Older Britons heading for retirement in South East Asia

Published:  13 Jun at 6 PM
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As life gets more complicated in the traditional retirement destinations of Spain and France, an increasing number of British pensioners are living the expat dream in South East Asia.

A combination of sunshine, great beaches, low living costs, established expat communities and retirement-friendly visa requirements is luring Brits to Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Malaysia, ‘My Second Home’ retirement visa was introduced in 2002, with over 20,000 expats now happily settled in the former British colony.

Malaysia’s recently introduced Expatriate Service Division is making it even easier to settle, and the country is ramping up its granting of 10-year visas and long-stay work permits. Penang is a popular hub for new arrivals from chilly Britain, and is a charming, historic city with its roots in colonisation.

Recent immigrant retirees are impressed with the country’s stability, the standard of English and the high quality of the heathcare facilities. Freehold properties can be bought and, to qualify for the long-stay visa, £30,000 must be deposited in a local bank.

The retirement package offered by the Philippines is similar too that of Malaysia, but the amount deposited is much lower at £10,000. Expats are allowed to buy property, which can be set against the £10,000, but are not allowed to own land, and the long-stay visa is good for 10 years.

Thailand only offers a one-year visa, but it’s renewable indefinitely. Retirees must have 800,000 baht (around £17,000) in a local bank for three months before the date of the annual renewal and, like the Philippines, land cannot be owned but properties can. In Thailand, those on retirement visas are forbidden to work or even volunteer without a work permit, which is not granted on a retirement visa.
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