The world’s largest and most populated continent offers a huge range of opportunities for seniors, yet it’s frequently brushed off by those seeking an affordable, pleasant place to retire.
Asia is home to many of the world’s oldest cultures and an incredible variety of different destinations. From the warm beaches of Thailand to the mega-cities of China, the continent offers more variety than anywhere else on earth. As a result, Asia must be viewed as a collection of different cultures and destinations, not as a singular continent.
All across Asia, there are large communities of seniors that have emigrated from their own countries in search of a more pleasant retirement life. From those that seek affordability and comfortable weather in Thailand to those that with to be a part of a new, fast-moving culture in China and Hong Kong, Asia attracts seniors at an incredible pace.
As a result, it’s rarely difficult to meet locals once you’ve landed, but somewhat tough to find real information on senior communities when looking online. Read on to learn more about the options for seniors living in Asia, and which countries are attracting the greatest numbers of retirees from the Western World.
In Thailand’s Gulf Coast, a small coastal city named Hua Hin has established itself as the region’s leading retirement destination. Home to tens of thousands of retirees from both domestic destinations in Thailand and international regions far across the sea, this small coastal community has emerged as an Asian retirement hotspot.
It’s one of many within Thailand. With generous retirement visa plans for those aged above fifty years and a vibrant local economy, Thailand has grown into one of the continent’s top retirement destinations. Seniors seeking sun, sand, and cheap living have flocked to the country, establishing their own communities along the way.
The same situation is beginning to play out in Thailand’s neighboring countries, and similar communities are popping up throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Foreign expatriates and retirees seeking peace, tranquility, and affordable living are creating communities in Asia that allow them to live the life that they’ve dreamed of.
Unlike Thailand, however, many of the region’s other countries have little in the way of international visa programs for retirees, forcing many expatriates to reside in their new homes using a tourist visa or visa-free entry document. This is one of the key downsides for seniors living in Asia – without official residency, life can feel like a less secure prospect than it would be in the West.
Inspired by the success of Thailand’s retirement visa program, Malaysia has started a similar initiative to draw foreign retirees onto its soil. Called ‘My Second Home,’ a new program for fifty-plus retirees allows for a simple residency in Malaysia as one of thousands of foreign long-term visitors.
Other regions, particularly the continent’s economic powerhouses, offer a different avenue for senior seeking a life within their borders. Hong Kong, one of the world’s financial capitals, allows foreign visitors to obtain residency and retire after they’ve invested $10 million HKD in local property or businesses.
Singapore has a similar program, and for seniors with ample assets, it’s a good way to ensure that your residency issues are taken care of. As a result of these programs, large communities of foreign expatriates and seniors living in Singapore and Hong Kong have emerged, with residents trending towards the higher end of the assets scale.
All of the Asian countries with a formal retirement visa or investment visa program have a stable, convenient atmosphere for retirees. Retirement hotspots like Hua Hin are home to retiree-focused businesses, including country clubs, health spas, and housing communities.
Given the immense resources that many seniors bring to the economy in the regions they retire to, the local economies have adapted to provide useful services aimed squarely at the senior population.
Asian cultures, particularly those in East and Southeast Asia, place a great deal of respect on seniors. Unlike the Western World, which celebrates youthful energy and innovation, many Eastern cultures see wisdom – and those that hold it – as the most important cultural currency. As a result, locals are friendly and courteous to seniors and treat expatriates and retirees with a high level of respect and admiration.
Seniors with disabilities, however, may find Asia to be a frustrating place to live. In many Western cities, those with disabilities are accommodated for through access lifts and smooth sidewalks. In many Asian cities, particularly dense cities such as Hong Kong and Tokyo, however, disabled residents may have trouble accessing much of the city.
Healthcare is a vital service for everyone, and it’s important for seniors living in a foreign country to have reliable access to high-quality healthcare. Many of Asia’s largest cities have become medical tourism hubs – Seoul, Bangkok, and Singapore being the classic examples. Given the high level of social importance assigned to health in Asia, hospitals are plentiful, well staffed, and generally affordable.
On the whole, Asia is a welcoming continent for seniors of all races and cultures, as long as they are willing to make some small changes to their lives in order to adapt to local cultures and customs. With a cultural focus on sensitivity, politeness, and a deep-seated respect for elders and their wisdom, East and Southeast Asia are a great place for seniors to retire to.
So despite the lack of information, and perhaps the ever-present social pressure to retire domestically, an Asian retirement is certainly something to consider. Whether you’re looking to minimize retirement costs or simply enjoy a new part of the world, Asia is a great continent for seniors to live and thrive in.