Safety In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

But Is It Safe?

“I have just recently discovered your website and its interesting and exciting information,” writes a new reader this month.

“However,” she continues, “I have to say that most all the countries you promote outside the EU as safe (this is part of your pitch) are regarded as unsafe to dangerous by different government agencies counseling their citizens about international travel, including Canada, the United States, France, and Switzerland.

“We have young children, and personal security is top on our priority list when it comes to making a move abroad…”

And then this, from another concerned reader, in response to a recent report we published on low-cost medical and dental care in Malaysia:

“Kuala Lumpur has the highest murder rate in the world! I would not go there if the dental work were free…”

Let’s take the general safety question first. In short, all the places we recommend are safe. We base this position not on government reports but on personal experience on the ground in each place and on the experience of our in-country contacts.

In fact, we eschew the warnings from, cautions by, and, in fact, most anything published courtesy of government agencies.

Imagine government agency postings for certain sections of Los Angeles? Or Baltimore, Maryland? Or Washington, D.C.? These are among the most dangerous places on earth. I speak from personal experience, having grown up in Baltimore, where I was mugged twice and where the murder rate most years is at least one per day.

U.S. and other government agencies publish their warnings to cover their derrieres. These warnings are based on bureaucratic interpretations of realities very far away and typically bear little resemblance to the actual realities.

We’ve had the experience, ourselves, many times, over the years, of being in the very spots that government agencies, CNN, Fox News, et al., were promoting as dangerous, riotous, and worse…only to look out our windows and shake our heads. Where’s the trouble, we’ve wondered? We didn’t see it and certainly weren’t affected by it.

Again, all the places we recommend are safe. When this changes, we say so (as in certain sections of Thailand earlier this year, from where Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst reported at the time).

Many of the places we recommend are places where I have traveled myself, as a woman, on my own,  including with my children when they were very young. And all are places I would travel now without concern.

This includes the featured destination in this month’s issue. The reader who wrote recently to inform us that Kuala Lumpur has the highest murder rate in the world was somehow misinformed.

World’s most murderous city? That’d be Juarez City, Mexico. In our research, we’ve been unable to find Kuala Lumpur on any list of the world’s most dangerous places to spend time.

No place is 100% crime-free, of course, and K.L. has a history of street crime. The country is addressing this, and petty street crime is down more than 35% in the first five months of this year compared with the same period in 2009.

None of this is to say that K.L. is the place for you to plan your retirement.

On the other hand, Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice makes a strong and tempting case for how interesting, enjoyable, and affordable your new life in this part of the world could be in this month’s issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter, in final stages of production now.

Kathleen Peddicord