I just got off the phone with an agency friend who is thinking of selling his ad agency. I asked, “what will you do, where will you live?” This is the standard question I got after selling my agency. Me? I am in Portland writing this.
He told me that he is thinking of moving out of the U.S. – at least for a test-year. I get it. To me, it’s a combination of why not and hey, lets go experience the rest of the world. Maybe it should be called the Re-GAP Year? Why do only the latest generation of American college kids get to live overseas without a care?
This conversation got me thinking about my own next steps so I did a bit of exploring and found the best places to live chart (its further on down this post) on the wbsite International Living. From the chart and cited copy, Malaysia looks like a decent place to start. FYI, I have travelled throughout Asia and particularly like south east Asia for its beaches, cities, peaceful lifestyle (unless you are in Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City) and food. Here is what a International Living corespondent has to say about his life in Malaysia followed by the master “where to live” chart. By the way, you don’t have to wait for retirement to live overseas. Just figure out that dream Internet-based business and work wherever you have WiFi. Penang here I come.
Malaysia: Asia’s Most Desirable Destination
By Keith Hockton
“Go back to New York to live? Never!” says 65-year-old Lorna Taylor. “We moved to Malaysia because of the weather, the golf and the low prices; our costs are now a third to a quarter of what they were in the U.S. We even have a maid come in and clean four times a week. We couldn’t do that in New York. No, we’ll never leave Penang.”
I’m 30 years younger than Lorna and her husband John, and yet they still manage to beat my wife Lisa and me convincingly at tennis. They have a coach who comes twice a week, and for $10 a lesson I can see his efforts are clearly paying off.
I also completely understand and agree with their view about Malaysia. It has everything. Its weather is a tropical 82 F all year round and its beaches, islands and jungles are pristine. It has some of the region’s best street food, great restaurants, bars, shopping malls and movie theaters—and it’s all affordable.
Lisa and I rent a sea-view apartment for $1,000 a month—it comes with a shared pool and gym. We eat out five nights a week, keep a small sailboat, and our total budget is $1,719 a month. Two people can have a three-course meal here for $10. A bagful of fresh fruit costs around $4. We also have a maid that comes once a week for four hours at a cost of $12.
The country is home to an active and international mix of expats.Malaysia’s an easy place to make friends and integrate as English is the unofficial first language. Lots of expats live in Kuala Lumpur and Penang and numerous organizations here can help you get settled and integrated. For example, the International Women’s Association (formally The American Woman’s Association) has just over 500 members who organize activities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. On Mondays there are jungle walks, Tuesdays mah-jong (a type of card game), Wednesdays sewing. They sponsor trivia night once a week at a local pub and put on a ball once a year.
Penang and Kuala Lumpur are also medical centers of excellence and every day two planeloads of medical tourists arrive in Malaysia for various treatments. Not only is the health care amazing but it’s among the world’s cheapest. And prescriptions here cost a fifth of what you pay at home.
The last time I was at the dentist I got a filling and a cleaning, which cost $22.50. In the U.S. this would set me back around $180. We can also buy property, land, and houses and condominiums freehold—something you can’t do elsewhere in Asia.
Here is the chart. It makes for easy daydreaming…