Retirement in Malaysia - Part III

Visa & Benefits * Health Care * Culture

Retirement in Malaysia: from becoming a resident to enjoying Malaysia culture and its many tourist attractions. 


Visa Requirements & Malaysia My Second Home Program

If you have ever considered retirement in Malaysia, you will have heard about  the  "Malaysia My Second Home" Program (MM2H). Once qualified for this Government initiative, you'll be issued with a multiple-entry social visit pass, valid for 10 years initially with a renewal option.

Apart from a medical report from a clinic or doctor in Malaysia and a valid medical insurance policy, the requirements for the program are mainly of financial nature. Depending on your age, you need to put between RM150,000 ($44,000) and RM300,000 ($87,000) into a fixed deposit account. After one year, you can withdraw a certain amount, but only for approved expenses, like buying a house or funding your child's education.

On top of that, you need an offshore income of at least RM10,000 ($2,900) per month. For retirees over 50 years of age with a state pension of at least RM10,000 ($2,900) per month, the fixed deposit requirement is omitted.

What benefits do you get under the MM2H program? You can import household effects and one vehicle duty-free, or purchase one car locally tax free. Your pension or other income remitted into the country is tax free. And you don't have to pay tax on interest from your fixed deposit if it stays for more than 12 months in the account.

Compared to most of the Central and Latin American countries in our top 10 places to retire, the financial requirements for retirees are high in Malaysia, and the benefits fewer.

So, what other options do you have if you want to stay longer than three months in Malaysia, or if you want to work there? You could leave the country every three months and come back on a social visit pass. But Malaysia is quite stringent in its law enforcement against illegal foreign workers, and you might face detention or deportation.

No need to dispair yet, there are a few legal options as well. Applications for all 'passes' listed below must be made before you arrive in the country and require a Malaysian 'sponsor' who agrees to be responsible for maintenance and repatriation of the applicant, if necessary:

  • Employment Pass: to take up employement for at least 2 years and with a minimum salary of RM3,000 per month.
  • Dependent's Pass: for spouses and children of Employment Pass holders.
  • Visit Pass (Temporary Employment): to take up employment for less than 2 years or with a salary of less than RM3,000 per month.
  • Visit Pass (Professional): for short term contracts with an angency in certain professions, like artists, researchers or volunteers.
  • Student's Pass: to study in any educational institutions approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Healthcare in Malaysia

Despite a shortage of medical staff in remote areas and a general lack of highly trained specialists, healthcare in Malaysia is considered as one of the best in the region.  The healthcare system is divided into a public and a private sector.

Foreigners only have access to the private system, which means you either have to pay your medical expenses yourself or you get a prviate medical insurance. You have the choice between local and international insurance providers. Use the services of international insurance brokers to get the best deal for your needs. PacificPrime.com for example does not only offer free quotes, but also provides country specific travel tips and hospital lists.

A great resource to find and compare private hospitals in Malaysia is the "Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia". Their web site features 35 hospitals in Malaysia, complete with location maps, facilities and services and - for some of the clinics - even the room type and rates.

Rates for a single room in a private hospital start at RM150 per day ($43). If you are prepared to share your room with one other patient, you'll pay as low as RM100 ($29).

Medical tourism and health travel is big in Malaysia too, with even the Ministry of Health promoting it via a dedicated web site. So, if you ever wanted to get that face lift, why not do it in Malaysia, and save about 75% compared to the costs in the USA?

Malaysia Culture & People

If you ever wanted to not just watch, but be part of religious festivals across various faiths, Malaysia is THE country for you. And with 14 national public holidays, plus a few more on regional level, you'll have plenty of opportunity to do so.

The people of Malaysia are a mix of three main races: Malays (mostly Muslims), Chinese (mostly Buddhists) and Indians (mostly Hindus). Add in Eurasians and more than 50 indigenous groups from Sabah and Sarawak, and you'll have that multi-racial society whose social integration has become a model for the rest of the world.

During weekends, you can enjoy cultural performances, such as Bangsawan (traditional Malay theatre), Nadagam (traditional Indian theatre), Chinese opera or the famous Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet play) for free at the riverside amphiteatre outside of Kuala Lumpur's Central Market.

The Central Market, located next to KL's Chinatown, is said to be a treasure trove for traditional Malay and Asian arts and crafts, such as colourful batik, handcrafted kites, pewters, rattan or sago palm baskets and intricate wood carvings. Don't forget to bargain - especially towards 10pm, when the market closes, sellers might be willing to cut off as much as half of the original price.

Whether you prefer bargaining at sidewalk stalls, bazaars and night markets, called pasar malam, or strolling through air-conditioned, multi-story shopping malls, Malaysia has it all.

What about outdoor activities? You could participate in kite-flying competitions, or learn to play 'Sepak Takraw', a popular sport in Malaysia, resembling volleyball, only that it uses a rattan ball and allows players to only use their head, chest, feet and knee to touch the ball.

Or you could become a spelunker and explore Malaysia's many caves with their unique flora and fauna. The Gunung Mulu National Park caves in Sarawak are not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also feature the world's largest single cave chamber.

Retire in Malaysia - Part I

For your retirement in Malaysia, learn about Cost of Living * Climate * Infrastructure & Internet Access

Retire to Malaysia - Part II

For your retirement in Malaysia, get the facts about Education & Schools * Safety * Real Estate

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