Retirement Rankings

Overall Ranking

Quality of Life

Integration and Acceptance



91.66 pts


50.00 pts


67.86 pts


100.00 pts

Category Rankings




Flight Distance



Migrant's Acceptance


English Proficiency


Cost of Living


Tax Optimization


Country Population: 34,597,335


Malaysia enjoys a tropical climate year-round, characterized by high humidity and temperatures that generally range between 21°C to 32°C (70°F to 90°F) across the country. The weather is significantly influenced by monsoon seasons, which vary between the regions of Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Borneo). In Peninsular Malaysia, the west coast, which includes cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, experiences its rainy season from April to October, peaking in September and October. Conversely, the east coast faces its monsoon from November to February, marking it with heavy rainfall that often leads to the temporary closure of beach resorts during this period. 

In East Malaysia, both Sarawak and Sabah also exhibit high humidity and consistent temperatures year-round. Sarawak receives its heaviest rainfall from November to February, while Sabah’s wettest months are also during the same period, particularly affecting the west coast. Despite the high levels of precipitation, Malaysia’s rainfall usually comes in brief but heavy downpours, often in the late afternoon, making the mornings and early afternoons generally bright and sunny. Understanding these regional and seasonal variations is crucial for planning travel or relocation, as the weather significantly impacts activities and the overall experience in different parts of Malaysia. 


Malaysia’s healthcare system offers an impressive standard of care, recognized globally and ranked 49th by the World Health Organization. Public healthcare facilities generally maintain high standards, equipped with excellent equipment and diagnostic capabilities, particularly in urban centers. However, these facilities often face significant challenges, including a shortage of medical staff and long waiting times for treatment. 

The private healthcare sector in Malaysia often serves as a complement to the public system, particularly for those seeking more immediate care without the long waits associated with public hospitals. Private facilities, concentrated mainly in urban areas, are known for their superior diagnostic tools, more luxurious accommodations, and generally faster service. They are also bolstered by Malaysia’s growing medical tourism industry, which attracted over 641,000 foreign patients in 2011, primarily from Indonesia and other neighboring countries, with increasing numbers from the West. This influx has led to continuous investments in the private healthcare sector, enhancing its quality and capacity. 

Expatriates considering a move to Malaysia will find the transition to the local healthcare system straightforward and welcoming. The country’s medical professionals are largely fluent in English, with many doctors and a significant number of nurses having trained abroad, particularly in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. This international training not only means they are proficient in English but also that they are familiar with global hospital cultures and practices. Malaysia’s reputation for hospitality extends to its healthcare services, where expats can expect to encounter a warm and compassionate approach from medical practitioners, which greatly enhances the healthcare experience. 

Flight duration

There are currently no direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to New York; all routes involve at least one layover. Typically, the duration of these flights, including layovers, ranges between 19 to 25 hours, depending on the airline and the length of the stopover. The prices for these connecting flights can vary widely based on several factors such as the airline, the specific route, the time of booking, and the season of travel. Generally, economy round-trip tickets might range from approximately $800 to $1,400 or more. It’s important to consider the total travel time and the layover locations when booking, as these can significantly affect the overall travel experience. 

Flights from San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur typically include at least one layover, as there are no direct flights available for this route. The shortest connecting flight duration is around 18 hours and 25 minutes, but depending on the specific flight path and layover duration, total travel time can extend significantly. Prices for round-trip flights start at approximately $753, with options varying widely depending on the airline, the number of stops, and the booking period.  



Malaysia is generally recognized as a safe destination, highlighted by its ranking as 19th among 163 countries in the Global Peace Index, indicating a high level of peace and safety compared to many other nations. This favorable position reflects the country’s overall stability and effective governance. Additionally, Malaysia holds a Level 1 rating from the US Department of State’s travel advisory system, which recommends travelers to exercise normal precautions – the lowest advisory level. This status underscores the country’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment for both residents and visitors. 

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and snatch theft, remains the most common risk, particularly in urban and tourist-heavy areas. However, violent crimes are relatively rare, contributing to a general feeling of safety in daily life. Travelers and expatriates are advised to stay vigilant, especially when carrying valuables in public spaces. While Malaysia is politically stable, occasional demonstrations do occur, and it’s wise to steer clear of any large gatherings. Natural hazards such as monsoon-related flooding and haze from forest fires are also potential risks and require attention to local weather reports and advisories. Overall, by adhering to basic safety precautions and staying informed about local conditions, individuals can safely enjoy the rich experiences Malaysia has to offer. 

Migrants’ acceptance

Malaysia’s ranking of 137th out of 145 countries in the 2020 Gallup Migrants Acceptance Survey underscores significant challenges in the acceptance and integration of migrants, highlighting a stark contrast in societal attitudes towards different groups such as economic migrants, refugees, and expatriates. Economic migrants, often from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, typically fill low-wage, labor-intensive jobs and face issues related to job security, legal status, and social inclusion. This group’s acceptance is frequently influenced by economic factors, where they are sometimes viewed as competitors for jobs, leading to strained relations especially during economic downturns. Meanwhile, refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, who lack formal legal status and recognition, face severe limitations in accessing employment, education, and healthcare, making their social integration particularly challenging. 

Expatriates, on the other hand, generally experience a higher level of acceptance and have a much easier integration process in Malaysia. This group often includes retirrees and professionals or skilled workers who contribute to sectors like technology, education, and business, which positions them differently in terms of social status and acceptance. The presence of international schools, expatriate communities, and generally more favorable working conditions help facilitate their integration into Malaysian society.  

English proficiency

Malaysia showcases strong English proficiency, ranking 25th out of 113 countries globally and achieving an EF EPI score of 568, which stands well above the global average score of 493. This indicates a high level of English skills among the Malaysian population. In the context of Asia, Malaysia is positioned impressively at 3rd out of 23 countries, highlighting its strong command of English compared to its regional peers. This proficiency is reflected in various sectors of society, including business, education, and media, facilitating both international commerce and tourism. The trends from 2011 to 2023 show sustained progress in English language skills, underlining the country’s ongoing commitment to enhancing its linguistic capabilities, which plays a crucial role in its economic development and international relations. 

Cost of living

Consumer prices in New York, NY are significantly higher than in Kuala Lumpur, with stark contrasts in various spending categories. Without including rent, consumer prices in New York are 196.3% higher than in Kuala Lumpur. When rent is factored in, the difference becomes even more pronounced, with New York being 325.4% more expensive. Specifically, rent prices alone in New York are 719.6% higher than those in Kuala Lumpur, highlighting the substantial cost of living difference in housing between the two cities. In terms of dining out, restaurant prices in New York are 348.8% higher than those in Kuala Lumpur. Grocery prices also show a considerable difference, with New York being 155.5% more expensive. 

In a comparison of living costs between Kuala Lumpur and New York City, there are significant differences in pricing, particularly in the areas of dining out, housing, and groceries—all measured in USD. For dining, a basic meal in Kuala Lumpur costs about $3.77 compared to $30.00 in New York, showcasing a staggering difference of +696.4%. When it comes to housing, the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Kuala Lumpur is approximately $509.67, whereas in New York it’s about $4,189.81, reflecting a +722.1% increase. Grocery items also show significant price differences; for example, a loaf of fresh white bread is $0.79 in Kuala Lumpur and $4.30 in New York, a +443.9% difference. 

Tax Optimization


Malaysia is attractive to many retirees due to its Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program, which offers long-term residency visas to foreigners. While this program doesn’t provide direct tax benefits, it allows for a more comfortable stay with incentives like the ability to bring a car tax-free or purchase property under more favorable terms. 

In Malaysia, the tax system is structured around the tax residency status of individuals. Expatriates who reside in Malaysia for more than 182 days within a calendar year qualify as tax residents and are subject to a progressive income tax scale that ranges from 0% to 30%. Notably, foreign-sourced income is exempt from taxation unless it is remitted to Malaysia, which is particularly advantageous for retirees who receive income from pensions or annuities abroad, as this income typically remains untaxed if it stays outside Malaysia. 

Additionally, to prevent the issue of double taxation for US expats, Malaysia has established a double taxation treaty with the United States. This agreement provides specific tax reliefs or exemptions depending on the type of income involved. This treaty ensures that US expatriates can avoid being taxed on the same income in both countries, thereby easing their tax burdens and simplifying the financial implications of living as an expat in Malaysia. 

Becoming a tax resident in Greece requires living in the country for more than 183 days in a calendar year. As a tax resident, you’re taxed on your worldwide income, but the special flat tax rate on foreign pensions can offer significant savings.

Greece offers a compelling tax incentive for retired expats, featuring a 7% flat tax rate on foreign pension income for those who relocate their tax residency to Greece. This policy targets individuals who haven’t been Greek tax residents for five out of the last six years, and it’s applicable only if the pension originates from a country that has a tax treaty with Greece. The regime simplifies tax planning, offering substantial savings and making Greece an attractive retirement destination. However, potential retirees should consider the broader tax implications, including on worldwide income and other local taxes. To be eligible for this flat tax rate, there is a requirement for a minimum annual pension income, which may vary based on specific circumstances and potential legislative updates.