The World’s Best Places To Retire 2015: Malaysia

International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index for 2014

Malaysia—Great Value for Money in a Cultural Melting Pot

Every year, more and more expats are waking up to the amazing opportunities Malaysia has to offer. The country has one of the most robust economies in Asia, and this is reflected in the consistently high standard of living available to locals and expats alike. It’s just one of many factors that led to it being ranked the highest Asian nation in this year’s index.
Quality of life in Malaysia is cost-efficient as well as excellent. In typical expat locations such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, high-quality real estate is available for rent at a low cost. Why buy when you can rent a 1,600-square-foot apartment with a swimming pool for just $850 a month?
Malaysia’s beaches are among the most beautiful in Southeast Asia. © Eoin Bassett
Malaysia’s beaches are among the most
beautiful in Southeast Asia. © Eoin Bassett
On a modest budget, you truly can savor a life of luxury here. With your money going further, you can afford to treat yourself to the stunning array of local food—which mirrors Malaysia’s diverse cultural make-up. For as little as $5, you can enjoy an excellent meal, with a bottle of wine setting you back the same price. The street food is similarly scrumptious and one of the true charms of Malaysian cuisine.
“I rent a 1,600-square-foot apartment with an amazing pool, just five minutes’ walk from the ritzy Gurney Plaza shopping mall,” says New Yorker Thomas O’Neal of his new life in Penang. “It costs me just $850 a month. I don’t need a car, either, so I’m saving money left, right, and center.
“I love the weather—82 F on average—and the ease of getting to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. When you combine that with a cost of living of $1,500 per month, including my rent, it’s almost unbeatable.”
The country makes a perfect base from which you can explore the innumerable natural, historical, and cultural treasures that Southeast Asia has to offer. The proliferation of cheap Asian airlines in recent years has made it easier (and more affordable) than ever to explore Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Japan. In Malaysia, Asia is truly at your doorstep.
Direct flights to the U.S. are also available, so getting home for the holidays needn’t be a concern. Neither is Internet access, as every year high-speed Internet makes more and more inroads into the country. It’s already widely and cheaply available in popular expat destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
As a throwback to the British colonial period, English is widely spoken by locals, making it all the easier to adjust and find your way around. And cities like Penang have plenty of social occasions and festivities for you to enjoy, perfect opportunities to mingle with locals and expats alike.
Because of its easy mix of the archaic and modern, Malaysia has been described by expats as stepping back in time, yet with all the benefits of modern comforts. Twenty-first century conveniences abound, but Malaysia holds onto enough of its Old-World, Asian charm to make it a real haven for those eager to experience new cultures and traditions. The public transport network is comprehensive—you don’t need a car, particularly in the cities. And the quality of the roads is first-rate, so if you do decide to invest in a vehicle, dirt tracks won’t be an issue. Health care quality is similarly top-notch, particularly in the larger cities, where it is comparable to that in any First-World nation. A doctor’s appointment will set you back as little as $15.

The Top 5 Countries In Health Care: Low-Cost Prescriptions And Expertise Make For Happy, Healthy Citizens: Malaysia

The public health care system in Malaysia isn’t available to foreigners, but their private system may be just as good. Under the system, doctors’ visits cost $16 and dental appointments cost $9. Their per capita expenditure is actually lower than Costa Rica’s $1,197, at only $645 per person. And the highly affordable insurance premiums make for heavily reduced costs — a generally healthy man in his fifties should expect a yearly premium of $400 to $1,000, depending on his plan.


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