THE idea of moving across the world to retire may sound counter-intuitive to some – after all, isn’t that the time you get to enjoy at home with family without the distractions and stresses of work? But you can get more mileage out of your retirement years, and pension, by relocating to a new city or country where the cost of living is low and you can still enjoy a good quality of life with all the services and facilities you need.
The cost of living in much of Asia is still relatively low and renting a nice home, vacationing regularly and indulging in fine dining, drinks and entertainment needn’t break the bank. And in Southeast Asia especially, you also get to enjoy warm weather all year round.
Here are five countries worth looking at where you can truly make the most of your golden years. Plus, if you’re living in paradise, you can bet the family will be eager to come visit you.
The Philippines, home to some of the most beautiful beaches and friendliest people in the world, is a solid option for retirees, if you can meet the requirements for a visa. To obtain a retirement visa, applicants must prove that they have a certain amount of money in their bank accounts in order to qualify (the amount depends on your age, as the Philippines allows for people 35 and older to apply). If you’re willing to go through those hurdles, you can look forward to life in true paradise with a relatively low cost of living that will allow you to enjoy your time in the Philippines and throughout Asia.
The Land of Smiles is a prime destination for retirees, and for good reason. You can live a life of luxury, adventure or both in this Southeast Asian paradise. From the beaches of Phuket, Samui, Samet and Hua Hin, to the chaos and nightlife of Bangkok, to the culture and relaxed atmosphere of Chiang Mai, there are countless options for those who wish to kick back and relax. Retirement visas with year-long validity can be obtained if you are 50 or over, though you’ll need to prepare certain documents and information for that application, including proof that you have a certain amount of money in your bank account. Social security payments and pension money can go a long way in Thailand. It is feasible to live a comfortable existence on US$1,000 per month. Prices are rising in Thailand, but it still remains excellent value.
Malaysia has also been cited as a great country for retirees to settle down in. Kuala Lumpur is a modern and well-developed city where you can find the comforts of home, plus some exoticism, at reasonable costs. Malaysia is also home to gorgeous beaches and countryside, if city living is not your thing. The quality of life in Malaysia makes it a nice balance between East and West, without breaking the bank. The Malaysia My Second Home program is particularly accommodating to foreigners, with a 10-year multiple entry renewable visa available to those looking to spend extended time in the country.
Known as the “Switzerland of Asia”, Singapore is a small country that packs a lot of punch. Renowned for its rise as a global financial center and for its sheer cleanliness and order, Singapore makes an attractive option for retirees seeking the good life. The cost of living is significantly higher than in many other Southeast Asian countries but in return, you get some of the finest dining and entertainment in the world. While Singapore does not offer a specific retirement visa, with some advance planning, you can secure a long-term visa, particularly if you have any entrepreneurial bent in your retirement years.
If an eternal summer doesn’t interest you, consider a move to Japan. Retire in Asia website recommends Sapporo among its top 10 picks for retirement cities, citing the great wintertime activities. Tokyo is one of the world’s most interesting and advanced cities, and the politeness, order, great food and abundance of culture make Japan an endlessly fascinating and enjoyable place to be. Japan does not offer retirement visas and the best way to get a long-term visa is to be tied to a local company, requiring you to do some part-time work, such as English teaching. Retire in Asia offers recommendations on how to avoid this, but be mindful that you’ll need to be patient and willing to work through Japanese bureaucracy. Just keep the rewards in mind as you go.