Retirement in Malaysia and cost of living (2023)

16 May, 2023 0 comments
Malaysia cost of living Malaysia retirement

Are you dreaming of a retirement filled with warm weather, cultural diversity, and a lower cost of living? Look no further than Malaysia. With its breathtaking landscapes, welcoming locals, and enticing retirement visa program, Malaysia has emerged as a popular destination for foreigners seeking an idyllic retirement.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of retiring in Malaysia, the available retirement visa program, and the unique lifestyle and cost of living considerations for retirees.

Introduction to retirement in Malaysia

Retirement in malaysia foreigner
cost of living Malaysia

Retiring in Malaysia offers a host of advantages that make it an attractive option for foreigners. From its tropical climate and stunning beaches to its vibrant cultural scene and modern infrastructure, Malaysia has something for everyone.

Its excellent healthcare facilities, delicious cuisine, and low crime rates contribute to a high quality of life for retirees. Additionally, the country’s warm and welcoming locals make it easy to integrate into the community and form new connections.

Malaysia’s Retirement Visa Program

For foreigners looking to retire in Malaysia, there is one way you should focus on: the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program.

The MM2H program is designed to attract foreign retirees and offers a range of benefits. Eligibility criteria include having a minimum monthly offshore income, meeting certain financial requirements, and fulfilling health and security checks. Successful applicants enjoy benefits such as a long-term visa, the ability to purchase property, tax incentives, and access to healthcare and education facilities. The MM2H program also allows for part-time work and provides a renewable 10-year visa.

Requirements for MM2H program (2023)

Applicants under 50 years old must have:

  • Minimum liquid assets of RM1,500,000
  • Minimum offshore monthly income of RM40,000
  • A fixed deposit account in Malaysia with at least RM1,000,000

Applicants aged 50 and above must have:

  • Minimum liquid assets of RM1,500,000
  • Minimum offshore monthly income of RM40,000
  • A fixed deposit account with a Malaysian bank containing at least RM1,000,000
  • Retirees must provide proof of receiving a government pension of RM10,000 per month.

Additional requirements include:

  • One-off personal bond payment (approximately RM2,000)
  • Annual payment of RM90 for the social pass

Restrictions of the MM2H program (2023)

The MM2H programme entails certain limitations, including:

  1. Requirement to stay in Malaysia for 90 days: For business owners engaged in activities outside Malaysia or with commitments in other countries, fulfilling this requirement may pose challenges.
  2. Inability to actively manage a Malaysia-based business under the MM2H programme visa: While MM2H visa holders can establish a private limited company in Malaysia, they are not permitted to engage in day-to-day business operations. A separate work visa is necessary for such involvement.
  3. Ineligibility to work in Malaysia: MM2H visa holders are not allowed to work or seek employment within Malaysia. They are expected to carry out their work overseas. This can potentially create confusion regarding how to utilize the 90-day stay requirement, as working is not allowed.

Cost of Living in Malaysia

One of the key attractions of retiring in Malaysia is the unique lifestyle it offers. The country boasts a rich cultural heritage, with a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous influences. This diversity is reflected in the cuisine, festivals, and art scene, providing retirees with endless opportunities for exploration and enrichment. Moreover, expatriate communities are well-established, making it easier to connect with like-minded individuals and form social networks.

When considering the cost of living in Malaysia, retirees will be pleasantly surprised by its affordability. Housing options range from affordable apartments to luxurious condominiums, and property prices are generally lower than in many Western countries. Healthcare costs are significantly lower than in other developed countries, with excellent medical facilities and internationally trained doctors. Transportation, groceries, and entertainment expenses are also relatively inexpensive, allowing retirees to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without straining their finances.

A detailed table of the cost of living in Malaysia

When considering a move or retirement abroad, understanding the cost of living is crucial. Malaysia offers an attractive combination of affordability and quality, making it an appealing destination. Here’s a glimpse at the average monthly costs in Malaysia:

  • Housing: Rental costs for apartments range from $600 to $950, while condominiums can cost between $950 and $1,900.
  • Daily Expenses: Monthly grocery expenses average $200 to $300, public transportation costs around $25 to $75, and utility bills range from $50 to $100.
  • Dining Out: Enjoying local cuisine at restaurants costs approximately $4 to $8 per meal.
  • Healthcare: Malaysia’s healthcare system offers quality services at significantly lower costs compared to many other countries, with private insurance plans available at reasonable rates.
  • Leisure and Entertainment: Monthly entertainment expenses range from $75 to $125, providing a wide range of leisure activities to enjoy.

The following table shows a good estimation of a typical monthly budget for a foreigner. Some of the cost may vary a lot depending if you live in Kuala Lumpur or in a smaller city. Most of the time, living in a medium size town can divide the accomodation price by (almost) two.

Expense CategoryAverage Monthly Cost (in US dollars)
Housing (Apartment)$600 – $950
Housing (Condominium)$950 – $1,900
Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas)$50 – $100
Internet and Mobile Phone$25 – $50
Groceries$200 – $300
Eating Out (Restaurant)$4 – $8 (per meal)
Transportation (Public)$25 – $75
Transportation (Car ownership, including fuel and maintenance)$250 – $500
Healthcare (Private Insurance or Out-of-pocket expenses)$50 – $125
Entertainment and Leisure$75 – $125
Malaysia – Cost of living in USD

Healthcare in Malaysia: Accessible and Affordable for Foreigners

When considering a move to a new country, access to quality healthcare is a top priority for many individuals, especially retirees. Malaysia stands out as a destination that offers accessible and affordable healthcare services to both its citizens and foreigners. Here’s a glimpse into Malaysia’s healthcare system for foreigners:

  1. World-Class Facilities and Medical Professionals: Malaysia boasts a well-developed healthcare system with state-of-the-art facilities and highly trained medical professionals. The country has established a strong reputation for medical tourism, attracting patients from around the globe seeking high-quality healthcare services at competitive prices.
  2. Affordable Healthcare Costs: Compared to many Western countries, healthcare costs in Malaysia are significantly lower, making it an attractive option for foreigners. Consultations, medical procedures, medications, and hospital stays are generally more affordable, providing cost savings without compromising on the quality of care received.
  3. International-Friendly Hospitals and Services: Malaysia has a number of internationally accredited hospitals that cater to the needs of foreign patients. These hospitals often have dedicated international patient departments with multilingual staff to assist foreigners in navigating the healthcare system. From consultations to specialized treatments, foreigners can expect to receive comprehensive and personalized care.
  4. Private Healthcare Insurance: Foreigners residing in Malaysia can opt for private healthcare insurance to further enhance their healthcare coverage. Many insurance providers offer tailored plans that cater to the specific needs of expatriates and retirees. These insurance plans provide peace of mind and additional financial protection for unexpected medical expenses.
  5. Traditional and Complementary Medicine: In addition to conventional medical treatments, Malaysia also offers a wide range of traditional and complementary medicine practices. Traditional Malay, Chinese, and Indian healing methods, such as herbal remedies, acupuncture, and Ayurveda, are readily available and often integrated into the healthcare system. This holistic approach provides foreigners with a diverse range of treatment options.

In Malaysia, foreigners can enjoy accessible and affordable healthcare services that meet international standards. With a well-established healthcare infrastructure, competitive pricing, and a diverse range of medical specialties, Malaysia provides a reassuring environment for individuals seeking quality healthcare while residing in or visiting the country.

So should you retire in Malaysia as a foreigner?

Retiring in Malaysia presents an enticing opportunity for foreigners seeking a serene and fulfilling retirement. The country’s retirement visa programs, such as the MM2H and RPT, provide a clear pathway for foreigners to settle down and enjoy the benefits of Malaysian living. For now, getting one of these visa is quite a challenge as the difficulty of obtaining it has increased considerably over the last few years. Hovewer, there are rumors that the requirements may be eased soon.

With its welcoming locals, diverse culture, affordable cost of living, and stunning landscapes, Malaysia offers a retirement experience that is both enriching and refreshing, without compromising on comfort and life quality.


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