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.
Population: 29,179,952 (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
Source: CIA World Fact Book
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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.
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.
Spare a thought for the citizens of Belgium. Their beer is great and their waffles tasty but they also suffer from the highest effective personal tax rate in the world. That’s according to a survey by KPMG. The auditing firm looked at income tax rates and other deductions like social security to calculate their results.
- The Upside of Opening a Bank Account in Your New Home
Posted on March 25, 2013 by International Living
There are good reasons to consider opening a bank account in your adopted home country. And it doesn’t mean you need to close any of your U.S. accounts, either. So what exactly are the advantages of having a local bank account?
There is something amazing about the medical system here, and something not quite right with ours,” says Shane Simons, who moved to the tropical island of Penang, Malaysia, eight months ago from Los Angeles. “My doctor in L.A. told me I needed a mole removed from my neck.
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.
- How to Try Out Life in Asia—Three Havens Where Renting is Easy
Posted on February 25, 2013 by Keith Hockton
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.
Exotic tropical islands, temperate mountain valleys, miles of deserted beaches, First-World cities packed with ultra-modern amenities, and ancient vineyard-shrouded hill towns… Among the top retirement spots in the world this year, you’ll find great variety in the cultural offerings, climates and lifestyles.
Malaysia is something of a surprise package. The Southeast Asian country is not on many peoples’ radars. However, in light of its strong scoring in the Retirement Index 2013, it certainly should be. Malaysia surged into third place in the Index thanks in large part to its high score in the Entertainment and Amenities category, its low cost of living and the ease with which new expats can settle in.
Whether you dream of a pastel-painted, old colonial home surrounded by lush gardens or a super-modern condo just yards from the beach, in locations all over the planet you’ll find incredible value. Affordable, good-value real estate is a “stand-out” factor of the world’s best retirement havens.
We’ve called on our network of experts and in-country editors to reveal their real estate contacts in each of the countries that performed best in our 2013 Global Retirement Index. Knowing the right people will help you negotiate the real estate landscapes in whichever country you’re interested in.
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.
- Inside Asia: Low Costs, Good Living, Exotic Adventure
Posted on September 27, 2012 by Jennifer Stevens
Americans knew little of Cambodia until, in 1924, a stalwart Titanic survivor, Helen Churchill Candee, published her adventures there in a book called, Angkor the Magnificent. “We think we have exposed and investigated the secret places of the whole round globe,” she says, “when there comes word of a new one, and not only a secret place but a place full of secrets.”
The renowned Malaysia International Gourmet Festival in Kuala Lumpur runs the whole month of October. Expect a “Theatre of Cuisines” and a “Gourmet Village.” The wonderfully-named Madajazzcar, Madagascar’s leading jazz festival, takes place from October 3 to 15 with performances around the island.
As I laze beside the infinity pool of my apartment, sipping a cool drink, it’s hard to imagine why I didn’t make the move to Malaysia, and the island of Penang, sooner. Property, health care, and the cost of living are generally a quarter of what you would pay in the U.S. The weather is great, the beaches are perfect, and there’s a lot to do. I’m not surprised an increasing number of expats are buying property here.
Ao Nang beach on mainland Thailand is known for its white sands, crystal-clear blue waters, and the limestone cliffs that rise majestically from the sea. There, 83 different islands sit just offshore in the bay. You can hire a local boat to explore, find a deserted beach, or go rock climbing or sea kayaking at nearby Railay Beach.
- Live Large for Less on the Exotic Islands of South East Asia 2012
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White sands, the scent of spices, the call of the east. Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines are so much more than exotic vacation spots. Enticing expats and retirees from around the globe, these fabled lands of South East Asia still beckon with the promise and rewards of an exciting life overseas.
Live Large for Less on The Exotic Islands of South-East Asia is the best resource available to help you get to know this paradise that is South-East Asia.
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In the musical South Pacific, the island of Bali Ha’i is an exotic paradise off limits to all except the officers. But in reality, the tropical island of Tioman—where the 1958 blockbuster was filmed—is a destination open to any traveler.
The lush, green valley of Vilcabamba was where the royalty of the Inca Empire came for their rest and relaxation. You can still ﬁnd reminders of their ancient civilization. And people are still coming here to ﬁnd tranquility and live well. In the past three years, this magical place has experienced a tsunami of new arrivals.
- Retire Cheap: Great-Value Towns Where You Can Live Better for Less
Posted on March 27, 2012 by International Living
At home, prices are rising. It costs more to put gas in the car, buy groceries, and pay for health insurance. At the same time, retirement savings eroded in the market downturn. And with interest rates at near-zero today, it’s difﬁcult to rebuild.
One of the things we are most grateful for living in Malaysia is the health care, which is among the world’s best—and cheapest. It’s rare we need to use it, but when we do, it’s good to know we’re dealing with the very best doctors and at very low prices. There’s a reason four plane-loads of medical tourists land in Penang every day.
There’s so much to love about island life in Penang, Malaysia, that it’s hard to know where to start. My wife Lisa and I spend just $1,719 a month to live here, and that’s renting with an ocean view and eating out regularly in the island’s amazing restaurants.
Howard earned a good salary as an I.T. engineer, but he knew deep down that this was never his calling. Howard wanted to be a photographer. His nine-to-five was so far removed from his dream job that he thought he would never be able to make the switch. Aged 32, he decided he needed a change.
I’d always wanted to be a writer. It was something I yearned to do for a living. I had worked in banking all my life but in 2008, aged 47, I decided that it was now or never—I would take a chance. So, I quit my job, sold my house, gave away my two cats (to a woman who adored them) and moved lock, stock and barrel with my wife to Malaysia.
On the terrace of the grand, British colonial E & O Hotel, evening light flickers through the coconut grove as a warm breeze drifts in from the Straits of Malacca. I’m sipping a gin and tonic, watching the sun go down. This has become one of my regular habits since moving to the island of Penang, off the west coast of mainland Malaysia, over a year ago.
Ecuador stormed to the top of our list in the cost of living stakes. We’ve heard from couples who are living well on $800—and less. Everything from home rentals and health insurance cover to eating out and motoring costs come in significantly lower than in the U.S. There are also regional differences – small towns like Cotacachi are significantly cheaper than the bigger cities.
- Island Life in Colonial Malaysia for only $1,719 a Month
Posted on November 24, 2011 by Keith Hockton
On the terrace of the grand, British-colonial E & O Hotel, evening light flickers through the coconut grove as a warm breeze drifts in from the Straits of Malacca. I’m sipping a gin and tonic, watching the sun go down. This has become one of my regular habits since moving to the island of Penang, off the west coast of mainland Malaysia, over a year ago.
From steaks in Buenos Aires to tapas in Madrid, some cities are worth visiting for the food alone. Below, our writers give their tips and recommendations for eating well in 10 of the world’s culinary capitals. First up is Bangkok. Bangkok’s lower Sukhumvit Road area is an oft-missed foodie’s paradise.
My butler, dressed in a gold-leafed, mandarin-collared waistcoat, hands me a Jim Beam and Coke on the rocks. A woman wearing an elaborate silk gown bows her head as I enter the restaurant. A crooning piano player launches into “As Time Goes By” in a dimly-lit lounge bar next door…
For a little less than $18,000, Mary Percak-Dennett, the owner of a tanning salon in Wasilla, Alaska, got not only a successful knee replacement in Malaysia but also plenty of time to explore Penang on the northwest side of the country—its museums, fishing villages, brightly colored handmade batiks, a coffee factory, and the hawker stalls serving Malaysian cuisine that have caught the attention of foodies from all over the world.
- Island Extravaganza: Retire to the Philippines on $800 a Month
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It’s a sight to swoon over. As the plane dips down, there they are—strewn across the South China Sea like glittering emerald necklets. Glimpsing even a fraction of the Philippine’s 7,107 islands gives most visitors a visual knock-out
As I travel, I see many places that are compelling for talented entrepreneurs because of a combination of business opportunities, tax-advantaged corporate structures, and low cost of doing business. Here are some of those places
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- Follow the Trade Winds to Penang: Malaysia’s Island of Spicy Promise
Posted on June 25, 2009 by International Living
Breathe it all in: incense fragrance from a Chinese temple; frangipani blossoms wafting though the balmy night air; the pungent aroma of fish drying on sidewalk racks. Everywhere is suffused with spices—ginger; nutmeg; cloves.
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