A quick trip update...
We left Hanoi and Sapa on a return flight to Singapore with plans to travel to Korea. But it didn’t turn out in our favour because we found out there was a need for THREE swabs….
1. Pre-flight ART/PCR,
2. Arrival PCR
3. 6th/7th day ART
The airport clinic was OVERFLOWING with people to the point that I thought we’ll probably catch covid from trying to get a test to prove we don’t have the virus. In the end we decided to take a short trip to the South of Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon) since we haven’t seen it yet. We are in the process of collating content for a new blog post on that!
The 12 hour overnight layover in Singapore was absolutely exhausting despite being in the world’s best airport. It was such a relief when the plane took off and we were rewarded with some mind boggling views.
Watch us ascend through the clouds on this reel!
Now we answer two of the biggest queries!
Are you not worried about retirement?
Since we’ve posted our almost viral post (https://www.hirojack.com/blog/10-years-of-marriage-we-sold-everything), we’ve got quite a few questions about our “homelessness” and nomad lifestyle which ultimately leads to the first question about retirement.
The short answer is Yes and No.
Before I begin on my longer answer, I would like to make it clear that these are my opinions and they are highly subjective.
To properly answer this question, we need to first tackle the preconceived notions of retirement, what’s the best way to live our lives. There isn’t a “best way” to live one’s life to be honest but in Singapore, the large majority of people focus their lives around these things:
2. Promotion/Corporate ladder
3. Investments, savings and hoarding.
4. “Face” (Having the things and lifestyle)
The “safe route” to retirement
The modus operandi for most would be to pour 30++% (if you include interests you pay the bank/HDB and your own CPF account) of your gross income into a HDB flat/property. Some homeowners spend almost ALL of their CPF savings each month on their property loans.
This property is expected to appreciate in value just as our parents generation experienced. Sell off the property and make a handsome profit so you’ll have a nest egg for retirement.
This way makes us more worried and uncomfortable. In fact, I don’t think it will work. Just because it worked for our parents, it doesn’t mean it will work for us. Properties have appreciated 500-700% from 30 years ago, I cannot imagine it growing that amount given how slow salaries have been rising. That means that even if there is appreciation, it wouldn’t be enough for a nest egg. Moreover, we will be putting all our eggs in a basket that decays. All leasehold properties aren’t forever homes, the lose their value.
Nobody owns a HDB property. Everyone is a HDB flat lease owner with the ability to resell that lease. (You ask for permission to renovate, HDB inspects the unit when you sell it off because the building belongs to them) You are the lessee and HDB is the lessor. It's in the documents you sign. That means HDB has full reign over SERS and redevelopment. It is no certainty that this investment you make with 30+% of your gross income will always work out the same way it did.
Along with the flat, people put in long hours into their careers and investments at the expense of only spending a couple of hours with their kids daily. Having nice things matter to them a lot more than other things in life. We don’t see the appeal in these. We can’t bring ourselves to build our lives around things we don’t believe in or don’t see value in. These are very personal choices, we are not saying that wanting items 1-4 is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with it if you’ve weighed your options and find it worthy enough to dedicate your life work to it.
This safe route makes us a lot more worried about retirement. So yes we are worried.
We are worried that our children will grow up not having that personal connection and collection of childhood memories with their parents. We are worried that in our old age, the property we spent our life savings on will be taken away, redeveloped and lose its value entirely. We are worried that even if we have made a fortune from selling the nest egg, we will put a huge amount of it back into medical/care bills. We are worried that having dedicated our working lives to a career that we build our identity around, we will have to experience the trauma of losing that identity through retirement.
The path we choose to take
We have chosen to carve a career for ourselves. One that we don’t have to retire from. One that we don’t want to retire or take a holiday from. One that gives us time to grow with our children. Like everyone else, we eventually want to have a property we can call home. We don’t need a house that’s worth a million dollars. We just want a home that we really own and be able to pass it down.
We want to live in a place where we pay our taxes all through our working lives as a society and have free healthcare as a right. We want to be where we have the right to manage our savings for retirement the way we deem fit. We know this isn’t a perfectly fool proof plan. But countries that offer what we want also affords a right to freely protest, challenge and change the government that does not work in the best interests of its people.
Travelling, migration, building a career, homeschooling our kids....What have we gotten ourselves into HAHA! At the end of the day, no plan is foolproof or superior. This is just the way of life we find worthy of investing our lifework in. It is the way that makes us less worried.
How much does it cost to travel a month like that
We’ve not been able to travel beyond ASEAN for now. The airfares and accommodation prices are too extreme and so we are staying within Asia for now. The costs here can get you a month in places like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia. The prices are quoted for 2 adults and 2 children aged below 8 years.
-Air travel around the ASEAN region typically cost $200-500 one way. This fluctuates. If you book early, it’ll be cheaper.
-Monthly accommodation generally costs between $600 to $2000 a month. We try a mix of home stays, hotels and Airbnb properties. Month long stays typically get you quite a good discount. But don’t expect super luxurious
-Food, groceries, attractions and grab etc we try to keep within $700-$1200 a month.
We cook and eat at local places as much as possible to keep the costs down.
When we slow down and get school/writing done with less travelling it can go as low as $2500/month. When we are out and about exploring many locations, it could go as high as $4000+/month
Our next post will feature what we’ve done for the past week in Saigon. We are really excited to feature an activity we did to celebrate 10 years together! We are happy to make more posts answering your questions too! Keep the questions coming.
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Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
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