If you’ve ever thought about retiring in Southeast Asia and you are looking into the topic of the best places to retire in Southeast Asia, you have landed on the perfect place. Throughout today’s article, we will be exploring the pros and cons of retiring in Southeast Asia.
Like every country globally, there are always the good and bad sides, and some areas may be more suitable for you than others. Still, whatever Southeast Asian country you decide to retire in, it’s always essential that safety is the number one priority. Thus, we recommend seeking assistance from your embassy or local travel authorities.
Best Place To Retire In Southeast Asia
This section will cover the best places to retire in South East Asia by introducing some unique information about each country. This is followed by a small list of pros and cons regarding retirement options and lifestyles in each country.
Retirement Option 1: Burma (Myanmar)
Until recent times Burma, AKA Myanmar, was known as a safe and pleasant hotspot for tourism and an excellent option for retirees. However, many embassies have warned against traveling to Burma during this troubling time.
Burma might be one of the best places to retire in southeast Asia previously, but during this time, we recommend against travel until the current situation improves.
Pros Of Retiring In Burma As A Foreigner
- Low cost of living across Burma
- Close to other southeast Asian countries
Cons Of Retiring In Burma As A Foreigner
- Ongoing conflict with local and government officials
- Most travel authorities warn against any travel to Burma
- Uncertain future for those wishing to retire to Burma
- No retirement visa. Long term stays must be under another visa type
- The visa process can be complicated and lengthy
Retirement Option 2: Cambodia
Cambodia shares its borders with two other contenders from the best places to retire in the South East Asia list: Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia itself is known for its beautiful landscapes, mountains, and history. Some travelers are surprised by the level of English spoken in Cambodia, but despite this, English is still in high demand across the country.
Cambodia might be the best place to retire in Southeast Asia if you are looking for a cheaper way of life. Cambodia also offers fantastic weather throughout the year.
Pros Of Retiring In Cambodia As A Foreigner
- Fantastic history and scenery across the country
- Overall low cost of living across Cambodia
- English is spoken in many cities, including stores and malls
- Opportunities for investors, especially in real estate
- Straight forward retirement visa process
- Annual Retirement visa extension is only $290
Cons Of Retiring In Cambodia As A Foreigner
- Cambodia offers a different lifestyle than other countries and may not be for everyone
- Some areas can be very quiet
- Some areas are known for frequent power cuts
- Poverty is visible across the larger cities such as Phnom Phen
- Hotel prices can be much higher than the quality given
- Reports of corruption but not as high as other southeast Asian countries
Retirement Option 3: Indonesia
Indonesia has increased in popularity over the last several years, especially with expats (digital nomads) who have decided to live and work in Indonesia. Prices for Indonesia can range depending on your location and your overall lifestyle. Nonetheless, Indonesia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet and remains a popular hotspot for retirees living in Asia.
Indonesia has become the best place to retire in Southeast Asia for some expats and has become the home for many retirees. Therefore, it may be the best place to retire in Asia if you are looking for a expat community, stunning beaches, and enjoy a low-cost way of life.
Pros Of Retiring In Indonesia As An Expat
- Indonesia has some of the most beautiful retirement places in southeast Asia
- Indonesia is affordable for many expats looking to retire in Southeast Asia
- Locals are amicable and warm
- There is a large expat community in Bali and other areas
- Easy lifestyle for many retirees living in Southeast Asia
Cons Of Retiring In Indonesia As An Expat
- Traffic can be a big problem, especially during peak times
- In major cities, noise can be an issue for some retirees
- Prices are generally low but can quickly add up in Indonesia
- Beer, Wine, and spirits can be very expensive in tourist areas
- Fewer investment options compared to other Asian countries
Retirement Option 4: Laos
Laos is on the border of several countries, and as a result, Laos is classified as a landlocked country, meaning that there are no beach resorts in the country. The language of Laos is very similar to Thailand, which will be useful to you if you have previously learned Thai. Nevertheless, English is a high-demand service across Laos.
The country of Laos might be the best place to retire in southeast Asia for you if you enjoy city vibes and a quieter way of life. Laos also has some traditional laws regarding erotic activity between a foreigner and Laos citizens, which may be good to read about if you are looking at the best places to retire in Asia and you are a singleton.
Pros Of Retiring In Laos As A Foreigner
- Locals are known to be welcoming and friendly to foreigners
- Prices in Laos, especially for local food, can be very cheap
- Laos has many quiet areas
- Great retirement country for those looking for a city life
- Thai and Laos language is similar
Cons Of Retiring In Laos As A Foreigner
- No retirement visa. A retiree must obtain another visa type, such as a business visa
- The Laos government prohibits erotic relationships between foreign and Laos nationals, except when the two parties have been married
- Inadequate internet speed in many areas
- No access to beaches or seaports as Laos is a landlocked country
- Public transport is very poor and can be nonassessable
Retirement Option 5: Malaysia
Malaysia has fantastic culture, and it’s most known for its beaches and rainforests. Malaysia is not the cheapest country in South East Asia; nonetheless, there are more affordable options for those looking to retire in Southeast Asia cheaply. Statistically, the English proficiency level spoken in Malaysia is higher than in other southeast Asian countries.
Malaysia might become the best place to retire in Southeast Asia if you are looking for a unique experience living in Asia. However, the country has many cheap and expensive living options for retirees and has some cons, which will be discussed below to give a clearer picture of retiring in Asia.
Pros Of Retiring In Malaysia As An Expat
- The food is highly accessible and is delicious
- Fantastic weather and warm climate
- Locals are known to be friendly and welcome to visitors
- Lots of historic places and beautiful beaches
- Opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs
Cons Of Retiring In Malaysia As An Expat
- Corruption is known to be frequent in Malaysia
- Safety concerns are real across some areas of Malaysia
- Traffic can be a significant issue, especially in the capital during peak times
- It can be unclean in several regions across the country
- Driving is unsafe, and traffic rules are extremely relaxed
Retirement Option 6: The Philippines
The Philippines is a developing country that has seen an increase in tourism over the last several years. Still, despite its growth, neighboring countries such as Thailand receive up to five times more tourism levels than the Philippines (Pre Covid-19). The Philippines has a rich culture, including American culture, which may lead to one of the best countries to retire in South East Asia for an American.
The Philippines is one of the best places to retire in Southeast Asia for many, English is high, and lifestyles for retirees in the Philippines are excellent. However, one should pay close attention to potential scams, which are unfortunately common in the Philippines.
Pros Of Retiring In The Philippines As A Foreigner
- Filipinos have the highest level of English across Asia
- The islands of the Philippines are diverse and offer many retirement options
- The people are known to be open and welcoming with visitors
- Many opportunities if you wish to volunteer and help the country grow
- There are many investment opportunities for foreigners retiring in the Philippines
Cons Of Retiring In The Philippines As A Foreigner
- Traffic is terrible in many areas, including Davao, Cebu, and Manila.
- Scams are common in the Philippines
- The Philippines is still developing, so some significant issues remain
- Many parts of the cities are dirty with rubbish and half-finished building sites.
- The Philippines can be more expensive than other southeast Asian countries
Retirement Option 7: Singapore
Singapore is a country that is often not discussed as it’s usually not a retiree hotspot compared to cheaper retirement options in South East Asia. Still, it remains one of the best places to retire in South East Asia for foreigners if your budget allows for this. Singapore is also well known to be a tax haven for entrepreneurs.
In other words, Singapore may be the best place to retire in Southeast Asia if money is not an issue. However, if you are looking for a less expensive way of life, Singapore may not be the best place to retire in Asia.
Pros Of Retiring In Singapore As A Foreigner
- Tax haven for entrepreneurs and business tycoons
- Much cleaner and safer compared to other Asian countries
- There are many hospital facilities across Singapore
- A unique quality of life
- The local people and their kindness
Cons Of Retiring In Singapore As A Foreigner
- Much more expensive than retiring in other southeast Asian countries
- Many parts can be exceedingly busy
- Transport and other retirement living expenses can be high
- Singapore feels more Weston than other southeast Asian countries
Retirement Option 8: Thailand
One of the most popular areas to retire in Asia as a foreigner in Thailand. Thailand offers a very relaxing and various lifestyle for those looking at the best places to retire in South East Asia. Thailand can also become one of the cheapest destinations to retire. If you retire and live in the North of Thailand, prices are often much lower than in the South.
Is Thailand the best place to retire in Southeast Asia? For many, it has been and still is. Many things have changed in Thailand, but it still remains one of the most popular and best places to retire in southeast Asia for foreigners.
Pros Of Retiring In Thailand As A Foreigner
- Easy lifestyle for a retiree in Thailand
- Low cost of living
- The Thailand retirement visa process is straightforward
- Investing and starting a business in Thailand is possible
- Accessible areas across the country
Cons Of Retiring In Thailand As A Foreigner
- Low levels of English proficiency in some areas
- Corruption is typical and frequent in Thailand
- More visa requirements in Thailand company other Asian countries
- Living in areas such as Chiang Mai can be difficult during the burning season
Retirement Option 9: Vietnam
Another retirement option for South East Asia is Vietnam. Vietnam has dramatically changed since the war, and those who stayed in Vietnam during that time to later revisit are often shocked at how contemporary the country has become. Among a few other areas, Da Nang is well known for foreigners looking to retire in Asia due to its beautiful beaches and low rental prices of accommodation.
Pros Of Retiring In Vietnam As An Expat
- More upbeat and modern lifestyle in the bigger cities
- Gorgeous and award-winning beaches
- Low cost of living for retirement in Asia
- Many major expat communities across Vietnam
Cons Of Retiring In Vietnam As An Expat
- Noise is a significant issue on Vietnam roads
- Crime is very high in certain areas
- Reports of police corruption
- Health care is below Weston standard
What Is The Best Place To Retire In Southeast Asia?
The best place to retire in Southeast Asia depends on what kind of lifestyle you are looking for in your retirement. Each country we have spoken about today has a host of cities that offer diverse retirement options for those looking to retire in South East Asia.
Based on the data gathered, if you are looking for a quieter, less touristy area, you may find a country such as Laos to be the best place to retire in Asia for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a more modern way of life, regions such as Thailand may be suitable. But if you are looking for hospitality and friendly locals who speak English fluently, then the Philippines may be the right option.
When deciding what is the best place to retire in Southeast Asia, one fact to remember is that you do not need to stay permanently. Many retirees who move to Southeast Asia have a base but frequently visit other countries. This allows them to restart their visa in the original country and not overstay their visa.
This is important to note as some countries do not offer retirement visas for foreigners, and thus, on some occasions, such as Laos and Burma, you will need to obtain other visa types such as a business visa.
When you decide where to retire in Asia, what is recommended is to first take a trip to each country you may be interested in. Visiting each country will allow you to feel the country’s vibe. Some retirees prefer countries with a high level of expats, and some prefer more remote countries. Fundamentally the lifestyle you are looking to obtain will be an essential factor when deciding the best place to retire in South East Asia.
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