In retrospect, would you move again to Malaysia?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Malaysia, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Malaysia so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!


For me, I would say the answer is NO.

For someone arriving on a good work contract, and by "good" i mean compensation in excess of RM40,000 a month, its hard to imagine they could look back at two years and say it was miserable and they wouldnt do it again. They might have had a hard time adjusting to the climate, been sick a few times with food, kept within their group, not venture too much into understanding races and politics but overall they would have had a pretty good time and life.

It wasnt like that for me. I got off the plane in 1999, alone and didnt know who what where. I had no contract,  no home, no car, no income, not even a plan. All I had was the shirt on my back and a smiling face.

Everything had to be forced from scratch. By the end of my first 3-month trip, I had a contract to write a book and hatched several ideas. By the time of my third trip the following year I had a company formed, a retail business opened, a home, a car and a local fiance I was planning to marry some time in the future. This doesnt sound so bad, right? Certainly a foundation was being built up in steps and I WAS happy. But underneath something was wrong.

In all this time I cant relate all the multi-colored waters that flowed under the many bridges but there is one thread that runs through all of it and is the thing I think about most often, even as I write, and that is the races. The races compete with each other both for their own success and for attention of government. Each wants to be superior, each wants to be favored and each wants to push each other to the ground--all by any means possible. Thats fine for them, and why should you care?

As I just said, if you came on a good contract you are immune to all of that. It will never effect you and so, yes, you dont care. But if you came on your own volition, your own horsepower, you will have to deal will ALL of it directly, right in your face. Because the races are so wrapped up in themselves, you are literally left out of the loop. The races have no interest to help, to advance your ideas or treat you as an equal. If anything, you are now taking attention away from what they need to have. You, succeeding in a business actually reduces their own chances to get what they want. If anything, they cannot help you, they must kick you out of the way so that they can resume their co-competition.

This situation and attitude is pervasive. The government wants to advance Malay causes, not yours, so there is no cooperation; a chinese landlord would rather rent or sell to another chinese because it emboldens them. For what do they need you, personally? They dont.

When you are here in these circumstances you are competing with their entrenched and instilled group competition and its extremely tough, tough to the point it wears you out unless you found the way to overcome it. Strong friends, network, capital, cleverness, you have a chance. But for general, average people, you probably wont make it. So, why stay and stall your own life and progress for the sake of nasi lemak or even one friend?

For a high contract, for a well-off retirement, Malaysia is fun and great. You can spend to any level of happiness you desire. For everyone else, its a unique and extraordinary grind that will more likely yield much less happiness than the effort you put out for it.

I didnt come expecting any favors and never got any. But a person who works hard has a reasonable expectation of reward. My first project, the book deal? It took me a year to write the book and after I turned it in the publisher insisted on a change, that a Malay-Muslim's name had to be on the cover because it wouldnt look good if a foreigner wrote it. We fought and in the end I had to share authorship with a total stranger who had nothing to do with my work. Thats a perfect example of life here for a foreigner. Happy? In many countries you work for your own reward. Here, maybe not.

I never got tired of the things we can all agree are joyful--food, climate, prices, natural beauty, friendliness. But as long as you are here trying to actually get something done, well, as I said, for me the answer is NO, I wouldnt do it again.

Definitely a Yes.
I can compare also living in Thailand, because my spouse is Thai.
In Malaysia, I could do everything regarding Immigration, Bank, Police etc by my own in English, without any translator etc. In Thailand you need always a translator of your trust.
Living in Malaysia is easy for Expats, prices are relatively low except Alcohol or Western Style Restaurants. If you cook yourself at home or like to go to the food center, you can reduce the living cost by more than half. I could hold my European Salary level in Malaysia, what would be difficult in e.g. Thailand
It is an modern Muslim country but Malaysia Gouvernment take care for the other main ethnics Chinese and Indian.
So for normal living and Entertainment everybody can find what he look for.
Supermarkets offer also Beer, Spirits and Pork meat. So from Food no problem.
If you go to a restaurant, you should look and take care for the halal sign. That means they don't offer any beer etc. If it is ok for you, then try out. Food is interesting. Other Restaurant offer halal food but also Beer. Here you can find also Muslim but at your table you can drink your beer and nobody complain for. Malay are very tolerant in that case.
Especially at Johor Bahru, which develop very fast, the influence of Singapore and that entertainment can see still growing at every edge.
I know from Malay citizen, the original Malay (Muslim) can look down a bit to the other.
In our company I could not feel that direct for myself. Think, it is also a personal matter, but Expats have a bonus mostly anyway in Asia. You request or not.
One point I must say, and that I heard also from many other colleagues,
the Malay generally do not develop initiative on their own. I had better experiences with Chinese Malay or India Malay over all, especially if work have not so much pressure in the moment. Some people then remember at older open task on their own, other only if you ask for.
Conclusion, if you have a good payed job, living in Malaysia is very easy, tax is low (max 25%) and you will have your own niche where the people let you do.

My answer is probably no

I considered several Asian countries to move to but I decided on Malaysia for the simple reason that they spoke English and that I could buy two properties in Malaysia for the price of one in Singapore. Singapore was already fully developed whereas Malaysia was developing and therefore had a potentially more interesting property market. I'd have liked to have moved to Indonesia at that time but foreigners were not allowed to own property in their own name. I'd already lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan previously so I wanted a new experience.

So I moved to Kuala Lumpur, spent my time traveling around Asia, and buying apartments in Malaysia which I rented out. It was a nice life. KL is great for shopping and eating out. The good thing about the property market in the early and mid 2000's is that you could buy and sell property and double or even triple your price. Nowadays that is impossible.

Then, I married an Indonesian designer who I had met at a Trade Fair at the KL Convention Center. I enrolled in the MM2H program to make it easier for her to come and go in Malaysia (Malaysians are not overly friendly towards Indonesians) and we had children which we put into kindergarten in KL.

So we had a very nice lifestyle, living in one of my apartments in Bangsar, the kids went to Children's House kindergarten, and we ate well, shopped a lot and traveled a lot.

Then in the last couple of years, as the property market began to weaken, expats began leaving KL, the government began making bank loans more difficult, and they doubled the minimum price that foreigners should pay in order to buy a property, I started to wonder why I was living in Malaysia.

Afterall, Malaysia was nice for shopping and eating out but I found that it wasn't good for much else in my case. I never considered Malaysia (mainland) a great place for tourism, I mean drive out of KL and there is just an endless sea of palm oil plantations in every direction and apart from Melaka, Penang and Langkawi there is not much else to see. And despite have many good friends, I always felt that in general people were not genuinely that friendly and seemed to care only about money. In fact while I lived in Malaysia whenever friends from back home wanted to visit Malaysia, I always suggested that they skip Malaysia and spend more time in Vietnam, Thailand or Indonesia as I believe those countries have far more to offer in the way of tourism. So with that, we made a decision and moved to Indonesia.

So would I move to Malaysia again? No I wouldn't. But, I have no regrets in my original move to Malaysia because I benefited financially, I still have properties in KL either tenanted or under construction, I met my wife in KL, and my children were born there.

I just feel that 12 years was too long to have spent in Malaysia when there are far more interesting places to experience in Asia. Now I am doing just that.

My experience in Malaysia .
Never in my entire life has experienced a so inhuman , cruel situation .
I moved to Malaysia from UK on 2007 , moved to Singapore on 2010 then back in Malaysia on 2015 , meet a lady fall in love with her , then she fall pregnant , in same time had some financial difficulty that I had to face .
On 2 February 2016 my son , my only son was born , on the 04 February 2016 his mother ( my ex.) decided behind my back to take him away , put him in shelter then on 10 February 2016 give him away to an adoptive family without even me knowing .
It is cruel and inhuman what has happened to me in Malaysia, I respect Malaysian a lot as a nation .
But personally I have never meet someone who pretended to be in love and wanting to have a family with me , then everything changed .
Relationship some does work , some doesn't , but to have my only child taken away , put in shelter then given away to adoptive family is , beyond me , incredible , unbelievable .
This is my story in Malaysia, not a great story , a very sad and depressing story .
I am still in Malaysia,trying to find out where is my son , my ex refuse to tell me where she put him as we didn't get married legally in Malaysia.
She broke up with me and moved on , don't know how to explain it , it is beyond me , how a person can have a soul and heart inside her then decide to give him away and refuse to give me any indication to where about she has put him .
Sorry for sharing with all expat this sad and depressing story .

I answered this on another post But for all expat males with "yellow fever" note you should do what asians do.

1. Become financially secure
2. Get married
3. Buy house
4. Have kids

Single mums are considered shameful here. So be careful. Be prepared to get married.

If you romance a girl be preoared to marry her. And use a condom!

I dont see the conservative nature of Malaysia a downer actually. Children need a family so the social pressure to have kids responsibly is a good thing. In the west responsible behaviour went out of the window too long ago. Although their needs to be compassion also the west is too liberal for me now. 80% of British uni students have a sexually transmitted disease for example. Wtf! So some old fashioned values are what I actually like in Malaysia.

Financially the weak RM and other issues one cannot mention (!) are a downer. Issues like 2 million rm min purchase of a house is daft. Why cant working expats like me buy a house at a more sensible min like 500k? We contribute to Malaysias future. We are not fly by night investors!

The upside is Malaysia is Asia lite with good English and easy lifestyle. But its attravtion has gone down and what happens when the oil money runs out?

Nemodot :

Financially the weak RM and other issues one cannot mention (!) are a downer. Issues like 2 million rm min purchase of a house is daft. Why cant working expats like me buy a house at a more sensible min like 500k? We contribute to Malaysias future. We are not fly by night investors!

The upside is Malaysia is Asia lite with good English and easy lifestyle. But its attravtion has gone down and what happens when the oil money runs out?

Yup. Malaysia is becoming more and more expensive which is making it less attractive for foreigners to invest here. I can't see why they needed to push up the minimum price to buy property. It was fine at RM500,000. They are pushing away a lot of potential investors. People who now have to spend a small fortune to buy a property will find it very difficult to find a tenant and even more difficult to sell. That and some of the things we are not allowed to talk about is making Malaysia less and less attractive, which is why I left. I think the system needs a reality check or some major changes.

Hello everyone,

Just to inform you that i have moved some delicate posts to this thread :

They better suit that topic. On this one, let us share about the present topic : In retrospect, would you move again to Malaysia?

All the best,

With retrospect would I move to Malaysia again , well I am in Malaysia and I have a missing son somewhere in Malaysia , in my post have stated my situation , his mother , my ex. With her parent decided to put him in shelter regardless of my protest again there action , they want a head and to make situation even worst and more difficult, they decided to give him away to adoptive family against my protest and none stop calls . It is unbelievable, incredible how insensitive and cruel people can be , I am not finger pointing Malaysian , I am an expat living in Malaysia and I do love this country except my story is very hard and painful to swallow .
I will never give up or give in , on the search of my son until I find him .

There may be a big difference in the answers of those who came to Malaysia for work or retirement and those who came to join a Malaysian spouse.

I'm in the latter category, and it made more sense for me to move here since my wife's daughter was in college at the time and a move would have interrupted her schooling. The other consideration was that Malaysian immigration procedures are actually EASIER than Canada's. The Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP), valid for up to 5 years (and renewable), is normally approved within a week (mine were always approved within 2 days of applying) and they came with a free work endorsement that I was able to get at the same time as my LTSVP. Contrast that to Canada's two-stage spousal sponsorship program where the sponsoring spouse is first investigated by Canadian immigration (can take 2 years or more), and the foreign spouse is investigated after that (can take 2 years or more). The foreign spouse, if he or she is living in Canada at the time, cannot get permission to work until the first stage is complete. So, hands down, the Malaysian immigration processes I encountered made the move so much easier that what my wife would have encountered moving to Canada.

Moving to Malaysia involves a slew of trade offs (some plus, some minus) with your birth country. There are many things that are easier to do in my birth country than here. But there are also many things that are easier to do here in Malaysia than there. You have 2 seasons (hot and dry, and hot and wet) compared to 4 in North America, and you have to put up with a different mentality here in Malaysia when it comes to cleanliness and maintenance of public infrastructure.

Pluses are that you can find just about any kind of food here that you're used to. Medical care is good, efficient, and inexpensive. And you can travel cheaply both within and outside of the country. There are also plenty of economic opportunities to pursue here.

Moving here was one of the BEST life choices I've made. Given the same circumstances, I'd have no qualms about moving here again.

Kmart once Malaysia was great to move to. You could buy a house over 250k. Was politically stable and relatively clean. Jobs were plentiful and very lucrative (15 to 20 yeats ago). I moved here back then when things were that good

Now air quality is worse, political issues are worrying and min house purchase 2 million rm. Jobs for expats are now low paid and less of them. These push the balance away from Malaysia in my opinion for a perm stay although there is one plus the talent corp 10 year visa is a good idea. Even better if that became PR after 10 years or allowed to buy house down to 250k. But i dont want to keep assets here as the RM might drop significantly after government now have to bail out 1mdb as it defaulted. Epf next?

Moderated by Priscilla last year
Reason : off topic

Its been almost 2 years since this thread started and I wanted to re-read my post and see if I would change anything. I wouldnt.

I think Hansson and Nemodot say it very well and I agree. Its interesting that people who have never met and come from dissimilar backgrounds and locations all feel the same.

In the 2 years hence, things havent changed or if they have its not for the better. The attraction to come to Malaysia that existed in 2000 went out the window and stayed out the window starting from about 2005. I personally dont know anyone who would come back to Malaysia today, they think about all the other places in Asia instead or even go home. There is no one thing that you can point to for the reason.

Yes, but do you think Malaysia really need foreigners other then reason for tourism and cultural promotion. I dont think, or if Malaysia even need some foreigners for any economic reasons, ASEAN region is potential enough to fulfill the need, therefore no surprise if Malaysia lost its charm for the people from Africa / less developed Asia  or any economic and business migrants. 

Me myself , have all the lawful rights to work in Malaysia , however i decided aftr 3 yrs to go back , and there is no personal reason but overall business and job  environment is not supportive for Non Asians particularly.

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