Forget the Costa Brava—British Retirees are Now Heading to South-East Asia

Countries throughout South-east Asia are now offering long-term visas to British retirees in a bid to boost their respective economies.

According to reports by UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have all instigated new visa programs that aim to lure expatriates to their soil.

Of the programs that have been initiated, the My Second Home (MM2H) is perhaps one of the most successful. The My Second Home program was launched by the Malaysian government in 2002 and it aims to attract long-term expatriates to the country. To date, just under 20,000 expats have settled in Malaysia using the MM2H visa and the government expect this number to rise as a result of the implementation of an Expatriate Service Division that is aimed at helping citizens from abroad to settle into life in Malaysia. In addition to this, the immigration department are also increasing the number of 10-year visas and long-term work permits that they issue to foreigners.

Thailand and Malaysia are also currently promoting long-term visas to retirees in a bid to attract spending power into their economies. Unlike neighboring countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, it is possible for individuals to secure visas to live in these countries without employment, providing they are able to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves while living there. According to official figures from immigration authorities in Thailand, the long-stay scheme has been very successful with citizens from Britain, America and Germany, a combination of which was equal to 35,000 applications for the visas in 2011 alone.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines require foreigners to make minimum investments in the country before they can qualify for a long-stay visa. For Malaysia this figure is RM150,000 and for the Philippines the minimum investment amounts decline with age.

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