Malaysia Guide

Malaysia: Truly Asia. No two words can better describe this country. It’s truly one of it’s kind in Asia to have a conflux of three races, the Malays, Chinese, Indians as well as a host of ethnic tribes, making for a rich and diverse heritage and cultural experience.

Blessed with a wide variety of fauna and flora, it boasts dense tropical rainforests, white sandy beaches with natural reefs, lush tea estates and tall mountains in the east.  Famous for its natural resources, and also man made wonders such as the capital’s Twin Towers. It encompasses almost everything in terms of tourism.

Malaysians are warm and welcoming to all foreigners.  In fact as soon as you get on board to fly here, you will hear these words “Selamat Datang” which means ‘Welcome’ in Bahasa.

Without a doubt, Malaysia is a good expat location for new families or even returning ones.  Most would be based in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, but many are also based in Penang, the second largest city.

Malaysia offers great infrastructure as a whole, well paved roads, good accommodation, choices of international education but above all it offers an endless variety of food choices thereby earning the reputation of being the ‘Food Paradise in South East Asia’. Overall it is an easy and comfortable life.

Read more in our regional 'Focus on...' articles:

Focus on Johor
Focus on Penang
Focus on Selangor


In Malaysia, most expats are found in a few clusters within the top cities. There are many different types of housing, landed property - bungalows, semi -detached, condominiums and even serviced apartments. Accommodation is chosen based on schooling options, accessibility to convenience stores and most importantly the sense of security.

Some popular choices of residential neighbourhoods within Kuala Lumpur include Mont Kiara, Bangsar, Ampang and Desa Park City with many newer options springing up in the city.

Housing usually comes with extra facilities such as a pool, park, tennis court and a gymnasium.

The most favoured mode of transport is the car. It is best to stay close to areas of school or work if one doesn’t drive, although taxi’s are easily available. Public transport in the form of the KTM, LRT and Monorail are well established but occasionally do not connected to all places. Expats must take this into consideration when choosing a place to live.

Cultural Experience

Malaysia is a beautiful mix of three cultures thereby making it somewhat a melting pot.

English is widely spoken by most people followed by Bahasa Malaysia, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tamil.

People in Malaysia love food and sharing a meal with colleagues is a great icebreaker. Although there are different races and religions, Malaysians live a harmonious existence. The local Malaysian by nature is warm, friendly and easy to talk to. From the cab driver to the grocer, no one minds a chat.

Working in KL and other big cities is easy as there are a host of expats living and working here and Malaysians as a rule are used to working in multi ethic and cultural groups hence one doesn’t feel out of place.

Malaysians honor many festivals so one must expect many holidays in the working calendar. Malaysia doesn’t pose a rude cultural shock, however a few things do take time getting used to. It would be best to be respectful and mindful of local customs at all times.

Practical Matters & Formalities

As with all expat locations, the essential formalities are visa and immigration issues, which include preparing for the paperwork for the person concerned. Very often, the company will hire a local relocation service provider best suited to handle such processes smoothly.

We have articles specifically on Visa & Immigration Key Facts, eligibility to work, and information regarding trailing spouses.

There are many other practical matters such as applying for a driving license, hiring a helper, rental lease etc. All such information is available online and accessible via agencies and agents set up to deal with such matters.

In terms of furniture and things one needs, Malaysia offers semi furnished and fully furnished housing as per one’s requirement. Further to that, there many options in the market for furniture & household goods be it purchase or rental. Malaysia has a huge mall culture and one can find most things.

IT and communication services in Malaysia are usually reliable and easy to get. There are a few key providers, one only needs to walk into any of the outlets and it can be easily sorted. Utility bills can be paid at the local post office.

Furthermore, most areas have active online community forums, and often-new families once they have narrowed down the area they want to live in can join these and get ready information at their fingertips.

In conclusion, it’s fairly easy to manage day-to-day affairs.

Overall Health & Medical Considerations

This is one of the most important factors to consider while moving to a new place. Malaysia is a fairly modern country; equipped with great hospitals, state of the art facilities and a wonderful team of doctors. One would need a good insurance to cover medical emergencies during the stay if need be. There are plenty of choices available especially in a place like Kuala Lumpur, where in fact many visit for medical tourism.

Our healthcare and giving birth & registration of birth/nationality articles provide more in-depth information.

It can be challenging however to adjust to the change primarily due to the hot weather. Mosquitos can be found here which can lead to dengue and malaria. The local public health’s department has it under control, but nevertheless it is something one must take precautions against from time to time.

Sometimes Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia go through a period called ‘haze’ which is heavy smog created due to crop burning in nearby Indonesia. During this period, one must use a mask and avoid the outdoors. Fortunately this only happens once a year and the local authorities keep the public forewarned about its hazards.

Overall, Malaysia is considered quite free from natural calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons, which often plague countries like Japan.

In summation, while any international move has it’s own challenges; Malaysia is one of the most welcoming expat destinations which offers many wonderful options to ensure a smooth settling-in process for the entire family and a comfortable and memorable stay.