Published: Sunday February 24, 2013 MYT 5:01:00 PM
George Town voted among “8 great places to retire abroad” by Kiplinger
NEW YORK: George Town in Penang, Malaysia has been voted one of the world's "eight great places to retire abroad".
This also makes Malaysia the only Asian country to figure in the list.
The others are Medellin (Colombia), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Salinas (Ecuador), Bilbao (Spain), Coronado (Panama), Galway (Ireland) and Tlaxcala (Mexico).
The accolade for George Town and the rest comes from Kiplinger, a specialist in personal finance and business forecasting, which provides advice on retirement, taxes, investment and real estate, among others.
Kiplinger, which has an online publication, in its latest issue, describes the climate of George Town, with a population of about 740,200, as hot and humid.
"Located in northwest Malaysia, George Town gets its fair share of rain, particularly in April and October," it says.
One attraction for retirees is the fact that Malaysia has good, affordable and quality medical and dental services.
"Foreigners routinely travel to Malaysia for affordable, quality medical and dental services. There are several hospitals and clinics in and around George Town," the report points out.
As far as the cost of living is concerned, Malaysia ranks third, behind only Thailand and the Philippines, in the Global Retirement Index, in terms of lowest living costs.
But the catchline, which is likely to arouse the interest of US retirees, considering that seniors generally are restrained about their spending, is that "an American couple can get along extremely well on $1,500 a month!"
But a major attraction about George Town, and indeed, about Malaysia is the fact that it has a British colonial flavour.
Over the past decade, Kiplinger says, 19,488 foreigners, including 815 North Americans, "have taken advantage of a programme called Malaysia My Second Home, which offers retirement incentives such as long-term residency status and breaks on car imports and purchases".
But Kiplinger also mentioned the caveats.
"Applicants must meet strict financial requirements. But there is a charm and bustle to George Town, the capital of the Malaysian state of Penang. A Unesco World Heritage site, Malaysia's oldest city is known for its rich history but also for its street food and intriguing architecture.
"It's populated mainly by ethnic Chinese, but English is spoken, thanks to the country's historical ties to Britain."
For the piece on retiring abroad, Kiplinger consulted three experts on overseas retirement: Betsy Burlingame of ExpatExchange.com, Kathleen Peddicord of Liveandinvestoverseas.com and Jennifer Stevens of InternationalLiving.com. - Bernama