Ten Reasons to Retire or Live in Malaysia

For those who are wondering why they should consider retirement in Malaysia or spending several months a year here, Andy Davison, who has travelled extensively around the world, suggests some reasons.

There are many considerations when deciding whether to relocate to a new country. Leaving friends and relatives is not something everyone is willing to do but there are many reasons why choosing to move to Malaysia or buying a second home here makes sense. The country has much to offer, not least, of which is the cost of living which is much lower than most fully developed countries. The rapid economic growth Malaysia has experienced has resulted in a substantial investment in infrastructure and larger cities have everything you would find in more developed countries.

The following are ten reasons which are most often given by expats as reasons why they enjoy living here. We interact with the expat community regularly and do surveys of both working expats and MM2Hers so we receive a lot of feedback

The list is in no particular order and could have been longer but covers most of the main attractions.

1) The people and language
The Malaysian people are warm and friendly and, unlike some countries, welcome foreigners who choose to live here. Most expats living here say they have many Malaysian friends. There are very few areas which are overwhelmingly expats areas. The fact that a large number of people here speak English makes it especially attractive to the many people who are either native English speakers or speak enough English to communicate.

2) The weather

Most expatriates are positive about the year round warm weather and consider it a major plus point of living here. Certainly, it can get hot during the day but it is rarely the extreme heat found in some countries, and since most homes, cars and shopping areas are air-conditioned it is easy to escape the hottest times of day. Evenings and early mornings are much cooler and the best time to be active outdoors.

3) The cost of living

Malaysia is a low cost country to live in and if you are on a pension from a developed country you will find that it offers a much better standard of living than in your own country. Since remittances from abroad are not taxed it makes 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. However, petrol is cheaper than in most other countries. Restaurant prices are generally low so this can offset the higher cost of alcoholic beverages and many places offer extended happy hours if you look out for them. The high tax on motor vehicles is true for most countries in Asia. Prices for houses and apartments have risen quite a lot over the last few years but are still quite reasonable and it is a buyers’ market.

4) The food

Malaysia has three major types of local cuisine – Malay, Chinese and Indian – which most foreigners soon come to enjoy. If you choose to eat in the open air stalls or in the non-air conditioned restaurants you will be amazed at the low cost of the food. If you prefer western dishes there are plenty of restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines. Food products from all over the world can also be found in many of the major supermarket outlets.

5) The natural beauty

Malaysia has the advantage of being one of the lowest populated countries in Asia. This means plenty of unspoiled countryside where you can explore the rain forests, 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 room rates in Asia making domestic travel both a pleasure and good value.

6) Other entertainment

Malaysia hosts a number of international sports competitions from golf to athletic events. There are also plenty of golf courses for golf lovers. There is no shortage of tennis courts and swimming pools for those looking for places to exercise. Sailing is also easy if you choose to live by the sea.

There are plenty of local festivals to enjoy reflecting Malaysia’s different cultures and there are more public holidays than most other countries.

Internet connections are generally good and the local cable TV network, Astro, offers many local and international viewing channels. Netflix and Amazon Prime also offer low cost subscriptions.

You will also find plenty of cultural shows in the larger cities including foreign entertainers.

There are a large number of air conditioned shopping malls which apart from the retail shops have plenty of food outlets and often feature exhibitions and other entertainment.

7) Safety and health
The crime rate in Malaysia is generally lower than in most western countries. Most expats say they feel safer living here than in their own country. 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 lower than many other countries and medical tourism to Malaysia is a major tourism product.

8) The location

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. Malaysia is centrally located in ASEAN so it’s easy to visit neighbouring countries, and both Singapore and Thailand can be reached by road from west Malaysia. Although the distances to Europe, New Zealand and Australia are quite long, there are nonstop flights to most major cities. You can also reach the west and east coast of The United States on direct flights. Air fares out of Malaysia are generally quite reasonable and the low cost airline, Air Asia has enjoyed enormous popularity with the quality of its service and very low prices.

9) Education
For those applicants 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. (See our annual Education Guide)

10) Accommodation
Detached houses (or bungalows, as they are called in Malaysia) are widely available for rent and purchase and many expats choose to have their own standalone property, often with a pool. Others prefer apartment living and there is plenty of choice. Most apartment building constructed in the last 20 years come with a host of facilities including squash and tennis courts, swimming pools, children’s play areas, function rooms, BBQ areas, gyms and much more. They also offer good security if you plan to travel and leave your home unattended.

We are confident that the same reasons which encourage people to come and live here will also persuade friends and relatives to come and visit. For those who want to purchase a property it is possible to obtain a loan locally. If you only plan to spend part of the year here then some companies can arrange short term rentals while you are away and take care of your home.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list and people will eventually make their own decisions on what attracts them to Malaysia. Certainly anyone planning to apply under this programme would be well advised to visit and discover for themselves the many attractions the country has to offer. As in every country, one can always find something to complain about, but having lived in many different countries around the world it was not hard to adjust to living here or find plenty of reasons to support my choice. If you are crazy about snow and cold weather then clearly there are much better choices, but for the majority of us, who are happy with warmer environs, Malaysia offers a wonderful life and your friends will probably need little encouragement to come visit you.

Once you move here be sure to sign up for a free subscription to our monthly magazine The Expat which you can also read online. (click here)
If you have any questions about MM2H programme please contact us.