Retire To Malaysia, Thailand, India

It Doesn’t Get Cheaper Than This

The cheapest places on earth to live a full, interesting, fully appointed, even luxury-level life, in retirement or otherwise?

You’ll find them in Asia.

“I still feel like Alice in Wonderland at times,” Paul says, “with the temples and dances, food and drink, language and laughter, parks and wildlife. I predict you’ll feel like Alice, too, at least part of the time.

“But don’t let that keep you away. Today you can travel almost everywhere in Asia. Vicki and I recommend you do so. As much as possible, we also recommend you travel over land. You want to travel at street level, to take tuk-tuks, to order from street vendors, and to chat with innkeepers. You want to get to know people here, to share in their daily triumphs and to mourn their losses…”

Of the many good reasons to visit Asia now, one of the best, I say again, is that it’s cheap.

Super, you-won’t-believe-how-far-your-retirement-nest-egg-will-stretch cheap.

Among the most affordable choices in Asia (and the world) right now are Thailand and Malaysia. This past week, Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice helped you glimpse what your life might be like as an expat in these countries, retired to Chiang Mai, for example, or to Kuala Lumpur.

Wendy’s reports included itemized budgets for your cost of living. Bottom line? Her figures show that you could retire to Chiang Mai on a budget of US$1,135 per month, including rent, weekly help around the house, and regular nights out…

And you could retire in comfort in Malaysia’s vibrant capital on a budget of US$1,223 per month, again including rent, household help, and weekly entertainment.

Rent cheaper, forgo help around the house, and eat at home most nights, and you could pare those budgets back by US$300, US$400 per month…even more.

We’ll continue our coverage of the world’s cheapest and most exotic retirement havens this week, with reports of expat life in Vietnam, China, India, and Oman.

“Southeast Asia, especially China,” Paul Terhorst explains, “still has regions so remote that you won’t see expats or, more to the point, anyone who speaks English. Even in those cases, you can try to imagine your life there, as I’ve done. How would you get by? Answer: Pretty well…

“Asia opens a whole new world, exotic and cool, glittery and mystic. Languages not only have different ancestors, they have different alphabets, sometimes no alphabet at all…

“It’s for all these reasons that Vicki and I have decided, starting this year, to spend more time in Malaysia, India, and southern China. We love all three places—the weather, people, culture, things to do, food, and so on…”

Once you’ve based yourself in Asia, travel within the region can be absurdly cheap. Discount carrier Air Asia makes its base in Kuala Lumpur and expands its route structure regularly. As Paul explains, “Tony Fernades, the founder of Air Asia, laughs at the state-owned airlines that provide the so-called competition. Tony runs circles around them.

“Just to give you an idea, earlier this year, Vicki and I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore on Air Asia for US$8 each, including all taxes and fees. We took airport buses to/from the respective airports, adding another US$5 to our door-to-door trip.

“Total cost was US$13.”

One more time: Try Asia.

Try Asia now.

More tomorrow and throughout the week.

Kathleen Peddicord