SINGAPORE: Malaysia has been named one of the world's best five places to retire in, according to International Living, an organisation that helps people look for retirement and relocation opportunities.
In its Annual Global Retirement Index for 2018 released on Monday (Jan 1), Malaysia sits in fifth place with its score of 87.7, less than four points behind first-placed Costa Rica.
The index ranks the top 24 retirement havens worldwide, based on 12 criteria such as cost of living, healthcare, entertainment, climate and governance.
Malaysia, the only Asian country to make the top 10, drew high scores for governance and renting.
International Living’s Malaysia correspondent Keith Hockton described the country as “easy, English-speaking and First World”. He wrote that in “bang-for-buck” Malaysia, it is possible for a couple to live comfortably on US$1,500 a month, or extravagantly on US$2,500 a month including rent.
Malaysia also topped the index’s entertainment and amenities category, largely due to its reputation as a food haven where local fare can cost as low as US$1.50 per meal.
In terms of healthcare, Mr Hockton drew comparison between a US$4,000 knee replacement procedure in Malaysia and its equivalent in the United States, where it would cost an eye-watering US$45,000 or more.
However, Malaysia fell short in the benefits and discounts category, which signals that there is room for improvement when it comes to providing a more comprehensive range of perks for retirees.
First placed Costa Rica drew praise for its low cost of living, natural beauty as well as affordable healthcare and real estate. According to International Living, “tens of thousands" of United States and Canadian expats already live in Costa Rica either full- or part-time. A couple can rent a furnished two-bedroom home for just US$500 and spend US$25 for a week’s groceries, it said.
Other Asian countries that made the list were Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.