Why Retire in Malaysia?

Old May 3rd 2013, 5:03 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Originally Posted by rusty747 View Post
but being the husband of a Malaysian citizen I can apply once I have lived continuously in Malaysia for 5 years - despite my low net worth status.
Don't mean to contradict you, Rusty, it certainly was 5 years, but I think the law changed recently - When I got my LTSVP a couple of weeks ago I was told it is now 6 years on LTSVP before you can get PR. Mind you, it is possible everything could change (including MMH2 I guess?) on/after Sunday........
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Old May 4th 2013, 3:39 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

I doubt they (whoever it will be) would change MM2H radically. It's a good money-spinner for Malaysia.
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Old May 7th 2013, 11:54 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Originally Posted by Virilath View Post
Take a tip from me and conclude business such as selling shares BEFORE leaving your UK address, to avoid a mountain of problems, as Malaysia is also considered a high risk as far as money laundering is concerned. Be prepared for frustrating and time consuming procedures and paperwork.
Hello Virilath

This comment is rather disturbing news. I was under the impression that it was possible to live in Malaysia and do business elsewhere, like buying and selling shares in UK or US. If this is not possible - even though it is perfectly legal - because of restrictions from UK and US authorities, then Malaysia is a impractical destination for me after all.
But thanks for the warning, before I made any final decisions.
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 11:35 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Hi, I’m a newbie on this forum. Although I have visited it in the past it’s only now that I’m coming close to making a decision on retiring to Malaysia that I feel a post coming on.

I’ve read the entire thread “Why retire to Malaysia?” which seems the best starting place for me to post although it has gone off-topic quite a few times it seems to have been guided to the matter in hand.

This is going to be rather a lengthy post; partly because I have quite a lot of questions but also because I a few observations too.

As a bit of background I should point out that I am a Brit though I’ve been living in Provence, South of France these last 22 years. I’m 60 and have decided to stop my work of designing and building houses here, partly because there are too few clients and partly because there is too much tax – it’s just not worthwhile enough to carry on. I could retire here or pretty much anywhere that would have me as an investor/retiree and I’ve spent the last 8 years looking for that lucky country. (For the record my French wife will be staying in France for a few more years however she, as a teacher, gets loads of holiday which would be spent wherever I end up).

At this point I feel driven to mention the obscene 3-letter word to which nobody dares give voice - TAX. Now, it’s all very well on this forum to compare Malaysia with Thailand, Indonesia or Mexico and to talk about eligibility for visas, length of visas, ease of renewal etc but if we include tax as a criteria then it is only Panama which can be properly compared to Malaysia as a retirement destination. Both countries offer a 10-year renewable visa with no tax whatsoever on foreign income whether it is remitted or not.

I have recently returned from my 3rd extended trip to Panama over the last 8 years and I love that country – if I were American I wouldn’t hesitate to settle there, but it’s just too difficult to travel to from Europe and with a limited choice of routes it can be expensive to get to. English is not so widely spoken and Spanish seems quite beyond my grasp. Also the medical system, outside of the capital, is rather third-world. Finally, the cuisine, is appalling - even by American standards.

Which brings me to Malaysia – a country I have never visited but which I have soaked up through the internet and which is now my main contender. I’ve visited Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam in the past and Thailand three times – so much did I like that country. I know that a lot of people do choose Thailand over Malaysia for retirement but either they are keeping well below the tax radar or they have no money anyway. Thailand is unusual in that it taxes on a remittance basis – this could be money you’ve earned without having tax deducted at source but equally it could also be capital or income that has already been taxed at source. And tax rates in Thailand are progressive, they may be next to non-existent for the Bangkok street vendor but can be extremely high for a retiree who is renting a nice beach-front house on Koh Samui.

OK, so no-one is paying tax in Thailand and the Thai authorities are not looking too hard and anyway bribery can generally settle such problems but I for one don’t want to be there when another fiscal crisis kicks in, or their tax people get "joined-up" or the Thai neighbour I just pissed off gets his brother-in-law on my case.

Indonesia is even worse in that it taxes its residents on the basis of their worldwide income, whether remitted to Indonesia or not – again at progressive rates – and, yes, I know that few retirees would actually declare their overseas income but it would be fairly straightforward for the Indonesian tax authorities to get this information if they really wanted to.

Just to finish off on this tax issue; a reasonably well-heeled retiree is looking to stop paying tax in his home country but must be able to prove he is paying tax elsewhere or has made a declaration in his country of residence otherwise there is a real risk of him being tagged and taxed in his home country as a “perpetual tourist”.

So, having got that out of my system, I now move onto my questions regarding retiring to Malaysia (I think it goes without saying that this is in the context of getting MM2H residence):-

As is the case in pretty much any country I am assuming the area (or state) is going to be one of the first considerations in finding somewhere suitable to live. And this could be somewhere quite different to one’s current environment except that the bigger the adjustment one has to make the more difficult it is to successfully make the transition. I will hopefully be coming to Malaysia in August 2013 and have identified the following areas for investigation:-

Penang Island
Langkawi Island
Cameron Highlands
Ipoh
East coast

My plan is to spend 6 months in Malaysia and 6 months in France each year so I need to be able to fly to and from Nice. I like the Emirates Nice/Dubai/Bangkok route so will need to be somewhere which has direct flights to/from Bangkok within say an hour’s drive.

Currently, I live near a village in the hills behind Cannes but have a big selection of shops and supermarkets within a 5 minutes drive. I like being away from the noise and bustle although not too far!

Obviously I am accustomed to hot weather but not to high humidity or lots of rainfall. I can’t really figure out the climate in Malaysia which clearly depends on season and geography.

I understand that Malaysia is majority-Muslim but being somewhat irreligious myself I don’t have any preferences regarding one religion over another provided no-one is actually shooting at me! Clearly there is an uneven mix of religions over Malaysia as a whole so it may be that some areas are less tolerant than others or are more volatile than others so guidance on this would also be appreciated.

To be sensible, I think I would rent somewhere first but buying something has to be the end-objective. I am quite open as to the type of accommodation but it needs to be of quality and easy to look after. So this could be an up-market condominium in a convenient location, with nice views, balcony, air-con and communal pool or a nice house with some land provided that I can get someone to look after the garden and do the cleaning. But still I come back to the quality thing which I assume, in Malaysia, means it needs to be a fairly recent construction? (BTW before someone suggests building something I’ve been building for the last 20 years and really don’t want to be doing any more of that, thank you very much!)

I love Thai food and I love Indian food but am not too keen on Chinese. I assume I will be well pleased with Malaysian cuisine? I also love my wine (22 years in France has its consequences) – I know it’s expensive but is it easily available or does that depend on the area too?

I also love my TV and my internet. Is there a good selection of English TV channels and is high-speed (ie better than 2MB/sec) broadband widely available or is it limited to certain areas?

My wife is a highly sociable animal and she would add that being close to people of a similar ilk would be her number one priority (in other words, down-town Pattaya would present some difficulties!)

One son will soon start at French university where he will likely get a doctorate in Maths in about 5 years time. Is he likely to find good employment somewhere in the area? The other son is rather younger and may come to Malaysia before he does his baccalaureat – are all the good schools in KL and would they be good enough for him to get a decent International Bac? I’ve read that it’s best to get the kids residency under my MM2H well before they are 21.

OK that’s probably enough cud to chew for now so it’s over to you, the Malay experts, to give your views as to whether my criteria are at all reasonable and, if so, which areas in Malaysia would get closest to achieving the requirement.
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 2:35 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Hello and welcome to the forum

Yep that was rather a long post. I'll answer a few bits.

I've lived in Singapore (working) and both Thailand and Malaysia (retired). I prefer Malaysia but its a personal choice....horses for courses etc.

You say you like both Thailand and Singapore? That's a good start. If you're comfortable with both of those countries, then Malaysia may suit you.

Re the Emirates route via Dubai, believe you can fly on to Singapore...we used to do that route. There are lots and lots of connections Sing to KL, and Sing to Penang, lots of choice, so you might want to,think about that.

Err I'm going to split my reply into 2'or 3 here as I'm on my iPad and don't want to lose a long post

So continuing.......
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 2:41 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Housing and quality, condos and quality are not 2 words that go together in Malaysia I'm afraid. Just have to accept that things won't be perfect.

Cuisine is fabulous. In KL and Penang you can get any kinds of cuisine. Local food would I guess be described as either Malay foods, Chinese foods, or Indian foods. Nyonya cuisine is a bit of a mixture of all three

Re French connections, there is certainly a French association in Penang, so no doubt quite a few French here, though I've not met many. I know the assoc hold dinners and other events.

Continuing......
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 2:54 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

On areas you are considering:

Penang Island - would be top of my list
Langkawi Island - quiet place maybe too quiet for the missus
Cameron Highlands - weather may rule this out, cooler and more rain, tourists generally
Ipoh - might be a possibility, a few on here have looked at this and will know more
East coast - Moslem Malay area but we've always found it fine. Perhentian Island are a big diving resort area, the other islands further south would be too quiet and only Tioman has a regular air service afaik

Jobs available with a doctorate in Maths.
Hmmm difficult one that.
KL Stock exchange is growing so maybe companies involved with that might be suitable, or universities.

Last edited by ex reg; Jun 26th 2013 at 2:58 pm.
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 2:55 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

The Malaysia Muslim thing....sigh.... Islam is the official religion but ALL religions are allowed/tolerated. Yes there are pockets of different religious kinds.

I'm not in KL but believe that is quite a mix racially/religion wise. Again I'm not on the East coast of peninsula, and have not visited there (yet) but friends tell me there are areas that are majority Muslim and that may be an issue for a non Muslim ie you won't find bars, pork butchers etc...yeh obvious I know.

Penang where I live is very mixed racially but majority Chinese. Religion wise there are lots of churches, though also many Buddhist temples and Indian temples and mosques too. Quite a mix. What I like about Penang is that there's plenty to do here, got international airport, a certain amount of infrastructure....it's not Singapore for sure, but plenty of malls, shops, medical facilities. Med facilities so so important for later retired years of course.

Continuing......
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 3:00 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Just read ex Regs post and wholeheartedly agree with comments.

I would say definitely check out Penang. Based on what you say about travelling, you may also want to check out Melaka (Malacca). Not that far to drive to KLIA. I know quite a few MM2Hers are looking there. ,its also cheaper property wise than Penang.

Maybe also take a look at Johor close to Sing border? This area is growing. Check out the Iskandar threads on here and Singapore forum, and easy enough to get to Changi airport.

Re MM2H itself, if you haven't already done so, check out the sticky on the top of this section.

The End. Hehe
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 3:10 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

When comparing Malaysia & Thailand, advantages of Malaysia imo:
1. a clear and comprehensive retirement scheme including no taxes on outside Malaysia income.
2. The Common Law in Malaysia and resulting allowance of property ownership.
3. Better overall infrastructure and cleaner
4. More likely to pay same price as locals
5. Not a sex tourist haven
6. Multicultural and resulting food choices. I even say Malaysia wins over Thailand in the food department...which is a high hurdle.

Advantages of Thailand:
1. People are friendlier
2. Just more lively fun place
3. Better climate imo especially if you look at Chiang Mai
4. No Muslim majority. Sorry but it's the elephant in the room for non-Muzzies in Malaysia...for some people, here is where consideration of Malaysia stops. For me personally, I can deal with Muslims (currently working in Saudi) as long as they don't try to control your life to be like theirs (as they do in Saudi).
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Old Jun 26th 2013, 3:20 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

You don't always pay the same price as locals in Malaysia.

Agree with the better climate bit though depends where you are. And what about power cuts? We have had just 1 short powercut in 3 years in Penang. In Phuket it was several power cuts per week.

Your comments 1, 2 and 4 re Thailand are just plain incorrect IMHO.

MH, the guy is looking for a decent retirement place with good air connections.
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Old Jun 27th 2013, 9:11 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
You don't always pay the same price as locals in Malaysia.

Agree with the better climate bit though depends where you are. And what about power cuts? We have had just 1 short powercut in 3 years in Penang. In Phuket it was several power cuts per week.

Your comments 1, 2 and 4 re Thailand are just plain incorrect IMHO.

MH, the guy is looking for a decent retirement place with good air connections.
BB,
Maybe one reason why we are disagreeing is I'm more familiar with Bangkok & KL and I believe you're more familiar with Penang & Phuket. Anyway, our experiences were different for whatever reason. I'm not saying that you always pay the same price as the locals, it just seems that you're more likely to pay the same price in Malaysia than in Thailand imo.

I didn't understand your disagreement about religion becasue all I was saying is Malaysia is more Muslim than Thailand...and I personally know a lot of people who won't go or won't move to Malaysia becasue of that. BTW, I'm not saying that I wouldn't move there for that reason.

I respect your opinion and will defer to it especially in regards to anything about Penang/George Town...I'm glad it's working for you and I still am considering it.
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Old Jun 27th 2013, 10:05 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Yep, noted, thanks for explanation.

Yes I see what you are saying about the Muslim issue. I guess I have a particular bee in my bonnet on this score because I used to think that way too, especially when I lived in Singapore, and you get all the anti propaganda about Malaysia..... or at least that's how it seemed to me.

I think one has to Go See Penang and Malaysia and make up one's own mind, which is what we did eventually. I regret not checking it out sooner though. But, there ya go, Phuket/Thailand was a life experience I suppose.
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Old Jun 27th 2013, 11:54 am
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

Originally Posted by Mad Hatter View Post

Advantages of Thailand:

4. No Muslim majority. Sorry but it's the elephant in the room for non-Muzzies in Malaysia...for some people, here is where consideration of Malaysia stops. For me personally, I can deal with Muslims (currently working in Saudi) as long as they don't try to control your life to be like theirs (as they do in Saudi).
MH Even as a convert to Islam, I have yet to see anyone trying to control my life - but perhaps that could be because I have converted? Or perhaps because I live in Melaka? and by that I mean they do not force me to attend a mosque or even join in prayers. They leave it up to me as to whether I want to join in or not. Neither have I seen any attempt at controlling others.... My wife, however, does expect me to make an effort and wear "baju Melayu" during the Hari Raya celebrations. I don't have a problem doing that and have often received complimentary comments for doing so.

In addition, I worked in Malaysia (Petaling Jaya) from late February to Mid October 2006 (prior to my conversion which was in 2008) and did not see any evidence whatsoever of any attempt to control non-Muslims and I worked with a number of Muslims, Chinese and a few Indians as well.
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Old Jun 27th 2013, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: Why Retire in Malaysia?

That's a good and interesting post Bluenose. I like the Malays in Penang, great sense of humour.
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