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: 29,628,392 (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
Source: CIA World Fact Book
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- 5 Quick Questions Everyone Should Answer Before Moving Overseas
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Barbara Ross
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…
- The Allure and Profit of Café Culture in Penang’s Historic Mile
Posted on November 1, 2013 by Keith Hockton
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.
- The Top Three Best Places to Retire Overseas For a Low Cost of Living
Posted on October 7, 2013 by International Living
Your quality of life could vastly improve if you retire overseas…and you could spend much less than you ever thought possible. In IL’s Annual Retirement Index 2013, 23 countries are covered ranking the best destinations to retire overseas today. Cost of living is one of eight categories in this Index and is an important factor for many who are considering overseas retirement.
Margaret and Rhys Shelton from South Africa moved to Malaysia 18 months ago, following their lifelong dream to open a café. They’re just two of the expats taking advantage of the ease of doing business in Malaysia. In fact, the World Bank recently ranked it number 12 (out of 185 countries) on that score. Foreign Internet entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, jewellers, hoteliers, and language school owners are all setting up and thriving here.
- The Top Three Best Places to Retire Overseas Where the Health Care is Excellent
Posted on September 30, 2013 by Barbara Ross
Health care can be expensive no matter what age you are but when you reach retirement, it is one thing that you don’t want to worry about. According to International Living’s Annual Retirement Index 2013, below are three of the best places in the world for health care.
First-World cities packed with ultra-modern amenities, and ancient vineyard-shrouded hill towns close to tropical beaches and mountain valleys. Among the top retirement spots in the world this year, you’ll find great variety in the cultural offerings, climates and lifestyles. Each destination is desirable in its own way, but they all offer something increasingly hard to come by at home: A good quality of life for a reasonable price.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists. There are no traffic jams, hassled commuters, or sirens. And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler.
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…
- Robinson Crusoe-Style Retreats on 7 of the World’s Best Islands
Posted on August 20, 2013 by International Living
When you ask folks who live on an island what drew them to life on a curio of clay, they tend to respond by saying things like, “I can live simply without much interference.”
Now is the time to visit George Town, capital of the island of Penang, Malaysia. Recently renovated and chic, George Town today is one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting destinations: a buzzing and creative city, with new cafés and art galleries set amidst breathtaking street art.
- In Pictures: The Top Three Places to Live in Southeast Asia
Posted on July 15, 2013 by Laura Doyle
In Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia you can feast your eyes on tasty local cuisine, endless stretches of white-sand beaches, unspoiled Pacific coastline and immerse yourself in a whole new—stress-free—lifestyle.
- Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia: Three Great Destinations to Live in Southeast Asia
Posted on July 12, 2013 by International Living
Living in Southeast Asia is a lot easier than you probably think…it’s easier to get around, to get what you need, to find a community that will welcome you. While the distance may be intimidating, the reality on the ground is much less so than you may imagine. Expats living in this part of the world report that life is at once exhilarating, comfortable and affordable.
- Movie-Star Chic for Pennies on the Dollar in Penang, Malaysia
Posted on June 27, 2013 by Keith Hockton
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.
It’s not every morning you find a monkey eating your breakfast. But it happens. Investigating a noise in the kitchen the other day, my husband John found a Macaque monkey carelessly tossing banana skins onto the floor. After a brief stare-off, the monkey tucked our bananas under his arm and bolted into our garden.
- The Three Most Desirable Havens in Low-Cost Malaysia
Posted on June 27, 2013 by Frances Wilks
Where else can you live in a high-rise that looks and feels like high-end Miami…but pay less in rent than you would in Boise, Idaho? Where else can you have coffee at Starbucks or grab a beer at an Irish pub…then head out to explore an exotic market or an ancient temple? Where else can you live comfortably on less than $1,800 a month…
- The Weird and the Wonderful on Display in Southeast Asia
Posted on June 27, 2013 by Steenie Harvey
Night markets, floating markets, jade and pearl markets. Wet markets with fish you never imagined existed. Stalls selling ants’ eggs. Tuk-tuks, cyclo-rickshaws, and longboat journeys through the jungle.
No matter how small the world gets due to technology, Asia retains an exotic allure for North Americans. Maybe it’s the distance—on the other side of the globe. Or the huge variety of cultures, cuisines, languages, and ways of life.
When my husband and I decided to move from Texas to the tropical island of Penang in Malaysia, I questioned the decision to uproot my children. Two years on, we have found the experience so enriching we’ve decided to prolong our stay. My husband was offered a job mentoring local computer engineers in Malaysia and, with three children—Clark, 13, Brad, 10, and Maria, 8—we had to consider if his career move was also in their best interest. We waited until after Clark finished elementary school so that it would be a more natural transition for him, and we planned a return visit to America for Christmas to minimize homesickness.
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.”
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