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Retirement for Expats in Singapore

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: June 2014


Singapore is a city-state with a tropical rainforest climate. That means it is always warm, wet and with no significant distinction between seasons. The temperature is generally between 23 °C and 32 °C, which may go up to 36°C. If you do not like cold weather, Singapore is a good choice for a comfortable retirement environment.

The Visa

Singapore is famous for being one of the world’s financial centers which means it is more popular for expats looking to work than retire. Singapore does not offer a retirement visa but there are means of obtaining a permanent resident permit.

If you have worked in Singapore you can apply for permanent residency but this usually has a maximum application age of 50. Another route is to gain a long term residency permit through the EntrePass scheme. To do this, you need to set up a company of no less than SG$ 50,000 paid-up-capital in Singapore and hold at least 30% of the company shares. More information can be found here: https://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/passes-visas/entrepass/before-you-apply/Pages/default.aspx. You can also gain the permit through a large investment of no less than SG$ 1m.


Health care is major consideration when moving abroad, certainly if you are used to particular standards. Fortunately, Singapore is famous in Asia for its excellent medical system. There are many hospitals and thousands of clinics in the city-state to serve only 5 million residents. However, Singapore generally does not provide free social security services to expatriates. One visit to a general practitioner can cost around SG$ 30. It may be worthwhile considering private health insurance if you retiring to Singapore.


The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a statutory saving scheme to provide financial help in retirement years and medical needs of employees in Singapore. Contributions are compulsory for all Singapore citizens and permanent resident employees working in Singapore. Foreign workers are not required to make contributions to the CPF even if they are tax residents of Singapore. However, as it is generally not possible to rely only on the CPF; many people do choose private pension schemes. 


An individual is deemed to be a tax resident in Singapore if the period of his or her physical presence in Singapore is 183 days during the calendar year proceeding the year of assessment. However, only incomes derived from Singapore or remitted to Singapore are subject to income tax. You may want to arrange your assets and investment before you move to Singapore. If you receive payments from the Central Provident Fund, these payments are tax exempted.


Most people would like to keep their living standard as before retirement. With many studies showing that people are highly likely to find their savings running out earlier than expected, it is recommended to establish a retirement plan and start saving as soon as possible regardless of your age. A retirement plan should include; your expected retirement age, the lifestyle you would like to have during retirement, the cost of living you would expect, sources of income, the level of risk these sources of income generate and strategies to meet your goals.




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