The TV commercials for Malaysia as a tourism destination are familiar. Much less known is the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ (MM2H) initiative, though that is about to change. The country’s ministry of tourism is stepping up the promotion of the campaign.
Malaysia is the new kid on the block offering this long-stay programme where foreigners can opt to reside and buy property in the Southeast-Asian country. But given the very favourable conditions for anyone who joins, the scheme is due to grow. At least this is what the Swedish businessman Jan Orrnert of the web portal hemutomlands.se strongly believes.
Among the attention-grabbers are: a ten year, renewable visa allowing travel in and out of Malaysia as you wish; land ownership of the house you buy; option to purchase a tax-free car; or permission to work half time if over 50 years of age and having specialist skills.
Malaysia number one
On his new dedicated website, mm2h.se, Jan Orrnert describes it as ‘one of the world’s best programmes for living abroad’, with the biggest incentive of all being the privilege of experiencing and being a part of the country of Malaysia.
And if anyone Jan should know, being an authority on countries as he has visited over a hundred of them and lived in eight. To him there are few countries in the world that can match his favourite.
Previously Jan Orrnert spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia where he set up Astra’s operations, including in Malaysia where he lived for three years during the 1980’s.
“In comparison to other countries, Malaysia always came out as number one; this country has so incredibly much to offer. And when the Malaysian government started the MM2H programme, I soon followed suit and applied for my ten year visa. I am sure that other Swedes, as well as other Scandinavians and people from all over the world, would like it here. This is the reason why I have launched a MM2H service.”
Jan thinks it has so much to offer, such as fantastic islands and beaches, or cities with an abundance of amenities. The infrastructure is also great.
“And in general people speak English so you don’t have much communication problems. In addition cost of living is fairly low in this country today. A third of Stockholm’s cost for example.”
Over 200 golf courses with low green fees, the warm tropical climate and fantastic food traditions developed from three cultures are also among the highlights.
Among the most liberal Muslim countries on the planet
Jan’s website points out how Asian and Western cultures have blended into a special one.
“Here you can experience and enjoy this special mixture and at the same time dive into the different Asian cultures. Malaysia is Asia at its best.”
Regarding Malaysia being seen as a Muslim country, Jan believes there is as misconception – something he will make clear on the website.
“Scandinavians won’t find this negative once they understand what kind of Muslim country it is; probably one of the most liberal in the world. And that has to do with that the Malay Muslims are only 60 per cent of the population here. You have also large groups of Chinese and Indians.”
“People coming here to Kuala Lumpur are often surprised when they come to this big city with its lifestyle in a so called Muslim country. Those get an entirely different understanding. That’s also why it is important to increase tourism here.”
The lifestyle has become much more westernized.
Ranks above Thailand
“We’ve received very good response from the authorities in Malaysia and from the Malaysian Tourist Office in Stockholm. In the future, we hope to promote mm2h.se in Sweden in cooperation with Tourism Malaysia in Stockholm.”
Still relatively unknown among Swedes Jan points out that Malaysia ended up above Thailand in a comparison from the travel publication Allt Om Resor which proclaimed Malaysia as the winner.
In comparison Singapore is expensive, while Spain and Thailand has similarities in that foreigners live in certain concentrated areas.
“I don’t mind meeting Swedish people, which I do, but I also like to integrate with the local population,” says Jan who started by renting a place but is about to purchase an apartment in Kuala Lumpur and spend part of his time there and in Sweden.
“We recommend that you should not rush into a property purchase but instead rent a place initially. This will give you time to explore different areas and possibilities in Malaysia and give you time to get to know the place and people to make sure that you buy what you really want.”
Kuala Lumpur, the former of Portuguese settlement Melaka, the islands Langkawi and Penang respectively are among the ample options mentioned.
“Looking at the real estate market today there is a large production of apartments, including high rise, and all kinds of houses with gated communities. Prices are on par with Thailand; relatively price-friendly.”
“Penang is one area with many foreigners. If one really wants peace and quite as a retiree one should move to Langkawi.
There are no requirements for a person with a MM2H visa to buy property, though money must be deposited in a Malaysian bank (if under 50 years of age MYR 300,000, otherwise MYR 150,000). If purchasing a residential property in the country, or for medical expenses, a certain amount can be withdrawn after one year, but a minimum amount of MYR 60,000 will stay frozen (depending on the level of investment).
MM2H visa holders can invest in his/her own company and work in this company.