Sabah Province launches alternative MM2H visa program in Malaysia

Sabah MM2H Program Launch 2023

In 2021, Malaysia’s My Second Home (MM2H) visa program became way more expensive. Fortunately, the country’s autonomous Sarawak Province had a far more accessible regional version of the program.

And now, Sabah Province is following suit by launching its own affordable MM2H program…

Malaysia’s MM2H Visa: A quick recap of recent program changes…

In 2021, the financial requirements for the federal Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program became radically higher, which came as bad news for prospective applicants. (Foreign residents already living in Malaysia were eventually allowed to renew their visas under the old rules after a widespread outcry.)

Fortunately for new applicants, Sarawak Province launched a far more accessible provincial version of the federal MM2H program – although you’ll have to reside in Sarawak (details below).

And now, in February of 2023, Sabah Province has followed suit with its Sabah MM2H Visa program

Note: Of the 13 Malaysian states, only two enjoy autonomy when it comes to their immigration policies –  Sarawak, and Sabah. Both are situated in Borneo, the island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Sarawak and Sabah only joined Malaysia in 1963, and hence they were granted a certain level of provincial autonomy.

Why a move to Sabah in Malaysia could make a lot of sense…

Situated around 2,000 miles east of the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah Province is a tropical island paradise.

Boasting lush rainforests and crystal-clear waters, there is no shortage of beautiful landscapes to explore. And if you’re into hiking, outdoor living and particularly watersports, you’re in for a treat here.

The province is home to a rich cultural heritage, comprising a mix of Malay, Chinese, and indigenous cultures. Its cuisine is sumptuous, and includes local specialties like fish noodles, coconut pudding, and rice dumplings.

Sabahans, as the locals are known, are famous for their warmth and hospitality, and it’s the kind of place you could settle into and really become part of the community.

And perhaps best of all, the cost of living here is really affordable. Malaysia, on average, scores a “2/7 – Very Cheap”, in the Sovereign Cost of Living Index, and a family of four could live quite well on around $4,000 per month (rent included).

And while we don’t have a specific price estimate for Sabah, it's one of the cheapest provinces in Malaysia. So your cost of living there is likely going to be dirt-cheap.

Plus, with the addition of an attractive visa option, this deal gets even sweeter…

What we know about the new Sabah MM2H Visa program (thus far)...

On Tuesday, February 2, Sabah Minister for Culture and Environment, Datuk Christina Liew, confirmed a number of salient aspects of the incoming Sabah MM2H program during a press briefing.

Some of the confirmed details included one of the program’s financial requirements (the local bank deposit option), a health screening requirement, as well as the minimum stay requirements.

The program’s presence requirements match that of the Sarawak provincial MM2H offering (30 days each).

And while Sabah’s minimum deposit requirement for single applicants is just 20% of that of the federal program – RM200,000 (~$45,000) vs RM1 million (~$225,000) – it is 25% more than that of Sarawak. (The latter requires a deposit of RM150,000 (~$33,500) for single applicants.)

As of this writing, we don't know if, besides deposit requirements, there will also be income requirements, as is the case with the Sarawak and Federal programs, but will keep our readers updated…

According to local media reports, the program seeks to aid in the province’s post-pandemic recovery, while also capitalizing on the changes to the federal program. In addition, the provincial authorities seek to attract more applications from Chinese nationals.

Interestingly, the program will feature a health screening requirement, and visa holders will only be allowed to buy properties in Sabah that have a value of more than RM600,000 (~$134,000).

Let’s compare the Sabah program’s known requirements against those of the federal and Sarawak MM2H programs based on what we know thus far:

Requirements Sabah MM2H Sarawak MM2H Federal MM2H
(2023 conditions)
Financial Requirements

Monthly income thresholds to be confirmed…

Deposit in a Sabah bank:

RM200,000 (~$45,000) per single applicant;

Minimum deposit requirements for couples and families TBC

a) Demonstrate monthly income:

RM7,000 (~$1,563) per month per single applicant;

RM10,000 (~$2,234) per month per married couple


b) Deposit in a Sarawak bank:

RM150,000 (~$33,500*) per single applicant;

RM300,000 (~$67,000*) per married couple

Need to do both:

a) Demonstrate monthly income:

RM40,000 (~$8,936)


b) Deposit in a Malaysian bank:

RM1 million (~$225,000)*

Demonstrate Liquid Assets Requirement TBC N/A RM1.5 million (~$335,000)
Minimum Stays 30 days per year (in Sabah) 30 days per year (in Sarawak) 90 days per year anywhere in Malaysia.
Applicant Age TBC

Over 50s only;

Possible exceptions:

40 - 49 years if you buy property worth RM600,000 (~$134,000+);

30 - 49 years if your kids are in school in Sarawak, or if you’re undergoing approved long-term medical treatment there.

Over 35s only
Visa Validity Issued for 5 years, and renewable for additional 5 Issued for 5 years, and renewable for additional 5 Issued for 5 years, and renewable for additional 5

In conclusion

While there are a number of important details – including the minimum income and potential net worth requirements – to be clarified still, this visa program could compete well with Sarawak’s offering.

So whether you’re a retiree craving island life while stretching your retirement savings, or a digital nomad in search of a tropical adventure, Sabah Province and its new MM2H visa program could be just the thing for you.

Yours in freedom,

Sovereign Man

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