When it comes to the best place to retire to in Asean you can’t go past Malaysia; at least according to the results of the latest International Living (IL) Annual Global Retirement Index 2017 (AGRI 2017).
Listing what it claims to be the best place in the world to retire in, AGRI 2017 ranks 24 countries according to ten criteria including healthcare services, infrastructure, the ease of obtaining and keeping a long-stay visa, the cost of living, and more.
When it comes to the ‘cost of living’, IL says the ratings are based on day-to-day expenses, flight fares to the United States, garbage collection, gas, groceries, residential property rentals, clothing, telecommunications, movie theater tickets, restaurants, gym memberships, and more.
Despite dropping one position in this year’s global ranking compared to 2016, Malaysia remains the best place to retire in Asean and the sixth best place in the world to retire to.
The ability to purchase property (not only condominiums), an affordable cost of living, and an exceptional healthcare standard that catapulted it to the top of the same publication’s list of country’s with the world’s best healthcare (See: World’s Best: Malaysia Medical Tourism Sector to Experience Extraordinary Growth), all help push Malaysia to the fore as the best place to retire to in Asean.
IL describes the AGRI 2017 index as the ‘the most detailed and accurate yet’, though it does caution that in spite of ‘improved research and information gathering processes’ the results are, by design, ‘subjective’ and ‘rely on the informed judgment and real-world experience of in-country expats’.
While the full IL AGRI 2017 report is only available as part of an annual subscription to IL, the index published to promote the list says a lot. Only 3.9 points separate Malaysia from the
best place in the world to retire to, Mexico.
In addition to healthcare, the AGRI 2017 scores Malaysia also high for ‘entertainment and amenities’, and for ‘fitting in’. It also particularly noted its quantity – 878 – of idyllic islands, stunning beaches, and rain forests, in addition to its cultural nexus, and world-class dining facilities.
Thailand loses its shine
Bringing up the second best place to retire to in Asean was Thailand, who tumbled five places from its 2016 ranking as the seventh best place in the world to retire in to finish number 12 on the 2017 list, six points behind Malaysia.
While once a hugely popular destination for retirees, visa and residency restrictions, increasing cost of living, and reducing benefits have seen the Kingdom lose its shine.
Even Thailand’s highly promoted healthcare sector failed to impress. Ranked eight points below Malaysia, equivalent to that in the Philippines, which was ranked as the fourth best place to retire to in Asean and the 19th best place in the world to retire to.
While the Philippines scored particularly well for ‘fitting in’, it scored particularly poorly for ‘visa’s and residency’.
All is not lost for Thailand though. In IL’s top 3 climates to retire to in Southeast Asia, the Kingdom occupies top spot ahead of Malaysia and Philippines which were ranked second and third respectively in a three horse race.
Cambodia #1 for retirees on a budget
When it comes to extending the buying power of your retirement budget the third best place to retire to in Asean and 17th best place in the world to retire in is Cambodia.
In fact, according to the IL index, Cambodia is a virtual utopia when it comes to cost of living, scoring 99 out of a possible 100; ten points ahead of the best place in the world to retire!
Some of the areas that enhance Cambodia’s affordability for expats according to IL are the ease of processing an annual visa extension, which costs about $285, great-value property rentals, and the cost of meals at quality local and international restaurants. In addition the competitive telecom market offers some of the cheapest cellphone plans available.
According to IL’s correspondent Steven King, “Cambodia has the lowest expat cost of living in the world, but while the prices are low, the quality and luxury of the lifestyle is definitely not
Despite Cambodia’s healthcare sector and infrastructure scoring well below fourth-placed the Philippines, its ranking on other factors, saw it finish 1.3 points ahead at 79.5, compared to the latter’s 78.2.
Also scoring well for cost of living, but particularly poorly for ‘infrastructure’ was Vietnam. Ranked as the fifth best place to retire to in Asean and the 24th best place in the world to retire in.
Commenting on the 24 best place in the world to retire in, IL says: “You can stretch your dollars in any of them and live better than you can back home –for less. By Stella-maris Ewudolu
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.
c/o National Trade Union Center Philippines
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