In this popular cheapest places to live 2009 post I did a while back, I briefly mentioned Malaysia as one of the best deals in Asia for expats. It has distinguished itself from its neighbors by formally welcoming foreigners—well, at least those with some money.
It’s My Second Home program is a clear signal that they want you there and you will not have to make visa runs every few months just to hang around longer than the average tourist.
The program is meant “to allow foreigners who fulfill certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on a multiple-entry social visit pass.
The Social Visit Pass is initially for a period of ten (10) years, and is renewable.”
So what are those “certain criteria” you ask? As with many of these incentive programs, you are sort of buying your way in. But after you do that you can purchase a house free and clear, bring in your stuff, start a business, and even work part-time legally.
If you’re younger than 50, you need to demonstrate $143K in savings and an ongoing income of close to $3,000 a month. For most people this would require a hefty IRA/401K or proceeds from a just-sold house. But if you’re moving there for good you’re probably selling your home house anyway.
Retirees only have to show savings of about $100K, but the same income level, which is obviously more than Social Security is paying. If you buy an expensive house there, they’ll lower some of the requirements. See the terms here.
The thing is, you don’t have to buy an expensive house since real estate there is quite a bargain. If you go to this real estate site and punch in Malacca, for instance, you’ll find bargains galore. Like a 3-bedroom, 2-bath condo for US$16,600. (Can you put it on a credit card?) Or a 1,540 square-foot house with covered parking for $68,000. For $100,000 here you get a huge resort area bungalow with its own swimming pool and “price is negotiable.”
Or you can just rent a place for a few hundred bucks a month, including maid service.
Malaysia is featured in the book The World’s Cheapest Destinations and it’s known for having good infrastructure, great food, and a population where a whole lot of people speak English. And hey, it’s right next to Thailand.
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