Retire in Malaysia: What You Need To Know

building in Malaysia
Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur, decorated with lights for National Day [Image by Lerdsuwa (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons]

Retirement in Malaysia… just an exotic dream or a doable adventure? Making that decision is entirely up to you. To help you decide, you’ll find all you need to know about retiring in Malaysia in our 9 part article series.

A great thing you’ll notice when researching Malaysia is that all the materials are in English language.

Even official sources, like the Government’s web portal, are written in English although the country’s official language is Bahasa Melayu or Malay language.

Let’s take advantage of this and dig right in!

Climate and Weather in Malaysia

Malaysia has a tropical rain forest climate with rather uniform temperatures and copious rainfall throughout the year. It is divided into three geographical areas: the highlands, the lowlands and the coastal areas. The higher the elevation, the greater the rainfall and the lower the temperatures. [Find out which climate region suits you best.]

Retire in Malaysia: Cost of Living 

Our research shows that Malaysia is yet another country where you can live easily on the US$1,300 base line we’ve discussed. Accommodation, food and household help are quite inexpensive. Other things however are more expensive than what you are used to from your home country. [Read more about the cost of living in Malaysia.]

Special Tip: When you want to send money to Malaysia, I recommend using Transferwise. It’s fast, secure and cheaper than banks or other services like PayPal. Click here to see how much you can save when sending money from the US (or 50+ other countries) to Malaysia.

Internet & Infrastructure

Before you decide to retire in Malaysia, you want to know what to expect in terms of its infrastructure. Let’s take a look at getting there, getting around (driving on the left!) and staying connected. [Read the full article about Malaysia’s infrastructure, driving, public transport and Internet options.]

Education & Schools

Private schools are often the choice for expats as the difficulty in getting your child into the public school system is extreme, and the language barrier is high. While English is being introduced and promoted as a secondary language, the teaching languages are Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

Fortunately there are more than 30 international schools in Malaysia, offering American, British, German, French, Japanese and other curricula. [Read the full story about education in Malaysia here.]

Retire in Malaysia: Safety & Crime

Crime rates in Malaysia are better than they were and improving every year, but the rate of criminal activity is still high and regarded as dangerous by several organizations. The criminal activity that is highest is petty theft; there is very little danger of murder or burglary. [Click here to get the full picture and our safety tips.]

Housing & Properties

While you can own property as a foreigner, the requirements have been tightened over the past years. The most recent change was in 2014, when the minimum threshold for foreigners to buy real estate was raised from RM 500,000 (ca. $125,000 USD) to RM 1 Million (ca. $250,000 USD).

In some Malaysian states that amount is higher, in some it is lower. You may be better off with renting, which we advise to do anyway at least for 6 to 12 months. [Find out more about renting and buying real estate in Malaysia.]

Visa Requirements & Residency

If you’ve ever considered retiring in Malaysia, you will have heard about  the  “Malaysia My Second Home” Program (MM2H). Once qualified for this Government initiative, you’ll be issued with a multiple-entry social visit pass, valid for 10 years initially with a renewal option. [Find out all about requirements and benefits of the Malaysia My Second Home program.]

Retire in Malaysia: Health Care

Despite a shortage of medical staff in remote areas and a general lack of highly trained specialists, healthcare in Malaysia is considered as one of the best in the region. The healthcare system is divided into a public and a private sector.

We’ll explain what health care options you have, and what they will cost you. [Read more about health care and health insurance in Malaysia.]

Malaysia’s Culture, People & Entertainment

If you ever wanted to not just watch, but be part of religious festivals across various faiths, Malaysia is THE country for you. And with 14 national public holidays, plus a few more on regional level, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so.

You are more of an outdoor person? No problem. How about exploring Malaysia’s many caves with their unique flora and fauna or taking part in kite-flying competitions? [Click here to learn more about the Malaysian culture.]