Living in Malaysia
Nature and leisure activities
Malaysia is located in the centre of Southeast Asia and is a real attraction for anyone who appreciates the wonders of nature. Malaysia’s surface area amounts to 330,800 square kilometres (127,723 square miles), which is similar to Norway’s surface area. Almost three quarters of it is covered by trees and forests (which means this is a green zone with a surface area equivalent to that of the entire United Kingdom). The endlessly varied environment, with an abundance of plant and animal species, shelters some of the world’s rarest and most remarkable animals: the Sunda clouded leopard (one of the world’s most rare and elusive kitty cats), the endangered Malayan tiger (Malaysia’s national animal), the Sumatran rhinoceros (the smallest of all rhinos), the sun bear (also known as the honey bear because of its appetite for honeycombs and honey), the orangutan (meaning ‘man of the forest’) with its reddish-brown hair, and the monitor lizard (which has a slender and sensitive, forked tongue) are a few examples
Malaysia declared many areas as parks and wildlife reserves in order to safeguard its precious natural heritage: nearly 1.5 million hectares of surface area is protected by legislation. Malaysia’s landscape is also perfect for mountain climbing, bird watching, fishing, camping amidst giant tropical trees, swimming in placid river waters, boating through swirling rapids, and so on.
Besides its rainforests across both lowland and mountain regions, Malaysia is blessed with limestone formations, mangrove swamps, spectacular caves to discover, coral reefs and many beautiful islands. The Pulau Perhentian Islands, Pulau Langkawi and Pulau Tioman are peaceful, beautiful islands and the perfect destination for people who love tropical paradises. Pulau Sipadan, a small oceanic island off the eastern shore of Borneo, rises in a sheer column and this for more than six hundred metres from the seabed. Completely encircled by sheer drop-offs and walls, Sipadan is one of the world’s foremost dive sites.
Malaysia has some of the finest spas in the world, be it on a pristine island or right in the middle of the city centre. They provide the ideal setting for complete rejuvenation and relaxation and a wide range of health rituals is available. Ideal to relax your body and your soul.
Cultural background and infrastructure
The Malay language (Bahasa Melayu) is the national language of the country and English is the second language. In Malaysia, you can discover a delightful fusion of three of Asia’s oldest civilisations: Malay, Chinese and Indian. Malaysians can be considered as a blend of diverse cultures: indigenous traditions of the Kadazans, Ibans and other ethnic communities influenced by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Malaysia’s tropical fruits are unique, exotic and available in abundance practically throughout the year. Malaysia is also known as Asia’s Food Paradise: great food and the international cuisine is available at a very reasonable cost.
Malaysia has one of the highest standards of living in the region, at a relatively low cost, with all the modern infrastructure and facilities in place. Malaysia is undoubtedly a beautiful country, yet it’s an incredibly modern country as well, just think about the Kuala Lumpur metropolis. Malaysia’s crime rate is relatively low and the entire country is well-connected with modern road, rail, air and sea transportation systems.
Qualitative education can be found in Malaysia, from kindergarten to university. The fees are reasonable and there are international schools with a very good reputation in all major towns, with English and other foreign languages as the educational languages. There are also private colleges and universities which offer twinning programmes with other internationally recognised universities and colleges. In fact, Malaysia is becoming an educational centre of excellence for the region.
Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme
The Malaysian government actively encourages foreigners to relocate to Malaysia. The government even launched a special programme (Malaysia My Second Home Programme) and is continuously seeking to improve it in order to ensure its success. Currently, more than 13,000 foreign families are residing in Malaysia under the MM2H programme.
Details MM2H programme
The MM2H programme is available to foreigners of all ages. It gives foreign participants a 10-year renewable multiple entry visa. You can relocate to Malaysia together with your spouse and children (below 21 years old and unmarried). The spouse and children will get the same class of visa and the same duration as the main applicant. Children of 21 years old or older need to submit a separate application as an adult.
In practice, when you qualify for the MM2H status, you’re not automatically granted a 10-year visa. The Social Visit Pass (your residence permit under the MM2H programme) will be given according to the validity of the applicant’s passport (maximum 10 years). In other words, your MM2H residence permit will expire two to six months prior to the expiration date of your passport. For example, if your passport is valid for 4 more years when you’re granted the MM2H status, then you will receive a Social Visit Pass valid for about 3.5 years and you will have to reapply with your new passport for continued MM2H status. This is just the procedure and no additional financial requirements need to be fulfilled. Once you qualify as a MM2H participant, you’re allowed to stay in Malaysia for up to 10 years and this makes you eligible for indefinite renewal. The Malaysian government really wants to make participants’ stay more comfortable and enjoyable in Malaysia: for example, each participant is allowed to bring a foreign maid to Malaysia.
Advantages and benefits of the MM2H programme
Malaysia has a territorial income tax system, meaning that income tax in Malaysia is only imposed on income accruing in or derived from Malaysia. In other words, being a MM2H resident of Malaysia means all your foreign sourced income, including pension, interest, and dividend income, as well as foreign earned income, is exempt from Malaysian taxes. Only income from employment or business within Malaysia is taxable and all overseas income is exempt from income tax!
To top it all, MM2H participants don’t face a minimum compulsory number of days to reside in Malaysia. For example, you can reside fulltime in Malaysia (365 days a year) or just one day a year. There’s also no limit to your number of entries or exits to or from Malaysia per year. This offers splendid opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, permanent travellers, pensioners, and so on.
Participants of the MM2H Programme are allowed to invest in all common classes of assets in Malaysia such as property, shares of companies, bonds and fixed deposits. Residents under the MM2H Programme can also actively participate in business such as being an owner of a company and being involved in the active operations. Participants aged 50 years and over can work for up to 20 hours a week for an employer, after receiving permission from the Immigration Department. It’s easy to enrol in the Second Home Programme: you only need to fulfil a few financial requirements both upon application and upon approval. Applicants are expected to be financially capable of supporting themselves as participants of this MM2H programme.
Upon application: applicants below 50 years old
Applicants below 50 years old are required to show proof of savings worth a minimum of RM 500,000 (roughly USD 162,000) and a monthly income originating from sources outside Malaysia of RM 10,000 (roughly USD 3,240). Applicants can submit certified copy(s) of the balance of their bank account as financial proof: they must provide bank statements of the last 3 months with each month’s credit balance being at least RM 500,000.
Upon application: applicants aged 50 years and over
Applicants aged 50 years and over are required to show proof of savings worth a minimum of RM 350,000 (roughly USD 113,000) and a monthly income originating from sources outside Malaysia of RM 10,000 (roughly USD 3,240). Applicants can submit certified copy(s) of the balance of their bank account as financial proof: they must provide bank statements of the last 3 months with each month’s credit balance being at least RM 350,000. Pensioners who are retired are required to show proof of receiving a pension income from government approved funds of at least RM 10,000 per month (roughly USD 3,240).
Upon approval: approved applicants below 50 years old
Approved applicants below 50 years old are required to open a fixed deposit account and to deposit RM 300,000 (roughly USD 48,570). After a period of one year, the participant is allowed to withdraw up to RM 150,000 for approved expenses relating to purchasing a house, medical purposes, education for the children, etc. The participant must maintain a minimum balance of RM 150,000 from the second year onwards and this minimum amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate his/her participation in the MM2H programme. Approved participants who purchased and own property with a purchase price of at least RM 1 million (roughly USD 324,000) in Malaysia may comply with the basic fixed deposit requirement of only RM 150,000 (versus the normal RM 300,000 minimum requirement) on the condition that the property has been fully paid for and ownership documents such as grant and land title have already been issued. This amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate his/her participation in the MM2H programme.
Upon approval: approved applicants aged 50 years and over
Participants aged 50 years and over have two options: they can either choose to open a fixed deposit account and deposit RM 150,000 OR they can choose to prove that they receive pension income from government approved pension funds of at least RM 10,000 per month. In the case the participant decides to choose the fixed deposit option, the participant can, after a period of one year, withdraw up to RM 50,000 for approved expenses relating to purchasing a house, medical purposes , education for the children, etc. The participant must maintain a minimum balance of RM 100,000 from the second year onwards and this amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate his/her participation in the MM2H programme. Approved participants who purchased and own property with a purchase price of at least RM 1 million in Malaysia may comply with the basic fixed deposit requirement of RM 100,000 on the condition that the property has been fully paid and ownership documents such as grant and land title have already been issued. This amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate his/her participation in the MM2H programme.
All applicants and their dependents are required to submit a medical report from a private hospital or a registered clinic in Malaysia. Additionally, approved participants and their dependents must have a valid medical insurance coverage in Malaysia from an insurance company. Exemptions can be made for participants who face difficulties in obtaining a medical insurance due to their age or medical condition. Applicants also need to fulfil a security bond condition (ranging from RM 200 to RM 2,000).