Retire to Malaysia – Three Tree Change Options for You

Jeff Gill


In the seventh installment of our 14-part series on Southeast Asia, we explore the attractive retirement possibilities for expatriates looking to retire to Asia, highlighting three distinct Malaysian locations. 

All three destinations boast their own unique charm and allure, promising retirees an enriching and diverse retirement experience like no other. 

Whether you’re seeking solace amidst nature’s embrace or the cosmopolitan conveniences of city life, Malaysia beckons with its diverse offerings, inviting you to embark on a tree change adventure like no other. If this sounds interesting, then read on…


Discover Sibu: The Vibrant Heart of Sarawak on Borneo Island

Sibu, with a population of 931,210, stands as the vibrant heart of Sarawak, nestled inland on Borneo Island. This bustling city lies landlocked 60 kilometers from the South China Sea, at the junction of the Igan and Rajang rivers. It serves as the primary gateway to the Upper Rajang River. Sibu enchants visitors with its charming riverine towns and traditional Iban and Orang Ulu longhouses.

Exploring Sibu’s River Ports: Vital Hubs of Trade and Commerce

The city boasts two vital river ports: Sibu and Sungai Merah, located 113 and 116 kilometers respectively from the mouth of the Rajang River. While Sibu port focuses on timber and agricultural products, Sungai Merah port specializes in fuel oil products.

Experience Sibu’s Tropical Charm: A Rainforest Haven in Malaysia

Sibu enjoys a tropical rainforest climate, characterised by an annual rainfall of 3,200 millimetres and humidity ranging from 80% to 87%. Temperatures typically hover between 30 and 33º C (86-91º F) during the day, with cooler nights around 23º C (73º F).

Sibu’s Central Market: A Cultural Treasure Trove in Malaysia

At the heart of Sibu lies its bustling central market, the largest indoor market in Malaysia. Here, visitors can explore a vast array of offerings, from exotic fruits and jungle produce to handicrafts, Bario rice, and poultry.

With over 1,100 weekday market stalls and an additional 400 to 500 weekend stalls, the market buzzes with activity and showcases the rich diversity of local culture and commerce. 

Sibu Malaysia

Sibu, a hidden gem

Sibu's Vibrant lifestyle & Cultural Past

Why SiBu is an attactive retiree destination?

Sibu in Sabah isn’t just your average destination – it’s a haven brimming with possibilities. Imagine effortless accessibility, a wallet-friendly cost of living, and healthcare standards that rival some of the best in the world. Add to that a myriad of educational opportunities and a plethora of sporting facilities catering to every interest imaginable.

It’s no wonder Sibu is hailed as one of Sabah’s best-kept secrets, beckoning retirees and visitors alike to explore its charms. But don’t just take our word for it – we encourage you to experience the magic of Sibu firsthand. Pack your bags, set out on an adventure, and discover what makes this region truly special. Trust us, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss. 


Interesting Fact

The town of Ipoh derives its name from thepokok ipoh,’ a local tree species abundant in the area. This unique origin adds a touch of natural heritage to the town’s rich history and cultural significance.

Ipoh, with a population of 657,892, is strategically positioned 180 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur, nestled along the banks of the Kinta River. Its prime location between Kuala Lumpur and George Town has established it as a crucial transportation hub in West Malaysia.

In addition to its well-connected road and rail networks, Ipoh boasts the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, facilitating domestic and international flights to major Malaysian cities and select Southeast Asian destinations. Whether you’re traveling by land or air, Ipoh offers seamless connectivity for your journey. 

Ipoh Malaysia

Ipoh has a tropical rainforest climate and can be described as equatorial. This means that is subject to the Intertropical Convergence Zone more than the trade winds therefore it very rarely has cyclones. The city’s temperature varies little, averaging annually 28 C (82 F). It receives on average 2,428 mm (96 in) of rain per year, falling evenly throughout.

The city is well known for its cuisine and natural attractions, such as its limestone hills and caves within which Buddhist temples were built. In addition, Ipoh’s popularity as an international tourist destination has been greatly enhanced by efforts to consider its British colonial-era architecture. Due to these characteristics, it is a popular backdrop for local movie and TV series productions.

Ipoh has a significant food scene, with dishes derived from Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. In recent years, Ipoh has seen an increase in international restaurants, bars and gastro pubs which have become popular with both locals and tourists alike. Indian food like chapati and banana leaf can be sourced at the Little India in Ipoh.

The city is renowned throughout Malaysia for its Ipoh white coffee, in which the coffee beans are roasted with palm-oil margarine, then is served with condensed milk. It is also known for its fresh fruit produce such as pomelo, durian, and seedless guava. 


For a city of 7.6 million people, Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is affectionally known has a wide diversity of green spaces, national parks, and interesting natural tourism sites to visit and enjoy. One of its popular attractions, the 60-hectare Lake Gardens is home to over 3,000 birds from 200 + species.

Combine that with some of the best SE Asian Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous cuisines, a world class healthcare system, and transport infrastructure, and you have a retiree destination worthy of serious consideration.

Access to ten-year retirement visas and a lower cost of living including being able to buy and afford various property options only serves to heighten the appeal. 

KL South East Asia

Petronas twin office towers, KL


KL experiences a tropical rainforest climate, which is hot, humid, and sunny, with abundant rainfall, especially during the northeast monsoon season from October to March. It is protected by the Titiwangsa Range to the east and Indonesia’s Sumartra Island to the west, KL is sheltered from strong cyclonic winds. Temperatures hover between a maximum of 32 C – 35 C (90 F to 95 F) and minimums ranging between 23 C and 25 C (74 F and 76 F).

Kuala Lumpur typically receives at least 2,600 mm (100 in) of rain annually, June to August is relatively dry yet rainfall can still exceed 131 mm (5 in) a month. Floods tend to quite frequent in KL after heavy downpours, especially in the city centre, as the stormwater infrastructure often lags the rapid development in the city.

Smoke from forest fires in nearby Sumatra and Kalimantan can cast a haze over the region, and is a major source of pollution, along with open burning, motor vehicle emissions, and construction. Recent national reforms to reduce this, have had a mixed success.

As the cultural, political, and ceremonial hub of Malaysia, KL is quite a vibrant, cosmopolitan, and well-developed city for the discerning retiree. It’s the No.1 medical tourism destination on the planet, due to its world class healthcare system so it is no wonder KL holds appeal for retirees. 


Given the quite developed economic, social, and logistical infrastructure on offer, Malaysia’s relatively competitive cost of living advantages is worth due consideration.

As a guide, Malaysia overall is approximately 50% to 55% cheaper than most Australian retirement locations, especially the capital cities.

Naturally there are more and less expensive cities in both countries, so the actual comparisons will differ slightly, however it does provide you with a useful starting point.

Retire to Asia’s cost of retirement cost of living comparison calculator can be a very useful online tool to run these comparisons with. Click the retirement calculator button below.

Feel free to run, save and print as many comparison scenarios, as required. 

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill

With 25 years of travel experience to 73+ countries including SE Asia, Jeff now enjoys helping others retire there. He invites you to experience the people, culture, food and amazing landscapes of the SE Asia region for yourselves.

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