Moving to Malaysia

A vibrant, lush tropical land that welcomes a multitude of ethnicities and cultural traditions, Malaysia is a microcosm of sophisticated, diverse Asian life.

Its 30 million inhabitants, speaking over a hundred different languages and following many faiths, mingle in a joyous blend of festivals, urban buzz (in shimmering Kuala Lumpur) and spectacular natural beauty, with mountainside jungle leading down to hidden beaches.

Cultures coexist here without clashing. With a 50% Malay, 25% Chinese and 7% Indian population, expect to celebrate the Islamic and Chinese New Year, Diwali and Christmas! But don’t worry about language: though Bahasa Malaysia is the official tongue, English is clearly the language of business, bridging all cultural gaps.

An open, diverse economy and business-friendly attitude also provide plenty of opportunities for a variety of professionals moving to Malaysia. Excellent infrastructure is a bonus!

Only one question remains: are you ready for the monsoon season?

Finding accommodation

Many options are available in Malaysia, both in terms of how to find accommodation and in specific styles of housing. Expats often choose to work with an estate agent to save time and trouble, but internet searches can also prove fruitful in securing a rental. All types of properties are on offer: stand-alone houses, semi-detached houses and flats. Expats often opt for condominium-style flats, as security and amenities (gym, pool) are assured.

Rental agreements are usually on a two-year basis, so if you have any doubts about committing to the full term, verify that a termination clause is included.

Education

Educational standards in Malaysia are uniformly excellent. Though public schools here are academically top-notch and highly affordable, large class sizes and language barriers lead many expats to prefer private or international schools.

Private schools are numerous, offering tuition in English to students of many backgrounds at a moderate cost. They are typically in session from 8.30am to 4pm.

Another, more selective and costlier option is that of international school. These are located in Kuala Lumpur and promise tuition in the system of your home country, offering some shelter from culture shock and a chance to make friends with classmates from home.

Culture

With so many cultures in one country, the sheer variety can be overwhelming! Still, harmony is the rule in Malaysia, and understated politeness goes a long way in smoothing things over. One benefit of such respectful diversity is the wide choice of culinary delights at your disposal here. How to choose, between sweet and savoury Malay cuisine, spicy Tamil tastes and delicious Chinese dim sum? The answer: try them all!

Respect always comes first here. Though all are free to practise their religion, the majority are practising Muslims, so conservative public behaviour remains the watchword.

Good to know

You may have been on holiday in a tropical climate, but have you worked in one? If not, you may expect a period of adjustment to Malaysian climes. Fortunately, air con is omnipresent in offices and homes. Still, prepare to adjust your outdoor fitness regimen, or shift it to a gym setting, as warmth and humidity are year-round.

Malaysians are unfailingly considerate, rigorously avoiding any brusqueness or even direct manner of speaking. To succeed here, patience is key as frankness is considered rude, and therefore, negotiations may require more time than in a Western setting.

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