Spread across the Malaysian Peninsula and the island of Borneo, Malaysia is a warm, culturally diverse, and interesting tropical country that’s home to many of the most stunning beaches in the world, some of the region’s most delicious food, and culture that blends the best of India, Malaysia, and China together as one.
With a year-round warm climate and fantastic scenery, Malaysia has attracted many retirees from temperate countries for several years. The low cost of living, combined with the conveniences of a modern country and the option of both big city and rural living has made Malaysia one of Southeast Asia’s top retirement destinations.
Thankfully, Malaysia is a relatively easy country to retire to, being both culturally accessible for English speakers and legally open to the Western world. With a visa program designed to ease the transition to Malaysian life for retirees and a culture that, in many cases, welcomes foreigners, Malaysia is a great place to retire to.
Does Malaysia Offer A Visa Program For Retirees?
Malaysia is one of three countries in Southeast Asia that offers a special retirement visa for expatriates aiming to spend their later life within its borders. This puts it in the same league as Thailand and the Philippines in terms of accessibility. Branded as the Malaysia: My Second Home program, the retirement visa system has been set in place for several years and has opened Malaysia up as a foreign retirement country.
Based on feedback from retirees that have applied for and attained a visa through the second home program, it is both easy to complete and relatively open, giving a wide range of applicants the possibility of residing in Malaysia long term. The visa requirements are documented in more detail in the following section.
Financial Requirements For Obtaining A Malaysian Retirement Visa
Applicants for a retirement visa in Malaysia must meet several financial guidelines. These guidelines and requirements differ based on the type of application – single applicants must only meet the requirements for themselves, while applicants that wish to reside in Malaysia with their spouse must meet the combined financial requirements.
The first requirement is a current account balance of at least $33,000 US dollars in a Malaysia-based bank account. This requirement is for single retirees only. The valid account types include a personal bank account balance in Malaysia, or a long-term investment opportunity in Malaysia, such as a term deposit or market account.
Married couples wishing to retire to Malaysia must have a combined balance of at least $50,000 in a single Malaysian bank account in order to qualify for a retirement visa. This balance, as with the single-person applicant balance, can be in either a bank account or in a term deposit in any Malaysia-based bank.
In certain cases, these financial requirements can be waived for applicants. The most common exception is for retirees that live off of a fixed wage of pension that is paid into their accounts on a weekly or monthly basis. In this case, the requirements for a visa are based on average monthly income, rather than total cash savings.
In this case, single applicants for a retirement visa must have a monthly income of at least $2,300 US dollars monthly. This income must be deposited into a bank based in Malaysia and must be from a source based outside of Malaysia – a bank transfer or deposit from within Malaysia is generally not accepted.
Married applicants seeking a joint retirement visa are also able to bypass the bank deposit requirement should they be able to prove their monthly income. In this case, a monthly income of approximately $3,300 US dollars per month is required. Again, it must be sourced from outside of Malaysia and deposited into a domestic account.
Administrative Requirements For Acquiring A Malaysian Retirement Visa
Malaysia imposes an age guideline of fifty years, however, applicants aged below fifty are also able to apply for a retirement visa. The deposit requirements are the same for both age groups, as are the other requirements. However, applicants with an age below fifty years must also provide a reference from a sponsor that lives in Malaysia as a citizen or permanent resident in order to qualify for the visa.
Other administrative requirements for the visa include two passport-sized photographs, a certificate proving the bank account balance or fixed deposit, and a statement form from a Malaysian sponsor, if required due to age. Married couples that are applying for residency must also provide a certified marriage certificate copy.
As of December 2011, Malaysian authorities also require applicants to provide a document confirming and detailing their past legal history, including any criminal convictions. This must be notarized and confirmed as genuine by a lawyer, either in your home country of within Malaysia.
Dependent children under 21 years of age are able to visit their parents in Malaysia as part of a long-term stay visa, or by using the standard tourist visa system. If you plan to retire to Malaysia with children, it’s worth seeking the advice of a lawyer in Malaysia, as adding them to a couples’ retirement visa can be complicated.
Where Can I Apply For A Malaysian Retirement Visa?
Retirement visas can be applied for at any Malaysian embassy or consulate, such as those in neighboring countries like Thailand and Singapore. A list of embassies for Malaysia can be found on the Embassy Information website, and local information is available from the Malaysian Government.
With its fantastic beaches, great food, welcoming culture, and mix of modern city life and rural relaxation, Malaysia is a great new home for retirees seeking a big change of pace from their home country. Thanks to its new retirement visa system and its streamlined application process, moving to Malaysia as a retiree or expatriate is now easier than ever before.