Back in Toronto, sleeping with the balcony doors open all year round wasn’t an option for Jacques and Sharon Giraud. But in their new life in Penang, Malaysia, it is.
You’ll never find a better time to take out the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa. As I write, $1 is equal to 4.49 Malaysian ringgit (RM). The exchange rate hasn’t been this strong in years. And that’s good news for everyone who is thinking about applying.
“We love Penang for a number of reasons,” says Carol Kildruff of her and her husband Hank’s decision to move to the Southeast Asian island in 2005. “It wasn’t purely for ﬁnancial reasons, although that was a bonus. Winters in Canada are brutal, and we really wanted somewhere warm for seven months of the year. Of course, when we found out that Penang has the best food in the region, it clinched the deal and made the decision to move all the easier.”
“We have never regretted our decision,” says Ellen Ma of her and her husband Jim’s move to the island of Penang in northeast Malaysia. “Financially it made sense, and when you throw in high-speed internet, cable TV, great food, and a large, diverse expat community, we wish we had done it sooner. We were also surprised how many North Americans are here. There are a lot and that’s also comforting… we immediately had people who understood us.”
I ’d never seen a festival like it in my life, and I’d been living in Southeast Asia for 16 years: the massive procession of people winding its way through the streets, bearing aloft colorful offerings of fruit, flowers, and food, following a glowing chariot to the temple where they unburden themselves. Many of them adorn their bodies with ornate but painful-looking piercings and shave their heads as a sign of devotion.
Many people yearn for the classic tropical-island getaway: pristine beaches, clear water, sunkissed sands, and palm fronds fringing verdant rainforest. Alas, such places are in increasingly short supply. One still-pristine getaway is Langkawi. Known as the jewel of the Malaysian state of Kedah, this archipelago of 105 islands remains off most tourists’ radar. As a result, the traditions and tropical-island feel remain intact. Here you’ll find the unblemished beaches, crystal-clear waters, and wild rainforests of tropical-island lore.
Paul Blanford has created a lifestyle income for his retirement. It’s already making money…and occasionally he gets to enjoy it himself. But when he’s ready to retire—which may be sooner rather than later—his new life is ready for him. Paul, a native of New Zealand, works as a pilot in Hong Kong but has always loved boats and sailing. So he decided to buy a junk—a type of traditional Chinese sailboat— and turn it into a business. Second-hand junks are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong, and Paul had his eye on the tourist charter business along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca.
The last decade has seen the rise of the low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia. Cheap, short-hop flights now criss-cross the region—much of it spread across the ocean in archipelagos like the Philippines and Indonesia. This boom in no-frills flights means cheap travel and it’s one of the reasons that my wife Lisa and I can travel so much. We live in Penang, Malaysia, but whatever Asian destination you chose for your home you’ll find it easy to explore the region.
Malaysia launched its MM2H program (Malaysia My Second Home) in 2006. At the time there was nothing like it in Asia, and there still isn’t. As well as giving you a 10- year renewable multiple entry visa, you can bring your own car with you tax-free, and you can also bring your children with you if they are under the age of 21.
Most evenings Sharon and Frank Moorhead can be found leisurely sipping sundowners and enjoying the sunset from their penthouse balcony. Theirs is one of the most scenic views on the tropical island of Penang.