10 August 2016 –
What would you say to cutting your cost of living by up to two-thirds, able to afford dining out most nights, where the sun nearly always shines and it’s always warm? I’m sure that sounds pretty appealing to most of us.
So think about this. Let’s say you are planning on retiring early and you have worked out that you need, say $750,000 saved and invested to allow you to live comfortably using the proven 4% safe withdrawal rate.
Now, imagine if you could make some changes in your life that means that you only need $300,000 invested to not only retire but live a pretty comfortable lifestyle as well.
Well Ms MM and I are contemplating what a small but ever increasing number of retirees are doing. Moving overseas to one of the many destinations that offer a great lifestyle for significantly less than at home.
“Instead of living hand to mouth, stretching the age pension to its paltry limits, you get to enjoy a world…
Where $1,200 a month – for a couple – buys you a comfortable home in a beautiful setting, pays for food and utilities, entertainment, even a housekeeper…
Where prices for everyday things are from the 1950s: A taxi ride costs three bucks. Lunch out for $5. A first-run movie is $4. A housekeeper will clean once a week for $15…
Where you don’t have to readjust: English is widely spoken, respect for seniors is ingrained in the culture, and large, thriving Aussie communities already exist…
Where family isn’t a million miles away: Your new time zone is the same as Perth… another spot is only three hours behind Melbourne… In some of these places, your Aussie dollar stretches more than THREE TIMES as far as it does right now.” International Living Australia
We are not yet certain where we’ll end up but the plan is to be wherever that place is by 2020. Only 4 or so years away. After much reading and research (and much more to go), the places that are standing out as possibilities are Bali, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Each country has its benefits and also its downsides. Everything from difficult visa requirements, frequent political instability and often changing rules for long term visitors and ex-pats will affect our decision on where we end up.
I have travelled a lot around the South East Asia region both with work and on holiday including China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, and Bali. It’s a region I know reasonably well and one of my long-term desires has been to go and live in one (or more) of the places I have worked and holidayed. I always returned from a visit with plans to seek work there, sell up and spend some time living the ex-pat life. Unfortunately, once normal everyday life kicked in again, these ideas got pushed further and further back.
The catalyst, now, for making a more determined move towards fulfilling this goal was in the discovery of a book, “Sell Up, Pack Up, and Take Off” by Colleen Ryan and Stephen Wyatt. A couple of Aussies who, after travelling through SE Asia many times, decided to take the leap and go live there.
There are plenty of ex-pat forums and websites on making the big move but this book covers a number of countries in Asia as well as France and Spain. These are all popular destinations for ex-pats wanting to escape the cost of living at home and often, the cold dreary winters many want to leave behind. Who can blame them.
Ryan and Wyatt’s book isn’t a complete ‘how to’ for retiring overseas which would not only make it a huge volume but also quickly out of date. Instead it’s an overview of the favourite destinations and suggests what’s possible if you’ve ever considered doing this. It’s a great starting point.
However, this is not a book review, but the start of me documenting a new direction in our lives and we’re going to have a lot of fun researching it along the way.
The plan is to spend the next four years researching and shortlisting our preferred destinations, then travelling to them, spending at least a month in each checking out the local scene with a view to making it our home.
Our first destination is Bali. One of the favourite playgrounds of countless Aussie holidaymakers due to it closeness to Australia and cheap cost of living there. Unfortunately, this is a negative as far as I’m concerned but we plan on staying well away from the ‘Party Central’ precincts such as Kuta Beach which should hopefully give us some relief from the tourists.
So, why would we want to retire in SE Asia?
- I guess the first reason, and it’s not the obvious financial reason, is that I’ve always wanted to live in there but, as I described before, everyday life just got in the way. But now I can. I’m retired, can afford it, and want to do it.
I love the food, the easy going way of life, the lack of nanny state rules, the year round warmth, and the opportunity to live a relaxed lifestyle without money pressures, amongst other things.
One of the downsides could include never being able to own property although this is not an issue for us as rents are so cheap and we won’t get stuck with having to sell a property if we decide to move.
The political instability of some counties can affect how welcome ex-pats are treated with changes in immigration policy, although Indonesia has been pretty stable for a while now. But it’s something to be aware of.
- Consider that the cost of living in many of these countries is less than half what it costs to live in Australia or New Zealand, even for a non-local. Sure, we’ll always end up paying more than the locals but your retirement funds are going to last twice as long.
Some things are going to cost more such as regular, overseas visa-runs but combine these trips with a few days in Singapore or Thailand or Vietnam and you have yourself a nice little holiday from your errrrr holiday.
Then there’s the cost of medical insurance in case of serious illness up to and including medivac if necessary. This is one of the biggest expenses ex-pats face, especially retirees as premiums will increase exponentially as you get older. It’s something to bear in mind.
- Ease of travel to other, nearby destinations in the region. Airfares are very reasonable and everywhere is so close when compared with the relative remoteness of Australia and New Zealand.
The flights are booked for February, the countdown is on, and plenty to do before we leave. Remember, it’s not just a holiday but also researching whether this is a lifestyle Ms MM and I could get used to, and discovering whether Bali becomes the place we want to spend a number of years enjoying our retirement.
It’s a work in progress so I’ll be sure to keep you updated along the way.