Retired Aussies tempted by expat life in South East Asia

by Ray Clancy on August 28, 2014

More and more retired Australians are moving to South East Asia to live because costs are up to 80% cheaper than their home country, it is claimed.

With the number of Australians aged 65 and over set to reach eight million over the next 35 years, the trend is sparked by the dream of living abroad without it costing too much. European countries are considered too costly and too cold.


The number of Australians aged 65 and over is set to reach eight million over the next 35 years

According to a new book, Sell-up, Pack-up and Take Off, by husband and wife writers Colleen Ryan and Stephen Wyatt, there is a new diaspora of Australians over the age of 50 who’ve decided to sell up and take off for overseas.

While many people dream of retirement in a village piazza in Southern Europe, the reality is that most retire to South East Asia, where countries like Malaysia and Thailand offer retirees extended visas, making the transition a simpler process.

‘The baby boomers are very comfortable with South East Asia. A lot of them did their early travel in South East Asia, they’ve taken the kids on holidays there and so while the dream has been Italy or France, to some extent that’s been for the really wealthy,’ said Ryan.

‘What’s driving the people to South East Asia is that they can’t live really well in Australia once they are retired, whereas they can live very, very well in South East Asia,’ she added.

In the book, they explain that cities like Penang, Saigon and Chiang Mai are popular with Australian expats and while many tend to be drawn more to predominantly western communities, some, particularly in Malaysia, are more integrated into local communities.

They also weigh up issues like health care, as some countries offer better options than others. The book suggests that Malaysia and Thailand have excellent healthcare systems, but many retirees who choose to live elsewhere make sure they have good private health insurance and can be repatriated to Australia should they need to.

The book also points out that for the elderly, 24 hour care is much more affordable in South East Asia and that moving abroad does not mean losing touch with family and friends thanks to modern technology and the internet.

Cheap flights also mean that visitors from home are more likely to stay for holidays and enjoy a bit of the paradise, according to the authors, who have lived in Papua New Guinea, London, Washington DC and Shanghai.

The book covers the pros and cons of living in countries in South East Asia, suggesting you can live comfortably for a quarter of the cost of retirement in Australia. It also gives advice on how to get a visa, renting or buying a home, health insurance, pensions and tax.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

trueblue January 2, 2015 at 8:49 am

I’ve just found this article, not having looked at this website properly for a while. I need to correct the basic premise of this article much as it is informative in some ways.

The majority of English-Irish-Scottish-Welsh descent Australians CANNOT live in or retire in their ancestral homelands. They cannot work back in the countries their great grandparents came from under the laws made for the diaspora by British Empire rulers. If your grandparent/s was or were born in the country of your ancestry, then you can probably hope to return.

But for those whose ancestry is an unbroken line of English descent going back to before William the Conqueror conquered England in 1066 or an indigenous Irish or Scottish Highland descent person whose ancestry’s roots go back even further, your ancestral homelands are barred to you if your great grandparents were born in those countries.

This is why so many younger people have worked in Asia as English teachers. It is not because they only want to work in Asia – it is because they cannot work in what are in fact their English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh homelands. Japanese and Korean people are stunned when they find out that white Australians/New Zealanders/Canadians/Americans cannot live or work in the countries they have deep ancestral ties to. There are working holiday arrangements of course but these are limited in age and the kind of work that can be done.

Likewise there is no hope of retiring in the UK or the Republic of Ireland for those people. It seems the globalised world and the open borders that are being promoted at UN level and are part of the agenda of the European Union and western nations have a small print disclaimer – not for those with literally centuries of strong connection with the UK and Republic of Ireland.


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