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My Retirement in Malaysia

Friday, June 21st, 2013   6:20 pm |  Category:   Retirement locations   |   52 Comments  
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After my first working vacation in Vietnam, I had a feeling that I would like to spend more time in Southeast Asia. I loved the food, the people, the landscape and the culture. I seriously started considering retiring somewhere in Asia, a few years before I actually could take early retirement. I decided to visit different countries in Southeast Asia to get an idea which would be the best country to retire to.

 

Each year I took a two week vacation and spent time in a different country. I visited Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore; the countries I felt would be most to my liking. After visiting each I then had to research the retirement options offered by each and the cost of living and lifestyles each offered. Taiwan and Singapore were eliminated as being way too expensive and they had no special retirement options for expats. China was too big and I didn’t quite feel comfortable there when I visited. It too had no retirement provisions for expats. Even though I had spent more time in Vietnam I realized I would have to learn the language and I was a bit worried about healthcare there. That left Thailand and Malaysia. I really love Thailand, but I realized that foreigners cannot purchase property there, other than condos. They also do not have any special provisions for retirees from foreign countries and foreigners have to report to the local police station one a month, which to me would be a real hassle. I was also worried about the political stability of the country when the king eventually passes away. They do however, have excellent medical facilities and healthcare and all of the modern conveniences. Another downside was that English is not widely spoken in Thailand.

 

Finally there was Malaysia. I really liked the people of Malaysia and their varied cultures. The one aspect about Malaysia that I loved was the variety of different cuisines that could be found in Malaysia. It reminded me of the various cuisines I could find in my hometown of Boston. Communication in Malaysia was not a problem, as many people speak English quite well. Malaysia offers a program called MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) which gives eligible retirees a 10 year social visit pass, which is renewable. I have a very close friend who lives in Penang and this fact along with the above positive aspects of living in Malaysia, sold me on retiring in Penang, Malaysia.

 

Once I decided where to retire I had to prepare my actual retirement and make arrangements for banking, medical care, housing and everything else that goes with a major move. I first put my house in Boston up for sale, which was worrisome as it was the beginning of the housing mess in the US. Luckily I did not have to wait that long and I got a decent price for my house. The biggest problem I had was with banking. Even though there are large American banks in Malaysia, you have to have about $250,000 to $500,000 in the bank at all times to take advantage of the international banking services. At the recommendation of my local bank in Boston I use my ATM card to withdraw money for my everyday expenses and write checks for larger amounts when needed. My pension checks and Social Security checks are automatically deposited into my Boston bank account, so I don’t need a large bank account here.

 

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52 Comments
  1. Linda Shaffer Aug 14th 2013  3:42 pm

    I am a single woman 55 years old trying to live off of my Social Security each month. I am considering a move to Malaysia would I be able to get by on $800. USD a month and be comfortable ??

  2. Steve Sovie Aug 17th 2013  8:43 pm

    Linda, if you don’t live a lavish lifestyle you could live fairly comfortable.

  3. jsmith Oct 13th 2013  1:42 pm

    you skipped many details,how old are you and what is your tax situation?
    don’t mean to pry,but comments on US citizen looking to live in Malaysia,what is the tax situation and medicare ?
    also you mention medicare and then refer to medicaid,which one are you commenting on?

  4. Stephen Sovie Oct 14th 2013  3:36 am

    jsmith

    I am 65 years old. I retired at 60. As I told you in the article I receive only social security, a monthly annuity payment and a pension. I do not pay much money in taxes. Naturally the more money you have the more you pay in taxes. In reference to medicare and medicaid, you receive no benefits because you live abroad. The only government benefit you can receive is social security. In Malaysia you do not pay taxes on money received from the US. However, you must pay US taxes on money you may earn in Malaysia, or any other country for that matter. The US is the only country that does tax you on income earned while living outside the US.

  5. Expat Mommie Oct 15th 2013  3:28 pm

    Hi Mr Sovie,

    We have been an expat family for the last 6 years Visiting 11 Countries so far and living in 4 countries abroad. We love Malaysia and I am thinking of making the move there permanent I’m ready to settle down. I am retired from the US Army and make about 3K a month (but I will not qualify for a retirement program as I am only 31-I was hurt on deployment to Iraq and am now 100% disabled). Was wondering if you could give me some advice on where to start as far as looking for rentals etc. I have been looking online but it is not as easy as the other locations we were considering. I also have 2 school age children who are home-schooled right now and one last bun in the oven..Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  6. Stephen Sovie Oct 17th 2013  12:22 pm

    Hi Expat Mommie.
    You should have no problem living on that amount, as long as you don’t want to live in luxury. I know couples who live quite well on a lot less. Most expats now rent instead of buying since the real estate prices have risen to quite high levels. If you email me at ssovie@gmail.com I can put you in touch with a couple of good realtors. For a very nice apartment in a high end condo you can expect to pay $700 to 800USD, which would include a gym, swimming pool etc. It is nice that you are home schooling, as the local schools are not that good and recently they stopped teaching math and science, as well as other subject, in English. There are international schools, but most are based on the British system, which still confuses me. They teach to memorize, not understand. Here in Penang, there is an American international school,which is Christian based. I knew a few people who home schooled so that their children could return to the US for higher education. Outside of Penang, I am not familiar with the schools, but you can Google them. I hope this helps.

  7. Expat Mommie Oct 17th 2013  12:58 pm

    Mr Sovie,

    Thank you so much for your reply I have already emailed you!!

  8. db Oct 30th 2013  6:37 pm

    I’ve lived all over SE Asia and love Malaysia. I am searching for a MM2H agent. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you.

  9. Stephen Sovie Oct 31st 2013  3:42 am

    Hi db,
    Here is a link to a very good agent. Tell them I sent you.

    http://www.penangmyhome.com/

  10. Kenneth Kim Jan 21st 2014  2:06 am

    Hi Mr. Sovie,

    I am 63 years old and I have a small motel business in SC, USA.
    I like fishing, planting and I need a good medical facility near by.
    Where I should take to live for retirement?
    I am a Korean American…

    Thanks…

  11. Bill Grover Jan 23rd 2014  5:11 pm

    I am a U.S. citizen considering planning on retiring in Malaysia. I found an attorney that is helping me with all of the paperwork and I thought other future expats might need some help too. Her name is Natasha.
    Natasha@ant-legal.com.my
    I hope this helps someone else.

  12. Sena Gooneratne Feb 15th 2014  6:55 am

    To Stephen Sovie

    Hi Stephen,
    I am from Australia and I have read some of your comments with interest.
    I am a retiree and I would like to spend the rest of my retired life in Malaysia as it is a lot cheaper and much much more affordable than here with the income that I am receiving.
    The MM2H program requires an income of 10,000 Ringets per month (ie approx AUD3,300 ) which I dont get. So I guess I may not be eligible to apply for that program.
    Do you know of any other visa category that I may be able to use for me to live in Malaysia ? I certainly do not mind renewing the visa every year if need be. I have heard of people from here (retirees) living in Malaysia on a pension that they receive from here (which is less than the MM2H requirements). But I am not sure what category they come under.
    Any advise will be greatly appreciated….!!!
    Sena

  13. Peter May 3rd 2014  2:36 am

    Dear All
    If you are planning to retire in Malaysia, I suggest you come here on a three month tourist visa, look around the country, talk to expats who retired here, decide on the place where you might want to retire, and most importantly, then talk directly to Malaysia My Second Home officials at the respective Malaysian Immigration Department. Be aware that if you want to retire in Sabah, or Sarawak, don’t apply for MM2H in Peninsular Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur! Sabah and Sarawak have their own immigration authorities and don’t recognize MM2H documents from Peninsular Malaysia – and vice versa. Hope this helps. Best wishes, Peter

  14. Muneer May 15th 2014  1:32 pm

    Hi,

    I am planning to move to Malaysia after my retirement. I don’t know much about the place like medical facilities healthcare cost of living social and senior citizen community groups for social and meeting activities. Can some one help?

  15. Alan Aug 12th 2014  2:06 pm

    Re visas. I think citizens of Commonwealth countries receive a 90-day visa/social visit pass. A work-around for those unable to obtain the MM2H visa would be to cross into neighbouring Thailand or Singapore for a short trip and on return to Malaysia, receive another 90-day visa.

  16. Diane Dec 6th 2014  5:01 am

    I am a retired teacher and looking to live out the ‘golden years’ in Penang.

    Would $1700 give me a quiet,well appointed apartment and someone to help in the house?
    I don’t live the high life,but would enjoy entertaining.I have visited and worked in many countries and really love meeting other ex pats

    Thank you for any replies.
    Di.

  17. Fred Feb 25th 2015  11:24 pm

    Is is possible to retire in Malaysia as a “perpetual tourist”? That is, by leaving briefly every ninety days and coming back in. Thailand used to allow this but stopped it several years back. I’m not going to tie up my funds in the”Malaysia My Second Home” program, but Malaysia has too many advantages to ignore. Also, what would the cost of local health insurance be in US dollars? Thanks for any information you can provide.

  18. madhumita mukhopadhyay Apr 9th 2015  5:16 am

    Hi
    we are from India but staying abroad for 25 years,mainly in Gulf region,wanted to settle down outside but near to my country India.I believe Malaysia is good choice,can you enlighten me more about rules of Visa & own property.We are on verge of retirement my husband is nearly 65,please advice

    regards

  19. Russell Phillips May 4th 2015  7:15 am

    Diane,
    $1700 at R3.5 exchange rate is around R5,950 and until relatively recently, the rate was around R3 to1USD. If the rate goes back to R3 to $1, this would reduce your income to around R5,100.
    That said, for a reasonably nice apartment of around 1200 sq/ft, you would expect to pay around R1500 PM rental.
    Help for the house would be around R1000 PM.

  20. Ram K Singh Aug 18th 2015  4:04 am

    We are American citizens and are retired with social security benefit. We do have some IRA as well along with rental property in the USA. Last two years we lived in India, in the Himalayas. We do come back to USA during tax time to take care of our property and taxes. India became a royal pain in our posterior due to our two small dogs. We have to pay going in and flying out from India for our dogs and that too is not expensive but more annoying. This year we are back in the USA but we want to see more of India and living in Malaysia may make it easy to fly in to India. What kind of restrictions are there about pets.

    Ram K SIngh

  21. Karen davis Aug 22nd 2015  12:05 am

    After living number of years in Malaysia, do you have any advice for people wanting to retired in malaysia

  22. Ralph (Ten) Jan 2nd 2016  7:33 am

    Hi everyone,
     
    I just wanted to let you know some facts regarding Penang and long term living here, especially in Batu Ferringhi, as I was recently reading some strange reviews and I would like to comment on this.
     
    Penang has been and still is awesome! Lots of “everything good and cheap”.
     
    We enjoy it here very much, and we are located between Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi (beach capital of Penang).
     
    As a happy resident of Miami Green Condominium I know that by now in 2016 the facilities are still very well maintained and regularly renewed and everything here (including pools and garden scenery) is very nice.
     
    Many long time renters are here, mainly from UK or Australia, and the occasional english teacher from one of the island’s private schools.
     
    Long Term Rental rates in Penang range from 1500 (lower end) to 10000 (Straits Quay), whereby the Miami Green rates range from RM2200-2800 per month, which in my mind is super reasonable considering a) the low ringgitt and b) the high quality of many newly renovated units.
     
    Cheers and best, Ralph

  23. John Jan 25th 2016  1:22 pm

    Ralph…With Miami Green. How far to catch the bus there? I’ve been on the 101 bus many times but I’m not sure how far the nearest bus stop is. We’re looking at retirement in Penang having been there in 2014 and 2015. Will visit there again later this year. One thing I doubt I would do is drive in Penang. I’ve found the traffic there pretty daunting. So I would be relying on buses. Taxis are pretty cheap but bus would be the preferred option. Looked at a few sites re long term rentals and Miami Green always comes up.

    My wife and i feel “at home” in Penang. The place has a certain feel about it which we both love. Finding the right area to live is the main issue. Love George Town even though it’s really busy but also really like Batu Ferringhi so we’d be looking around there. Around Gurney Plaza is great but I would think very expensive

    Even though the move is a little way off, we’re in the planning stages already and will then look at getting into the MM2H program

    For anyone considering Penang, do yourself a favour and visit the island.

    You will not be disappointed

    John

  24. Tanushree Feb 7th 2016  6:13 pm

    Hi
    We are an Indian couple in the age band of 56-62. We are interested in retiring in Penang. Are there Indian retirees in Penang? Can we live comfortably on USD 1,000 in say Georgetown or elsewhere, all expenses covered? Can you suggest some local medical insurance providers?
    Thanks in advance.

  25. Günter Heise Mar 1st 2016  10:37 am

    I am a Swede. I live since 7 years in Thailand with my thai wife.
    What visa could we have to be able to live in Malaysia?
    Could we manage on 200 USD/ month.
    I am 68, my wife 43.

  26. Chaan Apr 28th 2016  7:24 am

    tanushree,That amounts to abt RM3000 in Malaysia.That may be enough to live in a small town near Penang, but Penang itself can be quite expensive.But if you have a hse and car paid for;with ,about Rm4000 should be sufficient to live simply and comfortably in penag, and above average in a smaller town like Kulim abt 18 miles from penang.

  27. Chaan Apr 28th 2016  7:36 am

    I am a Malaysian who has lived abroad for many years and return to Malaysia yearly.I will spend some time in Malaysia in retirement , but Malaysia has lately become very expensive for the locals.

    I have a substantial cash sum in Malaysia , and monthly income of about RM17,000, equivalent to local currency , I do not need any special visas or permit, but yet I think, I would not wish to buy in Malaysia with the highly inflated prices.I had a substantial exclusive property in KL, that I sold off a few years ago and saved the money in local banks.I also speak the local lingo.

    I think it would be cheaper to rent some good secured property just outside KL or the larger towns like Penang or Ipoh or Johore.

  28. Anand Jun 1st 2016  2:07 pm

    Hi Mr. Sovie,

    My wife and I are planning a visit to Penang, with the long term view of retiring in Malaysia. We are both U.S. citizens, aged 74 and 67, currently living on $2,200 per month from Social Security and a small pension. I figure that we can live comfortably in Malaysia on that amount, as long as the exchange rate does not drop too much from the RM 4.16 to $1 which it is today.

    We have never visited Malaysia, but from all my research, including descriptions on your blog, it looks like the ideal place for us to retire within that income. A major attraction for us is that we will be close to our son, who lives in Singapore. We are planning our first visit this year, in December 2016.

    Could you please let me have the contact for a good realtor, whom we can use to find a rental apartment in the Georgetown area. And what will be the rental cost for a basic 2 bedroom condo unit?

    You can email me if you chose. viakara@sbcglobal.net And of course, we would love to connect with you once we are there!

    Thank you!
    Anand

  29. Jerry Drawhorn Dec 19th 2016  9:26 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    Applicants to the Sarawak My Second Home program should be aware that in some ways it is actually easier than the Peninsular Malaysian visa program. However they do restrict application to those > 50 years of age in most circumstances.

    For example in Sarawak “Applicants must show proof of monthly off shore income /pension funds of RM10,000 for married couples(@US$2250.00) or RM7,000 for single applicants (@US$1575.00); OR Open a fixed deposit account of RM150, 000 in a bank or financial institution for married couples (@US$34,000) or RM100, 000.00 for a single applicant (@US$22,500.00).”

    Applicants to the mainland MM2H must show an offshore liquid asset pool of RM350,000 AND that level of income/pension (RM10,000) OR open a fixed deposit of RM150,000 (after approval).

    http://www.sarawak.gov.my/web/home/article_view/221/279/

    As well, Sarawak bans the use of Agents, and simply requires sponsorship by a Sarawak or Sarawak permanent resident. Interestingly, the visa allows one to reside anywhere in Malaysia (the opposite is not true).

    If one does intend to buy property (not mandatory) the minimum is set at RM 300,000 rather than RM500,000.

    You also cannot do any business within Malaysia without obtaining the permission of the State authority. Offshore income is exempt.

    Currently the US$/MR exchange rate is about $1/RM4.45

    http://www.mtac.sarawak.gov.my/upload/file_folder/TNC%20MM2H.pdf

  30. Jeanie Jan 16th 2017  5:33 am

    I would like to retire in Malaysia; but I have a question as to whether I should be required to come back to U.S. every now and then since I am a U.S. citizen? Or when I leave U.S. and live in Malaysia, is it ok never to come back even for a visit once I am relocated? Hoping to hear an answer soon. Thank you.

  31. Steve Sovie Jan 16th 2017  1:04 pm

    Once you take up residency in Malaysian or any other country you do not have to return to the US.

  32. Robert Jan 17th 2017  9:27 am

    Steve thanks for sharing your experience about retirement in Malaysia and fact why you considered reiring in south east asia. I like how you have compared your experiences in different countries there and why Malaysia seemed like the best place to settle.

  33. Alysa Jan 23rd 2017  3:49 pm

    Hi Steve. If you dont mind, do you still love in Malaysia now? Bcs my dad has some questions to the u.s citizens who are already retired and living in malaysia. He wanted to know. How did any of you received your social security benefits? Because he have been receiving a social security benefits in pay cheques unfortunately not all bank would accep the cheque. And the procedures to the direcr deposit is complicated. Hope to your hear from you soon!

  34. Jerry Drawhorn Jan 27th 2017  2:59 am

    In the MM2H or Sarawak M2H program one receives a multi-entry visa until the expiration date of the passport. So if you come in with a 10 year passport you get a 10-year visa, if you only have 2 years you get two years but can re-apply with the new passport and get 10 years. The fee for the visa is US$80/year. There’s also a @$600 returnable Security bond.

    You don’t have to leave the country, or you can travel around to any country in SE Asia, or back to the US, Europe, etc. if you are a vagabond. The major benefit is the fact you can rent or buy an apartment long-term. You can only work (e.g. teach English) or establish a business if you apply for a waiver. If you work on the internet or have income from abroad there is no tax. Only if you invest, have a local interest account, make money within Malaysia, are you subject to local tax. US government will tax you on your US income and may do so on your foreign income, but you really have to be making more than about $100,000 abroad.

  35. Gary S. Feb 3rd 2017  8:24 pm

    I want to retire in Malaysia. All I will have is my social security.. I think it is about $850 a month..Is that going to be enough to live there?

  36. Steve Sovie Feb 3rd 2017  10:40 pm

    Hi Gary.
    Living in $850 a month would be a tight squeeze. With the current exchange rate you would be okay, but if the dollar drops you would have to tighten your belt quite a bit. Malaysia has become quite expensive for the locals and if you want to live cheaply you would have to live as a local on that income.

  37. Dee Feb 7th 2017  12:08 pm

    Can someone explain the visa requirement for US citizens. Is buying a home a requirement? I will retire at 57 with 400K in the bank, not counting on social security (will be marginal for me) I do not want to buy property and be tied up. Can one apply for a 10 yrs visa in Malaysia without having to purchase home? What about a yearly retirement visa, do they offer those? I could only find info for Australians, nothing for the USA.

  38. Steve Sovie Feb 8th 2017  3:57 am

    You are not required to buy in order to get your Mm2h visa.

  39. Jerry Drawhorn Feb 13th 2017  1:30 am

    I’d point out that one needs to demonstrate that one has at least a government pension (Social Security + other pension) of at least 1) US$1750 (Sarawak) or $2225 (Penisular Malaysia or Sabah) OR 2) put US$78,000 in a Malaysian bank fixed interest bearing account (US$33,400 in Sarawak). That’s based upon a US$/Malaysian Ringgit exchange rate at the current RM4.5 to the dollar.

    That also applies to those 50+. Younger retirees have a higher threshold.

    You get a multi-entry visa for up to ten years (or up to the expiration date of the passport, then renewal). Malaysia doesn’t tax you on your foreign earnings or assets, such as your pension, ONLY on anything you earn in Malaysia.

    And you CAN (but don’t have to) purchase property. Without the long-term MM2H visa that’s impossible (short of marrying a local).But many MM2H retirees simply rent…a yearly or term lease. In Sarawak a luxury furnished 3BR condominium can be had for about US$500-600/month!!!

    The tourist visa (it’s actually a free stamp one gets at the airport) for Americans and most others is a 90 Day long one, and one may find it difficult to get a long term apartment lease with that. There are people that visa hop…reside in Malaysia for 89 days and then go off to Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei or the Philippines for a week or two holiday, and then return for another 89 days. Some people work out an arrangement with a landlord to keep their place while they go on the visa run. But one is taking a chance with that option.

    Never heard of an annual retirement visa for Americans in Malaysia…maybe some bilateral agreement.

    The big costs are education for the kids. Americans also can’t use their Medicare, but most medical costs in Malaysia (which is developing a health tourism industry) is considerably cheaper than in the US and many hospitals/doctor are top notch. You can still fly back to the US and use your Medicare if necessary.

  40. JayDannWalker Feb 20th 2017  6:19 am

    Many thanks, Steve Sovie and Jerry Drawhorn, for your well researched and very sensible information! Steve had his own expat post out of Penang for a few years, had a great deal of knowledge about Malaysia, and is always very generous with sharing his expertise. I do not know Jerry but have read many of his posts and he is also top-notch with accuracy and up to date developments. Both are invaluable sources.

    I first visited Malaysia in 1970 and Penang in 1974 and 1975 and had an extended stay (in the ‘good old time’ of 15 days tourist visas!)there in 1976. I then went to Australia and made a career in design architecture. Retired in 2012 and finally returned to Malaysia in 2013. I fell in love all over again with that beautiful country, its wonderful people and the laid back lifestyle. Ipoh is more my hangout than Penang nowadays, costs are a little lower, but most importantly it’s mostly a shopping town with little to offer in cultural terms, excellent food (not quite as good as Penang) but with less appeal to expats due to its ‘Asian-ness’, which suits me fine.

    To Steve and Jerry, may I say ahead, a heartfelt THANKS for all the good and valuable information you have passed on. I for one (and many others also I believe) have made use of it and I am most grateful to you both.

    JDW in (currently) Telok Intan… typing these words in a cafe overlooking the (in)famous Leaning Tower! A curious site well worth making the car or bus trip to this somewhat isolated Perak town, to see.

  41. Sandra Lee Mar 21st 2017  3:02 pm

    Thanks for your wonderful tips and information? How do you arrange for your social security benefits? Do you need to advise SS office on your change of address? I don’t think they do direct deposits to Malaysia.

    Thanks

  42. Jerry Drawhorn Apr 4th 2017  7:32 pm

    Hi Sandra- SS doesn’t limit SS benefits to US addresses but they don’t deposit automatically to Malaysian banks. There are a couple of possibilities.

    First you could direct deposit the checks in a US bank and do a money transfer to your Malaysian bank.

    Second you could use your US bank and get a debit ATM card and pay the fee for international withdrawal. Most ATM’s allow transfers with any card that has VISA, Mastercard or various bank networks. Different banks have different fees.

    The third option is to go to the US embassy in KL and arrange to have them work out the arrangement for a direct deposit or have SS send you a hard copy of the check which you then deposit to your local bank . I don’t know of any American who has done this so don’t know the procedures details. Sending checks through the mail could entail a time delay of weeks.

    Lastly, SS does allow direct deposit to Singapore banks. If one could get a local account in CIMB or HSBC Singapore branches that could allow you access in Malaysia.

  43. Steve Sovie Apr 4th 2017  9:30 pm

    When you sign up for SS from Malaysia you are given the option to have your check directly deposited into a Malaysian bank. I would suggest you have it deposited to your American bank and withdraw as needed.

  44. omer atcha Apr 13th 2017  12:14 am

    I am 67 years old and single, my life style is very simple….want to live near beach for 5-6 months a year. I’ll cook and eat, no smoking and drinking and party. what will be the rent for Studio or one bed room with kitchen. Can anyone provide renting agent contact information?

  45. Jerry Drawhorn Apr 26th 2017  12:23 am

    Omer…I suggest you make a visit to Malaysia (Sarawak) to see what it’s like first. If you are only going to be resident 5-6 months a year you might not want to do more than use the 3 month tourist visa and split that up with a “break” in another country. There haven’t been a proliferation of cheaper “beach” accommodations (cabanas or huts) in Sarawak or Sabah. Studios and flats tend to be in town, though a short distance to beaches by bus or taxi. However there are various homestays and places in villages that might be open for a longer “short-term” visitor. These tend to be away from the malls and conveniences of cities, though. You’d have to explore.

  46. Alia Apr 28th 2017  6:34 pm

    I’ve loved Malaysia ever since I first visited in 1987. (Wow! That’s 30 years ago now…) Been back may times since, and am going again in December. I have always thought it would be a great place to live and what with the outrageous cost of health care in the USA, we are looking for a better place for our retirement (well, I think of it as a “life pivot”, because we certainly won’t be just sitting around whittling or going golfing till we fall over dead.) However, I have never been to Sarawak or Sabah — mainly because I have always traveled during the wrong season for either the east coast or Sabah/Sarawak, although I once went to Kota Bharu. How would you compare say, Bintulu or Kuching with Penang or Taiping? How are they similar, how are they different? What is the attitude towards foreign retirees there? How is air quality? Thanks!

  47. Chris May 1st 2017  10:50 am

    I live in Australia but spend a lot of time in Asia. I’ve considered many countries, but settled on Malaysia as a base. I can fly there cheaply from my local airport, and once there can fly to the rest of Asia. I like Penang, but it is too expensive and buying even Melaka property now requires RM500,000. Seeing how many condos they are building there, I just can’t see how they will keep their price, let alone appreciate. I don’t want to lose big money. So I am now looking at Sarawak. Can anyone tell me if it is possible to buy a small house through MM2H for the RM350,000 minimum?

  48. Ray May 17th 2017  12:11 pm

    Hi Jerry Drawhorn, thanks for your posts, one in particular really caught my attention dated Feb 13th 2017 1:30am. I had not considered Malaysia as a possible retirement destination before coming across this site, and was pleasantly surprised by the your comments regarding renting a luxury 3BR Condo in Sarawak for around US 500 to 600 per Month or in my terms around AUD 675 to 800 Per Month. With your general knowledge regarding cost of living in Malaysia, I would appreciate your opinion on what sort of lifestyle I could maintain in Malaysia on about $2500 to $2750 AUD per month, I am 58 years old.

  49. Ellen Jul 17th 2017  1:25 am

    I’m a teacher who will be retiring with a monthly gross income of $3,500. In what areas of Malaysia would be that be a “comfortable” income? And can someone who has lived there long-term give me advice on the cost of medical care? I have elevated blood pressure that has to be treated with several medications.

  50. Soon Aug 4th 2017  1:18 pm

    Great article with a lot of really good tips Steve! I still have some way to go before retirement (45 now) but I am already thinking about retiring in Malaysia (KL). I visit Singapore once a year and have been to Malaysia several times, especially KL. Like you mentioned, I really like the local cuisine and the feel of the community there, not to mention most people speaking English. If you are missing home and wish to spend money, you also have easy access to stuffs from the US.

  51. barry Sep 3rd 2017  7:14 am

    questions (web-info-overload!) no hurry: will recon malaysia in october; want to live cheap, as in past 2&1/2yrs in philippines (visa-run), $80-100 rent&utiliities/$400 total; can i rent nipa-hut-room again in village, save $$ for a couple yrs; web says KL AND/OR penang cheapest– which? (out-lying), of course; real goal is to occasionally bus to singapore apple service&support (only in asia?); income 1310USD, bank $15000 (MM2H not, do visa-runs every 89days); web says can AND cannot establish SS direct-deposit in malaysia bank– which? ; can i direct-deposit to singapore bank & use THEIR bank ATMs in malaysia, no fees? is a buearaucratic (byur-oh-cratic, kroikie) monster to get singapore bank-acct as non-resident? ; philippines air-pollution extreme, have smokers-cough now (!); is malaysia bad?; thai-air better?; public wifi in ph extremely bad– is better in Mal? in Ph, just stroll around for room-rental–how about Mal? ; ever hear of “M2H” (not MM2H) for sarawak? thx, barry

  52. Lynn Sep 26th 2017  2:49 am

    Wow! I am almost convinced that I should retire to Malaysia based on everything I have read here. It sounds too good to be true. I am a single, childless, female who will retire in 10 years or less and already making a plan on where to go. Based on what I am reading, I will have more than enough to be extremely comfortable in Malaysia as long as the US stock market remains stable. That’s a BIG “if.” I know. My only concern is being a single US female living alone in a foreign country. I have never been to Malaysia but have done a ton of solo traveling throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Why not Malaysia? I would love to hear from single, retired, ex-pat females already living in Malaysia. What’s it like and are you happy? Thanks!


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