Conjuring up all the mysteries of Asia, Malaysia is a former British colony that remains as colorful as ever. Beyond the lofty skyscrapers of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, its dramatic canvas is embroidered with tropical beaches, mountains, dense rainforest, and vividly green tea plantations.
Along with foreign expats from around the globe, the country is home to Malay Malays, Chinese Malays, Hindu Malays, and Sikh Malays. There are still traces of the British influence. Throughout the Muslim world, there’s probably no more liberal country.
Malaysia has great infrastructure and foreigners are allowed to own properties freehold, has no inheritance tax, and places no tax on income repatriated from overseas. There’s no property capital gain tax either.
Get Your Free South East Asia Report Now
Learn more about Asia and other countries in our daily postcard e-letter.
Simply enter your email address below to sign up for IL’s free daily postcards and we'll also send you a Free Asia Report - The Best Islands, Beaches and Cities - South East Asia's Top 6 Retirement & Vacation Destinations
Get Your Free Report Here
- Population: 29,628,392 (July 2012 est.)
- Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
- Climate: Tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
- Time Zone: GMT +8 hours
With spiraling costs compelling more and more North Americans to retire overseas, retiring abroad has never been more attractive. But finding the right location among the myriad options available can be daunting. That’s what our Annual Global Retirement Index does. Using input from our team of correspondents on the ground all over the world, we combine real-world insights about climate, health care, cost of living, and much more to draw up a comprehensive list of the best bang-for-your buck retirement destinations on the planet. Keep in mind that, even though only 25 countries feature on our list, all of them are worth your attention. We selected them from among all the countries in the world for their qualities as retirement hot-spots, so even the lowest-ranked nation on our index is still very much an option worth considering.
“You are crazy! You can’t leave Chicago. You have two successful businesses here. What will you do for money? That’s so risky!” That was the “support” my husband Mark and I were offered when we announced that we were moving to Penang, Malaysia. It was true. We did have two successful businesses. Mark owned a commercial real estate company that sold gas stations nationally and I owned a women’s wholesale clothing showroom.
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.
In a place like Penang, food is everything. That’s why this little island off the coast of Malaysia is so often touted as a top foodie destination by big name publications and news outlets. But, unlike many top foodie spots, it’s not because of expensive Michelin-starred restaurants or celebrity chefs.
The spread of the British Empire through trade, colonization, and conquest brought the English language to far-flung corners of the globe. But even as that empire declined and shrank, the language was left behind. And with English becoming the language of business and diplomacy, that influence is in no danger of going away.
Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s most acclaimed and mysterious ancient ruins. Many of these once-bustling cities and monumental religious sites lay forgotten until relatively recently, jungle-shrouded and known only to a few locals, who thought them the haunts of ghosts and spirits. These marvels of the ancient world are now more accessible to travelers than ever before. Some are well known and easy to reach, others are more of an adventure. Here’s a rundown…
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.
Legend has it that the English sailors aboard the ship of Captain Francis Light smelled Penang before they saw it—an island jewel scented with nutmeg, cloves and pepper plants. To this day you can easily escape into the lush jungle-clad hills, explore a nutmeg orchard, or walk in the shade of Candle trees in the 70-acre botanic gardens. But the 405-square-mile island has changed a lot since Light and his men arrived to clear and settle it in 1786.
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.
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,”
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.
Do you like the idea of a life at sea…but only in short doses? Sunset cruises, fishing excursions, day trips, and the occasional long weekend jaunts to anchor off a remote island…? The ocean can be your playground.
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’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.
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
Asia beckons for many reasons. Tropical islands with white-sand beaches, lush rain forests filled with fragrant blooms, tree-covered misty mountains, and—if you’re more a big-city type—some of the most frenetic cities on earth, a heady mix of the ultra-modern and exotic traditions.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index reports that France, Uruguay and Malaysia provide the best and most affordable health care in the world. The Health Care category in the Index considers the cost of care and the quality. Also considered are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public-health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP.
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.”
Exhilarating, comfortable, and affordable are just some of the ways expats describe their life in Asia. For those looking to relocate in Asia, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia are among the best places to live. The low cost of living, excellent health care and stunning scenery are some of the reasons why many expats choose to start a new life in Asia.
Most mornings Chuck and Kathy Baumgarten can be found leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying the sunrise from their porch. It’s easy to see why if you visit their home. They have one of the most scenic vistas in all of Ecuador. Mount Imbabura seems to rise from their backyard. A 180-degree turn showcases Mount Cotacachi’s golden-hour glow.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index 2014 profiles the best destinations for good-value living around the world today. The Index considers not only a wealth of statistics, but—critically—more than three decades of expertise and current insights from a network of correspondents around the world.
Health care overseas is more affordable than in the U.S. You will pay less for high-quality health care overseas and these countries are three of the best according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014.
For more than 30 years, International Living has been researching the best retirement havens in the world…and every January the Annual Global Retirement Index is released—highlighting the best places for you to retire. This Index ranks the top 24 countries in the world for retirement in 8 categories. The top 10 countries that feature on the list this year each bring spectacular benefits for retirees living overseas—from great health care and ideal climates to a low cost of living and financial perks for retirees. Starting with number 10, here are our top retirement havens for 2014.
Whether you are looking for a home on the coast, on an island or in a colonial city, these three countries have the best value real estate. If your dream home includes a pool, a big back yard in which to swing from a hammock in the sun, a place close to the beach where you can snorkel, relax with a good book or watch the sunset…rest assured, you can have it—because your real estate dollar stretches further overseas. You can buy a superior property in a better location for the same amount or less than you would spend on a home in the U.S.
Whatever you see on our leader board, just remember, we measure here only the very best havens. So the country last on our list—newcomer to the Index Cambodia—is still one of the best in the world. In each of these destinations, you’ll find thousands of folks who have already found their dream retirements. You can too, and this 2014 Retirement Index is designed to get you started. It covers all the bases, revealing a wealth of choice when it comes to a comfortable life overseas…
We all dream of giving up the rat race, packing our belongings, and moving some where warm and sunny, but why wait until you retire? Moving overseas can be a big decision, even bigger when you have children—but the benefits that make living abroad a good thing for adults are similar to those that make it a good thing for kids. A lower cost of living, healthier lifestyle, varied life and cultural experiences…they all benefit your child’s life in some way. Here are some of the best places to retire for families.
One of the ways to reduce the uncertainty of moving overseas and setting up your own enterprise is to buy into a franchise—an already proven business model. The advantage of a franchise is that it has name recognition, provides you with the necessary “know how,” and much of the groundwork has already been done, which will increase your chances of success.
Malaysia is on the rise. The middle class is growing, disposable income is increasing, and it is one of the easiest places in the world for a foreigner to set up business—ranked 12th of 185 by the World Bank. In my experience of observing start-ups here in Malaysia, franchising is a very feasible business opportunity in this economy. English is widely spoken among the population of more than 28 million—70% of which is urban based. This offers a good consumer base to potential franchisees considering locating here.
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.
First-World cities with every modern convenience, beachfront hideaways, medieval towns, tropical islands, temperate mountain valleys… You can chose your favorite climate, your preferred lifestyle…the place you feel most at home…because the world’s best retirement havens have it all… and for pennies on the dollar, too.
Accurately scoring the world’s top retirement locations is a complex process. So, we’ve broken down each of our categories to give you a “behind the curtain” look at how we put the Index together.
The cost of elective procedures such as dental and cosmetic surgery is cheaper in these four countries than in the U.S., even when you take the cost of travel into account.
Malaysia is on the rise. The middle class is growing, disposable income is increasing, and it is one of the easiest places in the world for a foreigner to set up a business—ranked 12th of 185 by the World Bank. In my experience of observing start-ups here in Malaysia, franchising is a very feasible business opportunity in this economy.
There are many benefits to moving overseas: the weather is better, your quality of life will improve and you will always have something to do. Here are a few quick questions that you should ask yourself before moving overseas. 1. What type of weather do you like? If you don’t like the snow then you should…
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.
Living on an island conjures up images of white sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and no rush hour traffic.We all dream of one day retiring to a tropical paradise, buying a second home in a quaint beach town where its summer all year round, or relocating our lives to an island in the sun. But it can be more than just a dream…your tropical island or beach life can be a reality. There are tropical destinations around the world where you can be by the beach…
According to Fidelity Investments in 2012, those aged 55 and older had an average balance of $143,300 in their 401k account. But is this enough to retire on? Maybe not in the U.S., but retiring overseas can be much more affordable than retiring in the U.S.
Eleven years and dozens of countries after selling their California house to travel the world, Trish and Marvin Scott say they have never regretted their decision. “We look for places off the tourist track. We’ve set up households in 20 countries, and currently we are living in an old communistera apartment in St. Petersburg,” says 70-year-old Marvin.
Zero. Zilch. Nothing. Often that’s what I pay for accommodation when I travel. But I’m not roughing it. I’ve been in unique and unforgettable places around the world. I’ve made friends, met interesting people and learned new skills. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve cheated the system. But it’s entirely above board.
When David Hagerman went on business trips, he always kept a camera stashed in his briefcase. Early in the morning, well before his day’s round of meetings started, he would leave his hotel to take photos of local people and places, from women preparing bowls of noodles in busy street-side stalls to piles of brightly colored spices in bustling morning markets.