Moving to KL

Hi everyone

I wondered if I might be able to get some advice regarding a potential move to KL with my family (2 kids, both junior school age).

I'm very excited but have absolutely no idea about living costs, good salaries, etc.

I'm particularly worried about school fees - it seems to be very expensive! Where we currently live, good schools are free of charge. So that probably explains why it's a bit of a shock. Any input on likely costs for this would be appreciated?

Generally, I'd be interested to hear whether 130k US represents a good salary, pre tax, taking account of having to pay school fees.

Also, what is a common relocation package and is it standard for an employer to offer annual flights home for the whole family?

Thanks in advance!


Please allow me to give my personal input on this matter.

US$130,000 is a very good salary for an expat, so frankly, you should have absolutely nothing to worry about. Relocation packages vary a lot, but bear in mind that expatriate packages and indeed the number of expats being sent to Asia may not be increasing with many companies hiring less expats than in the past, although that would depend in which field you are working in.

Annual flights for the family once a year was my expat package when I was first based in Asia, along with housing allowance, transport allowance and full medical coverage and a reduced tax rate of 10% under a double taxation treaty. But that was a very long time ago and things may have changed.

Schooling is considered expensive, with perhaps around RM40,000 per year being a fairly common figure for a reputable international school. That equates to about US$9300 per year per child. Perhaps sibling discount is possible but it probably won't be much. There are cheaper schools but I'd stick with the better ones.

So if the company will pay you a housing allowance, that would be very helpful. Better if they pay you a fixed amount per month rather than paying your rent directly, which might allow you to make a little extra. If they will pay for your children's schooling then that would be great. If they pay for your family's annual flight home, great, but I wouldn't consider that a deal breaker. Personally I'd prefer to take my family to one of the amazing destinations in Asia. As far as medical coverage is concerned, it might only cost you US$1000 or or thereabouts per annum to cover your whole family.

Thanks Abdul - that's very helpful!

Education is the key marker to judge whether the package on offer is generous. There are many schools offering the UK curriculum, but that does not make them "UK-standard schools". The most popular of the mainstream schools is The British International School. You can immediately check out their fees here: … chool-fees

This directory provides info about schools and fees. But there are quite a few "hidden" charges" such as large non-returnable sign-up contributions. So just looking at the fees is misleading.

There is a French school if you are interested

Thanks Gravitas, much appreciated.

Education certainly is shaping up to be the key marker...

One more thing to be aware of is there can be waiting lists at good schools (in some academic years) - so that is the first thing to check out.

That's a very good point, but I guess I will just have to take the chance on that.

International777 :

That's a very good point, but I guess I will just have to take the chance on that.

If you make a shortlist of schools (there are only a handful worth considering) its possible to  contact them and enquire about places. But do it soon because terms will be ending shortly. There will be inception tests to sit as well (all part of the moneyspinning). It would be best to consider schools close to where you will probably live. That will relate mainly to where you office is located.

Thanks! May I ask what the handful of schools worth considering are? Regards, A

There are two types of international schools here. One is those that offer full equivalents of the national teaching environments they follow. The second are those that are more designed to provide an alternative to the local education system. Checking out the curriculum and school academic terms can hep identify each type.

Generally speaking, schools ones that follow the in depth curriculum of the national systems are pricey because the teaching staff are international themselves and therefore have a different level of experience. So fee level is quite indicative.

Because of their location and your ease of getting to work, there are only going to be some schools that are suitable. That should be one of the criteria you use. For example, if you are working in Cyberjaya, then the choice of schools will be different than if you are working in KLCC.

There is a quite a large contingent of British teachers at Sri KDU International School so perhaps check it out. Otherwise, its vital to visit and get the feel of the style of education and discipline (and level of competitiveness). I am not sure the staff at ELC is particularly international or English mother tongue. Taylors Education Group schools are worth checking out too. If you look at the TES (Times Educational Supplement) international recruitment pages, it usually shows the main schools looking for quality staff.

You may want to look at Fairview International School as well.

I am considering Taylors International in KL Central area. Is this a good school for a 15year old and 11year old. I will work in the KL Metropolis area and considering Bangsar, Umpang or Darmasar. Any advise or tips on the best options. Any tips on 183 day clause to return to SA in December for a week if i arrive in KL in August in terms of tax?

Malad - arriving in August means you can't achieve the 183 days in tax year 2017 (Jan-Dec).

Therefore you need to be careful about your absence in SA. Page 6 Bullet 2 refers to your situation. … ooklet.pdf

This means you will need to qualify for tax residency during 2018 (Jan-Jul) which will then entitle you to retrospectively claim 2017 as being eligible as a tax resident period. Once again social absences will be counted during the first part of 2018.

It is always best to ask these questions to your employer for clarification. They should have complete interpretations and experience with tax residency.

Your terminology for KL is a bit strange. That is because KL Sentral is not part of the KL City Centre (KLCC). So I am guessing you are looking at the Taylor School in Taman Maluri. Checking with them where the school buses pick up would be a good idea to decide where to live. Taylors follows the local Malaysian terms (i.e. it is an alternative to the local Malaysian school system) It does not follow the British term structure. However, I have heard good reports of the school, which I think has a predominantly Chinese Malaysian cohort.

You do not say if there are any exams your 15 year old needs to sit, related to the current schooling pathway, and that would guide your choice of school i.e. for the sake of continuity. Changing school close to exams is not recommended. There may be more compatible systems such as the US, Canadian (based more on assessment), Australian etc.?

The SA HC has a FB page - … 132466245/

How you plan to get to work is also relevant to where you live. Plus of course where in KLCC your office is located.

It would be a good idea to check your housing budget against different areas you mentioned to see the rental levels or Traffic in KL is tiresome so careful planning is advisable.

From me, thanks for the heads up regarding tax residency.

I am considering Taylors International in Jalan Ampang area that follows the Cambridge system of teaching and starts there school year in january which is the same as South Africa. Pre testing is compulsory and will be carried out prior to children being accepted.

@Malad - so your children have been following the Cambridge system in SA?  The UK school system follows a different term rhythm i.e. Sept - Jun/Jul. It's not about the terms, it's about what subjects are offered and where in the syllabus the progress has reached. This can be affected if the school years in the UK are not followed. But this is something to discuss. Schools can be just alternatives to the local Malaysian school system. I don't know which school you are looking at, as I can't think of one on Jalan Ampang. Can you update me? I have a suspicion that it may have moved to a new campus further out of the city...... They had one close to Great Eastern Mall at one point I thought (they took over another school and rebranded it)

Taylors are always high pressure and competitive schools.

Thanks for all info thus far. It's really crazy trying to gather info with a month to go. You are correct about Taylors international being near Menara Great Eastern. I do not understand the areas and that is why I am concerned about location of school. Is this city area considered safe for kids . Someone mentioned that the area was not a good one and I am concerned. I will email the school about subjects, thanks for that update as well.

You could think about living in say Beverly Heights, which is a popular area for families with a mix of expats. It has recreational facilities and houses rather than condos. There are also other areas around Ukay. They are leafier but still convenient to the city. This shows the school transport outreach/cost Because of the location of the school it would probably be more comfortable not to live in Damansara or that general direction, because of distance and convenience. Basically, keep travel distances small if possible (to retain your sanity). For international777 here is the fee structure

Thank you, this site is extremely helpful. Thanks for your help.

So, I said "yes"... its happening!

Any advice on moving companies?


Pickfords and Crown are popular.

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Congratulation and welcome to Malaysia

Thanks Takuro

The move is going slowly unfortunately - shocked how much the moving companies are charging! Fair enough, it's a long way...

I used Pickfords for moving from the UK to Malaysia. They charged per cubic metre and my stuff got delivered to my new home in Malaysia. One item was damaged but covered by their insurance without any hassle. It was an antique but I'd already put a value of £350 on it when creating my list of items in the UK and that is what they paid me as compensation.

Companies like this commonly over estimate the cubic volume of what is being shipped. I mean they send someone to your home and the guy guestimates the volume and it is commonly more than the real volume.

My recommendation is to really only ship over what you absolutely cannot get in Malaysia. A few cubic metres is already a lot, and don't send over any furniture. A lot of the clothes you wear in the UK absolutely cannot be worn in Malaysia. Furniture is easily purchased with lots of secondhand stuff available. And most apartments here are already furnished. Even the unfurnished ones often include a washing machine, hob and fridge. I would also not refer to it as house to house relocation or anything like that. I call it shipping some personal belongings overseas. I shipped about 3.5 cubic metres of personal belongings, when in retrospect even one cubic metre would have been enough. It's actually nice to make a clean start and you'd save a fortune and a heck of a lot of hassle on the shipping costs which could be used to buy new things. But of course if your new company will pay for the move then that would be great.

Agree - European traditional style often looks very out of place here in Malaysia and also the materials will be damaged by the extreme humidity and deteriorate very quickly (mildew). The lifestyle is completely different in Asia as well - so people always end up buying local styles because they are interesting and suitable for the way of life. Some women do complain that they can't get good and inexpensive kitchenware - so you may want to ship stuff from that room of the house. Beds are a different length in Asia so bedding and sometimes pillow size will be incompatible. 

Having furniture will restrict you in the choice of accommodation, as almost all owners do not want to take out furnishings. But it's a 50/50 gamble really. Some landlords will not let you put pictures on the wall and if you do and repair they will have grounds to refuse to repay your deposit (beware!) By the way, the deposit is 2.5 months rent and then the first month is paid upfront. So to move in, 3.5 months rent needs to be paid in RM.

I will just speak from my own experience. I shipped in a shared container with Movecorp about the same amount of stuff abdulkhalil mentioned. To this day 90% has not been unpacked or used so it was a waste of money. Negotiating a relocation allowance is a good idea - to cover all the additional expenses of moving to a new country.

Customs/Imports - there are restrictions about bringing in certain items and this information should be carefully consulted.

At USD130k p.a. (Approx RM540k p.a., or RM45k a mth) and at the cost of living in KL, you should have nothing to worry for and affords you a very good standard of living, including schooling for your kids.

Here are the costs for you to consider:
1) Tax - You will be at the highest tax bracket on that package. That is 26%, which leaves you approx RM33,300k a month (before tax reliefs for residents, which you claim back later after you stayed more than 182 days in Malaysia and are considered a tax resident)
2) Housing - A good 2000 sf condo in CBD area can be had for RM5-6k a month.
3) Utilities - All under RM600 a month.
4) Education - International schools should cost you from RM18k a year per child, topping out at RM40k per year for the best schools. See this list of school fees
5) Transport - A Toyota Camry top spec can be had for RM170k. You should be able to get a bank loan for it on your salary without issue
6) Food At RM30 per meal per head, you get very good quality food. Everyday cooking / eating shouldn't cost more than RM16 per meal per head.

Consider this. The median salary in Malaysia is RM1,600 per month, and the average is RM2,312. People get by still.

Thanks! Much appreciated.

I accepted some weeks ago after further negotiations, so I'm already onto the next stage now... moving!

However, I CANNOT get a reasonably priced removal company.

I always thought of removal companies as rip offs.

What have they quoted you per cubic metre for door to door service?

All sorted! Finally!

Any recommendations for estate agents would be appreciated... I visit soon for a short trip to find a place :)

Happy to share details of the movers I used via PM if anyone ever needs it.


So, it's iDamansara v Seri Beringin v Beringin Residence... any thoughts ladies and gents? Cheers!

Hello..  Are you looking for a property (house/apartment) to buy or rent in Kuala Lumpur? Which part of kuala lumpur are you staying?

Just thought I would feedback on my property search from the last two days, in case it can help any newbies (like me).

Any old hands should feel free to correct my errors ;)

So, I initially narrowed it down to one area and even three residences before I'd even left home... The area was Damansara Heights, the places were iDamansara, Seri Beringin and Beringin Residence. 

This inevitably wasn't a good idea. It goes without saying that I should have broadened the scope. This was quickly realized on day one of the search, but luckily a very helpful and competent agent (contacted through this site) managed to assist me in getting to some other areas and places.

Of those three, I found iDamansara to be much too close to the highway and (for the places on the first road at least) very noisy for that reason. Bedrooms backing onto a motorway and train line is the reality on this road, with no double glazing. Probably better on the other roads. Nice houses.

Beringin Residence is nice. Quite a small estate with limited facilities, but definitely liked it. Once you get past the 'English' street style, it looks like it's a fairly quiet and pleasant place to be. I guess the road outside might jam up at rush hour as it's small, but I didn't see that. More expensive.

Seri Beringin is also nice - I looked at the compound area that has a shared pool, there are also houses outside of this area (still in the broader gated area) which look nice but have no pool. Downside here is only 3 bedrooms upstairs, plus I understand that there might be some issues with the property management. Certainly the pool had clearly not been well maintained, which seems to be a reasonable indicator. Shame. Really, really liked this estate.

Decided to then step outside Damansara Heights, to get some more options and a. Ritter perspective.

Federal Hills - like iDamansara on speed, noisy (next to a road and a police station it seems). Honestly would avoid.

Duta Tropika - nice big semis, so so so easy to get to the mall which was great. Great pool and facilities.  Very densely populated though. I hear there might be a lot of noise from the Mosque at prayer times (including 5am), can't confirm that though. Can't put my finger on it but even the pool area didn't make me want to take on a place.

Kenny Heights - wow. Seemed like a slightly odd location, somewhere between a main highway and a palace and a mall (?!). Interesting architecture. But what an absolutely massive house. Huge rooms. Four floors which need a lift to get around. Private pool, and a shared pool. Why not? Yeah, nice place. But then there's no escaping the highway noise. Tough one this as the place is so nice inside...

Villa Mont Kiara - can't say much about this other than "great". Apparently the downsides are the fact that it is very literally surrounded by huge buildings (as if the property developers are trying to get the freeholders to sell up!) and the fact that the road outside gets extremely busy. Otherwise, great. Much more expensive.

So, just some thoughts - be interested in any opinions to help me make my choice.

Also, not meaning to offend anyone - just offering my own inevitably biased opinions which don't necessarily reflect the true quality of the places, just my snapshot thoughts as I walked around.



Just wondering if you ever looked at the Bangsar area? If you did what were your thoughts about it?

hai.. it is nice place.. i live nearby at bangsar south.

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