Readers' Submissions

The Temptation to Retire

  • Written by Danny
  • February 24th, 2012
  • 5 min read


There have been many mornings when I wake up and wish I was in South-East Asia, retired. I would, of course, want to be productive and contribute my time to some form of community service when I retire, but nothing which has deadlines to meet and issues to negotiate. Waking up without an alarm clock, a leisurely breakfast followed by reading the newspaper, then going out running a few errands, then perhaps cooking some food, having lunch, followed by a siesta in the afternoon. Making new friends, and at least a few days each week visit the nightspots, alone or with friends. Perhaps bring home a companion for the night. Maybe find a good woman and enter into a long term relationship (no marriage for me any more, for sure. I have been reading Stickman for a long time, you see). Hoping that the golden years are truly golden. Of course, there could be health issues. But with a good financial backing, that and other issues should be easily taken care of. I don’t expect a luxurious retirement, just a simple lifestyle where the basic needs are met and life is comfortable. I would be leaving USA for good, with no intention to return.

That brings me to the question – how much money does it take to spend 25 or 30 years in retirement in SE Asia? I am considering Philippines. Not a major metro like Manila, but a smaller city or town like Cebu. I have been to both, and really liked Cebu. I am sure there are many such or better places to retire in Philippines. So how much does one need and is it the right time to retire now? Or wait for few more years?

I have been to Philippines or Thailand about once a year in the last 11 years. I would have loved to go there more often and for longer than 1 or 2 weeks at a time, but work and financial constraints did not allow me to. Each trip was truly wonderful and I love warm weather. Hot and humid is better than cold and ice and sleet and snow. I desire to retire there instead of USA. Besides, I believe I have not saved enough to afford a western retirement, even in some of the warmer, relatively cheaper southern US states. A reasonably safe, low cost country seems a better alternative. I am 52 years old with a full-time job here. Although my job skills are outsourceable, they are in demand at this time and hopefully will not be outsourced or offshored in the near future. With the economy slowly improving, I think I should be ok for a few more years. If they did let me go for whatever reason, I don’t have the motivation to look for a new job. In that case the big decision would be taken by destiny, and I would be okay with that.

I have asked myself the question, do I want to retire because I just don’t want to work anymore? And the answer is no. The temptation to retire now is to be able to add to the years the fun of being in SE Asia. I suppose I should have titled this submission ‘The temptation to retire in S.E. Asia NOW’.

Coming to the point, I have at the present time around $300,000 to my name, all included, no debt, and an expectation that I will receive social security payments at 62 or later. I am eligible for that and the government says I will get a certain amount, which they estimate being upwards of $1,000 per month. But with the US government in the deep financial mess it is in, who knows? Hopefully, I will receive at least 75% of what they have promised. I am counting on it. I also expect the US dollar to depreciate. Hopefully, it will not depreciate more than 25% from where it is now against the Philippine peso.

Budgeting expenses at 35,000 pesos per month with a 5% annual increase due to inflation, the money would last me about 15 years. By then social security would kick in and I should be okay beyond 65. I used one of the retirement calculators on Yahoo Finance to calculate the numbers. Agreed that the calculator is simplistic, but I took conservative numbers, so should be okay. Looks like it is doable and just the thought of it puts a wide smile on my face. The question is, should I take the plunge now?

I know each additional year of work here will add more to my piggy bank, but then each passing year means growing older and we all know what that means – potential health issues, loneliness. Being 50+ in the west means options for companionship are not just limited, they are pretty much no longer available. I don’t need to elaborate on that as there are so many Stickman submissions on it. Just read some of our good friend Phet’s submissions. They say it all. While retiring now and moving to Philippines has not become an obsession or anything like that, I do think about it more and more. It is like my mind is there, but the body is here. I am cruising along just to keep the salary coming. I must admit that my job offers good benefits, is mostly stress free and it is a nice work environment, so not liking work is not an excuse to retire. I have started reducing my exposure to the stock markets and though that will potentially reduce my returns, the money I have saved will still be there. And of course, there is no intention of investing it in a business venture overseas. I am not a businessman, and don’t want to be one. Just want a simple and happy retirement.

That brings me to the core of my question : is 300k enough? What is that magic number? What do you think, my friends? What would you do?



Stickman's thoughts:

$US 300K may well be enough, especially with your Social Security payments to kick in, in the future. The amount needed to adequately provide for a comfortable retirement is very much an individual thing. That number would be plenty for some, and not much at all for others. I think when it comes to retirement it is prudent to err on the conservative side as there are so many contingencies that may arise. Running out of money would be a nightmare!