How easy is it to retire in Malaysia

How to obtain Malaysia retirement visa for US citizens?

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If you’re planning on retiring any time soon and are looking for a place that can serve your needs better then you’ve come to the right place. Malaysia is tropical heaven for many people who want to escape what they’re used to and get a new start.

However, whether it’s Malaysia, Cambodia, or any other place in the world I would not advise you to just pack your bags and be on your way. If you plan on retiring in a foreign country there are many factors that you should keep in mind. Know that this cannot be an impulsive decision; every detail needs to be figured out before you make your final decision. You wouldn’t want to arrive in a new place and find out that it was the wrong choice now, would you?

The post will cover every major detail that anyone planning to retire in Malaysia will find helpful. So, in order to find out, keep reading ahead.


Pros and Cons of Retirement in Malaysia

Before you make a final decision the first thing that you need to do is to jot down the pros and the cons and see what works for you. Here mentioned below are a few that will surely help you make a decision.

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  • Malaysia is a peaceful country. So, if you’re sick and tired of the crime rate in your country and want to take a sigh of relief, Malaysia is the place for you. It has low crime rates and even the ones that do take place are either misdemeanors or domestic cases.
  • If you’re a vegetarian, then this will be the best decision that you ever make. Unlike some places, you can easily find vegetarian delicacies around the country.
  • Unlike some countries that have a similar landscape throughout the country, Malaysia has a landscape that is covered by mountain ranges, rain forests, beaches, and metropolitan cities. Hence you will have a wide variety of terrain that you can choose from.
  • If you live in the city local transport whether it is buses, cabs, or even flights within the country is going to be cheap. Apart from that, you can also catch a direct flight to 30 countries which can make it much easier if you want to travel in the region or even if you want to go home.
  • Another reason why Malaysia is becoming a hotspot for people to settle permanently is that freedom of religion is essential to their core values. So regardless of what religion you adhere to, you will be welcomed. While Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, foreigners from different religions are accepted as parts of their community without any prejudice. While Muslim festivals are celebrated throughout the countries people from every religion are always invited to enjoy the festivities. You can also expect your neighbors to drop by freshly made meals in the month of fasting and on joyous occasions.
  • Another plus point to retiring in Malaysia is that they have a stable political system which means that you have a certain degree of surety that your rights and privileges are well protected. Furthermore, you won’t have a problem concerning language either. Unlike other countries where you have to learn their language in order to survive, Malaysia isn’t one of them. Almost everyone knows how to speak English so this is one barrier you can avoid if you chose to retire in Malaysia.
  • Last but not least Malaysia is constantly upgrading hence it has a lot of residential options that you can choose from. Whether you want to move out there with your family or retire with your partner you’ll have countless options. Moreover, the cost of living in Malaysia is incredibly low especially if you’re moving from the US or any other European country.


  • One thing that you’ll have to make peace with in order to retire in Malaysia is that you won’t have access to wine or pork as easily as you do in the west. Since the country is predominantly Muslim, and these are prohibited in their religion they aren’t sold as openly in the market. So, while it isn’t going to be impossible it is going to be hard to find a vendor who can cater to your needs.
  • The weather is usually hot and there is a lot of humidity. Due to its geographic location, it is often faced with thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. While winters are peaceful and easy to deal with the summer and monsoon can be tough to deal with.
  • If you plan on retiring in Malaysia it is advised that you learn about their culture before you make a final decision. As it is a predominantly Muslim society, the locals are very touchy when it comes to their religion. So, you will need to make an active effort to learn about their religion and what things they find offensive.
  • Furthermore, Malaysian people are outspoken which means that they are in the habit of voicing their opinions. So in order to make sure that you don’t take anything to heart it is advised that you develop thick skin. While this doesn’t mean that they are at all mean, they have a habit of saying things how they see it and that times might not sit well with some people.
  • Another thing that you will have to learn to be at peace with is the traffic situation. The traffic rules are often not followed and that isn’t a big deal to them. Not only that you’ll see motorcycles on pavements and whatnot. While that won’t be a problem if you plan on using public transport. If you want to own a car it might be quite some time before you get a hold of things.

How much do I need to retire in Malaysia?

One of the most asked questions I get is “how much do I need to retire in Malaysia?” and the answer is not as much as you might think. In comparison to west countries such as the United States and the UK, it seems like a mere fraction of the money spent there can give you a luxurious lifestyle in Malaysia. At $2,500, you can live a lavish life, go out 3-4 times a month, get massages, and have spa days along with everyday necessities. A lavish condo can cost you somewhere between $700-$900 depending on which city you live in.

If you don’t want to go for a lavish lifestyle then you can have a decent living under $1,500. Granted that you won’t be getting massages but it will be a fairly decent lifestyle that can allow you to go a little overboard once in a while.

Best place to retire in Malaysia

Due to the versatile terrain options that Malaysia has to offer you have a wide variety to choose from. Here mentioned below are a few of the best places that you can retire to.


While it is a port city it has a considerably smaller population than Penang and Kuala Lumpur. It is a place where it is easy to find other people who have retired to that place as it is a small place with a tight-knit community.

The city is famous because of the river that flows through it. You can go cruising and even take part in a few water sports. There are a lot of clubs that you can become a member of and that gives you access to all kinds of elite activities. If you don’t own a boat, you can just rent one of theirs and have a great day lazing around in the sun.

Expats and other people who have retired to Malaysia own most of the bars and social hangout places in the area which means you won’t feel out of place. It also means you’ll have access to a more western lifestyle.

If you want a quaint and peaceful life then this is the place to be. It is a great place for those who love history and architecture. Filled with antiques and historical sites it was named a UNESCO heritage site a few years ago.

The food here is different from other parts of Malaysia, granted that it does have a Malay flavor to it, it is also influenced by Portuguese and British traditions. So, don’t be surprised if you see western cuisine with an eastern touch. Know that food is a major part of the Malaysian culture and locals will want to know your reviews on their food. Granted that you can’t like everything as people have their own taste, always be polite.

As a small city, Malacca can offer you everything you need to party but also give you the space you need to rest.


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If you aren’t made for the big city then this is the place to retire. You will have all the facilities of the big city but still enough time and space for yourself. It is a small island but it is known as the food capital of Malaysia, furthermore, it is only a few hours away from Kuala Lumpur so everything is still at a reasonable distance.

If you’re into watersports then this is the place to be. The city offers all kinds of water sports to people who seek a thrill. Furthermore, there are many activities that older people can do as well. Penang is famous for catering to all age groups, whether its activities or food.

Apart from water sports, it is also a great place to settle down if you want to enjoy nature. While it gives you the social life of a big city, it also gives you the connection to nature that you crave for. There are a small national park and botanical gardens that give you the chance to immerse yourself in nature. Moreover, if you love seeing birds, you should retire here. Bird watchers from around the world come to see certain species that are local to the region.

The island has hills where you can go for a hike and the ocean to keep you cool in the summers, so if you think you want to have a connection with nature as well as the city then this is the place to be. The island also has hidden beaches that you can explore with your partner and have a picnic.

If you don’t want to go to the great outdoors there are amazing options for eating out, watching movies, indoor games, and museums with artifacts from around the region. Many people that settle down here want the best of both worlds and therefore find a balance in the society here. You can find most of the expat community settled down near the beaches with the best views.

Kuala Lumpur

If you want to experience Malaysian culture and yet not feel far from home then Kuala Lumpur is the city for you. You’ll have access to more western cuisine here than any other place. Moreover, you can get access to western brands as well.

Apart from the food and the shopping you also have access to western entertainment and lots of other activities that you can do. The best thing about the city is that you won’t have to invest in a car if you want to move around. The local transport is not only affordable it is also very efficient and saves you a lot of money. Whether it’s a cab ride, a bus, or even the subway it won’t let you down.

Eldercare in Malaysia

Eldercare in Malaysia is very efficient. As you grow old it is granted that you need to move somewhere with an efficient health care system. Malaysia has some of the best doctors and affordable healthcare. With the western health care system in its downfall, this is the best place to be.

45 kinds of tests can be done for under $60 which is only a fraction of what it would cost in the US. A consultancy checkup will cost you $15, while an insulin shot will cost more than that in the US.

Apart from that as a Muslim majority country even if you eventually do move into an old age home or try to hire an attendant you will see a difference in the attendant’s behavior there and back at home. Muslim people are very respectful to all elders and tend to take of them with empathy.

What are the requirements to retire in Malaysia?

While many might think that it is a hard process it isn’t. The laws are relatively easy and as long you meet the criteria it is fairly easy to get a visa and get settled.

  • The first thing is that you need to deposit roughly $36,000 or RM150,000 into a Malaysian bank account.
  • The second thing you have to do is to prove that you have a certain amount of earnings per month which amounts to $2,400 or RM10,000.
  • You also have to make sure that you don’t have a criminal record, as there are relatively low crime rates in Malaysia they are really strict about the people that they let in.
  • Once you’ve got all that in the bag, you need to take a medical exam to prove that you are in good health. While it isn’t as tough as some other countries, it is necessary that you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How easy is it to retire in Malaysia?

As the procedure isn’t as hard as most people think, it is relatively easy when compared to other countries within the region. Not only is it easy to move to Malaysia but it is also easy to get settled in. You don’t have to face language barriers or cultural barriers. Granted that there are more Muslims in the country you meet people of many religions and see that they exist in absolute harmony.

Final thoughts

Now that you know about the details of moving to Malaysia and how the environment is, I hope this helps with making the right decision. One thing that you need to keep in mind is different places will work for different people, just because something works for you doesn’t mean that everyone will be on board. So, once you’ve made your decision try to stay put.

Try to invest in planning your move and make sure that you are ready before you make the final call. However, you should know that you will experience a change whether you like it or not and it will take some time to get used to. Be open to new experiences and take your time to settle in.

Malaysia is a second home to many people from around the world and once you get in touch with them you’ll feel at home in no time. If you’re wondering how that will happen, you don’t need to worry. Some events give you a great opportunity to seek out people like you and create lifelong bonds.

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