Although Asian destinations don’t typically feature amongst the most popular destinations for British expats, they offer great opportunities for affordable living.
While the world’s most populous continent may not seem like the most obvious choice for living out your retirement, there really is something to suit everyone across the wide swathes of Asia. Whether it’s the languid peace of a tropical beach or the fast-paced energy of metropolitan living, expats will find themselves spoilt for choice amongst the varied locales of the Asian continent. Asia can also be tailored to a variety of budgets, be it with an idyllic seaside village in Thailand or an inner-city pad in Japan.
With that in mind here’s a look at some of the best retirement locations on offer across the great eastern continent:
While Thailand is quite commonly associated with backpacking gap-year students, the country is just as welcoming (if not more so) for the older expat. It has one of the lowest costs of living within the whole of Asia, which in itself makes for an attractive proposition without even taking into consideration the varied natural beauty of the area, from its beaches to its tropical mountains.
Respect for elders is enshrined in the Thai culture and retirees can choose to move to one of the country’s specialist retirement centres in their later life, where residents can enjoy all the benefits of the local climate and lifestyle without having to deal with life’s daily hassles. Thailand is also a popular destination for medical tourism, boasting high-quality services at a fraction of the cost of western nations, unmatched by many of its neighbours.
There are a number of things that set Malaysia and its capital city apart, including the unimpeded ability of foreign nationals to purchase property freehold and enjoy certain tax-based perks. Kuala Lumpur is also particularly notable for the fact that, unlike many other major Asian cities, personal cars are the main means of commuting, putting it in line with western norms. Although the city does still boast a solid public transport system the greater freedom for drivers can be a real draw for those who wish to maintain a high level of independence.
Outside of its bustling business district Kuala Lumpur is rather less busy than you might expect, with its many suburbs offering a very good compromise between the buzz of the inner-city and a rather more relaxed and quiet pace of life. Although English is not one of Malaysia’s official languages there is nevertheless a large community of English-speaking expats in the city, making it relatively easy to settle into.
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A city-state which ranks consistently highly in international indexes with regards to its quality of life, healthcare and economic prowess, Singapore is itself a very popular hub for expats. With an emphasis on multiculturalism this is a destination that is generally characterised by its welcoming and inclusive nature, making it easy for you to find your own place within the nation. Even though it’s a relatively compact country, Singapore has nearly 10% of its land set aside for green space, meaning that you’ll never be far away from one of the country’s many parks and open spaces.
For the most part Singaporeans are bilingual, with English being one of the nation’s official languages and consequently widely understood amongst its population. In this respect the city-state is one of the best locales in Asia for the British expat, offering less of a language barrier than many of its neighbours where communication is likely to be at least a little more fraught.
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Tokyo is often the city that first comes to mind when people think of Japan, perhaps a little unfairly. Not nearly as densely populated as its southern cousin, Sapporo is the fourth largest of Japan’s cities and can be considered altogether a less daunting prospect for the retiring expat. Being somewhat less in demand, property in Sapporo is a lot more affordable than in the other, more well-known Japanese metropolises but is no less appealing. Solid transport links to the rest of the nation also mean that you can still dip into a more hectic lifestyle and visit the rest of the island nation at your own convenience.
While Sapporo has warm summers it is known for its heavy snowfall in winter. Every February the city hosts the Sapporo Snow Festival, which features hundreds of snow and ice sculptures in sites across the city alongside live entertainment. For the more active snow-enthusiast the city also offers a number of excellent ski resorts, having been home to the 1972 Winter Olympics. As a result it’s an excellent mix of climates that you won’t easily find anywhere else.
Of course there are any number of factors to consider when choosing a destination for your retirement, perhaps even more so when you’re heading off into the relative unknown of the Asian continent. These will include the sort of visas that will be on offer to you, your healthcare options, local property laws, and cultural or linguistic differences. However, even after taking into account all the things you’d need to consider when planning an overseas retirement in Asia, you may find that the region offers everything you’re looking for.
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