Most Southeast Asians don't expect to retire early

| 16 Jun 2022

A survey by Milieu Insight on 'Financial Independent, Retire Early' (FIRE) finds out how common the FIRE movement is among Southeast Asians.

According to the survey, the bulk of respondents expect to retire in their 50s or 60s (62%) with Indonesians tending to expect earlier retirement, with only 52% expecting to retire in their 50s or 60s.

Retiring early (defined as retiring before 50s) is a possibility for 60% of respondents, but only 14% think that they are on track for early retirement. Singaporeans seem most pessimistic about being able to do so, with only 9% indicating that they are on track.


Early retirement strategies

The most common strategy towards early retirement is regular saving (71%), followed by ‘being careful with how I spend my money’ (63%) and ‘investing’ (63%).

Finding additional employment is much less common (37%) as part of strategy to retire early, but tends to skew towards Thais (54%).

Insurance – one way of investing – is also more common among Singaporeans (56%) and Filipinos (53%).

Perhaps due to the vast number of resources on the Internet, most people are hands-on for retirement planning, with only 31% of those who plan to retire early saying that they have a financial consultant to help plan for retirement.


Views on saving and investing

Among those who save regularly for early retirement, 43% save more than 20% of their incomes.

Among those who invest, 36% indicated that more than 20% of their incomes go towards investments.

The most common investment types are investment funds (56%); stocks (53%); and real estate (52%).

Cryptocurrency and NFTs, which are gaining momentum but have yet to enter mainstream investing due to their volatility, registers at 41%, and seem to be more popular in Thailand (57%) and the Philippines (54%).


What do respondents think about FIRE?

About 57% of respondents feel very or somewhat positive about their journey towards achieving early retirement.

Comparing those who are on track to early retirement, and those who are planning to retire early but don’t think they are able to, the former tends to feel more positive about it (83% vs 49% who selected very/somewhat positive).


The survey was conducted in May 2022 with 1,500 employed respondents, aged 18-49 years old, from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The FIRE movement, acronym for Financial Independence, Retire Early, is essentially about aggressively tightening belts, and finding multiple sources of income to achieve early financial freedom.