News: Malaysia—Asia’s Best Retirement Haven 2014
Malaysia—Asia’s Best Retirement Haven 2014
International Living. Published January 5, 2014
Malaysia is the best place to retire in Asia right now, and there’s no sign of that changing. A couple can live comfortably in a luxury ocean-view condo on $1,700 a month including rent. (We know of couples living more modestly on even less…try $1,000 a month, including rent.)
The average temperature is 82 F all year round, and you’ll find some of the best beaches in the world here. There are cool hill stations, mountain retreats from the time of the British Raj, islands to hop or explore by yacht, and heath care is second-to-none.
Penang Island, in the north east and Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital in the south, are medical centers of excellence. The hospitals are top-notch and the physicians speak English, having been either been trained or completed their postgraduate studies in the U.S. or UK—which makes the cost of health care all the more incredible. You can see a specialist without any need for an appointment for as little as $11. Just turn up. It’s the same with dentists.
Infrastructure here is First World and you’ll have no problem finding high speed Internet or cable TV (Packages cost from $30 a month). If you chose to drive you’ll find the roads are excellent. And when you move to Malaysia you can import a car—and your household goods—duty free.
There is a program that allows non-Malaysians to stay in Malaysia on a social visit pass for 10 years. Called Malaysia my Second Home, it’s automatically renewable for an additional 10 years when it expires. If you are retired, you need a fixed deposit of RM150,000 ($46,707), and you can draw down half that to buy a property, go back to school, or for medical purposes. On top of that you must show proof that you receive a pension from the government of RM10,000 ($3,114) per month. As a rule of thumb the older you are the easier and cheaper it is to join the program.
If you chose to buy property Malaysia makes it easier for you as a foreigner than anywhere else in the region. You can buy freehold and there’s no limit on the number of properties you can own either, just a minimum purchase price set by the local government (it’s $163,500 in Penang).
The country’s diverse ethnic mix makes being a stranger here easy. Whether you live in bohemian Penang or Kuala Lumpur, the country’s hip capital, you’ll meet friendly locals who are happy to stop and chat and welcome you into their home. People are accepting, just ask the international mix of expats all on the same journey as you and happy to share.
Many expats are members of organizations like the American Association of Malaysia and an active social life is easy to find. With good quality dining so cheap (you can have dinner for $3, a gin and tonic is $2) most people find themselves out at least a few times a week.
If you want to keep busy and earn some money, starting your own business is an uncomplicated process. There are expats here running cafés, yoga studios, restaurants, and schools and making money through exporting optic fiber cabling.
Malaysian’s also have a lot of respect for older people; in fact it’s an intrinsic part of their culture. A full-time, live-in maid costs just $400 a month, and single older expats hire maids with nursing abilities, who care for them in the comfort of their own home. Betty Cotton, who lived in San Francisco for many years does just that and wouldn’t be without her live-in maid. “I moved to Malaysia by myself when I was 85 years old. I live in my own home, I have my own things around me, and if I need anything, anything at all, I have great neighbors who are just a phone call away. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”