With the cost of living continuing to increase in many Western countries – a factor that’s, unfortunately, been combined with rising levels of unemployment and much less in the way of job security – a growing number of retirees and would-be retirees are looking at international destinations for their retirement.
While the idea of moving across the world to retire may seem daunting, it’s one that is growing increasingly appealing. The cost of owning or renting a home has started increasing once again, making accommodation a huge expense for retirees. The cost of food, medicine, and other household essentials is also on the way up, making life an expensive and stressful endeavor for those on a limited income or pension.
Thankfully, there are many countries – particularly those located in East and Southeast Asia – that offer a high quality, comfortable retired life at a fraction of the cost of life in the West. Instead of thousand-dollar monthly bills, many retirees can enjoy a life of limited expenses, comfortable living, and a new outlook on their lives.
Asia has long been a hotspot for people looking to build their ideal lifestyle, and for retirees it’s no different than for young, would-be workers. With warm, culturally rich, and friendly countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore in the tropical zone, many retirees are flocking to Southeast Asia for the great lifestyle it offers. Plus, due to the proximity, travel between the countries is fairly cheap and easy. So for someone who decides to retire to Singapore, it’s not hard to make it over to a Kuala Lumpur hotel in Malaysia, or from Malaysia to Phuket in Thailand.
Malaysia is a small peninsula and island-based country in Southeast Asia, one of the region’s growing economic powerhouses and a major cultural hotspot. With a major city center in Kuala Lumpur, a trading powerhouse in Johor Bahru, and a tropical yet culturally rich island paradise in Penang, it’s one of the cheapest places to retire in Asia.
Malaysia has an advanced developing economy and a stable banking sector, making it an ideal choice for those looking to enjoy a sense of security and dependability yet still enjoy an inexpensive, rewarding lifestyle. With three major ethnic groups that make up its population, it’s also a culturally diverse and interesting destination.
To the north of Malaysia is Thailand – a slightly larger, significantly more populous, and much more culturally homogenous destination that’s even more popular among Western retirees. With one of the world’s best year-round climates, some of the best beaches on the planet, and a variety of large and medium-sized cities, it’s become a leading destination for international tourists, and, of course, international retirees.
Thailand is one of Asia’s cheapest newly industrialized countries – a destination that combines the convenience and security of a strong economy with the low living cost that’s most commonly associated with developing nations. With a strong financial sector and numerous ties to the international market, Thailand is a safe place to store your funds while living overseas.
One of Thailand’s strongest selling points for retirees is its ‘retiree visa’ scheme. In Thailand, visitors aged above 50 years old with a stable source of income – whether from a pension, a salary, or from investment earnings – can be granted a long-term residence visa aimed at encouraging retirees’ investment in the country.
It’s a successful program that’s resulted in tens of thousands of retirees from foreign countries moving to Thailand to enjoy their new lifestyle. Given the cheap cost of life in many of Thailand’s most desirable locations, the visa program can lead to a highly enjoyable yet incredibly affordable life in one of the world’s most beautiful places.
Vietnam, once a closed-off country uninterested in the affairs of the outside world, is now a growing international hotspot for investment and creation. With an economy that’s rapidly coming of age, the country is poised to become one of Southeast Asia’s top locations in the next few decades, whether for business or for pleasure.
Vietnam is significantly more restrictive than countries like Thailand and Singapore, yet it still offers a relatively simple and affordable life for those willing to spend time and effort investigating its options. With a less developed economy than Thailand or Malaysia, Vietnam is the least expensive of the three Asian retirement destinations.
Despite the low cost of living, however, Vietnam offers a mix of modern businesses and traditional life. Cities such as Ho Chi Minh City – known to some as ‘Saigon’ – are popular hotspots for international visitors looking for a convenient, modern life. A range of beach destinations, such as NhaTrang and PhuQuoc, have drawn foreign retirees seeking an inexpensive and enjoyable seaside lifestyle in Southeast Asia.
Finally, destinations such as Cambodia and Laos – two countries located between Vietnam and Thailand – have attracted a variety of retirees seeking a much more traditional existence. Largely untouched by modern commerce – and in some cases, plagued by decades of war – these destinations retain a peaceful charm and old-fashioned lifestyle that can be difficult to find in the fast-paced Western world.
As a result, they’ve become hotspots for retirees looking for peace, quiet, and a clear schedule. With some of the lowest costs of living in the world, these two countries are a great option for visitors seeking a quiet life without the material trappings that are more frequently found in Thailand and Malaysia.
The downside to these destinations, however, is a less secure financial sector and a less dependable range of public services. However, for those willing to hold their assets in a different jurisdiction – Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore being fairly popular choices – these destinations offer a unique and peaceful life for retirees.
If Asia excels in any one spot, it’s in affordability. From Thailand to Laos, Malaysia to Vietnam, many Southeast Asian countries offer an affordable, enjoyable lifestyle at a cost that’s rarely greater than the average international home rental bill., all while providing a level of convenience and modern living that equals – if not excels – what can be found in the West. If you’re seeking an affordable, deep, exciting, and gratifying life in Asia, these five countries fit the bill perfectly.