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7 reasons why you should consider Malaysia

March 22, 2010
Hong Kong, SAR

If you have been considering planting a flag somewhere in Asia, I think you should really consider Malaysia. I briefly discussed the country in Friday’s Q&A updates, but I wanted to dedicate a full letter on the subject because I really think the country is worthy of your attention.

1) Malaysia is cheap… it’s one of the cheapest countries in the world, actually, on par with the costs in Thailand or the Philippines. Property prices are among the most undervalued in Asia. In fact, at roughly $1,400 per square meter, property in Malaysia is cheaper than just about everywhere else in Asia with the exception of Indonesia.

Rental prices are also quite low, as are standard living costs– Malaysia is rich in agricultural resources, so high quality food is cheap and plentiful; additionally, the government subsidizes gasoline with its oil revenues, so petrol only runs around $2/gallon.

2) Despite the low prices, Malaysia is full of modern conveniences, including top quality medical care and foreign luxury products.  This is not a place where you have to learn how to do without most of the creature comforts of your home country.

3) Malaysia is safe. It’s one of the most multicultural countries in the world where Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism all coexist peacefully and respectfully. Crime is extremely low, and violent crime is virtually unheard of, especially involving foreigners.

4) Rights for foreign asset ownership are quite strong in Malaysia, unlike much of the region. In Thailand and Vietnam, for example, it’s quite tricky for foreigners to own property.  In Malaysia, there is only a minimum pricing threshold set by each state, above which foreigners can own property.

5) It’s very easy to move to Malaysia. The government’s “Malaysia- My second home” program (MM2H) is a streamlined, online process to grant an extendable 10-year visa for foreigners of all ages and nationalities.  They require a small investment to qualify– less than $100,000– which can go towards the purchase of a property.

It’s one of the most welcoming residency visas in the world, rivaling even Panama’s pensionado program.

Furthermore, for PTs, the government automatically grants a 90-day tourist visa (which can be extended quite easily) upon entry for North American and European nationalities. This is another major advantage over Thailand which only allows 15-30 days, or Vietnam which requires a visa for entry.

6) Malaysia is a transportation hub with loads of cheap flights to and from many of Asia’s capitals, as well as several transpacific flights.  To give you an example, I have purchased airfare from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for the bargain price of $0 (plus a few bucks in taxes) and to Hong Kong for less than $100.

If you need to travel anywhere in Asia on business, Malaysia is a great place to be traveling from… you’re just a few hours flight at most from anywhere in the region except Japan or South Korea.

7) Malaysia is a great place to do business; it has a strong and stable economy– the country sidestepped a chaotic breakdown in 2008/2009 and has quite reasonable debt to GDP levels and government spending habits.

There is a growing international finance industry in Labuan, Malaysia’s economically autonomous region.  Labuan, which effectively charges no tax, has distinct banking and incorporation advantages because it relies on Malaysia’s vast array of tax treaties while still setting its own tax policy.

Furthermore, because Malaysia is a stable, well-developed Muslim nation, the country is also attracting a great deal of Islamic capital, further bolstering the banking sector and creating demand for Shariah-compliant products.

Overall, if you’re interested in planting a flag in Asia, I think you should strongly consider Malaysia. Remember my basic rule of thumb– will the country continue to be a nicer place to live over the next 10-years? Absolutely. Malaysia’s trend is upward.

To explore the country, I’d suggest starting off in Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital, and then moving on to second tier cities like George Town.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bill Goode

    At $1400 per square meter, Malaysia is no great deal. That’s $5.5 million per acre. One could beat that in most places. If you think that’s a great price, I’ve got lots of desert landscape in Arizona I could sell you for a hundredth of that. I think you must have misplaced a decimal or you are using the wrong conversion factor some where.

    • Freddie Lee

      Hi Bill Goondu

      The writer is refering to BUILT UP area of proerties like houses or condo or offices and NOT land!


      • Al in Austin

        Even then, that is no great deal. It’s about the same as what you’d pay in many places in the U.S.

  • michael

    $1,400 per square meter? Is this for retail office space down town, or is something amiss…

  • Duane

    Hello, Simon,

    In today’s issue you say real estate in Malaysia is about $1,400 a square metre. Is that just for land, or what?

    If that is the case, what are the values in other countries you are familiar with?

    Thank you,


    • BobinLA

      Duane- $1,400 per square meter is for built-up property, not raw land– e. g. a 100 sqyare meter condo for $140,000.

  • Chris

    Simon, could you please write about the pro’s and con’s of Colombia? Thanks

  • Roland


    That $1,400 per square meter must be a misprint. My calculator says 2.47 acres (10,000 s.m.) at this price would cost $14,000,000. Ka-Ching!!!
    Anyone wanna buy gold plated carrots from my future farm?

  • Me

    Dead on!
    Coming back to Malaysia from Indo, Vietnam, and even parts of Thailand is like coming home to what we have come to expect as westerners. Great infrastructure, safe, sophisticated and very civilized.

    The minimum purchase for RE has been raised as of Jan-10 to RM500,000 from the previous ridiculously low figure. Details here for anyone interested.

    There is current oversupply in certain RE in KL so be careful. Plenty great deals though if you pay attention and ignore 90% of the agents.

  • Marquelle

    Too bad Malaysia does not accept multiple citizenship…

  • SPC

    First of all I think Malaysia need to create an equal opportunity and continue to improve on education and human rights

  • Jack

    Argh! The pop-up at the bottom of the screen is killing me. How many times must I close it??

  • Jacques

    Malaysia is a great country for expats. Malaysians are friendly, food is great, and life is relatively easy. Two notes of caution though.
    1- Malaysia may be cheap, but if you want to live “a la Expat” – i.e. eat western food and have regular wine/beer/liquor – then your budget is going to be pretty close to what you’re used to back home.
    2- Business is not that easy. Malasyia still has the NEP/NEM in place, and some industries work in close circles. Who you know often is more important than what you know.

  • Nadeem Chaudhry

    One thing the article missed – With the MM2H program, you cannot work or own a business (so I was told) in Malaysia. It is strictly for retirement. Any suggestions on emmigrating for people wanting to live and work there.

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