Expat retirement in Malaysia?
December 24, 2008 | By Kim Walker
Several Asian governments (particularly Malaysia and Thailand) have specific schemes designed to attract the Silver dollar from abroad.
A year-round tropical climate, affordable living and government schemes to attract expatriate retirees, seems to be working. And as the global credit crunch continues to bite, some believe the trend will increase as retirees look to places where their savings can stretch further.
So far, Malaysia has attracted about 12,000 foreign retirees and around 1,500 people moving to Malaysia annually. Foreign residents accepted under the Malaysia My Second Home programme (http://www.mm2h.gov.my) receive a 10-year renewable visa, can buy property, employ a maid and purchase a locally assembled car tax-free. Pensions remitted to Malaysia and any income earned outside the country are also tax exempt, and there is no inheritance tax.
The Malaysian government plan began in 1996 and was initially only available to people over 50. When that attracted only about 800 retirees in six years, the government revised the conditions in 2002. The new scheme removed the age limit but bars foreign residents from working in the country. Retirees over 50 must also maintain a fixed bank deposit of M$150,000 (HK$337,000), while younger residents must put in M$300,000.
Britons made up the biggest contingent of retirees in 2008, followed by Japanese, Koreans, Chinese (mainlanders) and Bangladeshis.
Government claims these retirees spend an average of M$8,000 each month, and bought property worth M$282 million over the past two years.
More than 2,000 ethnic Chinese retirees, including Hongkongers, have moved to Malaysia since 1996.
As more retirees move and swell the already ballooning 50 plus populations in these Asian countries, business opportunities will be waiting for companies with the creativity and vision to seize them.