Yank Boomers Needn't Delay Retiring...in SE Asia

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 10/02/2014 01:30:00 AM
Need I say more?
To make an understatement, let's just say Yanks are not known for their long-term planning. As the earliest cohort of Baby Boomers is of retirement age, we are learning that years of debt-fueled overconsumption and secular declines in income have resulted in platoons of sixty- and seventy-somethings who barely have enough to live on. End result: they must continue working well into their so-called retirement years. They didn't save enough, their investments didn't pan out, or their expectations for living costs without real sources of income were on the optimistic side. Guess what's one of the faster-growing segments of the US labor force?

Short of borrowing the TARDIS from Doctor Who, I am afraid there's not much they can do about insufficient savings and poor returning investments (like housing). However, one thing they can actually do to retire before they reach the century mark or so is to go where the costs of living are lower than in the United States of America. For instance, they could retire in Southeast Asia. Given the popularity of sunny retirements destinations--Arizona, Florida, and Nevada come to mind--they can have all that and more in my backyard:
Southeast Asia is a remarkably beautiful and diverse region that is becoming much more welcoming to Western retirees. Southeast Asia's big appeal for foreign retirees is the cost of living. Several countries here are among the world's cheapest places to retire. Your money goes much further in this part of the world than in the United States or any other Western country, but that does not mean that the standard of living is necessarily lower. 

It is possible to stretch your retirement nest egg to enjoy a better lifestyle in Southeast Asia than you could afford anywhere else in the world. For example, in the United States you're probably paying at least $50 per month for reasonably fast Internet. In the Philippines Internet costs $12 per month, likely for faster speeds than you have now. In Thailand and Malaysia fast Internet is $18 per month.

Similar savings can be seen in the prices of everything from rent and phone service to cooking gas, electricity and groceries. A visit to the doctor costs less than $20 throughout most of the region, and the care you receive is likely to exceed your expectations. English-speaking doctors educated in Europe, Australia and North America are the norm. They work in hygienic offices with modern equipment and can be affiliated with modern internationally accredited hospitals. Thailand and Malaysia are among the top five countries in the world for medical tourism.
Speaking of which, just as many Southeast Asian countries are now promoting medical tourism, they are now also promoting themselves as retirement destinations for Westerners. They are aping Latin American countries in this respect:
Living in Southeast Asia full time is increasingly becoming an option for Western retirees. Several countries now offer user-friendly, affordable retirement residency programs, this region's answer to the pensionado programs that have attracted so many foreign retirees to key Latin American destinations. New programs offered by some countries in this part of the world directly appeal to foreigners looking for legal, long-term residency in retirement. Several countries waive any minimum monthly income requirements for long-term or permanent residency if you invest in a fixed-deposit account at a local bank. In countries where a monthly pension is required, the qualifying amount is often surprisingly low. 
The rest of the US News and World Report article goes into the specifics of retiring in Thailand and the Philippines in particular. To be honest, Westerners may find the law and order situation in Thailand and the Philippines wanting in some places, but hey, doesn't the same hold true for any number of locales Stateside? And, of course, retiring in the tropics sound rather more attractive than stocking shelves or flipping burgers at age 65.