According to HSBC the report: “provides authoritative insights into the key issues associated with ageing populations and increasing life expectancy around the world.”
The 2015 report has recently been published, and it has been given the subtitle ‘a balancing act’ because seemingly far too many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to balance the cost of living abroad versus saving for our retirement. The findings are quite striking, if largely unsurprising.
For example, the cost of living abroad eats far too much into any income we earn, making our dreams for retirement an unlikely ambition at best – according to large swathes of the 16,000 expats surveyed by HSBC in 15 different countries. This won’t come as a major surprise to many expats, particularly those living in hotspots like Dubai where the cost of living and the general lifestyle can wipe out any high-salary and tax advantages for example.
According to the report 69% of all those surveyed are genuinely concerned about being able to afford to retire. Considering many expats go abroad in search of a better life, this suggests the dream may be achieved, but at a cost to disposable incomes and future plans.
Considering that over two thirds of us worry about having enough to live on in retirement, it’s telling that 85% of the survey’s respondents said that a pension wasn’t a savings priority currently – instead it seems that the majority of us are more concerned with paying off debts, mortgages and paying for day-to-day essentials instead.
Of those expats who have diligently attempted to save for retirement to date, 81% advised that their ability to continue saving, or saving as much, had been adversely affected by a life event. E.g., redundancy or illness.
With so many negatives stacked against us saving for a pension, what’s the future for retirement for expats?
Perhaps the answer lies in taking an alternative approach to retirement.
Whilst the state retirement age in the UK is increasing, perhaps we all need to think about prolonging our working lives? Perhaps we can work less as we go past state retirement age, but in so doing still actively fund our day-to-day life without having to eat in to savings?
For those of us who choose to retire abroad, perhaps the focus increasingly will have to be on lower cost countries?
According to HSBC’s survey many expats have decided to take an alternative approach to how they save for retirement too – with 65% considering property as a means to save for retirement, and 52% considering investing in the likes of gold or even diamonds as a suitable retirement savings approach.
Certainly achieving a balance between affording to live and affording to save is a critical priority for the majority of expats, but perhaps finding a balance between our dreams for retirement and affording a decent reality in terms of life quality when we retire is also important?