Is Malaysia the World’s Easiest Retirement Haven?

Look up the word “easy” in the dictionary and there ought to be a map of Malaysia.

“Easy” means presenting few difficulties…free from worry or problems…achieved without great effort… (In the case of Malaysia it could also read “achieved at little cost.”)

I should know what I’m talking about. For close on a decade my job has been evaluating opportunities around the world for a retirement packed with fun, profit and adventure. My colleagues and I have cast far and wide for the good things in life at a reasonable price.

In the course of my quest to find the world’s best retirement havens I have travelled many miles, talked to thousands of expats, paraded down hospital corridors inspecting rooms, crossed the thresholds of rental properties in a hundred towns and cities, furtively scribbled down the prices in supermarkets from Panama to Paris and ran the rule over real estate opportunities from London to the farthest reaches of Central America…

And Malaysia is probably the easiest retirement haven I know of for Australians in the world today. If you’re looking for luxurious living, friendly communities of ready-made pals and loads to do and see, then Malaysia is perfect.

I honestly can’t think of a retirement haven I’ve visited that offers you so much ease, convenience and comfort. And I definitely can’t think of another place that offers it at such a low price. Here’s just a few of the reasons that prove me right about this country…

You Can Have a Chat

Not only are people here friendly and helpful but large numbers of them speak English—a legacy of a time when Malaysia was part of the empire. You also have three distinct communities—Malay, Chinese, and Indian—meaning most people are bi-lingual or poly-lingual. That also means tolerance and “live and let live” is the default attitude of everyone you meet. Smile and you’ll get a smile back. Start chatting and you could make a friend! Plus, in popular retirement havens like Penang, you’ll find big communities of western expats eager to welcome a newbie.

Safe, Healthy, Clean

It’s cleaner than many western countries I have visited. Roads are swept, public buildings and gardens immaculately kept and crime rates are low. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the only place someone’s chased me down the street to breathlessly return the wallet I had dropped.


Located just outside the Ring of Fire, Malaysia is relatively free from major earthquakes. And you won’t find active volcanoes. That leaves health…and while no one wants to go to hospital, if you have to, then Malaysia is the place to do it, with state-of-the-art hospitals and English-speaking, U.K.- and U.S.-trained staff. Healthcare costs so little many expats pay out of pocket.

Transport and Shopping

I’ve travelled a lot around Malaysia…In cheerful red taxis, on comfy, air-conditioned buses and on three-wheeled carriages pedalled by wiry trishaw men. Even the low-cost airlines are civilised affairs, with decent service and perfectly adequate grub. When I dozed off on the train from the old tin-mining town of Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur, I awoke thinking for a split-second I was in London…until I saw the palm trees.


As for shopping, I don’t do a huge amount of it, but I appreciate the air-con and variety of any modern shopping centre, so I know you’ll be spoilt for choice in Malaysia. You’ll find some truly grand affairs with all the top brands. On my last trip I took advantage of the low costs to go on a shirt buying binge.

All this might sound a bit “safe” and dull. Far from it. Malaysia is easy without being boring. It’s convenient while still providing adventures and plenty of exotic thrills. Here’s the proof…

History, Heritage and Temples

One street in Malacca tells the whole story. On Jalan Tukang Emas, also known as “Harmony Street” you’ll find Malaysia’s oldest Hindu temple, oldest functioning Chinese Buddhist temple and a 250-year-old mosque. In Penang and Malacca you’ll find Chinese shophouses jammed with antiques and begging to be explored.


Malaysia is part of maritime Southeast Asia and has attracted foreign traders and settlers for thousands of years. The British were among the most recent. Their Straits Settlements flourished for a time and when you want to escape the hot weather, just copy those old colonials and head to the hill stations. The most famous is the Cameron Highlands, perfect for hiking in tea plantations and sipping tea on the terrace of a mock-Tudor mansion.

Nasi Kandar, Dumplings and Pasta

The food! People rave about it for a reason. My favourite thing to do is go to a nasi kandar restaurant and load up the plate with as many different Indian-inspired curries and nibbles as I can fit on it. The only shock I get is the bill, it’s just so cheap, never more than a few dollars.


Malaysia’s the kind of place you’ll dine out daily and never get bored. People here love food and think nothing of driving a few hours to dine on a regional specialty. Malay cuisine is delicious, you can gorge on Chinese noodle dishes and succulent dumplings. Or, if you prefer, seek out a little French bistro or a good Italian…you’ll find steak, burgers…anything you can think of…

Ocean Views and Awesome Beaches

When I first visited Langkawi, I was upset. Why hadn’t I booked a longer stay! This is just one of Malaysia’s tropical island getaways, complete with blindingly white sands, turquoise waters, great sailing, snorkelling and so on.


Malaysia’s not famed for its beaches, but they’re every bit as good as those you’ll find in Thailand…and because they’re secret, they’re all yours. Dozens of islands on both the east and west coast mean you’ll have plenty of weekend break options. Or you could just live in Penang, an island off the west coast and the country’s most popular retirement haven. You’ll pick up an ocean-view rental there for $625.

Ideal for Travellers

Perhaps the easiest thing about Malaysia is just how easy it is to get to… Less than nine hours from Melbourne or Sydney. And, once you’re there, the fierce competition among airlines in Southeast Asia means hopping around the region exploring Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China is easy…and seriously good value.


You can catch a train to Thailand or a ferry. And then there’s Borneo…

Malaysian Borneo consists of the provinces of Sarawak and Sabah and while peninsular Malaysia has rainforests and reserves, this is where to come for a truly awesome experience…think orangutans and affordable six-star resorts…

Hmmm…I want to go back and relax in Malaysia.

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