BEING a uniquely beautiful city with its own charm, Ipoh has also attracted researchers and experts in the field of retirement living. They were “swept away” in their recent study on Ipoh being a retirement destination for foreigners.
They all agreed that Ipoh is an ideal place for Asian senior citizens to retire, particularly those from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
“I am amazed by what I saw and experienced throughout my field trip and I have so many good things to say about Ipoh.
“This charming city definitely has much to offer to retirees out there,” said Prof Raymond Ho, a finance researcher who specialises in retirement living, emerging industries, cost and human resources.
After a two-day field visit to Ipoh’s wet markets, hospitals, old folks’ homes and various other facilities, the Shenzhen University visiting professor said he was particularly fascinated by three things about the silver state.
“Firstly, the weather and temperature here are very suitable because it is not too hot or cold throughout the year.
“Next, the people here are generally well-mannered and approachable. I especially treasure the fact that most people here have positive family values, where husbands and wives live harmoniously together in treating each other well.
“And finally, the city centre is not overcrowded with traffic and skyscrapers, giving it a lot of room for development.
“All these factors make Ipoh a lovely place for retirement living,” he said.
Prof Ho, who spent the last 10 years conducting in-depth research in retirement living in many developed countries, such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand, said retirement living was a paradigm shift in the development of many countries.
“With better healthcare, populations are ageing worldwide.
“Take China for example – there were 35,000 retirement homes before 2017 and the number doubled to 70,000 at the end of the same year. And there are over 1,300 retirement homes in Hong Kong with 7.5 million people.
“This trend has pushed retirement living to become an indispensable process for people in the world, as senior citizens are in need of a home to live out their golden years happily.
“In fact, it is time for it to become an industry, with specific needs being met by eager providers here,” he said, adding that the potential and opportunity for Ipoh to become the preferred retirement destination was well-received by stakeholders here.
Weighing in on Prof Ho’s comments was Hong Kong-based geospatial engineering surveyor and trainer, Miranda Lui, who also took part in the field trip.
“I clearly see the elements of culture, environment and weather here being so ideal for retirees from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, as well as other foreign countries.
“Ipoh certainly has what it takes to appeal to retirees from European countries as well, where the cost to retire is high.
“They generally love the tropical sun and also enjoy the sea, and Ipoh is not far away from the coast. The state also has beautiful beaches and islands,” she said.
Lui, who is well-versed in the global development trend of Building Information Modelling (BIM), said she would not have realised how interesting and versatile Ipoh was, had she not seen it for herself.
“I think it is necessary for more targeted promotions on Ipoh’s offerings, so that more retirees will be aware when considering their retirement living options,” she added.
Her colleague and chartered surveyor Low Hon-wah, said the spoken language he heard when they were visiting a wet market in the city was “so friendly and close to home”.
“I have been to Ipoh several times but this visit gave me deeper understanding about this beautiful city.
“I will definitely visit again and bring some visitors, who are retirees and soon-to-be retirees, with me for them to see for themselves,” said Low, who is also Global BIM Centre of Excellence research firm vice-president.
China’s Harbin-based senior media producer Yu Quan Jie pointed out that two considerations usually come to mind for those who are planning retirement – quality and finance.
“Quality retirement is where people get to enjoy their retirement life with dignity.
“For this aspect, Ipoh certainly has a lot to offer because overall, the social acceptance is good here, where most people are polite and courteous.
“Foreigners living here also do not feel rejected or isolated from society,” she said.
Yu recalled her experience of falling ill on a previous visit and receiving good treatment at a hospital in Ipoh.
“Although I do not speak much Cantonese, the doctors and nurses’ Mandarin were good.
“I never felt alone although I was sick in a foreign country,” she said.
As far as retirement and finance is concerned, Yu noted that China was getting more expensive and those who cannot afford living there moved out.
“There has been a trend that many mainland citizens were moving to countries in South-East Asia for better investment opportunities and a more liveable environment.
“For Ipoh, this could be a good opportunity for the Government or relevant authorities in doing more to promote Ipoh as an ideal place for retirement to the world.
“Some perks or allowance should also be extended to stakeholders, such as developers that did their part to promote Malaysia as an ideal retirement destination,” she said.
The avid food lover said the good water quality in the state was another reason she kept coming back here.
“Compared with other places, the beansprouts here are bigger, juicier, crunchier and tastier; and I think the rich minerals in the soil and good water quality in and around hilly Ipoh must have done the trick,” she added.
Taiwan-based logistics industry expert Michael Wang, who also took part in the field visit, concurred and said the vast and vibrant choice of delicacies in Ipoh was “indeed a very important factor” to him.
He said he loved what he saw and was looking forward to retire in Malaysia in less than 10 years’ time.
“Hong Kong has seven million Chinese in terms of population, while Singapore has five million.
“For Malaysia, its percentage of Chinese in the community is high at eight million people; and in Ipoh city alone, 70% of dwellers are Chinese.
“This is surely a friendly environment for retirees from Taiwan,” he said, adding that Ipoh was quite close to Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
“There are many hills in Ipoh but there is also flat land. It is also not far from the sea, with easy access options.
“That is when I realised that I will return here for my retirement,” Wang said.
More retirement housing projects needed