Living the High Life in Malaysia: Rent $2,074 a Month

“We were only planning to move to Kuala Lumpur for a year,” Sharla Thomason says. “But after six months, we loved it so much we decided to stay and sold up back home.” That was a year-and-a-half ago and Sharla, 72, and her husband Jim, 75, couldn’t be happier with their decision to move to this glittering jewel of a city in Malaysia. “We’ve never looked back,” says Jim.

“We are not worried about healthcare at all here,” says Jim. The couple live right by two fantastic hospitals, Gleneagles and Prince Court. “I’m really pleased with my doctors here,” Jim says. “They spend an hour with us going over every fine detail. I feel like I am the only patient they have, even though there is a line of people waiting.”

Jim isn’t the only one who’s happy with the healthcare experience in Kuala Lumpur. “We have been so pleased with every doctor experience we’ve had since we’ve been here.” says Sharla.

The Thomasons live in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, with a view of the soaring Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world. “I call the towers my crystal candlesticks—they twinkle and glow all night long. I sit on my couch or on the balcony and just stare at them: So beautiful. New Year’s Eve is incredible; we get a full hour of fireworks that light up the night,” says Sharla.

Jim and Sharla rent a 222-square-metre apartment with three bedrooms, four bathrooms and two parking spots. It’s very modern, but it was sparsely furnished when they moved in. “We met an expat couple who were leaving and bought all of their furniture and dishes. It was a steal and worked out perfectly,” says Sharla. Although living in the heart of the action with a view like theirs can be expensive, the rent is only $2,074 a month.

Although Jim and Sharla are retired, they haven’t slowed down much. Sharla belongs to a Bible study group, a craft club, a book club and a yoga class. They are members of an expat association which has a lot of activities going on monthly: Happy hours, coffee groups, nights out and regular scuba/snorkel weekends.

“We have a very active social life. I have trouble keeping up sometimes,” says Sharla. “We joined all the clubs we could. It’s the best way to meet people.”

Jim goes to the Kelab Darul Ehsan driving range once a week; it’s only 20 minutes away from their home by Grab. For $5 he gets 100 balls. If he were a club member—which costs $777 per couple a year—the cost would be even less.

One of Sharla and Jim’s favorite restaurants is Las Carretas, a little Mexican place where the staff makes you feel like family. For three people, with wine and margaritas, the bill is only $42.

“We feel like we are spoiling ourselves,” says Sharla. “We have a maid for four hours, three mornings a week ($8.60 per hour). We go for 90-minute massages in the Intermark Hotel at The Oriental Signature Spa for $60. Or if we want something less fancy, there are places along Jalan Ampang to get a one-hour massage for $16. Maids, manicures, pedicures, massages… We couldn’t pamper ourselves like this back home.”

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