2015-02-04 13:42:06

Ipoh offers expats a laid back lifestyle that is diversifying its economy, with notable job opportunities in the tourism sector.

Ipoh is the capital of the state of Perak and is often seen as a quiet, mid-sized city that has fewer career advancement or job opportunities than the bigger Malaysian cities. Nevertheless, this colonial enclave still wins hearts thanks to its more laid back lifestyle and less congestion, while still offering adequate amenities, as well as famous local dishes and specialities.

Ipoh's charm also helped it make the Lonely Planet Best in Asia list, ranking in their top 10 picks of where to go in Asia. The Kinta River naturally divides Ipoh into two parts Old Town and New Town and, thanks to boutiques and street art that have sprung up amidst old coffee shops and elegant colonial buildings, Ipoh's Old Town is in a state of revival, tempting food pilgrims and explorers, as well as investors and businessmen.

The cost of living in Ipoh is considerably lower than in Kuala Lumpur so many people feel they can save more money here. There are also benefits to working in smaller business environments, and a more intimate workplace attracts some foreigners.

Local economy and employment opportunities

The tin-mining boom of the 19th century is responsible for the city's major development and it was the second administrative centre of Malaya during Birtish colonial rule. The name of the state, Perak, actually means 'silver', which is an interesting reference to the state's legacy when it was one of the largest tin producers in the world.

However, Perak's economy received a blow during the decline in the global tin industry in the 1980s, and a representative of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research highlighted in 2016 that, at its current rate of growth, the state of Perak can only achieve high income status by 2029.

Due to its location between Penang and the Klang Valley, it is easy for investors to bypass this state. To overcome this problem, Pangkor International Development Dialogue (PIDD) forums were established to inspire sustainable economic growth in the region. This has had some success the state government is exploring a more diversified economic base and more investors have started setting up businesses in the state.

The manufacturing industry in particular was identified as an engine of economic growth and has fluorished in the past three decades. The mining of eight types of mineral has also been revived in an effort to make Perak the largest mining and quarrying state in Malaysia by 2020. Perak can boast being the only place in Malaysia that produces sericite, and it is a major producer of tin and construction sand in the country.

The Perak State Development Corporation (PKNP) is the key agency entrusted to spearhead the economic development and socio-economic growth in Perak, and its core focuses are property development, port and logistics, and hospitality and tourism.

The colonial significance of the city still remains in its architecture, and its historic buildings such as the Birch Memorial Clocktower and the railway station attract thousands of tourists. After the state of Perak gained independence in 1957, many colonial buildings were left to deteriorate. However, restorations are now in full swing, especially in the Old Town, and Ipoh's heritage houses are making a comeback.

As a result of this renaissance, Ipoh's tourism sector is steadily developing, and many boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants have popped up in century-old buildings, serving to enhance the mixture of modernity and nostalgia that attracts so many people to Ipoh. The first animation theme park in the region, with Malaysia's tallest drop tower, has also just opened and is expected to attract 1.4 million visitors in its first year of operations.

According to the Department of Statistics in Malaysia, Perak had a estimated population of 2.48 million people in 2016 and unemployment was at 3.4%. The labour market is considerably small in Ipoh but, as a result of the state being open to collaborating with international stakeholders in order to inspire growth in the region, there are several opportunities for foreigners. If you don't mind the slower pace of life, Ipoh is definitely not to be overlooked.

Finding a job

Most foreigners start their job search on the internet, and it is advisable to browse professional social networks, such as LinkedIn, as well as specialised job sites. It is also worth enquiring on expatriate forums to find out more specific information.

 Useful links:

Invest Perak
Ipoh Echo
Career Jet
Trovit

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