Whether retiring to Malaysia, or any other foreign country, there are many things you have to consider. Leaving friends and relatives is not easy but there are many reasons why choosing a Malaysian retirement or buying a second home there makes sense.
The country has so much to offer.
Andy Davison, CEO of The Expat Group, gives his reasons why you might consider applying for a Malaysia My Second Home visa (a renewable, ten-year, multiple entry visa).
The People and the Language
The Malaysian people are warm and friendly and mix easily with foreign residents and visitors. So new residents have no problems settling in.
A large number of people speak English. This makes retiring to Malaysia especially attractive to the many people who are either native English speakers or speak enough English to communicate.
While it certainly can get hot during the day it doesn't have the extreme heat found in some countries. Most people retiring to Malaysia enjoy the warm weather.
Most homes, cars and shopping areas are air-conditioned so it's easy to escape the hottest times of day.
Malaysia has three major types of local cuisine which most foreigners soon come to enjoy. The food reflects the three largest races in Malaysia Malay, Chinese and Indian. With restaurants all over the country offering a magnificent choice of dishes.
Eating in the open air stalls or the non-air conditioned restaurants provides great quality at low costs. If you prefer western dishes there has been a proliferation of restaurants opening in the major cities. At a cost these offer many different western and other Asian cuisines. Food from all over the world can also be found in the excellent restaurants in the country’s numerous four and five star hotels.
Whether you are looking for low priced goods or designer labels Malaysia has it all. The shops carry a very wide range of goods. With no import duties imported items such as cosmetics, cameras and electronic equipment are very reasonably priced.
There are many home furnishing stores and most household items are readily available. For those people who are looking for food products from back home several of the newer supermarkets are offering a wide range of imported fresh and canned products for the expat market.
The Cost of Living
Malaysia is one of the cheapest places to retire. With a pension from a developed country you will find that retiring to Malaysia offers a much better standard of living than in your own country.
Remittances from abroad are not taxed making the programme even more attractive, if your funds are not taxed at source.
The two most complained about expensive items in Malaysia are alcoholic beverages and motor vehicles. Fortunately restaurant prices are generally low so this can offset the higher cost of the drinks and many places offer extended happy hours. The high tax on motor vehicles is true for most countries in Asia. Applicants retiring to Malaysia under the MM2H programme can bring in one car free of import duty, sales tax and excise duty or buy a new car there without the excise taxes.
Prices for houses and apartments are quite reasonable if you stay outside of central Kuala Lumpur.
Safety and Health
The crime rate in Malaysia is generally lower than in most western countries.
Health services are efficient and first class medical facilities are available in all the major cities with well-equipped hospitals and clinics run by highly qualified staff. Medical costs are much lower than many other countries.
Economic and Political Stability
Malaysia has experienced many years of economic and political stability. Even the major economic downturn in Asia in 1997 did not have the disastrous results for Malaysia which many people predicted.
The economic outlook now is promising. Many expats retiring to Malaysia have expressed their satisfaction with the current Prime Minister who is introducing sweeping reforms.
Generally the country has a good infrastructure with a world class airport, very modern capital city and a well-developed and maintained road network.
Malaysia has a strong commitment to becoming a leading IT and multimedia hub for the region. It demonstrated this by creating the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). A high tech area offering state of the art communication networks stretching from Kuala Lumpur to the international airport.
The Natural Beauty
Malaysia has one of the lowest population densities of countries in Asia. This means plenty of unspoiled countryside where you can explore the jungle, hill stations and tropical islands or relax on the many beaches. There is a wealth of flora and fauna as well as wild life.
The major roads are excellent and it is easy to drive around the country once you get used to some of the local driving styles. There are also a large number of excellent hotels which have some of the lowest rates in Asia making domestic travel a pleasure and remarkably good value.
There's a wide range of sports for players and spectators.
Malaysia hosts a number of international sporting events including Formula 1, Moto GP, cycling, power boat racing and golf ... even international tower runs!
Malaysians are outstanding hockey, badminton and squash players and enthusiastic football fans. For more active sports enthusiasts there are many golf courses, tennis and squash courts and groups playing cricket and rugby.
There are no import duties on boats so lovers of sailing will find that it not only less expensive but there are also many attractive places to visit. For divers there are many spots off the coast of Sabah, such as Sipadan and Layang Layang islands, which are rated amongst the best in the world ,
If you choose to stay closer to home there is plenty to do. From visiting the many food and beverage outlets to watching the latest releases at the many modern movie theatres.
Most foreign newspapers and magazines can be found here and high speed internet connections are being rolled out around the country.
There are plenty of local festivals to watch and a number of theatre groups have been set up. The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Kuala Lumpur, is made up of international players and performs regularly. International artists from singers to dancers and even theatre groups visit quite regularly.
If you prefer staying at home then satellite TV offers many channels of international entertainment.
The country offers good telecommunications both internally and internationally. Making international calls is very easy, there is a good selection of mobile phone providers.
High speed internet connections are available in most large cities and are being spread out around the country.
Malaysia offers an excellent mix of Asian cultures but for those who wish to discover the rest of Asia there are direct non-stop flights to every capital city in Asia. It is an easy and relatively short flight to many neighbouring countries and both Singapore and Thailand can be reached by road.
Although the distances to Europe, New Zealand and Australia are quite long, there are non-stop flights to most major cities. You can also reach the west and east coast of The United States on direct flights.
For those with children, Malaysia offers quality education facilities. There are some excellent internationals schools as well as private colleges and universities which already attract many foreigners.
Seeing Friends and Relatives
For the same reasons people live in Malaysia friends and relatives will want to come and visit. Friends who might not be keen to travel have the benefit that Malaysia offers some of the cheapest fares to all corners of the globe.
It's possible to obtain a loan locally If you want to purchase a property. If you only plan to spend part of the year here then some companies can arrange short term rentals and will take care of your home while you are away.
Retiring to Malaysia
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list and people will eventually make their own decisions on what attracts them to retiring to Malaysia. Certainly anyone planning to apply for the MM2H programme would be well advised to visit and discover for themselves the many attractions the country has to offer. And discover why Malaysia is one of the best places to retire.
If you like warmer places, Malaysia offers a wonderful life and your friends will need little encouragement to come visit you.