George Town attracts international retirees to Malaysia

George Town attracts international retirees to Malaysia

George Town attracts international retirees to Malaysia

As a response to the increasing numbers of Western retirees deciding to emigrate for a better, often cheaper lifestyle, expat surveys are picking out destinations on the other side of the world.
Decades ago, British citizens retiring overseas mostly headed for France, Spain or Italy, whilst elderly US citizens chose Mexico and other warm, mostly coastal locations across the southern Americas region.

Nowadays, with air travel the straightforward option, the planet is literally an oyster for those wishing to celebrate their retirement by living in a totally different country more than half a world away. Malaysia is now one of the most popular Asian destinations for expat retirees, with many heading for Kuala Lumpur for its ‘big city’ feel, Western-style amenities and reliable healthcare provision.

For those who’ve had enough of the big city lifestyle and its cost of living, George Town on Penang Island is far less expensive and gives the best of both worlds. Its combination of Asian and Colonial architecture has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s Malaysia’s gastronomic heartland for its distinctive and delicious street foods. The city is known for its unique cultural heritage and varied ethnicity.

There’s a choice of visas for those wishing to retire in Malaysia, as well as a three-month stay as a visitor, useful for deciding whether it’s the best option as regards settlement. The 10-year renewable Malaysia My Second Home Visa (MM2H) suits ‘snowbirds’ as well as permanent retirees from the USA as well as Britons looking for a total change of scenery at the right price. Applicants will need to have fixed monthly income of over RM10,000 and must also prove they have cash assets.

Once the visa is granted, holders over 50 years old are allowed to work for no more than 20 hours each week, provided they have specialised skills in approved sectors. Should they wish to set up a business, they’ll be allowed to involve themselves in its running, but must get a work permit if they decide to work full time. All applicants must be sponsored, with visa agents required to provide the service at no extra charge. Approved medical insurance is mandatory, and George Town is now Malaysia’s hub for medical tourism, having built up an excellent reputation for its medical services.

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