Culture & Religion

Malaysia is ranked Asia’s best place to retire according to International Living

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

International Living has just announced the results of their Annual Global Retirement Index. Taking into account the cost of living, retiree benefits, climate, healthcare, and more, International Living has selected 10 out of 24 countries that are the best places in the world to retire.

This year, Malaysia was ranked top in Asia and 6th overall, falling three places from last year, and is the only Asian country to make the top 10. International Living cited Malaysia’s clean and modern cities, friendly people, and unrivaled public transport system (seriously?) as major draws. Malaysia’s idyllic islands (878 of them), calm beaches, virgin rainforests, and rich culture are among the reasons why Malaysia sees millions of tourists each year and why more and more foreigners are settling on this country as their retirement plan.

The low cost of living, ability to buy and invest in property, and the Malaysia My Second Home visa program for expats make retiring in this tropical haven even more appealing. Finally, International Living correspondent Keith Hockton has nothing but praise for the country’s excellent healthcare, with services available for a fraction of the cost compared to Western countries. In fact, Malaysia was ranked #1 as on their list of countries with the best healthcare in the world, ahead of Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico.

Zocalo, Mexico | Credit: Leonardo Emiliozzi /
Zocalo, Mexico | Credit: Leonardo Emiliozzi /

However, the best place in the world to retire according to International Living is Mexico. International Living notes that Mexico offers the easiest transition to expat life, citing low-cost, conveniently close (to the US), friendly locals, and the abundance of expats already there, enjoying the exotic culture with a familiar first-world lifestyle.

Other countries that made the list are Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Spain, Nicaragua, Portugal, and Malta – all countries with warm weather and colourful culture to boot. It’s worth noting that International Living is aimed primarily at American expats, so there’s definitely an inherent bias towards Central American countries simply because they are closer to the US.


To come up with their rankings, International Living relies on the informed judgement and real-world experiences of their correspondents who are expats in those countries. They provide input on 10 categories including visas and residence, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment, lifestyle, infrastructure, and climate – focusing on the particular areas these correspondents live in as opposed to the entire country. The qualitative date is then analysed together with quantifiable data like weather data, average property prices and taxes, cost of specific medical procedures, and more.

The subjectivity of the data is probably one reason Malaysia isn’t higher on the list. For reasons that are not clear, Malaysia’s climate scored a 73 on the Annual Global Retirement Index while Colombia scored a 91 and Thailand (which ranked #12 overall) scored an 83, which is surprising since Thailand and Malaysia have very similar climates.


Nivat Chan

This is insane. You have to be out of your mind. This country is so corrupt. You have policemen trying to rob your money at every traffic lights.

Athivat Krisnampok

Really! I thought no corrupt over there

Nivat Chan

Yes. And the Malaysian PM is no. 1 in the list.

Hazrik Ahmad

The best place on earth to stash your money from illegal proceeds

Serina Hijjas

So we are the worst crime in Asia but best place to live , one or the other is inconsistent 🙂

David Byck

Who owns internation Al living? A malaysian company or govt agency?

Choo Keang Wooi

I have to admit : medical, relative cost of shopping, beaches, rainforest, food…we can win hands down….however…crime is a concern both to locals and expat.

Choo Keang Wooi

After being top in corruption index, this is a change. Congrats.

Nivat Chan

I think they got wrong info somewhere. I totally disagree.

Nicholas Beacroft

Love it here. Cheap as long as you eat like a local, great climate, really friendly well integrated population, improving public transport system, beaches, golf courses, yoga studios, entertainment venues. Plenty of places to explore within Malaysia and a whole host of interesting countries on our doorstep and a cheap flight away.

Kadir Othman

You would love the country if you don’t have anything to do with the authorities, don’t watch local TVs, tolerate all the rubbish thrown around, live in a highly secured area, house full of cctvs and sophisticated alarms…and hope for the best.

Mo Patel

Kadir Othman you are wrong from South Africa and that’s how we lived there.ive been in malaysia for 10 years in penang and have found nothing but peace,tolerance,kindness and a great lifestyle for a retired expat.I think you’re thinking about another country boss.

Wendy Rodrigues

You can really stretch your USD here ….

Harry Aurora

Getting expensive and more corrupt more racial -disappointing

Choo Keang Wooi

The racial thing is from a particular race or party towards others. Life goes on..just like in America.

Harry Aurora

True but in this day and age not acceptable- karma will tell ?

Fowzia Baobaid

حبيبتي تامي اشتقنا لكم ولماليزيا

Jan Arlene Sogge

I live in Malaysia most of the year for the past 3 years, I find more and more to love about being here. Starbucks is expensive here, the local cafe, much tastier, isn’t

Joshua Lim

You’re smart. Yea, branded products come at a price. 🙂

Md Lee

Local cafe coffee tastes better and cheaper than Starbucks. But depends on the barista’s skill to prepare the coffee…

Choo Keang Wooi

Starbucks cost RM 20 per cup…local black coffee taste better for sure

Alan Cheong

with the free falling ringgit, any foreign currency brought in is worth way more ringgit now.

Neil Oakes

Apart from GB pounds I’m afraid

Med Bouafia

getting expensive though

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