Ipoh one of most affordable cities to retire

Interesting indeed that Ipoh is recognised by a western foreigner as one of the most affordable cities to retire. Not that Ipoh is not affordable to live in. My first thought is surely there are plenty of cities around the world that are more “affordable” to live in than Ipoh?! The blogger for US News came up with a figure, amounting to $897 a month, if you want to retire in Ipoh. But regrettably there is not a lot of further insights apart from two short paragraphs which only scratches the surface of what potentially makes Ipoh a desirable city to retire in.

Here are my take on what makes Ipoh desirable for foreigners:

1)      Healthcare, when you are in your old age, is comparatively cheaper than many places, especially the U.S. Well, where else in the world is not cheaper to get access to healthcare than the US?! It is also fairly affordable to hire a maid, from the likes of Philipine, Indonesia, to do your house chores, if not to take care of you as well. So the appeal for retirees is certainly compelling in this sense.

2)      Language should be a plus. Whilst folks in Ipoh don’t speak a lot of English, they can still communicate in basic English, by and large. So foreigners should have little trouble getting on with life, as long as they don’t wander too far off the city…

3)      Environment and infrastructure are not bad for such a city in a developing country. To start with, Ipoh is surrounded by mountains, which to me is very scenic itself. Air quality is okay, occasionally hit by haze from forest fire in neighbouring country, Indonesia. Development is catching up even in this sleepy town, with plenty of housing and commercial developments. Traffic is on the rise too although not choking yet. So not much to shout about in terms of air quality in general I would say. Stay away from urban areas and one on Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme told me that her husband is no longer suffering from asthma. Water is cheap in Ipoh, and in abundance. Most people however install their own water filter at home as water is not drinkable directly from tap. Traffic congestion is not an issue in Ipoh, especially if you are a retiree as you mostly only travel during off peak hours. You can get from one end of Ipoh to another in probably half an hour. But you do need a car to get you around, as local public transport is virtually non-existent.

4)      Wide range of food available, starting from very affordable prices. Eating out, decent local food, can be cheaper than cooking at home. And increasingly you can find more sophisticated gastronomic experience in Ipoh too. Whilst not as affordable as local food, the availability of such options is important as I can imagine that foreigners will fancy eating food  they are accustomed to back home sometimes having myself lived in overseas for long period of time before.

5)      Accommodation is fairly affordable. Used to be very cheap to own a house in Ipoh. But property boom in the far east has driven house prices up, even in Ipoh. Renting is however still comparatively cheap. Because rental yield is low, condition of rented properties is generally quite poor. So you may need to fork out more (i.e. at least RM1,000 to RM1,500 a month rental) for more palatable properties…

6)      Western influence makes it easier for westerners to adapt to life in Ipoh, from shopping malls, supermarkets like Tesco, fast food chains, to familiar household and food product names, you name it. Alcohol drinking, although expensive, is common in Malaysia, despite it being perceived as a Muslim country. And lately coffee drinking culture is catching up in Ipoh too, in settings as wide ranging as by the roadside type stalls to individualistic boutique cafes to chain coffee shops like Starbucks.  There are also affordable international schools to cater for families with children. Activities for young children, should you have any, are however very limited, whether to do with the hot climate or not. Having said that there is a very commendable indoor playground in the form of Cheeky Tots which even short stay tourists recommended it!

Hence Ipoh in my view is a good place to retire if you have a small budget, and want to live a simple, slow pace life. If you want further sophistication, there are no concert hall, quality museum, technology center or such likes to occasionally keep you occupied though…

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