The Petronas Twin Towers  in Kuala Lumpur.
The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Great perks come with retiring in Malaysia

RETIRING overseas wasn't on Australian Cheryl Fankhauser's bucket list, but after travelling and working in Asia for several years the decision to retire in Malaysia was easily made.

"I couldn't imagine myself coming back to Australia," Cheryl, 64, said.

"Number one because of the expense and number two, I have had ten friends die within the last four years so I am slowly losing my circle of friends in Tweed so I thought, why not stay in Asia."

The former Tweed Heads resident and nurse has been in Georgetown for about 18 months. Prior to settling permanently in Malaysia Cheryl taught English at Anhui University of Finance and Economics in Bengbu City, China for 10 years.

Choosing not to continue working and living in China was really driven by her age.

"It was definitely not the right place to retire in," Cheryl said.

"It's difficult to retire there. It's very hard to get a visa, especially for Australians.

"And the weather; I was in an area where it snowed and we had four or five months of winter.

"There was also the language problem with no one speaking English and I really got fed up with that after a while so it was easier to come to a place where everyone speaks English and the food is fantastic."

OVERSEAS RETIREMENT: Georgetown resident, originally from Tweed Heads, Cheryl Fankhauser.
OVERSEAS RETIREMENT: Georgetown resident, originally from Tweed Heads, Cheryl Fankhauser.

Before making her final decision on where to retire to Cheryl looked hard at both Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown, visiting both of them often.

"KL was too big, Malacca was too far away and Georgetown is just perfect," she said.

Cheryl has chosen to live in the suburbs in a low-rise apartment building on Penang Island where there are 750,000 residents including a large ex-pat community.

International Living this year named Malaysia as the best place for Australians to retire to in 2018, describing the country in just the same way as Cheryl .

She calls her new home friendly, with almost every imaginable service available, a low cost of living and a vibrant cultural life, made up of Chinese, Islamists, Indians and ex-pats.

Cheryl also notes that the medical support available is good quality and eminently affordable. However, the aged care facilities are still very new.

"Supported accommodation is very new; it's just happening now," Cheryl said.

"There are a couple of places that some European ex-pats are about to open.

Keeping active and connected is Cheryl's way of staving off any ageing health issues.

She does water aerobics and Malay classes twice a week, is one of the founding members of the Art Society, attends lots of community events and festivals, and eats.

For her 65th birthday she is tossing up between three months in Europe or a facelift which will cost about $AU1000.

While she still owns a home in Australia which is her superannuation, she said; "I can't see myself living anywhere else".

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