Investing Abroad in Malaysia

Similar to other investment visas in the region, high net worth individuals who are willing to invest a given amount into the Malaysian economy are granted fast-tracked residency. For those who can open a bank account in the country and deposit a minimum of $2 million USD, permanent residency in Malaysia is available through investment.

What’s great is that the spouse and dependent children (under 21) of the investor can live in Malaysia as well and receive permanent residency after 5 years. Investors will need to maintain this $2 million USD in their account for at least five years before they can freely withdraw the money. So, while the price tag is steep, you are not required to actually use any of your money, and you can withdraw the full amount after the five years have passed.

MM2H Program

Viewed more as a retirement visa than an investment visa, the MM2H (My Malaysian 2nd Home) program, however, has some investment incentives for those looking to gain long-term residency in the country. In exchange for a ten-year multiple entry permit, applicants need to open a bank account in the country and deposit a minimum amount.

Those under 50 years old will need to prove that they have liquid assets of $135,000 USD, or be able to prove a monthly offshore income of $10,000 USD. The minimum bank deposit is $80,000 USD and, after the first year, you are able to withdraw half of this money and invest it into an approved source in the country. This can be real estate, education, business formation, etc. You will just need to maintain the remaining $40,000 in your account to keep your MM2H permit valid.

Those over 50 years old have even less investment requirements. They will need to prove $95,000 USD in liquid assets or $3,000 in pension or monthly offshore income. The minimum bank deposit is $40,000 USD. After one year, $13,000 USD may be withdrawn for approved uses in the country. A minimum balance of $27,000 USD must be kept in the account at all times. The fixed deposit may be waived for those applying under a $3,000 monthly offshore pension.

The MM2H permit is not an investment visa in the sense of granting immediate permanent residency or citizenship. In fact, the permit is completely separate from the legal residency route, and time spent in the country in this manner does not count towards permanent residency or Malaysian citizenship.

However, there are no minimum stay requirements with the MM2H, so those willing to open a bank account and invest this minimum amount into real esate can get legal documentation to come in and out of Malaysia freely for at least ten years.

Cost Comparison

At present (November, 2017), the conversion rate stands at $1 USD = 4.24 Malaysian Ringgit. In addition, the cost aggregator Numbeo provides the following advantageous data for average costs in Malaysia:

  • Consumer prices are 43.21% lower than in the U.S.
  • Rent prices are 71.7% lower than in the U.S.
  • Food prices are 69.1% (restaurant) and 39.58% (groceries) lower than in the U.S.
  • Property price per square meter (city center): $2,041
    • Outside city center: $1,148

SafetyConsumer Resource Guide

Regardless of investment type, it’s always important to make sure your new financial landscape is safe and secure. According to the Global Peace Index, Malaysia ranks 29 out of 163 countries surveyed in regards to safety, generating positive scores.  

Malaysia scored very favorably in Perception of Criminality, Homicide, Access to Weapons, Intensity of Internal Conflict, Political Instability, Death from Internal/External Conflict, and Terrorism Impact.

Malaysia did not score poorly in any category, though Violent Demonstrations, Violent Crime, and Political Terror were moderate. This varies greatly by neighborhood/city/region, so always do your research before investing in property.

Economic Data

  • GDP
    • Nominal: $816 billion USD
    • Growth: 5.8%
    • Per Capita: $28,281 USD
  • Population below poverty line: 0.6%
  • Labor force: 15.03 million
  • Main industries:
    • Electronics, semiconductor, microchips, integrated circuit, rubber, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, timber, petroleum, natural gas, smelting.
  • Imports: $147.7 billion (mainly China, Singapore, Japan, U.S.)
  • Exports:  $175.7 billion (mainly Singapore, China, Japan, U.S.)

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Author Bio:

Tyler Sorce is an American writer and digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. In a past life he was a chef in Manhattan and Paris, follow his travels and favorite dishes on Instagram.