Following A Spreadsheet To Penang

PUBLISHED: 30 AUG 2014 02:49:00 | UPDATED: 30 AUG 2014 04:57:56

Penang is safe, cheap, has a low crime rate, good rule of law and boasts good medical facilities. Photo: Jacqueline Maley

STEPHEN WYATT AND COLLEEN RYAN

Bob, who now lives in Penang, Malaysia, knew he didn’t want to live in Australia during his retirement years but had no idea where to go.

So Bob, being a thorough sort of person, developed a spreadsheet analysis on where the best place is to live in the world. His spreadsheet spat out Penang.

Penang met his country filters. It was safe, cheap, had a low crime rate and rule of law and boasted good medical facilities, an acceptable tax regime, a good climate, a cultural backstory, widespread English as a spoken language, good housing and an interesting social life with plenty of restaurants and a diverse group of people.

Malaysia even offers a special long-term visa for retirees – a Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa.

Bob says on the criteria of crime alone, a whole lot of places have to be ruled out – “like most of South America, for example, you are not going to live in Bogota, you are not going to live in Mexico City”. Taxation also takes out many countries. Bob says: “It becomes a real issue and counts out a lot of western Europe, Portugal, Greece and, for me, Australia.”

The cost of living in Malaysia is low. And that suits Bob. Rent is 80 per cent cheaper than Australia and, indeed, many cities in the West. Eating out at a restaurant is 70 per cent cheaper and groceries are almost 60 per cent less. These are massive savings for a retiree.

And the social life is dynamic. Bob says: “If we really tried hard, tomorrow night we could have a dinner party containing the following demographics: a professional chef, a woman who runs a modelling agency, an orchestra conductor, the commanding officer of Butterworth, some security experts, a chaplain, even a jockey. We are swimming in an incredibly rich social pool – I never mixed with these people in Sydney or Melbourne.”