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Retirement- , Singapore, State of Mind, Returning to States
Old 07-05-2007, 06:38 PM   #1
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Retirement- , Singapore, State of Mind, Returning to States

WHERE am I? I've been in Singapore for 20 years now as a teacher in international schools. I'm 60 and been teaching for 35 years. I'm retired, but only as a state of mind.
ANNUITY: 30 years ago I started contributing to TIAA-CREF and have gotten to the point where I had the choice of either annuitizing part of it, annuitizing all of it, or converting it into cash that I could re-invest. I decided to annuitize 2/3 of my investments to give me about $42,000 per year, but that amount increases about $400 per year or more. It is called a graded annuity, and it's all after-tax (so my taxes willbe only on earnings). I have received a goodly amount of advice on this matter from people and other posters here that said "Don't annuitize!!" You lose control of your money. These people know what to do with all their money, studied up on their options, and they are probably correct in saying that an annuity is not the BEST option for them. However, for me it is. I'm not interested in playing with this money, and I know TIAA-CREF is about as reputable as they come. Also, I see myself in the next 5 years accepting jobs that are in some pretty exotic places and not caring too much about the salaries. Knowing that I have a retirement income coming in that I can actually live on is immensely re-assuring.
What will I do this next year in my retirement state of mind: I've accepted a job as a school administrator, different from my teaching that I've done for 34 years. My salary will be alright, but this is where the retirement being a state of mind comes in. I'll try my best, but if I fail, it's fine. I have my retirement income to fall back on. That is the state of mind I am in. I can continue to add to my TIAA-CREF investments (stock and Real Estate) right up to 70 years of age or before, and get my full retirement. This state of mind that I have is new for me, and it has me feeling a little carefree. This makes me actually feel guilty!!
A voice in my head: There is still a voice in my head saying, "delay the retirement income for one or two more years and then you will have that much more retirement income". I fight this voice, yet that greed or whatever you want to call it is still there, but reading some of your posts and your responses to my past posts, it is clear that a person needs to say 'enough is enough'. I guess i will be relieved when I get my first retirement check, because then it is too late to change my mind. My check will be coming in for the rest of my life.
What keeps me in Singapore? I'm a Permanent Resident here and can stay as long as I want, leave and come back as may times as I desire. I guess what keeps me here is four things in no particular order. First- the food is great and inexpensive. I can get the best Chinese noodle soup or fried rice for under US$2. Second- If I am sick I can go to the doctor and get looked at after waiting for maybe 15 minutes, antibiotics, and a friendly conversation all for the price of about US$20. I have international health insurance for US$2,600 with a US$1,600 deductable that covers me in all countries, but only partially in the US. Singapore also has a medical savings account called Medisave to help pay the bills that the insurance may not cover. This second reason might be the most important. Third- I don't need a car! the mass transit here is great and cheap. All the money that I would have spent on a car and gasoline I invested. That makes a big difference.
What makes me want to return partially to the States? Like other international travelers, it's nice to have something you own. Schools have always paid for my rent until now! Property in Singapore is unbelievably high. Rent is even becoming a bit high. Also, I can see myself in a few years wanting to take advantage of Medicare, and I need to be in the States for that. I'm looking to live in one of two places, both in or near Canada and the mountains. It would be either the Bellingham area (near Seattle) where the prices of Condos are quite reasonable. I can call that a new homebase and still do my traveling and live in Singapre. The other is Montreal, Canada, but I've found out from other posters that an American can only be in Canada for 6 months out of every year, or the Canadian tax man makes it a bit costly for him to live there all the time. I'd therefore choose a American city near Quebec, like Plattsburg, NY. I'm leaning toward the Bellinham area. Anyone that likes to comment on these two area, I'd really appreciate it.
Early Retirement: I really admire some of you that have left your jobs earlier than myself. Most teachers retire at 55 to 60, so I don't even think I am retiring too early. Yet, my state of mind is that I am retired but working. I'm having trouble with that concept.
Therapeutic: Writing all this and posting it can be pretty therapeutic. If anyone responds to any of these topics, great. Reading it over again puts my situation in a nice perspective for me at any rate.


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Old 07-05-2007, 07:07 PM   #2
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I was buying this until you said you were going to move to Plattsburg, NY!
How much vacation time do you get with the admin job? It sounds like a good way to ease into RE.
It does sound as if you are in great shape really.

Sometimes death is not as tragic as not knowing how to live. This man knew how to live--and how to make others glad they were living. - Jack Benny at Nat King Cole's funeral
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Old 07-07-2007, 09:38 PM   #3
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Hi Rob,

Have you been back to the states lately? I ask because you might find costs here quite high compared to Singapore (other than possibly real estate) Even with Medicare, you need to buy a supplement policy and also a prescription drug policy. Here in Florida I have to pay $229 for the supplement policy and $37 for the prescription pollicy. Thats $266 a month even with Medicare. And that does not cover all of your drug costs. Add in your Medicare B at $113, and now your up to $379 a month. I had always thought that when I reached Medicare coverage age, I would be done with all the high monthly medical insurance payments, but not so as you can see. Of course some other states have lower supplement costs, and you can always go for the Medicare HMO Advantage type plan as well.

Probably a year back renting would be a good idea for you, so you can have a good bases of comparison.

On the positive side, the real estate market is rather depressed here, so it might be a good time to buy. You could always get yourself a two bedroom condo and a room mate to share unit with and carry your costs. Then live half the year hear and have somewhere else. Of course that would not work out if you were working. Anyway, sounds like you've led an interesting life.
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Thankyou for the input about prices in the States-
Old 07-07-2007, 10:31 PM   #4
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Thankyou for the input about prices in the States-

Thanks for your input, modhatter. Here is my stateside budget. I talked to family memebers about what they pay, and this seems to be what they are saying.
Monthly Expenses:
Mortgage/Rent: $1000
Utilities/Telephone: $200
Maintenance: $50
Cable TV/Internet: $50
Home Improvement: $30
Household Supplies: $30
Groceries: $320
Clothing (Buy and clean) $40
Physician, tests, drugs $40
Dental $100
Auto (Fuel, Repairs) $170
Other (Bus/Train/Air) $70
Auto $120
Health/Dental $250
Income $300
Health Club $30
Dining $150
Movies $90
Credit cards $60
Monthly Expenses $3,100

My taxes are low because all my money invested is after tax. My initial pension will be $42,000/year, but it increases a bit each year. I have my insurance covered at bout $250/month, so when Medicare comes around, I will have have to pay a little more with the Supplemental. My social security will cover that. If it gets too tight, I can get my full rtirement or at least more than I am getting now. My full retirement will be close to $60,000 per year but like the idea of holding off on that, and then it's more than $60,000 later.

Putting a downpayment on a condo and paying the monthly payments is cheaper than renting in most states. I guess I've come to a point that it's nice to own. I look at so many postings here and I see people living on $24,000/year or less in the States, and although I realize they already own their own place, I think I'll be fine.


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Old 07-09-2007, 10:00 AM   #5
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I see you are planning to spend around $80 a week for food (plus, $150 a month for dining out). You must eat alot of meat? Does that sound right to you men out there? Or is that too high? It's really the only figure I questioned.
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