Many Americans view retirement as a chance to explore the world and discover a new life after their working years. With Social Security benefits declining and the possibility of a volatile 401(k) retirement account, people also view retirement as a way to live the good life for less money than is possible in America.

While Latin America normally first comes to mind when thinking about overseas locations for retirement living, Malaysia is quickly becoming one of the most popular retirement destinations for Americans. Consistently ranking in the top five most sought-after retirement destinations, it is the best place to retire in Southeast Asia.

1. Central Island Lifestyle

Malaysia consists of a set of islands that provide a central home base for traveling throughout Southeast Asia. This central location provides amazing travel opportunities throughout the region. For example, retiring to the island of Penang provides American retirees with the chance to take a 40-minute flight to the well-known island of Langkawi and a one-hour flight to the famous island of Phuket, Thailand.

Regardless of the island, Malaysia provides its residents with an average temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and has no drastic seasonal changes other than rain and sunshine. The country gives American retirees an easy access point to the rest of the world and a laid-back lifestyle when they stay local.

2. Good Housing Options for Retirees

Thanks to an economy based on tourism and electronics manufacturing, Malaysia has a growing real estate landscape. This increase in the supply of good housing gives American retirees the chance to purchase or rent homes in Malaysia without spending a fortune. The country provides such housing options as sea-view condominiums, brand-new bungalows, and heritage shophouses.

UNESCO bestowed World Heritage status on Penang's historic capital, Georgetown, which has helped to uplift the housing market in the area. While this uplift is important for the quality of Malaysian homes, the demand hasn't increased the prices out of an average American retiree's price range. The average price of a home is $75,390, and there's no limit to the number of houses a person can own in Malaysia.

3. Excellent Healthcare and Medical Centers

Malaysia is home to world-class private healthcare facilities, such as the LohGuanLye Medical Centre, Island Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, and the Pantai Medical Centre. Almost all of the doctors and nurses in Malaysia are trained in Europe and Australia, making the quality of care very high for American retirees.

However, the high quality of care does not translate to high healthcare costs in the country. Relative to the care provided, the cost is much lower than in other countries. Additionally, English is the language used in the Malaysian healthcare industry, making it easy to communicate with medical personnel and healthcare providers.

4. Most Malaysian Citizens Are Bilingual

Almost everyone in Malaysia speaks English as a second language, if it is not their first language. Malaysia was once a British colony, and it gained independence after World War II. While the official Malaysian language is Bahasa Malaysia, it's very easy for American retirees to communicate with locals as they travel and live in Malaysia.

5. Joining a Multicultural Society

Malaysia has always been flush with international ports. As a former British colony, Malaysia is very multicultural. Malaysia has Malay, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian influences, making it a great retirement destination for expatriates who are looking to expand their horizons.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the country is welcoming to all foreigners. It even has such expat organizations as the Malaysian-German Society and the Penang Irish Association.