My Retirement in Malaysia

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

  3. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. Mr Sovie,

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

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

  10. 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…


  11. 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.
    I hope this helps someone else.

  12. 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….!!!

  13. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  17. 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

    April 9, 2015 at 5:16 am

    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


  19. Russell Phillips

    May 4, 2015 at 7:15 am

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

  22. 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. 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


  24. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. And of course, we would love to connect with you once we are there!

    Thank you!

  29. 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).

    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

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

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

  39. 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. 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. 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.


  42. Jerry Drawhorn

    April 4, 2017 at 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

  53. Jerry Drawhorn

    March 18, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    I apologize for not providing an update since I was busy travelling and getting my Sarawak My Second Home Visa. I arrived in Kuching, Sarawak in early December 2017 and submitted my application and received my visa on January 27, 2018. About two months processing with the Christmas and New Years holidays having gov’t offices closed. I did everything on a 3-month Tourist Pass but I’d suggest getting a real visa and a Malaysian Consulate or Embassy to possibly avoid a $125 fee for something called the “Travel Performed” visa.

    The most important thing is to find a local Sarawak resident as your sponsor. They have to sign a promissary note that they will pay for your Security Deposit (for Americans it’s about US$200) IF you violate the terms of your visa (you can work out a side-deal with you sponsor to either pay them the Deposit directly, to be refunded when you leave the program). There may be one or two agents that will act as your local sponsor.

    Unlike the MM2H on the Peninsula, Sarawak Immigration does not that you (or your sponsor) pay the Security Deposit to them “up front”.

    Other differences from the MM2H. 1) Sarawak does not require you prove you have liquid assets.

    2) Sarawak has two DIFFERENT options…A Retirement Pension/Income Option (RM10,000 couples/ RM7000 singles) OR a Fixed Account Option (RM150,000 couple/RM 100,000 single). You do not have to do BOTH. You can withdraw some of the FD if you purchase house/condo, for healthcare costs, or for a child’s education. After the second year onward you must have a minimum of RM60,000 in the FD.

    3) You only get a 5-Year Multi-Entry Visa (but immigration assured me that “renewal is a formality” provided you maintain your FD and have a sustained pension/social security/regular outside income and get a new health check up).

    4) You can live/travel anywhere in Malaysia on the Sarawak M2H. Oddly the MM2H does not allow one to live in Sarawak.

    You do not have to purchase a house or condo….but the minimum floor for such a purchase is RM300,000. In Sarawak that can get you a fairly high end condominium.

    My total cost was about US$300 (RM1500) for all expenses except food/accommodation. Medical checkup (Sarawak requires blood, urine, and a chest X-ray for TB) was about RM160, The Social Visit Visa was RM90/year (=RM450), Journey Performed Visa was RM500, various document costs/stamps was about RM 60, Uber to Sarawak Tourism/Immigration/Hospital/Clinics and other sundry costs @RM250.

  54. Jerry Drawhorn

    March 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Medical care. Cheap and quite good. There is one General (which is being completely modernized) and 5 new speciality hospitals (orthopedic surgery, GI tract, Cardiology, Urology and Oncology. There are scores of local clinics and pharmacies. Lots of Western-trained doctors that speak good English. They are really pushing to become a “health tourism” hub. Singapore is an hour away by air. There was a fellow who had knee replacement surgery at one of the local speciality hospitals here for US$5000 including longterm checkups, physiotherapy, etc. In US, even with insurance or Medicare it might be that much. He was up and walking without noticeable limp in 5 days after the surgery. Some companies, Colleges and government agencies have post retirement health coverage if you live or travel abroad…look to see if you have a BlueCross/Blue Shield Global Core coverage, and if it covers only travel, or also covers residence abroad. If the latter then you really wouldn’t need Medicare. My policy covers – yes- amazing- 80-90% of cost of almost all treatments by reimbursement (one needs to get pre-approval for some coverage). Some Americans that live abroad still maintain their Medicare premiums and travel back to the US (or Guam) to deal with serious issues.

  55. Jerry Drawhorn

    March 25, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    There have been some rumors about changes in the MM2H that have been floating around for the last year. Turns out these changes are finally going to be implemented this Summer. It was announced meeting withTourism and MM2H agents about a week ago (on March 19th) and they already have a brochure prepared with the new requirements.

    This does not effect the Sarawak My Second Home Program (at least not at this point).

    First the Minister of Tourism Razak stated that MM2H was aiming for “quality not quantity”…then announced the changes to MM2H.

    First off they’ve largely eliminated the above 50/under 50 levels. Everyone will gave to meet the SAME liquid asset and Fixed Deposit requirements.

    These have been upgraded to 1) Proof of liquid assets of at least RM600,000 (@US$154,000). 2) Once accepted the applicant must establsih a Fixed Deposit in a Malaysian Bank of RM500,000 (@US$128,200).

    For those over 60 the requirement to have a pension income of RM10,000 will no longer be required, the fixed deposit will serve as the evidence of fiscal viability.

    These are quite onerous increases in the amounts of assets that a retiree would require…particularly those over 50 (which previously had an asset requirement of RM350,000 and Fixed Deposit of RM150,000.

    ASFAIK the Sarawak “back door” option would still be available (the Sarawak M2H allows one to live anywhere in Malaysia). As to Sabah, it remains a mystery if they will change their requirements.

  56. This writer has an excellent and very informative web site on his life in Penang, which I’ve recently looked for but seemingly cannot find.

    I recall he sold our in Penang left Malaysia a few years ago to a new life in the USA with his Asian partner.

    One of the commenters on this article was Jerry Drawhorn, who was also generous with information and writing about his own experiences living in Malaysia. I would also like to follow him up but again, I cannot seem to fid anything posted recently by him.

    Do Steve and Jerry still post actively anywhere? Quite some time has passed and many things have now changed with the Covid crisis – but an update on this article would be of very great interest to many of us who are keen to resume our lives in Asia when the virus is under control and the current lockdowns end.

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