Keith Hockton

Author Image for Keith Hockton

Keith worked in the investment banking arena for most of his life and retired in Hong Kong in 1998. He then went on a three-year journey of discovery around Australia, and wrote Atlas of Australian Dive Sites-Travellers Edition, a book about scuba diving your way around Australia. It was published by Harper Collins in 2003 and it’s now in its third printing.

He worked for various think tanks in Australia and the U.K. between 2003 and 2009 concentrating on Asian and European country risk, and finally returned to live in Malaysia in 2009. He had last lived there with his parents in 1970. He started writing for International Living in 2011 and in the same year authored Penang: An Inside Guide to its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks, already in its second printing, and wrote and co-directed a documentary titled: 1941 - The Fall Of Penang, which showcased on the History Channel in August 2012.

Keith is a fellow of the Malaysian Branch of The Royal Asiatic Society and continues to travel and explore Asia at every opportunity. He also mountain bikes (badly) and consequently knows the Malaysian medical system and its hospitals well. Keith is International Living's Asia correspondent.

Keith regularly contributes to International Living's Asia Facebook page.



Modern Conveniences and Rents of $650 a Month in Colonial Malaysia

Sitting on my balcony just off the living room, I’m completely surrounded by 100-foot-tall, 200-year-old trees. Sipping my coffee early in the morning, there is one tree that always holds my attention as it’s surrounded by fireflies. I’d never seen them before moving here and they’re quite magical.


A Low-Cost, Sociable Retirement in Penang

Dawn and Phil first came to Malaysia for a four-month break to recharge their batteries. Nothing had been planned and they liked the idea of just winging it, but they did visit the island of Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. However, George Town in Penang, with its colonial heritage, was where they spent most of their time.

Southeast Asia

The Inside Scoop on Southeast Asia’s Best Festivals

One of the most diverse regions on Earth, Southeast Asia is home to a myriad of different religions and cultures, many of which trace back thousands of years. And every year, the unique cultures of the Far East manifest themselves in a variety of colorful festivals, all free of charge, the likes of which you will find nowhere else on the planet. Add to this some of the world’s best beaches and street food, and you have every reason to stop by this neck of the woods.


All the Luxuries Without the Hefty Price Tag in Laidback Penang

Island time, Penang time. It’s very different from time anywhere else. I have a smartphone but it works differently for me here in Malaysia. Before I moved here, it was a hip thing to have, and if I didn’t answer emails a nanosecond after receiving them I would get a call asking me why. Here, my phone is a device that connects me to people.


Enjoy a Luxury Retirement for a Third of the Cost Back Home

The E&O Hotel has hung on to the majesty of its colonial past. Sitting outside on its manicured lawn sipping a gin and tonic it’s not hard to imagine colonials in their crisp white suits doing exactly that just 100 years ago. The evening light filtering through the coconut grove and the warm evening breeze makes for a perfect evening.

Low Costs, Good Living, and Exotic Adventure in Asia.

The Easiest Place to Buy Property in Southeast Asia

Five years ago I moved to Malaysia. It’s a fun-loving, outdoorsy, and welcoming country. It’s friendly and English speaking—even the road signs are in English, and the roads in Malaysia are some of the best that I have seen anywhere in the world.


Eating Out Five Days a Week and Still Saving Money

“We love Penang for a number of reasons,” says Carol Kildruff of her and her husband Hank’s decision to move to the Southeast Asian island in 2005. “It wasn’t purely for financial reasons, although that was a bonus. Winters in Canada are brutal, and we really wanted somewhere warm for seven months of the year. Of course, when we found out that Penang has the best food in the region, it clinched the deal and made the decision to move all the easier.”


“We Quickly Fell in Love with Penang, Malaysia”

“We have never regretted our decision,” says Ellen Ma of her and her husband Jim’s move to the island of Penang in northeast Malaysia. “Financially it made sense, and when you throw in high-speed internet, cable TV, great food, and a large, diverse expat community, we wish we had done it sooner. We were also surprised how many North Americans are here. There are a lot and that’s also comforting… we immediately had people who understood us.”


Hungry Ghosts, Water Fights and Fun—Southeast Asia’s Top 5 Festivals

I ’d never seen a festival like it in my life, and I’d been living in Southeast Asia for 16 years: the massive procession of people winding its way through the streets, bearing aloft colorful offerings of fruit, flowers, and food, following a glowing chariot to the temple where they unburden themselves. Many of them adorn their bodies with ornate but painful-looking piercings and shave their heads as a sign of devotion.


Langkawi: Tranquility and Wildlife Off the Coast of Malaysia

The vibe of Langkawi, also known as the Jewel of Kedah, is one of a laidback island. If it’s beaches and wildlife that you’re after, Langkawi is probably the Malaysian Island to head to—and Malaysia does have a few to choose from.


Langkawi, “The Jewel of Kedah:” Secluded Island Getaway

Many people yearn for the classic tropical-island getaway: pristine beaches, clear water, sunkissed sands, and palm fronds fringing verdant rainforest. Alas, such places are in increasingly short supply. One still-pristine getaway is Langkawi. Known as the jewel of the Malaysian state of Kedah, this archipelago of 105 islands remains off most tourists’ radar. As a result, the traditions and tropical-island feel remain intact. Here you’ll find the unblemished beaches, crystal-clear waters, and wild rainforests of tropical-island lore.

Restoring a Vintage Boat — Fun Now, Retirement Income Later

Paul Blanford has created a lifestyle income for his retirement. It’s already making money…and occasionally he gets to enjoy it himself. But when he’s ready to retire—which may be sooner rather than later—his new life is ready for him. Paul, a native of New Zealand, works as a pilot in Hong Kong but has always loved boats and sailing. So he decided to buy a junk—a type of traditional Chinese sailboat— and turn it into a business. Second-hand junks are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong, and Paul had his eye on the tourist charter business along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca.


The 10 Most Beautiful Natural Attractions in Asia

If you are thinking about taking a trip to Southeast Asia, and if you aren’t you should be, then here are the 10 most beautiful natural attractions that you can add to your Southeast Asian bucket list. The only people that seem to know about this stunningly picturesque island are Malaysians, and they’d like to keep it that way. Unfortunately I’ve been and I think it’s about time that we lifted the veil and told you about it.


How to Make the Most of Southeast Asia’s New Low-Cost Airlines

The last decade has seen the rise of the low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia. Cheap, short-hop flights now criss-cross the region—much of it spread across the ocean in archipelagos like the Philippines and Indonesia. This boom in no-frills flights means cheap travel and it’s one of the reasons that my wife Lisa and I can travel so much. We live in Penang, Malaysia, but whatever Asian destination you chose for your home you’ll find it easy to explore the region.


Why Medical Tourism in Malaysia is Booming

More affordable air travel, mounting health care costs in developed countries, long waiting lists and an ageing world population have all contributed to a global explosion of medical tourism in the past decade—and Malaysia is leagues ahead in terms of its world market share.

Visa and Residence in Malaysia

Malaysia launched its MM2H program (Malaysia My Second Home) in 2006. At the time there was nothing like it in Asia, and there still isn’t. As well as giving you a 10- year renewable multiple entry visa, you can bring your own car with you tax-free, and you can also bring your children with you if they are under the age of 21.

Living Costs of just $1,000 a Month in Penang, Malaysia

Back in Edmonton, Canada, Frank had his own building company and Sharon was a busy physiotherapist. Like most people, their lives revolved around their family and their jobs. But “Edmonton is a bitterly cold place in winter, and the truth is the winters were killing us,”

Low-Cost Island Life in Southeast Asia

Low-Cost Island Life in Southeast Asia

Most evenings Sharon and Frank Moorhead can be found leisurely sipping sundowners and enjoying the sunset from their penthouse balcony. Theirs is one of the most scenic views on the tropical island of Penang.


Opening a Dive Business in Exotic Phuket, Thailand

Nick Fawcus-Robinson wakes most mornings well before the sun rises. Padding around his bungalow in bare feet to make a cup of tea, while the cocks crow outside, I’m sure he ponders his past life now and again. Maybe.
Nick was an officer in the army for many years and a highly paid corporate executive in the tobacco industry after that.

Keith Hockton thinks he is the luckiest guy in the world living in Malaysia and working as a travel writer.

Travel Wherever You Want, Whenever You Want

I happen to think that I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. Not only do I live in Malaysia, a beautiful country on so many levels, but also I love what I do. I travel at will, pretty much at the drop of a hat. I’ve enjoyed complimentary meals and hotel upgrades along the way.


I Thank My Lucky Stars That I Moved to Penang, Malaysia

I’m a very lucky guy to be doing what I’m doing, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t remind myself of that. Sometimes I say it to my wife, too, but she already knows how lucky we are. My wife and I moved to the island of Penang in early 2010. A small island—15 miles long and 12 miles wide—on the west coast of Malaysia, Penang, which is connected to the mainland by a six-lane bridge, is just two hours’ drive south of Thailand.


Escape to a Tropical Island (and Live on $1,500 a Month)

Thomas O’Neal had never been to Malaysia. In fact he hadn’t been anywhere in Asia, which made his sudden decision to move to the tropical island of Penang a brave one. “I figured that I’d take a chance and move lock, stock, and barrel. I could have just visited but where is the fun in that? After just a few months here I love it. It’s home for me now. New York has changed over the years and although I’ll always be a New Yorker I needed to travel.”


How to Beat the Banks’ F/X Rate

Foreign-currency exchange is something we all do at one stage or another. And we probably do it more often than we think. When was your last foreign vacation or business trip? These are probably the main reasons most of us exchange currencies, and they usually involve relatively small amounts over a short period of time.

The 5 Best Neighborhoods For Living In Penang, Malaysia

The 5 Best Neighborhoods for Living in Penang, Malaysia

Sitting off the tip of mainland Malaysia, Penang Island is a special place to live, steeped in history and home to historic mansions and shophouses. Just 114-miles square with a population of 600,000 people, the island is also the unofficial “food capital” of Malaysia and a medical center of excellence. For just $11 you can see an English-speaking specialist here who trained in the U.S.—and you don’t even need an appointment.


The Allure and Profit of Café Culture in Penang’s Historic Mile

Tanya Mimbres loves food. It’s one of her top interests when she travels. A native of New Mexico, she has lived in Paris and Barcelona. But when she moved to Malaysia five years ago she felt right at home. “Lots of my friends were traveling in Asia and were a bit shocked that I hadn’t been there,” she recalls.


Creating an Income Before You Make the Move

We’ve all gone on vacation and fallen in love with a place. You promise that you will visit again…but really you wish that you never had to go home at all. But of course you do have to go home, even if it’s just to quit your job or close up your house. And while these thoughts are going…


Four Days on the Eastern and Oriental Express, Out of Bangkok

If your idea of a dream vacation is traveling by train in absolute luxury, through some of the most romantic, historic and visually exciting cities in Asia, sampling the best local food along the way, then the Eastern & Oriental Express may be just the ticket.


Time to Enjoy Life in the Jewel of Malaysia

A few years ago, I was what most people would consider successful. I was working as a consultant and making a good living. But I was restless and unhappy… Deep down I knew there was more to life than just money.

Movie-Star Chic For Pennies On The Dollar In Penang, Malaysia

Movie-Star Chic for Pennies on the Dollar in Penang, Malaysia

Imagine unlimited sea views from your 6,000-square-foot home. You have five bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a library with a wet bar and a kegerator for draft beer. Your entertainment room has a drop-down projector, there are granite counters in the kitchen and your master bathroom is all Carrara marble.


Betty, 91 – Teaches English in Asia

Few countries in the world can compete with Malaysia for natural beauty, the warmth of its people and diversity of cultures…not to mention the amazingly low cost of living (my live-in maid costs $400 a month). I feel blessed and wish that I had moved here years ago. Betty Cotton loves telling her friends about Malaysia, too—especially Penang.


No Regrets Moving to Malaysia

As I meet more and more people who are interested in moving here, I think back to the day in 2008 when I made the decision to move to Malaysia. It wasn’t that I was unhappy—in fact, far from it. I just made a conscious change in the way I saw things, the way I thought about my life.

Secret Beaches in Indonesia

Secret Beaches in Indonesia

Surfers and divers have been coming to the Island of Sumbawa, Indonesia since the 1960s; it’s a mecca for both sports. They stay for months, returning lean, tan, and relaxed. When their friends back home ask where they’ve been, they often lie and say Bali. But this island’s days as a secret paradise are coming to an end.


Malaysia’s Most Romantic Hill Station

At the height of the British Empire, the colonials in Malaysia used to visit hill stations to escape the lowlands heat. In this lush highlands the men ambled about in tweeds, canes in hand, carrying shotguns in case of a tiger attack. Women wore long skirts and carried parasols to hide from the sun.


Travel Where Surfers Arrive by the VW-Beetle Load

In the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Flores Sea, lies the island of Sumbawa. It’s a magical island, beautiful, traditional, and one of Indonesia’s best preserved. And the warm, turquoise waters surrounding it are a relaxing 90 F.


Rent in Thailand from $400 a Month

Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular countries for expats. It’s safe, women can travel alone without problems, the cost of living is low, and getting a retirement visa is simple. But buying property is tricky. Which is why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy. Renting is easy, affordable, and sometimes the only way to live in a country. Plus, if you want to move on and try out a new place, you just pack up and hit the road.


How to Try Out Life in Asia—Three Havens Where Renting is Easy

Buying property anywhere as a foreigner always means jumping through a few hoops. But in Asia, there’s an added complication: Legal restrictions on how (and if) foreigners can buy property are common. It’s a big reason why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy.


Three Favorite Malaysian Dive Getaways

Malaysia is a melting pot of colorful Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Euro-Asian contradictions, making it one of the most fascinating countries in the region. It’s also a great base if you enjoy scuba diving…for surrounding Malaysia are some of the most beautiful, dive-worthy islands in the world. When you need to just get away from it all, they offer a welcome retreat.


Chiang Mai: Thailand’s Haven in the Hills

Thailand is a steamy and tropical place, so when you arrive in the northern city of Chiang Mai, the cool and pleasant climate can come as a surprise. Nestling among the highest mountains in the country, Chiang Mai enjoys blissfully cool months from October straight through to January…the perfect time to visit.


Exploring Bangkok

I never tire of Bangkok. I’ve been coming here for years and although the city itself has changed, a new building here, a shopping center there, the essential feel of the place hasn’t changed at all…and that’s what I love about it. There’s something in the air in Thailand’s capital. It’s a city for city lovers…partygoers…travelers and adventure-seekers. It’s crammed with exotic, bustling markets…17th-century temples…art-deco hotels and has fast-food stalls on every corner. For 24 hours of the day, people are living and making a living all around you.


South East Asia: Tropical Beaches, Exotic Cites, and Low Costs

Penang and Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Colorful, vibrant, amazing Asia at its best. This presentation shows you three of Asia’s finest and gives you the inside track on how to live on the beach with budgets as low as $525 a month.

Need a Way to Fund Your Life Overseas?

Before you go, sign up for our Fund Your Life Overseas e-letter and we’ll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on six portable careers you can earn with from anywhere in the world.

You’ll hear from us five times a week, showing you ways to earn that can hand you the freedom and flexibility to live anywhere… travel anytime… and fund the life of your dreams overseas.

Enter your E-mail Address Below
We Value Your Privacy
Click here for our Privacy Policy

Wait – Don’t Miss Out:

Announcing: The Best Places in the World to Retire for 2016

For the 25th year in a row, we’ve ranked, rated, compared, and contrasted the best retirement havens in the world.

I’d like to offer you International Living’s brand new Global Retirement Index today — FREE. Whatever you dream about, you can be sure that in our 2016 Global Retirement Index there’s a place where you could make it real.

With this special offer, you can get a copy of this brand-new Index immediately—FREE.

Get Access Today


Your Last Chance to Retire Overseas Now

Before you go sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we’ll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you’ll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

Enter your E-mail Address Below
We Value Your Privacy
Click here for our Privacy Policy


Your Chance to Retire Overseas Now

Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you'll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

Enter your E-mail Address Below

We Value Your Privacy.