How easy is it to retire in Brunei

How to obtain Brunei retirement visa for US citizens?

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The tiny country of Brunei is about the size of an English county called Norfolk and has a population of less than 450,000. It is located on the island of Borneo, between Malaysia and Indonesia, and is considered to be one of the richest countries in the world.

Brunei has extensive oil and gas reserves, and the quality of life here is quite high, at a low cost. Moreover, with excellent healthcare services, and a central location in the Southeast Asian region, Brunei is one of the best destinations for retirees.

The tiny and somewhat secluded country relies on its export of natural resources and is massively industrialized, or commercially developed. However, it has very clean air, lots of unspoiled jungles, scenic beaches, and good security and healthcare.

The people in Brunei are welcoming to foreigners, and expats; however, for some people, the culture shock might be too much. Brunei is a Muslim majority country, and the culture can be very different from other Southeast Asian countries.

So, if you’re thinking about retiring in Brunei, you need to read through the rest of this post. We are going to go in-depth and discuss everything you need to know about retiring to Brunei.

Pros and Cons of Retirement in Brunei

Retiring to another country is a very important decision, and you obviously need to consider the pros and cons before you decide on a destination. Therefore, here are some of the pros and cons of retiring in Brunei.

Cost of Living:

When you are retiring on a limited pension or a small retirement fund, it is important to choose a destination that has a low cost of living. Well, in that department, Brunei is a good option. On average, the cost of living in Brunei is 31% lower than that of the US.

However, when compared to some of the other countries in the region, like Malaysia and Thailand, Brunei can be a little expensive.

When it comes to taxes, Brunei is an incredible destination. It is what some might consider a tax haven. If you choose to work in Brunei or start a business, you don’t have to pay any taxes on your income.

Furthermore, there is no sales tax or value-added tax on everyday items.

Size and location:

Brunei is a very small country; in fact, it is smaller than the state of Delaware. Moreover, a large part of the country is covered by jungles; therefore, there might not be much to explore in Brunei.

Since Brunei is such a small country, traveling around the region can be quite easy. Malaysia is just a couple of hours away by car, and you can also get to Thailand and Singapore by boat.

Law and Order:

If you are retiring to any destination, it is obviously important that you feel safe and secure. In this regard, Brunei is one of the safest countries in the world. Crimes like muggings, robberies, physical or verbal assault, and hate crimes are very low.

The people in Brunei are very accepting of all ethnicities and religions, and you can feel safe walking alone in the streets whether it is daytime or night.

The law and order is quite strict, and most crimes tend to be opportunistic rather than violent.

Brunei is a Muslim majority country, and the law reflects that. Since 2014, Brunei has been governed by Sharia Law. where it has led to Brunei becoming one of the safest, and happy countries in the world, it can cause some restrictions.

For instance, Alcohol is illegal in Brunei. However, before you let that ruin your entire retirement plan, let me tell you that foreigners can get a limited amount of alcohol for their personal use. However, selling it, or distributing it among others can get you in trouble.

Similarly, while you are living in Brunei, you’ll have to respect the local culture. This means that everyone, and especially women need to be dressed modestly.


Brunei has an incredible culture. People in Brunei, especially the women, wear incredible dresses on both formal and day-to-day occasions, which are always accompanied by head scarfs.

The local cuisine is delicious, and the influence of Malay recipes is quite prominent. Checking out the street food is a must while you are in Brunei.

The people are quite artistic, and traditional arts and crafts are a major part of Brunei’s cultural heritage. They are known for making amazing traditional boats, which are still used these days. Cloth weaving, silver-smithing, and bronze tooling are some of the arts that are popular in Brunei’s culture to this day.

Since Brunei is a Muslim country, governed by Sharia law, you shouldn’t be expecting any sort of nightlife. Alcohol is illegal, so there are no bars and don’t even think about nightclubs.

However, if you aren’t retiring young, that probably isn’t much of a concern. There are a lot of other more peaceful, and relaxing activities that you can enjoy in Brunei.

When you are retiring to any destination, it is important to have some knowledge of the local language. Sometimes the language barrier can be a serious problem, especially in countries like Laos.

However, in Brunei, English is a lot more common. English is commonly used as a business and official language in Brunei, and most of the population can speak and understand it.

However, the further you move from the main cities, the lesser English-speaking people you will be able to find. The national language of Brunei is Malay and learning a few important phrases in Malay can be quite helpful.


Brunei mainly has a tropical rainforest type of climate; it is hot and humid, with a lot of rainfall throughout the year. At higher altitudes, the climate can be humid and subtropical.

However, the dry season can be quite pleasant. Since Brunei is an equatorial country, the temperature remains relatively the same throughout the year. It is generally hot and humid; but, compared to the wet season, the dry season is a lot better.

In the wet season, when there is a lot of rainfall, Brunei can experience some weather hazards. Tropical cyclones and floods are common during the extreme rainy season from September to November.

pros and cons retirement in brunei

How much do I need per month to retire in Brunei?

When compared to most western countries, Brunei is quite affordable. Brunei is a wealthy country, in fact, it is the 5th richest country in the world. The currency is strong; however, everyday utilities, accommodation, and other amenities are still very affordable.

Brunei is a little expensive when compared to other countries in the region, like Vietnam and Cambodia; however, the cost of living is still 31% lower than the US.

One of the most significant expenses for any expat is accommodation. If you are living in the city center, you can expect to pay about $450 to $950 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, depending on the location, size, and design of the apartment. A single-bedroom apartment outside of the city center will cost you about $400 to $650.

For larger apartments, with three bedrooms, you can expect to pay about $1,260 per month; however, for a retired couple, three rooms might be too much.

Utilities in Brunei are usually cheap, and your electricity, water, cooling, and garbage bills can sum up to be somewhere between $30 and $80. The internet, however, can be a little expensive. It can cost anywhere between $60 and $160, depending on your connection’s speed, bandwidth, and usage.

If you like going to restaurants, a three-course meal for 2 people can cost between $15 and $30, depending on the restaurant. Meals from street vendors are usually a lot cheaper. Groceries are affordable, and about $40 can get you all the necessities.

So, all and all, you will need an average of $1,250.

Best place to retire in Brunei

Brunei is quite a small country, and if you are looking for an ideal place to retire to, the Capital Bandar Seri Bagawaan is probably the best option.

The city has a well-developed infrastructure for reliable healthcare and other everyday amenities. It is easy to find good and affordable accommodation, and there are many markets, malls and sights to see.

Bandar Seri Begawan is also close to the shore, where you can take boats to countries like Singapore, and the Brunei International airport is also in the city. Therefore, it is an excellent place to settle down, and use as a base for other adventures.

While you are in Brunei, you need to visit Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. These two breathtaking structures are much more than a place of worship. They are excellent examples of the local architecture, and incredible destinations that every traveler and ex-pat must visit.

If you want to buy some groceries or check out the local street food, you should make your way to the Gadong Night Market or the Kianggeh Market. Furthermore, if you want to learn about the fascinating history of the region, and appreciate its art, Brunei Museum and Royal Regalia Museum are worth checking out.

Therefore, if you plan on retiring in Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan is the best destination.

Eldercare in Brunei

When choosing a retirement destination, one of the most important deciding factors in healthcare. When it comes to Brunei, expats and retirees can feel confident and relaxed about their healthcare.

Brunei has perhaps the best healthcare system in the entire region. There is a public hospital in every district, and in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, there are also10 health clinics and 16 health centers.

Healthcare in Public hospitals is reliable and very affordable. In fact, for a consultation, you only pay 1 Brunei dollar, which is about 75 cents in USD. For the most part, healthcare is free, and foreigners can be charged a small fee, but it is usually very affordable.

It is also easy to find pharmacies, which are well stocked. You can easily find western brands since most of the medicine in the country is imported from other countries, however, there are also local pharmaceuticals that are made in the region.

What are the requirements to retire in Brunei?

Compared to other countries in the region, retirement in Brunei might be a little difficult for foreigners. This is because the Brunei immigration service does not provide any kind of retirement visas. In fact, there are no provisions in the Brunei immigration regulations for anything beyond a work visa or a tourist visa.

Furthermore, there are no specific incentive schemes that may be aimed at attracting foreign retirees or businesses to Brunei.

Therefore, there are two ways to retire in Brunei, the first is that you can apply for an extensive work visa. However, if you are able to satisfy the authorities that you have enough money to live in Brunei, without relying on the Bruneian public funds, you can also get an extended visa.

Though there isn’t any specific amount of money you need to have in your bank account, since the monthly cost of life in Brunei is about $1,250 (USD), having a pension more than that will suffice. If you are retiring on a fund, it should be enough to sustain the $1,250 for at least a couple of years to make a reasonable case.

how much to retire in brunei

How easy is it to retire in Brunei?

Compared to other countries in the region, retiring in Brunei can be a little difficult.

The visa process is the biggest hassle, after that, everything is smooth sailing, the people are incredible and welcoming, the healthcare system is reliable, living is affordable, and there are loads of activities to take part in.

Though retiring in Brunei may be easier for the elderly, who don’t have any interest in an active nightlife. Being a Muslim country, there aren’t any nightclubs, concerts, or big parties in Brunei. Foreigners can only consume alcohol in private, which can be a concern for some younger expats.

Therefore, if you are young, retiring to Brunei might not be the easiest option. However, it is a great spot for the elderly, who want fresh air, a slow pace of life, and relaxing days.

Final Thoughts:

After working hard for a long part of your life, retirement is a phase that many welcome, and these days, spending your retirement years in a foreign country, with a low cost of living, and incredible landscapes is becoming more common.

Southeast Asia is filled with several ideal locations for retirement, and one of the best is Brunei. Brunei is easily the richest country in Southeast Asia, and it has a great environment for retirees.

A majority of the country is covered with jungles, and there isn’t a common trend of industrialization. The fresh air, and breathtaking landscapes, combined with the incredible healthcare system, make Brunei an amazing retirement destination for anyone.

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