Penang a hot spot to retire

GEORGETOWN, Malaysia, 22 August 2019: International Living, an online resource for retirees worldwide, names Penang high up its list of warm-weather retirement destinations.

Slanting its report to US retirees looking for something more affordable than moving home to Florida, International Living identified seven destinations; five in the Americas, Penang in Asia and Portugal the single choice in Europe.

Malaysia was in the news earlier this month as reports surfaced that more Hong Kong seniors are considering a move in the face of violent protests.

Reuters reported Tuesday that the Malaysian retirement programme Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) received 251 applications from Hong Kong residents this year compared with 193 last year.

Property consultants told Reuters that interest in Malaysia’s retirement programme spiked among Hong Kong residents rattled by anti-Beijing protests that are now entering their 12th week.

Real estate agents said they thought Malaysia and Thailand would benefit the most, although many retirees in Thailand are also having second thoughts on Thailand their second home.

Their concerns focus on the Immigration Bureau’s strict interpretation of a reporting rule that demands foreigners report after every trip of more than 24 hours to the provinces or overseas. It means some foreigners visit the Immigration Bureau every week to report they are back home.

“The push factor from Hong Kong will definitely make Malaysia one of the best alternatives for a new location to reside,”  Sharifah Ikhlas Aljaffree, the director of the programme run by Malaysia’s tourism ministry told Reuters.

“Our strength lies not only in our nation’s friendliness, affordable cost of living and high quality of life (healthcare included) but also the stability of our economy and politics plus our developed infrastructure,” she said.

Retirees who are 50 years or older who meet the MM2H conditions are given 10-year multiple visas without any need to report or apply for re-entry permits.

They can also buy a property and a duty-free vehicle. Unlike Thailand, there is no 90-day reporting or the more recent hassle of reporting when returning from a trip to the provinces or overseas that exceeded 24 hours.

Of all the retiree spots in Asia, International Living recommends Penang saying English is widely spoken on the island that off the west coast of northern peninsular Malaysia.

Retirees in Penang are close enough to southern Thailand to visit its beach resorts and islands on a visa-free holiday while enjoying the user-friendly retirement rules for residency in Malaysia.

Penang is a multicultural island with about 60% of its inhabitants being Chinese, 32% Malays, and 7% Indian.

With a mix of these cultures, the food is touted to be the best in all of Southeast Asia. In 2014, Lonely Planet deemed Penang to be the top foodie destination to visit in the world. The most incredible food in Malaysia is not found in high-end restaurants, but at thousands of food stalls that serve one signature dish—often a family’s recipe passed down through generations.

 Quoted by International Living expat Bob Jackson, who lives in Penang with his wife,  agrees that Penang’s greatest strength is food.

He says, “It is everywhere. We have found street food stalls to be very good and inexpensive. Expect to pay no more than USD5 per person. Slightly more expensive than the stalls are the numerous local restaurants where a great meal will only set you back USD8 to USD10 per person. Even the nicest restaurants will only cost around USD25 per person.”

He estimated that a couple could live well in Penang on a monthly budget of USD1,620 including accommodation and all living expenses.(

(Source: International Living)