Tuesday, March 12, 2013


A French couple both in their 60s have been staying with me since last Friday. I have known JJ for 36 years. Each year especially during the winter months, he would pack his bags and head over to Asia. This time he has brought along his wife Janie. They have just spent two months in India. Their next stop after Malaysia is Cambodia.

Over dinner this evening our conversation turned to a topic of mutual interest - retirement. Whether in Europe or in Asia, retirees face similar challenges, especially in coping with the rising cost of living. I wasn't too surprised to hear that one of the reasons for their long sojourns in Asia was to save money. Apparently it is much cheaper for them to travel for 2-3 months in India and South-east Asia, staying at budget hotels and eating local fare than to remain in France for the same duration. JJ has always had an affinity for all things Asian. He is the prodigal son returning home every time he makes a trip to the region.

Europe, the US and Australia are becoming too expensive to retire in. No wonder retirees from these places are looking at more affordable and warmer alternatives in Asia. Malaysia is on Forbes list of 'The Ten Best Countries to Retire to in 2013'. International Living has Malaysia moving up seven places from 10th last year to third. It is the only Asian country to make it to the top five. Kuala Lumpur is listed number 10 on Huffington Post's 'The World's Top 10 Retirement Havens For 2013'. Penang remains a perennial favorite on many of the lists of top retirement havens.

What do foreigners see in our country? Is it a case of the grass is always greener on the other side?

Retiring in Malaysia is not that different from retiring in Bali. I can see why Malaysia, My Second Home programme is attracting a lot of expat retirees. Malaysia has warm sunny weather the whole year round, beautiful sandy beaches, great variety of food, affordable cost of living (for expats), peace and stability (except for the occasional street demonstrations), friendly people, comparable medical care, cheap public transport, etcetera. Since the programme was launched in 2002, it has attracted well over 20,000 expats from all over the world to make Malaysia their home. Click here for more statistics, and more information on the programme.

Orang Asli settlement of Kampung Pertak

An hour's drive from the capital city takes you to green hills and cool mountain streams. That's where my French house guests and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's good to be able to get away for a much-needed break. Once out in the countryside, you can appreciate the beauty of our homeland, and you begin to understand why Malaysia remains an attractive option for expats in search of a retirement paradise.

Enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon down by the river, and later relaxing over a cup of coffee and listening to Old Man River doing his rendition of Cream's 'Badge'.

1 comment:

Starmandala said...

Nice photos! :-) Is Reiya happy with the stones?