My cousin wrote about his views on retirement but I wish to explore a bit more on it as its an interesting concept. I do agree with most of his points that actually retirement is actually dependent on each persons views of life. But it still boils down to whether you have the means (financial capabilities) to really enjoy that lifestyle that you wish to have.
In Thailand, I did noticed that most of the older people above 60s or even younger do retire even if they are poor or not that well to do. The main reason is that they could still depend on their children (typical Asian culture) to provide them with the means to stop work and their needs are very simple, a house, a garden, a companion (remarried if their spouses are deceased) and of course, money. For example, just next door, my neighbour is a 60 plus retiree who has a younger wife and 2 kids. Both doesn't work and the main source of income is actually from his elder daughter of his former wife. He doesn't like to travel but he do likes to work on his garden, play with his kids and watch TV. That's his retirement. I don't think most typical Singaporeans would enjoy this type of retirement.
But the main point here is that its actually just possible for Thai people to retire early if their needs are really that simple(most of them do). City life is not like rural life which means you have more choices in things you could do. But the thing is that in the city, the standard of living is definitely higher than rural areas. Thats why Maesai or even other rural areas in Thailand has tons of big houses that retired city workers would buy and stay in them till death.
So for people in Thailand, even for an average joe, its still possible for them to retire at 60 if
1) They relocate from the city to some rural area and stay a humble life
2) He/she has a lot of kids, (married early) and they could provide them monthly with a stable income plus pension from his own retirement.
In Singapore, you could not do this anymore. You could still saved up and maybe migrate to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or Malaysia. But are you willing to give up all your friends and relatives? I have 3 friends and here are their cases.
The first is in his late 20s and earns less than 2k per month. He needs to actually juggle another job as he needs to pay his loans on his family car. He's a bit luckier as his parents do not need his money but he still tries his best sometimes to give some to them. Every month, his account is near empty to zero. He did save some money with his girlfriend and plans to marry soon but it seems like most probably, his parents may need to help a bit in his wedding bills. He do likes to travel and some of the stuffs mentioned by javert in his blog but because of his condition, he could never find time to enjoy the things he wanted to do, that's why retirement was in his head and he did mentioned to me once that he wished to retire at around 60 to get to do the stuff he could not do now.
The second is a good friend of mine and same age as me. He's a manager now and commands a good pay of more than 2k per month (not sure what his pay now but at least quite comfortable). His father is semi retired and he needs to fork out half his pay every month and give it to them. Fair enough as he is still staying with them. He has 2 younger sister and both are University graduates. Before that, he actually even have to help her youngest sister in some school fees. He's in the IT line and there's always a certain fear of retrenchment. He enjoys computer games and actually plays online games all the time if he's not working. He wants to travel but because of financial issues, he prefers to stay at home and play with his computer games rather than going out. To him, retirement is an option but he's actually kind of enjoying his life now. He don't plan to get married at all but he did mentioned to me once that who doesn't want to retire early,thing is where got the moola (money) to do so....
The third guy is in his 50s. He's my former boss who is still working. His company is surviving but not thriving. So he does not have extra cash to even think about retirement. He has 2 children. His elder son is married to a Vietnamese and is in Vietnam with his own family. His daughter is single but moved out and stayed with her friends. Both never provide any additional aid as far as I know. His wife is also his business partner and both worked hard on their company. He did once conveyed his dream is to sell away his business with a sum and retire for good. But its a wish hard to fulfill as IT business are hard to sell.
3 different scenarios, all 3 of them wants to retire. Its kind of sad though. It seems that its actually human nature to choose to rest or retire (stop working and relax) when they are old. The scary thing is that this option is going to be tougher for average joes in Singapore and what I will see in the future is more and more old people are still working in Macdonalds or fast food restaurants in their 60s. Do note that over here in Thailand, I never see old people work in Fast food restaurant or anywhere! (Unless they owned the shop). The extremes poor ones even have gahment or monasteries taking care of them. Even the oldest beggars are in their late 40s.... (maybe older than those died on the street liao)