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Last year, HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey revealed that western retirees are flocking to the warmer climes of Asia in record numbers. Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines are leading the way in the region for drawing western retirees to their shores. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, over 35 000 people applied for retirement visas in Thailand in 2011 alone. British retirees make up the bulk of expats in Thailand, followed by Americans and then Germans. However, retirees from all over world are increasingly deciding to live their golden years in Asia and there are a number of good reasons behind this growing trend.
The cheaper cost of living in these Asian countries is perhaps the biggest pull of all. Battling with the rising cost of daily living in the West has led to people seeking out a more comfortable life, so it is little surprise that many retirees have sought cheaper living conditions. Most Asian countries still have a very low cost of living compared to even the cheapest European countries.
Another big draw for retirees from western countries is the warmer weather. As people get older, many find that winters in their home countries are too much to bear; it contributes to arthritis and other medical conditions and grey, cold and wet conditions do little to raise the human spirit. Increasingly, those of retirement age are less prepared to tolerate such conditions when there is an attractive alternative offered by a life in Asia.
Accommodation and quality of life are also factors. The cost of renting in Europe or the US is staggering compared to Asia and the standard of accommodation pales in comparison. In countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, two-thirds of expats report an increase in their standard of accommodation according to the HSBC survey and 80% of expats in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore report having a better quality of life. It also helps that the prevailing culture towards older people in Asia is one of respect. Retirees report being treated with generosity and a courtesy that is conspicuous by its absence in many western countries. The ease by which retired people can obtain visas is another reason many decide to choose Asia as their home in their retirement.
However, those who have relocated abroad or who may be thinking of doing so often fail to consider the importance of getting the right financial arrangements in place. Taking the time to do so could potentially save future problems. It is also prudent to make sure that medical insurance is acquired and if existing medical, life or other insurances exist, it is important to check that the policy is valid in the destination country. Securing quality internationally-recognised medical insurance is a must as local Asian medical insurance often has limitations.
Retired expats should also plan for the future by making sensible investments to ensure their savings keep pace with inflation and continue to offer them security. A well diversified portfolio of assets is important to ensure they have funds to live out their lives in comfort. Those interested in relocating should thoroughly check tax arrangements to make sure they will not pay more than is required.
At Infinity, most of our experienced and professional financial consultants are expats themselves and know what it is like to settle into life in Asian countries. If you are a retiree who is considering a move to Asia or have already relocated and would like advice on financial matters, get in touch get in touch for a free of charge consultation to see how we can make your transition a smooth one.
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