More and more people are considering retiring overseas to make their savings go further. Great weather combined with a lower cost of living make countries like Costa Rica, Thailand and The Philippines great choices for long term stays. Bob Webb and his wife have chosen to make Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia their retirement home base. Bob offers some insights into his retirement in this interview.
Please tell us a little about your background?
We are Australians who retired after a number of years in the Public Sector. I spent 40 years with the Australian Defence Department (20 in uniform and 20 as a civilian) and my wife worked for Veterans Affairs. We retired about 2 years ago and decided to head overseas.
Why Kuala Lumpur?
We started off on our travels to Asia and then caught up with our daughters in New York. We then moved on to Las Vegas, Memphis, Cancun and finally ended up in Kuala Lumpur. We had been to Asia a number of times during our working lives, but had no ties to Asia.
English is understood by nearly everyone in Malaysia. There is a great diversity of entertainment here, including theatres, bars and clubs. Unlike some other countries Malaysia actively encourages foreign residents to relocate here under the Malaysia My Second Home program (MM2H).
Are foreigners able to stay long term there?
As an Australian we are issued 90 day Visas on entry. You can leave the country after the 90 days and come back in.
Is Kuala Lumpur a good country to travel from?
Kuala Lumpur is the home of Air Asia and flights are very cheap. It is one of the benefits of being in Kuala Lumpur (KL). We have been to Singapore, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia and are off to Cambodia on Wednesday.
Do you have Malaysian health insurance or are you using travel insurance?
We are travelling on our international health policy without incident.
Can you give us a rough idea of your monthly living expenses in Kuala Lumpur?
I have attached some links on accommodation, cost of living etc.
- Furnished Rental Accommodation – e.g. – 2 bedroom sub-urban apartment – US$546 to $920
- Eating Out in Malaysia – e.g. – Lunch at a food court – US$1.72 to $2.87
- Public Transport – e.g. – Daily bus pass – US$0.57
- Health Care – e.g. – Physician consultation fees – US$17.24 to $51.72
- Domestic Help – e.g. – Full-time live in maid – US$114.94 to $229.89
- Supermarket Prices- e.g. – Loaf of bread – US$0.54
Do you still maintain a house back in Australia?
We maintain a home in Randwick, Sydney. We live off the rental proceeds.
What are the drawbacks of living in Malaysia?
Malaysia is a Muslim country and hence Pork is expensive. Alcohol is also expensive; I miss a good Australian beer on tap.
Can you offer any advice or recommendations for people considering retirement abroad?
The internet is a great tool for research. No country is perfect, you just have to find the one closest to your expectations.
We’re moving from Costa Rica to Malaysia next month, and this article just got me even more excited! We’ll be in Penang, not Kuala Lumpur, but much of the same things apply. Thanks for sharing your experience.
It is good to hear from you. Are you finished with Costa Rica, or is this more of a vacation?
I would love to hear more about your experiences in Malaysia once you arrive.
Penang is a good choice and slightly cheaper than KL. I spent some time in Penang last year and know it pretty well, feel free to email me and ask as many questions as you like, John will give you my email address. I would also be interested why you are leaving Costa Rica.
im interested in your health policy. can you share what policy you are currently using. im Australian as well and considering the PT lifestyle. Im a little concerned about the health insurance aspects of traveling, hope you can help (re costs, name of plan, what it covers i.e medicines etc)
I love Malaysian food! So good and so cheap! Spent four years in KL and had a blast.
Just hot as hell!
KL is great and it is the AirAsia hub so it definitely is an easy city to visit.
Thank you for a great article, I am moving from Canada to Retire in Penang at the end of the year, I have a collie dog, will I find a place to rent do you think?
Make sure you do your pet research well in advance. I have friends in Thailand that travel with a cat and they are restricted to where they can go because of airline and country restrictions for their pet. From what I understand many countries have long pet quarantines. Having your pet spend 3 to 6 months in quarantine could be very traumatic.
I don’t have experience with long term rentals or visas in Penang. There are always accommodation options, but a pet will definitely limit your choices. If you are hoping to travel in Asia, it may be necessary to give up your dog. My cousin decided to find good homes for his two dogs when he moved to Australia for those same reasons.
Tim, would love to chat with you about your experience moving to Penang, when you do. I am also Canadian and we had our heart set on retiring in Chiang Mai, but unless you are 50 (we are 40) it would be difficult staying for a long period of time.I just discovered the mm2h program last night and thought this would be a great place to spend our first few retirement years (retiring in 3 yrs).
Thanks for your article, Bob. I’m also from Sydney and would like to buy a 3 bed apartment for retirement accommodation. What is a safe area for this?
Jonathan Look, Jr.
Interesting article! I am going to be visiting KL in a few weeks and I am interested in an expats perspective. Thank you.
Thanks of taking the time to making this info available. 🙂
Are there any seaside/beach areas close to KL worthy of consideration to live in?