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Ditch the fuel cost pinch: Car-Free Living in 3 Walkable Towns—

November 2, 2018 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

With parts of Australia experiencing fuel prices at a 10-year high, retirees looking to embrace a more affordable, independent, active lifestyle should consider three walkable towns abroad—in Malaysia, Portugal and Vietnam—according to a new report from the editors at


Recent studies show households are spending up to $22,000 a year just to keep their cars on the road as toll ways, insurance and other costs continue to rise—but in contrast, in the right places overseas, retirees can both enjoy the convenience and accessibility of an urban retirement and at the same time slash their cost of living.

International Living Australia’s report highlights three walkable, good-value spots around the world, each of which offers a friendly environment in convenient neighbourhoods where public transportation is easy to access, and the multi-generational appeal is built in.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Penang is a small tropical island off the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, with the majority of the population living in the capital, George Town.

“With its UNESCO World Heritage Site listing, the must-see sights of George Town are best explored by foot. The British designed George Town as a walking city,” says IL Malaysia Correspondent, Keith Hockton.

Penang is a former British colony. As a result, English is widely spoken, making it easy to make friends. “The expats who live here love the fact that they live in a colonial city with a rich history and culture,” says Keith.

“They also love the fact that they are a mere stroll away from everything that they need —café’s, restaurants, bakeries, laundries, supermarkets and banks are all within walking distance, no matter where you live. George Town is walker friendly at night too and most importantly, it’s safe.”

Despite Penang being a small Island, there is no shortage of arts and culture; from the International Film festival to the month-long George Town festival that celebrates the arts in every form imaginable. And with a mix of cultures, Penang is deemed to be a top foodie destination to visit in the world.

A couple can live well on a monthly budget of $2,500, but if you want to push your spend to $3,300, you can live in luxury.

Mafra, Portugal

On the west coast of Portugal, located 34 kilometres northwest of Lisbon and 15 minutes from world-class surfing beaches in Ericeira, Mafra is the proud home of one of the country’s largest national palaces.

The town is a low-key place of white-washed houses trimmed in yellow and blue, lining narrow cobbled streets. The scent of grilling sardines is ever-present in the air, along with the sound of laughter and clinking glasses in the village’s many cafés and bars.

“The town of Mafra, offers the perfect blend of small town advantages and city sights,” says IL Portugal Correspondent, Tricia Pimental

“Life centres around the majestic National Palace and the tree-lined esplanade which faces it. Clothing stores, restaurants, cafés, the produce market, pharmacy, meat vendor, hardware store and optician ring around the plaza, where, depending on the season, chestnut or ice cream vendors offer their wares. Day and night, tourists and locals alike stroll about, chatting, shopping and enjoying the stress-free life of an ideal Portuguese town.”

Although modernity is overtaking Portugal quickly, you can still enjoy an old-style, Old-World life here at an affordable cost.

All in, a couple can live well in this walkable city on $2,500 a month.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, central Vietnam’s biggest city, lies on the coast of the Eastern Sea. Despite its population of about 1 million, it’s managed to retain a small town feel.

This dynamic city has so much to offer, with beaches to the east, mountains to the west, two world-class golf courses and unfailingly friendly residents, it’s no surprise that Da Nang is considered to be the most liveable city in Vietnam.

Retirees are attracted here by the 28-kilometre long beach with its pretty promenade and numerous parks and appreciate Da Nang’s lack of corruption and business-friendly attitude.

Da Nang is a walkable place but if going farther afield is a breeze. Grab, the region’s Uber competitor, is simple to book and you can check and confirm the fare for your journey in advance so you don’t have to worry about bartering. There’s also a good bus service that will take you the 30 kilometres to the winding lanes, historic temples and timber-framed shophouses of Hoi An for around a dollar.

Da Nang has the distinction of being one of the cleanest cities in Vietnam. There is very little litter anywhere in the city and anti-littering laws are enforced. It also has an active recycling program.

A couple could live comfortably in Da Nang on a budget of around $1,325 per month, including rent, utilities, food, frequent meals out and all incidentals.

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