Redang Island, Malaysia [Photo credits to Lukman Kusuma on Flickr]
A recent survey by CB Richard Ellis(pdf) highlights that Thailand has increasing competition on its hands as the pre-eminent retirement and second home (RSH) location in Southeast Asia. The report also finds that retired people relocating abroad is a fast growing trend. Already more than 5% of UK state pensions are remitted outside the country. The picture in terms of the relative attractions of different countries and the pros and cons of each of them is fast changing.
Clearly some of the advantages are good climate, lower living costs and superior lifestyle. New build properties and relatively cheap labour costs will have obvious attractions to retired people. According to the 2006 Mercer cost of living survey, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila were respectively 114th, 127th and 141st on the list of world cities ordered by cost of living. What may not be so obvious is that a lower cost of medical treatments may make the move to this part of the world less of a risk than it would seem and give countries such as Thailand and Malaysia an edge over, say, Australia, as retirement relocation destination. Furthermore, these countries seem to be entering into a Dutch auction in terms of the amount of local bank account balances they require of foreign residents. Gradually, too, the restrictions on foreign ownership of property are beginning to be relaxed. However, in this connection, the â€˜Malaysia, My Second Homeâ€™ regime under which foreigners are normally given permission to purchase properties outright is a lot more relaxed than Thailandâ€™s, where 30 year leases for foreign residents are the norm.