CPF Retirement Sums for Australian Expats Explained

Navigating the world of retirement planning in Singapore can be a complex journey, especially for Australian expats who find themselves far from the familiar settings of superannuation funds. Understanding the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and, more specifically, the CPF Retirement Sums, is crucial for ensuring a comfortable and secure retirement in this vibrant city-state. This blog aims to demystify the CPF Retirement Sums for you, providing a clear guide to help you navigate your retirement planning with confidence.

CPF Retirement Sums Explained

At the heart of Singapore's retirement savings system is the CPF, a comprehensive social security system that enables working Singaporeans and permanent residents, including Australian expats with permanent residency, to set aside funds for retirement. Within CPF, there are three key retirement sums you should be aware of: the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS), the Full Retirement Sum (FRS), and the Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS).

Basic Retirement Sum (BRS): The BRS is designed to cover basic living expenses in retirement. In 2024, the BRS is set at $102,900. If you choose to set aside this sum in your Retirement Account at age 55, you can expect to receive monthly payouts that will help cover your basic needs.

Full Retirement Sum (FRS): The FRS, amounting to $205,800 in 2024, is essentially double the BRS. Opting for the FRS means aiming for a higher standard of living during your retirement years, with correspondingly higher monthly payouts than the BRS.

Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS): For those who wish for the highest standard of living in retirement, the ERS stands at $308,700 in 2024. This sum is triple the BRS and offers the highest monthly payouts.

How CPF Retirement Sums Work

Your CPF savings are accumulated through mandatory contributions from your salary, as well as interest earned over the years. These contributions are allocated across three accounts: the Ordinary Account (OA), Special Account (SA), and Medisave Account (MA). Upon reaching the age of 55, a portion of these savings is transferred to your Retirement Account (RA) to meet the retirement sum applicable to you.

For Australian expats in Singapore, understanding and leveraging the CPF system can significantly impact your retirement planning. While the CPF scheme is mandatory for Singaporeans and permanent residents, expats on certain types of work passes may also have the option to contribute to CPF. Doing so can provide a valuable pillar in your retirement savings strategy, alongside other savings and investment plans.

Comparing CPF with Australia's superannuation system reveals some similarities, such as the mandatory savings mechanism and the goal of providing income in retirement. However, the CPF system's integration with housing and healthcare savings underscores its comprehensive approach to social security.

Yearly Increases and Their Implications

It's important to note that the CPF Retirement Sums are adjusted annually to account for inflation and changes in the cost of living. For instance, the BRS, FRS, and ERS have seen yearly increases, ensuring that the amounts keep pace with the economic environment. This means that the retirement sum you aim for today may rise by the time you reach retirement age, necessitating a proactive approach to retirement planning.

Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) as a Complement to CPF

Beyond CPF, the Singapore government offers the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS), a voluntary scheme that allows both Singaporeans and foreigners, including Australian expats, to save for retirement and enjoy tax benefits. Contributions to SRS are eligible for tax deductions, and the investment returns are tax-free until withdrawal. For Australian expats, participating in the SRS can be a strategic way to enhance your retirement savings while enjoying tax advantages.

Planning Your Retirement as an Australian Expat

Integrating CPF and SRS into your retirement planning requires a thoughtful approach. Consider your long-term plans, including whether you intend to retire in Singapore or return to Australia. Keep in mind the impact of currency fluctuations and the cost of living in your retirement destination. Maximising your CPF contributions and leveraging the SRS can provide a solid foundation for your retirement years in Singapore.

Navigating CPF Retirement Sums Adjustments

The annual adjustment of CPF Retirement Sums might seem daunting at first. However, understanding that these increases are designed to counteract inflation and maintain your purchasing power in retirement can help you plan more effectively. Here's how you can stay ahead:

  • Stay Informed: Regularly check the CPF website and updates for the latest figures on Retirement Sums. Being aware of these changes allows you to adjust your savings strategy accordingly.
  • Adjust Your Savings Plan: Consider increasing your voluntary CPF contributions if you're able, especially during your peak earning years. This can help you keep pace with the rising Retirement Sums and ensure you're not caught off guard.
  • Leverage Compound Interest: The earlier you start saving, the more you benefit from compound interest. Even small increases in contributions can significantly impact your retirement account over time.
  • Invest Appropriately: Within your CPF account, you can invest the Ordinary and Special Account above the required minimums, which are currently $20,000 and $40,000, and these funds could be invested into a global equities ETF for example. Consider what’s right for you and in line with your risk profile.

Maximising CPF Contributions

For Australian expats, maximising CPF contributions can be a cornerstone of retirement planning. Here are some tips to review and assess whether they're right for you:

  • Top Up Your Special Account (SA): Voluntary top-ups to your SA enjoy attractive interest rates, which can significantly boost your retirement savings.
  • Make Use of Tax Reliefs: Voluntary contributions to your CPF accounts, including top-ups to your own or your loved ones' SAs, are eligible for tax relief. This can reduce your taxable income in Singapore while growing your retirement nest egg.
  • Participate in the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS): If you're savvy about investments, consider using the CPF Investment Scheme to invest your OA and SA funds in a range of instruments, potentially earning higher returns than the guaranteed CPF interest rates.

Before you add contributions, be sure to consider your repatriation to Australia plans, as CPF becomes taxable for Australian tax residents, hence it’s important to consider your plans, the tax implications, and whether you plan to retain your CPF in retirement, or cash it out and contribute to superannuation for example.

Planning for a Comfortable Retirement

When planning your retirement as an Australian expat, it's crucial to consider various factors, including your desired retirement age, lifestyle, and whether you plan to stay in Singapore or return to Australia. Here are some strategies:

  • Estimate Your Retirement Needs: Assess your expected lifestyle and associated costs in retirement. Consider healthcare, housing, travel, and daily living expenses. Remember, the cost of living in Singapore can be high, and planning for healthcare is especially important as you age.
  • Diversify Your Retirement Portfolio: Besides CPF and SRS, consider other investment vehicles like stocks, bonds, and real estate. Diversification can help manage risk and provide additional income streams in retirement.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Retirement planning is complex, especially for expats navigating two different systems. A financial adviser with experience in cross-border retirement planning can provide valuable insights and help you tailor a plan to your unique circumstances.


For Australian expats in Singapore, understanding and leveraging the CPF Retirement Sums and SRS can significantly impact your retirement readiness. By staying informed, planning strategically, and seeking professional advice when necessary, you can navigate the complexities of retirement planning with confidence. Remember, the goal is not just to retire, but to retire well, enjoying the vibrant lifestyle that Singapore has to offer.

As you embark on this journey, remember that the most important step is the first one: starting your retirement planning today. With careful planning and a proactive approach, you can ensure a secure and fulfilling retirement, making the most of your expat experience in Singapore.


To Your Financial Success!

Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

To learn more about how we may be able to help you, please contact us:

✆         +65 8282 5702
✉         jarrad.brown@gfcadvice.com
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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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