Category: Vacation property

MM2H = Malaysia My Second Home: good retirement or vacation home option?

A colleague of mine was telling me today about a program the Malaysian government runs that he might take advantage of. The MM2H program is designed to encourage foreigners to either buy a vacation home or retire in Malaysia.

This Malaysian article (it’s a business article) says that many MM2H people are buying in Penang. I went to Penang and have no real desire to go back (though the hotel was very nice). Partly that was because the taxis stressed me out (they don’t use the meter so taxis in Penang are always more expensive then in Kuala Lumpur (assuming you take the time in KL – different KL link – to find one who will use the meter).

In the article, people predict that real estate in both Penang and KL will go up. That’s one possible reason to buy a vacation or retirement home in Malaysia but it’s not enough.

This article lists some more reasons:

1. It’s always hot. Obviously this won’t thrill everyone but if you hate winter…

2. There is no language issue. Almost everyone speaks English, unlike in Charles de Gaulle Airport…

3. Good health care – Malaysia is a medical tourism destination.

Then the article gives you the basics of MM2H:

To attract affluent retirees, the Malay government operates the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme to allow foreigners to stay in Malaysia for extended periods. Participants over 50 must deposit a minimum of RM150,000 (or about $43,000) in a Malay bank account (yes, you get interest and you can withdraw part of it after a year) or have access to a monthly pension of at least RM10,000 ($2,900), as well as having at least RM350,000 ($102,000) in liquid assets back home. In return, you get a 10-year pass that allows you to come and go. The pass is renewable and you pay no tax on income derived outside of Malaysia. Property prices in Malaysia are reasonable: you could buy a three-bedroom, 100-sq-m condominium in Penang for RM300,000 to 330,000 ($86,000 to $94,000) or pay about RM1,000 to 2,000 ($285 to $570) per month to rent the same space.

So basically they want people who have money moving there. I guess you can’t blame them for that. Most countries prefer people with money…

The other interesting thing is that the program is for people 50 and over. I don’t have any idea why they would prefer people 50 and up. Isn’t a 40-year-old with money just as good?

If you don’t have money, maybe Long Beach would be good (no electricity bill).

Where would you buy a vacation home?

This article on Canadians buying vacation homes in the US got me looking for more articles on vacation homes.

According to this article, it’s no surprise that foreigners are buying US property considering the weak dollar. Actually the other article also mentioned the relative strength of Canadian currency to the US dollar.

Apparently people from Winnipeg, Canada are especially fond of Arizona. Sunshine, golf, and a battered real estate market are making Arizona look good.

While Canadians want to go south, Americans are worried about the chimneys in their vacation homes which probably means they often buy in colder areas.

I would personally love to have a vacation home and was thinking somewhere cheap would be nice. For example, buying property in Brazil could be less of a financial stress than buying in the US. However, buying in a foreign country involves some red tape (see the first article I linked to). Also, when we were in Punta Cana, my wife and I say that you get condos by the beach for $60,000 or so.

Virginia’s Natural Bridge for sale

Speaking of buying micronations, how about Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high limestone arch in Virginia? Apparently it’s only 39.5 million and just waiting to be developed.

Outdoor garden & living areas: worth the price of your next vacation?

A few weeks or so ago, I wrote about an article that talked about modeling your garden after what you see on vacation.

Well here’s another similar article. They talk about “creating a ‘chat pit’ – the new buzzword for seating around a fire pit…” and various styles such as Spanish colonial or Japanese.

I guess the idea is that one vacation inspires you to create an outdoor living space modeled on whatever theme inspired you in the first place. Then you skip your next vacation paying for the expensive outdoor area. I hate the idea of skipping vacations, but it makes sense for some people considering that you use your home a lot more often than you travel. It’s kind of like making your home a vacation spot.

Buying a vacation fome the financially responsible way

This is a very practical article in which the author writes about her experience buying a vacation home. She partnered up with some relatives to make it more affordable and chose a place where people want to rent year-round. When the family isn’t using the vacation home, it’s being rented out fully furnished.

There is some faulty thinking here:

The one advantage to the high cost is that, between the management company’s fees and all the other expenses needed to run the house, no matter how often the house is rented, it will always operate at a loss. That should mean some big deductions come tax time.

Operating at a loss is never an advantage. Sure you’re getting a tax deduction, but don’t forget that you’re losing money! Now you expect a vacation home to cost you money – all vacations cost money. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on a vacation home but there is something wrong with looking for ways to lose money in order to get more tax deductions.

Despite the flaw, I do think this is a good article. The author made some errors we can learn from (especially with the insurance) and warns us of some potential problems.

Exchanging homes for vacation no matter where you live

I wouldn’t have guessed it, but apparently people are anxious to vacation in Oklahoma – so anxious that one person is getting more offers to exchange homes for vacation than she can handle. Some advice for people who want to exchange homes but who live in the middle of nowhere:

Ed Kushins, president of, the Web site featured in last year’s film “The Holiday,” said people shouldn’t be discouraged if they live in a place that isn’t generally thought of as a vacation spot. They just might have to work a little harder.

You have to be a little more proactive in sending out inquiries, Kushins said. If you’re enthusiastic and descriptive about the benefits and what there is to do where you live, you’re going to get some responses.

Timeshare warnings – reasons not to buy

From broken promises about room quality to rising maintenance fees, to problems exchanging weeks through RCI, here’s an article that outlines numerous problems with timeshare ownership. People complain about the big companies like Marriott as well as the little ones.

Here are a few blog entries about timeshares that got some interesting / useful comments:

St. Kitts Mariott Timeshare, reslae timeshare information, should I buy a Marriott timeshare?

Personally, I’ve been warned by enough people. Even though I know some people who love their Disney timeshare, I don’t think I’ll ever go timeshare shopping.

Home exchange websites and costs

First, the winter vacation writing contest is over. We didn’t get many entries, but I did get a few last minute ones that I’ll be publishing over the next few days.

I’ve written several blog entries about exchanging homes on vacation. You save money on the hotel and you get a home rather than a room. Of course there are a few risks, but the stories you hear in the news are positive ones. If people do have bad experiences they are being pretty quiet for the most part. Anyway, here’s some info from an old article about different websites that do home exchanges: lists one home for $80 a year. Additional listings cost $15 each. offers a variety of membership options (Web only or catalogue and Web), starting at $78.88 a year. is offering a special $59.95 for one year, and if you don’t exchange your home during the first year you get a second year free. charges a fee of $50/year and allows you to conduct as many home exchanges during that time as you wish.

If anyone has used another site, please leave a comment!

St. Kitts Mariott timeshares

St. Kitts is a Caribbean island with good temperatures year-round, great beaches, lava formations, tropical forest, and lagoons. It’s bot too crowded and has done well preserving its ecosystem, which makes nature treks on the island and scuba diving popular.

St. Kitts also has great Colonial architecture in Basseterre (the capital). A new Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) resort is being opened about 10 minutes away from Basseterre and the Saint Kitts Robert Bradshaw International Airport.

Royal St. Kitts Marriott Resort should not overcrowd the island, with 88 two and three bedroom villas ready for owners in January 2007. Marriott timeshares aren’t cheap: 1 week will cost you from $16, 400 to $69, 500. I wonder how that compares with the new Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge timeshares. There are some good comments here on resale timshares and timshare ownership in general.

Disney timeshares at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Some friends of mine have a timeshare at one of the Disney Resorts. They go every year with their daughter and usually invite my parents. That’s one nice thing about timeshares now that I think about it; you can invite your friends and offer them a place to stay (presuming your timeshare property has an extra bedroom or two).

Anyway, Disney is adding timeshares to their Animal Kingdom Lodge. A commenter named Emily left an interesting blurb about Animal Kingdom Lodge on this post reviewing Disney resorts. Some of the new timeshares should be completed in fall 2007 and all should be done by spring 2009. At least some will have views of some of Disney’s African animals. Disney is also adding a restaurant, a gym, and of course a giftshop.

All together, Walt Disney World plans to build 456 new Disney Vacation Club units. Here are some previous posts from this blog on Disney and timeshares:

Halloween in the Magic Kingdom, Some advice on going to Universal Studios during a Disney vacation, Disney resort experiences, and Disney hotel recommendations.

Some previous timeshare posts: Vacation clubs with points instead of weeks, floating condos (where you can buy a timeshare on a ship), timeshare trouble (when properties close down and raise maintenance fees), and resale timeshares (read the comments – much better than my original post).

Well there are more, but I’ve been blogging for a long time and you can’t read it all in one day. Come back tomorrow!