Five Best Places to Retire in Asia Pacific

tropical paradise style retirement retreats

Geographically speaking, the Asia Pacific region covers an enormous land and sea mass; and from a socio-political point of view it incorporates an exceptionally diverse range of nations.  However, perhaps the one thing of absolute note that the region offers expatriate retirees is exceptional choice – choice in terms of climate, landscape, cost of living, ease of relocation and quality of life.

–  From the first world sophistication of cities like Sydney or Melbourne in Australia to the tropical paradise of the beaches in Bali…

–  From the tax-free benefits of living in a country like Malaysia, to the absolutely breathtaking splendour of a nation like New Zealand…

–  …All the way through to the exceptional balance between a low cost of living and a high quality of life on offer in Thailand…

–  …The Asia Pacific region offers it all up to international expatriates looking for a perfect place to hang their hat in retirement.

Continuing our series of articles about where the best places are to retire around the world by region, today we’re turning our attentions to the Asia Pacific region and hand picking our top 5 destinations for retirees.  Whilst there are over 40 countries or territories to choose from, we have plumped for the most universally desirable.

If you’re looking for a part of the world perhaps lesser explored by North American retirees to date, or you want to head for tropical beaches or you’re seeking stunning scenery, you will certainly find everything you’ve ever wished for across the Asia Pacific region.


Whilst retiring to Australia is not necessarily cheap or easy – (it depends on whether you want to invest to get a retirement visa, or whether you have familial connections ‘Down Under’ who will sponsor your visa application) – the rewards on offer for those who make the effort to retire to Australia are massive.

The nation is vast but far less populated that the United States for example, meaning that you can enjoy the incredible space that the country has to offer and even find a home with land if you want to spread out in retirement!

Australia has a range of exceptional climates that retirees can benefit from too – from the temperate climate and seasonal changes in Tasmania and the southern most parts of South Australia and the south-western tip of Western Australia for example – to the tropical paradises of the north.  If you suffer from respiratory problems or health issues that are made worse by the cold weather, the clean air in parts of Australia as well as the exceptionally warm climate could really benefit you.

The nation is also a first world, major economy where the gap between rich and poor is much less pronounced than in other such countries such as the US and the UK.  There is healthcare for all, social standards are high, and the quality of life available in retirement in Australia is exceptional.

It’s easy to integrate with Australians as there is no language or cultural barrier, and the locals are famous for their warm welcome that particularly extends to those from American and Britain for example.  Life expectancy ‘Down Under’ is high, the landscape is stunning, there is plenty to keep you entertained in retirement if you live close enough to a community, and perhaps the only down side is that the cost of living is actually on a par with that in the USA or Canada.

If you’re looking for first world sophistication, an amazing climate and a beautiful country to retire to then Australia is worth consideration – but if you have a tight budget to live on perhaps you’d prefer our second choice of nation in the Asia Pacific region.


If Australia is too expensive and too difficult to retire to, then Bali offers a fantastic alternative.  The people of this Indonesian island are peace loving, family orientated, genuinely contented souls, more than happy to share their stunning natural environment with foreign residents who come and want to integrate and enjoy all that Bali has to offer.

The island is famous for its tropical beaches, its perfect green and lush landscape and it’s very laid back pace of life.  What’s more, Bali is famous as a culturally rich destination with dance, art, history, music, painting and sculpture pursuits and professions enjoyed by locals and expatriates alike.

The religion practiced locally is mainly Hindu with a mix of Islam, and as stated, the people are peace loving souls with exceptionally strong and high family values.

Tourism has been a very important income generator for Bali in recent decades, and as a result the infrastructure and services available on the island are improving all the time and suit many Western retirees looking for a blend between tropical paradise and sophistication.

If you want an affordable cost of living you can certainly find it in Bali – and other benefits in the nation’s favour for would be retirees are the climate, natural landscape, welcoming people, beautiful flora and fauna and the relative ease of relocation.

For example, if you’re over 55 years of age, of good character and you can demonstrate that you are able to support yourself fully in retirement financially speaking, you may be allowed to retire in Bali on an extended temporary basis.


An even easier place to achieve a retirement visa that’s exceptionally valuable is Malaysia.  This nation has a retiree program that offers tax-free benefits to international citizens; it’s called the Malaysia My Second Home Program.  It’s actively promoted by the Government to allow foreigners who fulfill certain criteria to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on a multiple-entry, social visit pass renewable every 10 years.

The general benefits for qualifying individuals include but are not limited to tax exemption on pension income remitted to Malaysia, tax free car importation or local car purchase, and multiple property ownership rights – but ensure you check out whether you are eligible to benefit.

Other than these visa based benefits for qualifying individuals, Malaysia is a great place to retire because English is the second language and it is widely spoken and understood, making integration easier for North Americans for example.  Additionally, there is every type of recreational and cultural pursuit available in Malaysia from theme parks to golf courses, and from jungle trails to stunning tropical beaches.

The climate is stunning, the landscape is diverse, the people are well educated, friendly and welcoming of foreigners, and the standard of living can be exceptionally high depending on where you choose to base yourself in retirement.

If you want first world accommodation and healthcare for example, Kuala Lumpur could be a good place to live – but if you want to escape and find a tropical paradise where the lifestyle is excellent but the pace of life is very laid back, you can get away from it all in Malaysia and make a home for yourself on your own tropical beach.

New Zealand

Whilst there is no specific retirement visa category for New Zealand, you can apply under any of the normal residency categories, or apply for temporary retirement through investment.

The nation has become famous through film because its unrivalled scenery has resulted in New Zealand being the backdrop for a number of high budget Hollywood blockbusters – and anyone who visits is always blown away by the striking and dramatic landscapes and seascapes of this wonderful nation.

New Zealand is first world, English is the mother tongue for the majority of citizens, the quality of life is high – with great emphasis placed on enjoying the great outdoors – and the cost of living in New Zealand is lower than in Australia.

Healthcare is universally available and of a high standard, real estate is affordable especially outside the main towns and cities and commuter belts, and if you’re looking to get a very long way away from your old life in retirement, you can’t get much further away than New Zealand!

The pace of life in New Zealand is certainly slower than in America for example, and it can really suit retirees as a result.  Whilst the climate is not as favourable as any of the nations so far mentioned in the Asia Pacific region, you can find a home in a temperate part of the country, and you can buy or rent centrally heated and well insulated homes.

New Zealand could suit you if you don’t want to have to learn a new language but you do want a more affordable cost of living, you don’t want to live in tropical conditions but you do want stunning scenery, and if you want the perfect blend between an affordable retirement and a first world nation.


Our final choice for retirees looking at the Asia Pacific region of our wonderful world for a new home in retirement is tantalising Thailand.  The country has gone from being a tourism destination for hippies and students, through a transition as a slightly seedy place to vacation, and it has finally emerged as an expatriate destination of choice – particularly for international retirees.

Thailand offers the blend most retirees are seeking between a low cost of living, a high quality of life, exceptional weather, a beautiful landscape and welcoming people.  What’s more, in Phuket for example, health tourism is growing as healthcare standards are increasing – which is certainly good news for retirees.

Real estate to buy or rent is affordable in Thailand, as is the cost of living – eating out at a beachfront restaurant is the norm rather than an extra special treat in Thailand, and the landscape around you is lush, verdant, tropical and truly stunning.

The nation is well serviced with the likes of golf courses and sailing clubs for those seeking high grade recreational pursuits in retirement – or you can simply relax into your new life abroad and integrate with other expats and socialise less formally in your own garden or beside your own swimming pool.

In Conclusion

Perhaps the Asia Pacific region offers more tropical paradise style retirement retreats than any other part of the world!  It certainly offers up a host of first world yet affordable, friendly and welcoming nations that you could conceivably call home in retirement – particularly if you’re looking to escape.

The region is blessed with such a range of country options for retirees however, that it will be well worth an exploration tour before you settle on your preferred country.  Things to consider will include your visa requirements, the cost of living, exchange rate fluctuation, healthcare and ease of cultural integration – so happy seeking and ultimately, happy retirement abroad.

You will find hundreds of pages containing free information, resources and articles on Living In Australia, Living in Thailand, Living in Bali, or Moving to New Zealand on Escape Artist.

About the author: Susan Beverley is a writer and editor for Escape From America Magazine and also writes for and maintains Expat Daily News – the expat news blog for  She traveled extensively before becoming an expat herself having found a place to call home in South America where she has lived since 2005.  She understands the concerns, needs and difficulties that expats face from first-hand experience and is dedicated to supporting and encouraging anyone who is looking for a new nation to call home.

Related Articles


  1. Publius Vergilius November 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Do you really suggest living in Thailand? Or Malaysia??? Shouldn’t you at least mention this???

    “Two killed, four wounded in Thai south,” from Agence France-Presse, October 31:

    SUSPECTED Islamic insurgents shot and killed two people and wounded three others in a bomb blast in Thailand’s troubled Muslim-majority south, police said.

    Gunmen broke into a house in Yala province and shot dead a 16-year-old Buddhist girl, also wounding her 29-year-old husband, they said….

    More than 3900 people have died in shootings, bomb blasts, beheadings and crucifixions since a separatist insurgency erupted in Thailand’s southern provinces bordering Malaysia in January 2004.

    • Brian December 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

      The author is not suggesting that expats retire to Yala province and other southern Thai provinces. Why disqualify an entire country based on violence in isolated areas? Thousands of expats are enjoying life in Thailand, Philippines, and Bali without fear.

      I always laugh when I read posts like yours — trying to discredit an entire country. I moved to SE Asia 4 years ago and was warned about terrorists, insurgents, etc… from people who don’t even own a passport! The irony is that there is usually more crime in one US city than there is in an entire country in SE Asia.

      Put away your fears and come and see for yourself! Or else continue to live in your cocoon and being brainwashed by Western media.


    • James December 29, 2010 at 3:43 am

      You’re absolutely right. Best live in a country that’s completely 100% safe and devoid of any kind of violence. Thailand’s just plain dangerous!

      • zeke owen January 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

        Hi my name is “ZEKE”..Ive been almost every where on the planet I ever wanted to go and or live there. I spent about 5 or 6 yrs coming and going to thailand..any one thats been to and or lived in Thailand and reads your comments about Thailand knows you dont know what you are talking about..People like you should keep their comments to them selves. All you do is look stupid ,,any one thats been there even just passing through can tell you are an idiot..however i suggest you visit Pataya beach for just one week. Youll be saving your pennies for your next trip back to thailand..But the thousands , millions of people that visit Thailand includeing Ex-pats from all over the world just ignore comments like yours.. Go see Thailand on the peninsula surat thani has great mui-thai schools..every where you go all over there is so much to see and do..The food is great the side walk street vendors are the best and cleanest in the world..Take plenty of film,,most of all you will have great time. Zeke Owen

  2. Survival Food Storage February 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Shhhh, Brian, let them think what they wish!

    Publius Vergilius and James are right – Thailand is too dangerous. So are Bali and Malaysia. And Costa Rica and Nicaragua too, now that you mentioned it.

    There’s nothing for you here. Stay in the developed world where you’re safe.

  3. University in Thailand March 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    That’s completely true. I’ve lived in Hua Hin, Thailand for many years now, and most equate it to a retirees paradise. It’s where the King of Thailand has chosen as his permanent residence as well, making it one of the safest towns in Thailand.

    One shouldn’t make biased judgements based on biased news reports for an entire country like that.

    At least take a look first…

    vcp @ webster university thailand

  4. Jack June 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I haven’t been in a country is SE Asia I wouldn’t mind retiring in as I sit here in California reading about all of the welfare freeloaders, foreign invaders, high taxes, corrupt overpaid poltiicians, high crime rates, gangs, failing infastructure, declining quality of life…etc. With that being said, I am partial to Subic Bay in the Philippines. It has everything any man could ever want. Thailand, parts of Vietnam and Bali is nice too.

  5. Hotel World December 15, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    South East Asia is perfectly safe apart from a few small remote areas where tourists do not visit. You are more likely to be robbed, burgled, defrauded, or some other serious crime in your own country. There are just as many criminals in USA, UK and Australia as there are in South East Asia. In fact, I would rather be living in countries like Malaysia, Thailand or Philippines as their criminal laws are more severe than in the west which deters criminals.

  6. Raymund June 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I would definitely recommend Bali for retirement. THis place is a paradise. I also recommend Cebu City in the Philippines.

    • Nyoman May 9, 2014 at 3:30 am

      Ubud in Bali is perfect for retirement, or outskirt area such as Canggu also recommend as it’s close to Seminyak, airport, and of course Beach!

  7. Subic hotels, Hotels in Subic July 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I would recommend Philippines definitely due to Affordable cost of living, Filipino hospitality, Eco-Tourism – PH have lots of great beaches and rich in natural resources and great tourist destinations.

    Boracay Island as the #1 island in the world for 2012.

  8. Alan Cunningham August 25, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I am looking for any information that would help me to relocate from Australia to Malaysia. Particularly to the country/Beach localities
    Thanks so much
    Alan cunningham

    • Paik September 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Alan,

      My name is Paik. I was born and grew up in Malaysian. I am familiar with the country/beaches and islands… a snarkler who loves the island beaches. I will be happy to help. Please feel free to contact me. Hope to hear from you.


    • john walsh April 16, 2013 at 1:24 am

      Hi Allan, I recommend you to consider Sihanuokville, a seaside town in Cambodia. It has plenty to offer and you can check it out on We think it is the best and cheapest place to retire and the people are so friendly. Kind regards

  9. rudy orcino October 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I am from California USA. I am looking forward in retiring to the Philippines!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *