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Special Report

Retire to Malaysia
By John Bonar
Why not try living in Malaysia, with its perpetually warm tropical climate, inviting shorelines of pure white sands and clear blue sea, friendly locals, choice of city living, highland retreats or seaside resorts, variety of gastronomical delights to satiate even the most discerning of palates all await you in Malaysia.

This is where you can retire early and live comfortably. It is all about living well with less money.

Malaysia has been called Asia's best-kept secret for expatriates with a vibrant mix of foreign and indigenous tribal cultures, creating a veritable melting pot of peoples, traditions and religions. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Brits, Americans, Australians, and Canadians) live full time or maintain holiday homes in Malaysia, and you'll find that just about everybody speaks English, since its compulsory in local schools.

Compared with other major Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, for example), Kuala Lumpur is downright cheap. Even in the over-priced tourist spots you can get a good meal for two for around $20. Outside of these places, a 3-course meal for two with all the trimmings, including drinks, will set you back no more than $10a doctor's visit $8 to $15 and live-in domestic help $200 a month.

Kuala Lumpur is a modern cosmopolitan city with clean streets and sidewalks and every modern convenience to be found in New York or London. Home to some of the tallest building in the world, there are also international banks, English cinemas and bookstores, western-style supermarkets, French and German bakeries, Chinese, Indian, and Italian restaurants, gourmet coffee, Cuban cigars, Internet cafs and some of the best shopping in the world!

Rental properties are readily available and not overly expensive by American or European standards. The cost of 2-bedroom rental apartments begins at around $225 per month, with 3-bedroom houses starting at $35,000. Naturally, comparable housing in expatriate communities or the luxurious suburban homes that date from British colonial period can set you back considerably more.

The Malaysian government, through its Malaysia My Second Home Program (MM2H) offers expatriate resident retirees extremely attractive benefits. MM2H is promoted by the Government of Malaysia to allow people from all over the world who fulfill certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia as long as possible on a social visit pass with a multiple entry visa. Applicants are allowed to bring along their spouse and children (below 18 years old who are not married).

The contributions of MM2H participants towards the retail, tourism and service sectors are seen as important by both the government and the private sector. In a nutshell, it should come as no surprise that everyone wants MM2H to work. Certainly, the programme has evolved over time; rules and regulations have changed since it was launched in 1996, and it has been moved from Home Affairs to the Tourism Ministry. Since June this year all applications have to be processed through licensed agents.

MM2H is open to all foreign citizens (from countries recognized by Malaysia) wishing to retire or reside in the country on a long term basis. You will get a 10-year Visit Pass and Multiple- Entry Visa (renewable every ten years) which will eventually give you a lifetime easy access to the country (perpetual visa).

You can import your car or purchase a new car, tax-free and enjoy other tax incentives.

You can invest and own businesses in Malaysia. This is like owning a second passport, or a second citizenship in Malaysia.

You can enjoy a luxury lifestyle at a fraction of the costs. It is the cheapest and a very affordable place to retire early.

Whats the catch? Mainly to prove you will not be a burden on the state and have the means to support yourself the following requirements must be met. Those under 50 years old must place a fixed deposit account of RM300,000 ($ 82,000) with any bank in Malaysia, and Show proof of monthly off-shore income of RM10,000 ($ 2,700) (e.g. payment slip, bank statement, income tax statement, etc). After a period of one year, the participant can withdraw up to RM240,000 ($ 65,000) for purchase of houses, medical expenses or childrens education

Those over 50, can either place a fixed deposit account of RM150,000 ($ 40,000) with any bank in Malaysia, or show proof of monthly off-shore income of RM10,000 ($ 2,700) (e.g. payment slip, income tax & bank statement, etc). In this case you can withdraw up to RM 90,000 ($ 25,000) for purchase of a home etc.

The best thing is that you still retain your citizenship and all its privileges in your own country. You can always go back if you miss having to wear 5 layers of clothing and tread through a thick snow at some 20 degrees below zero just to get your mail, or miss pushing your car to the side of the road during a heavy snow storm, says Eddie Toh from one of the licenced sponsors under the scheme. But for us, if we want to experience cool air, we would just take a one-hour drive from KL to Genting Highland, which is located a few thousand meters above sea level, or hike up to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia.

For more information contact: malaysia.mm2h.info@gmail.com







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