Retire in Malaysia - Your's Destinations
Malaysia topped the list of the most popular long-stay destinations overseas in fiscal 2006, according to the 2007 statistical survey on the long-stay programs unveiled by the Long Stay Foundation of Japan.
It was the first time for Malaysia to top the list since the founding of the survey was created in 1992. Malaysia obtained a 14.9% share of the poll responses, outpacing the former leader Australia by a 0.9 percentage point, which is a 0.3 percentage point higher than that marked in fiscal 2005.
With strong support of male respondents, all age groups in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s all selected Malaysia as the top long-stay destination.
Second-ranked Australia (14%) was the most popular destination among female respondents. Australia topped the rankings by those in their 20s and 40s but ranked second and third in other age groups. Thailand took third place (11.2%), up from fifth in fiscal 2004, followed by New Zealand (10.5%) and Hawaii (9.9%).
The survey findings revealed that men tend to choose Asian countries while women selected North America or northern Pacific destinations as their first choice.
The Foundation said that areas such as Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and Canada were popular due to their appeal as English-speaking destinations, their high level of safety and comfortable weather.
However, South Asian countries have grown increasingly popular as is the case with Malaysia, pointing to the growing demand among consumers.
Some of the reasons for their increased popularity, said the Foundation, is the relatively low cost of living, the short flight times and warm weather. These elements are referred to as "Cheap, Near, Warm," said the Foundation.
As for the desired length of stay, some 41.9% of respondents selected a stay of between one and three months, while 41.8% of them said they preferred three months or more. With fiscal 2005 data showing 47% interested in the one-to-three-month period and 34% citing a period of more than three months, the survey points to the rising demand for longer stay among long-stay participants from Japan.
Longer Duration Gaining
Some have selected to stay more than a year in certain destinations due to the offering of long-term visas by countries. Examples are Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, each providing long-stay programs and help to visitors on their long-stay programs, visas and other processes.
The Malaysian government introduced Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program in the early 2000s initiated as an international residency plan to allow foreigners to reside in the country on a long-stay visa of up to 10 years, renewable. Candidates must qualify by meeting certain financial and medical criteria.
Malaysia-based Tropical Resort Lifestyle managing director Shotaro Ishihara said that he expects the number of Japanese participants under the program to surge from the current 700 people to some 1,400 in three years, partly due to the exodus of baby-boomers starting in 2007.
Ishihara, who has conducted long-stay seminars in Japan, said that some 10,000 Japanese participate in inspection tours to Malaysia annually to decide whether to participate in long-stay programs.
Tropical Resort Lifestyle is an agency to assist in obtaining the MM2H visas to allow foreigners to stay in the country longer.
Such long-stay programs by national governments have helped boost interest in long-stay residency as an option for Japanese consumers during their so-called "sunset" years in Japan or abroad.
Slow Life and Relaxation
Meanwhile, participants in long-stay programs tend to choose the "Slow Life" or "Country Life," one that is far removed from city life in Japan with the average age of men at 57.4 years while women are 49.7 years, according to the survey findings.
The Foundation explained that long-stay participants -- particularly pensioners -- seem to consider spending their long stay in Southeast Asia due to the lower cost of living there while enriching their new lifestyle outside of Japan by communicating with the local people, learning a new language or developing specialties.
Some 31.7% of the respondents said they were interested in the culture of the country of their choice while 19.8% said they like the country they chose.
During their long-stay, some 25.1% of respondents said they would relax while 18.8% plan to participate in hobbies. Some 16.2% said that they plan to learn a language. And 21.1% said they will tour the country while living there.