Five years ago, after selling our house, car, cat and almost everything we owned, my wife and I decided to retire to Malaysia. Our life in Sydney, Australia was busy, not particularly stressful but not fulfilling either. We were taking all our holidays in Southeast Asia, so we thought we would reverse the situation and live in Asia, and take some of our holidays in Australia.
We found Malaysia had many benefits that made it stand out. One of them, and it’s an important one as you get older, is healthcare. We are both sporty people, so good, affordable healthcare was top of the list.
Here are four reasons why I love Malaysian healthcare:
1. No waiting when you need a specialist
The number one thing I love about the Malaysian healthcare system is that you don’t have to wait to see a specialist. You don’t need a referral from your GP either. It’s a simple system. I live on the island of Penang in Malaysia’s north east and there are numerous first-class hospitals for you to choose from—Gleneagles, the Adventist, Loh Guan Lye and the Lam Wah Ee, to name but a few.
When you decide whom you want to see, be it a heart, orthopaedics, gastro, ophthalmologist or plastic surgeon, all you have to do is arrive at the hospital of your choice and register. This takes 20 minutes, and all you need to complete the registration is a copy of your passport.
Once the paperwork is completed, you’ll be led to your specialist’s door. Some surgeons are easier to see than others but the most I have heard of anyone waiting is one hour. The least—10 minutes.
2. World-class surgeons
Malaysia has some of the best surgeons in the world. It’s not a boast—they do. Most, if not all of them, have completed their graduate or their post-graduate studies in the U.K. or the U.S., and all of them speak English.
That’s important. Being able to converse with your surgeon during a check-up, or in a time of crisis, immediately sets your mind at ease. Knowing that you don’t have to learn another language immediately makes things easier. The less stress that you have at this particular time, the better.
Malaysia is known as a medical centre of excellence. People from all over the world come here for medical care—not just because the standard is high, but also because it’s affordable. Most of the expats who live in Malaysia don’t have medical insurance. I’m one of them.
Just to give you an example of how affordable it is, seeing a surgeon can cost as little as $16. A private room, bigger than my bedroom at home, with a flat-screen TV and a pull-out bed (in case your partner wants to stay with you), can cost as little as $40 a night.
4. Recovery—Five-star hotels and world-class beaches
Another feature we love about Malaysia is the natural beauty that surrounds us. Malaysia has some of the best beaches, flora and fauna, and wildlife parks in Southeast Asia. Not to mention some of the most luxurious hotels.
That makes recovering here, after an operation, relatively easy. Quite a few of the people who fly in for operations recover after the event at a world-class resort before heading home. In most cases, the cost of the operation, and a week or two of R&R at a five-star facility after the fact, means that it’s still cheaper to do just that than have the operation at home. Why not combine the two if you end up dollars ahead…sometime thousands of dollars ahead?
In addition to Malaysia’s great beaches, it also has awe-inspiring mountains. Flocks of hornbills and eagles are commonplace, and Kinabalu National Park, in Sabah, has nearly 800 species of birdlife. And if you want to see more animals, just take a trip to one of the many national parks, within two hours’ drive of Penang, where you can see monkeys, sloths and many other animals.
It’s a special place, and Malaysia’s healthcare is just one of the reasons why we love living here.
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