| Manik Mehta |
NEW YORK (Bernama) – Despite the three Malaysia-based airline mishaps – two of the national carrier MAS and the most recent one of AirAsia Indonesia – in 2014, Malaysia still has its charming attributes, particularly, for North American retirees who are looking for attractive overseas retirement destinations, with rising costs, harsh winter conditions and the stress of daily lives.
Malaysia figures in the latest Annual Global Retirement Index for 2014 by International Living.
The index was compiled using input by International Living’s team of correspondents based in various cities and countries around the world, combining real-world data about climate, healthcare, cost of living, personal safety and other factors to draw up a comprehensive list of the so-called “best-bang-for-your-buck” retirement destinations on the planet.
Malaysia was listed as one of the top five retirement destinations, just behind Ecuador, Mexico and Panama – but ahead of all the Asian retirement destinations.
Other Asian nations listed in the index but much behind Malaysia were Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
But International Living administers a word of caution when it tells the potential retirees to take into account that “ultimately no list or formula can automatically deliver the best destination for you. Only you can decide that.
“Only you can assess your personal preferences, needs, budget and desires, and look at the options available to see which nation best suits your needs”.
Under the caption “Malaysia – Great Value for Money in a Cultural Melting Pot”, the index explains that every year, more and more expats wake up to the amazing opportunities Malaysia has to offer.
“The country has one of the most robust economies in Asia, and this is reflected in the consistently high standard of living available to locals and expats alike. It’s just one of many factors that led to it being ranked the highest Asian nation in this year’s index,” it says.
Quality of life in Malaysia is considered to be cost-efficient as well as excellent. In typical expat locations such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, high-quality real estate is available for rent at a low cost.
“Why buy when you can rent a 1,600-square-foot apartment with a swimming pool for just US$850 a month?” the index asks.
One can truly savour a life of luxury here (in Malaysia) on a modest budget, the authors of the index explain.
“With your money going further, you can afford to treat yourself to the stunning array of local food – which mirrors Malaysia’s diverse cultural make-up.
“For as little as US$5, you can enjoy an excellent meal, with a bottle of wine setting you back the same price. The street food is similarly scrumptious and one of the true charms of Malaysian cuisine.”
International Living cites the example of New Yorker Thomas O’Neal who lives in Penang.
“I rent a 1,600-square-foot apartment with an amazing pool, just five minutes’ walk from the ritzy Gurney Plaza shopping mall,” O’Neal is quoted as saying.
“It costs me just US$850 a month. I don’t need a car, either, so I’m saving money left, right, and centre. I love the weather – 82 degrees Fahrenheit on average – and the ease of getting to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. When you combine that with a cost of living of US$1,500 per month, including my rent, it’s almost unbeatable.”
Malaysia makes a “perfect base from which you can explore the innumerable natural, historical, and cultural treasures that Southeast Asia has to offer. The proliferation of cheap Asian airlines in recent years has made it easier (and more affordable) than ever to explore Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Japan. In Malaysia, Asia is truly at your doorstep”.
Direct flights to the US are also available, so getting home for the holidays needn’t be a concern.
Neither is Internet access, as every year high-speed Internet makes more and more inroads into the country.
It is already widely and cheaply available in popular expat destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
As a throwback to the British colonial period, English is widely spoken by locals, making it all the easier to adjust and find your way around.
And places like Penang have plenty of social occasions and festivities for you to enjoy, perfect opportunities to mingle with locals and expats alike.
Tourism Malaysia can make a strong pitch for Malaysia as an attractive tourism destination, particularly for the retiree population that can become an important source of revenue and have ripple effects on other sectors of Malaysia’s economy.
North American experts feel that Malaysia would do well to launch a campaign to highlight the facilities available in Malaysia for the retiree population.
“But Tourism Malaysia needs to take advantage of the index real fast. Strike while the iron is hot,” says George Richards, a travel agent, about the index on retirement destinations.