RETIRING in Penang was an easy decision for Japanese nationality Kazunori Koga, 65.
It came as no surprise to him when George Town was picked as the sixth ‘Best place to retire abroad in 2016’ by CNN Money.
For Koga, who has been living in Malaysia since last May, George Town has much to offer in terms of heritage, nature and hospitality.
“My wife and I first lived in Kuala Lumpur for six weeks but the pollution was too much. Our friends then recommended we take a trip to Penang. We did it and instantly fell in love with the place.
“You can say it was love at first sight,” he joked when met at his apartment in Gurney Drive recently.
With his French wife Caroline, 60, Koga plans to fully utilise their Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa, which lasts for 10 years.
He had also written a book in Japanese about his visits to 81 countries, and said Penang was one-of-a-kind.
Another pair of foreign retirees, British citizen R. Jayaram, 68, and his wife have made Penang their home for the last 11 years.
“The growing community of hashing, among other things, are some of the things I love about life here,” he said.
The former manager of an airline catering company said Penang had some of the best places for trekking, naming Penang Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill as his favourites.
Supporting groups like Coconut Club have helped many foreign retirees to settle down here.
Its branch manager Yukiko Hashizume said the biggest problem for most foreigners is the language barrier.
“We cater mostly to the Japanese and help them with housing arrangements, banking and registering their children into schools,” she said.
Hashizume said the club, which has been in existence for 15 years, currently has more than 400 active members.
On Jan 6, a CNN Money report by Katie Lobosco dubbed the northern state as the sixth best spot out of 10 to retire this year.
The list’s top five were Algarve (Portugal), Cayo (Belize), Medellin (Colombia), Pau (France) and Abruzzo (Italy).