot them from all they know and love at this stage of their lives. They are also not in the best of health, and Singapore offers the comfort of superior and affordable care without needing to jump through hoops, something which I cannot be sure of getting elsewhere.
So yeah, the conclusion is that I did think about retiring somewhere else cheaper, so that I can do it earlier, but due to the host of conditions I have placed upon myself and my destination country, I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.
Ah well, retiring early in Singapore is still possible, though not too probable. But that is why we have lotteries…