Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation. The country covers an area of 329,847 square kilometres and sits on a peninsula which borders Thailand and about 30% of north eastern Borneo. The official language is Bahasa Malaysian, but English and various dialects of Chinese and Indian are also widely spoken. Malaysia has a population of around 30 million, of which approximately 60% are Muslim, 19% Buddhist, 9% Christian and 6% Hindu.
The Head of State is King Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu-adzam Shah (although this position is largely ceremonial).
Tropical – Annual Southwest (April to October) and Northeast (November to March) Monsoons.
Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
Modern, high quality system, especially in urban areas. The international code is +60 and the internet code is .my
Malaysia offers an exceptionally high standard of healthcare particularly in its major cities and key tourist areas. Services are equal, if not better, than those available in Australia, and often for a fraction of the cost. More information is available in our healthcare section.
Capital – Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the gateway to Malaysia for the vast majority of international visitors. It has a population of over 1.6 million people. Melbourne and Sydney represent two of its top five markets, with about 800,000 Australians a year visiting the country from these two cities alone.
Major attractions include the world’s tallest twin structure, the Petronas Towers, Merdeka Square, the National Palace, Jamek Mosque and the Central Market – one of the largest of its kind in South East Asia. And, if shopping is your passion, Kuala Lumpur has 66 malls spread throughout the city, to satisfy every desire.
Kuala Lumpur is served by two airports, KL International Airport (KUL) and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB), often called Subang Airport. All flights from Australia arrive into Kuala Lumpur through KUL.
Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia X operate daily direct flights from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia X and Emirates have direct flights from Melbourne. Malaysian Airlines have 3 direct flights a week from both Adelaide and Darwin. Air Asia X operate one daily flight from the Gold Coast.
Perth has the most diverse range of options with Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia X and Malindo Air all operating regular daily direct flights. In addition to this, there is also a weekly flight to Kota Kinabula, on the island of Borneo, which is operated by Malaysian Airlines. All other Australian cities access Kuala Lumpur indirectly.
Driving is very much the main mode of commuting in Kuala Lumpur, and the city is well serviced by an extensive system of highways. Buses and Trains are also widely available. The main International Airport (KUL) has an express rail link, which gets passengers in the centre of the city in 28 minutes.
Key Retirement Locations
Penang, a 50 minute flight north of Kuala Lumpur, is one of Malaysia’s most developed and economically important states. The island is a tourist and retirement favourite, and home to around 600,000 people. It is 293 square kilometres in size and located in the Straits of Malacca. George Town, its capital, is a Malay city with a strong Chinese influence and a British colonial history. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a food lovers paradise and offers a fantastic selection of street art.
Penang is served by an international airport, with a wide range of domestic flights and numerous Asian destinations.
The city has a large and active expat community offering a wonderful environment in which to spend your retirement.
For those looking at a tree change, Ipoh offers a wonderful tropical escape, as it nestles between the Cameron Highlands and the coastline. Located about 3 hours drive north of Kuala Lumpur, the town is connected to the capital by an excellent modern freeway. Coffee houses dot the town and whilst many Chinese now call Ipoh home, the rich colonial history is still evident in the grand architecture of the Ipoh Club, railway station, town hall and law courts.
Malaysia’s oldest city and once Southeast Asia’s greatest trading port, Malacca offers a rich historical and cultural backdrop to highly attractive and cost effective retirement. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and tourist numbers have risen rapidly in recent years, with over 15 million visitors annually. Located two hours drive south from Kuala Lumpur, the city is only three hours drive north from Singapore, and has become a popular week-end escape for Singaporeans.
Aside from the capital itself, for the more adventurous retiree, Malaysia also offers the rustic beauty of Langkawi Island (just north of Penang) and the utterly breathtaking beauty of both Sabah and Sarawak, the two Malaysian states which are on the island of Borneo.