Southeast Asia now a hub for British retirees

Southeast Asia now a hub for British retirees

Southeast Asia now a hub for British retirees

Drawn by the cheaper cost of living, the year-round warm weather and the ease of acquiring visas, older Britons are flocking to Southeast Asia in their thousands.

The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand are favourite destinations for pensioners looking for a more enticing quality of life than in the UK along with the security of established expat communities. The three countries are encouraging elderly migrants by offering various visa programmes suited to new arrivals’ needs and finances.

Malaysia was the first to jump on the retiree bandwagon with its My Second Home programme, launched in 2002 and offering 10-year visas and work permits to retirees. A former British colony with English spoken by many nationals, the combination of visa, weather and costs has attracted over 20,000 expats.

At the present time, Malaysia is ramping up its work permit and 10-year visa programmes and has already launched its Expatriate Service Division, aimed at assisting newcomers to settle smoothly into their new environment. The country is one of the few Asian locations which offers high-quality healthcare and a stable political set-up.

The Philippines and Thailand also offer long-term visas, with both countries realising that retirees’ pension and investment incomes help boost local economies. Britons form the majority of expat pensioners in Thailand, with most concentrated in Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin and the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Requirements as to finance and visas differ between the three countries, with Malaysia having the highest minimum investment quotas. Several states set minimum property purchase prices for expat incomers of around £100,000, but the full ten-year visa is the real advantage here.

The Philippines also sets investment quotas, but the required sum is lower and declines with the applicant’s age and allows property purchase as a qualification for a 10-year visa. Thailand offers a one–year retirement visa with permitted annual extensions, secured by around £16,000 in a Thai bank account.

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