Home to beautiful beaches, dynamic cities, serene islands and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder Malaysia welcomes millions of tourists each year.
But what aspects, in particular, make this part of the world so appealing to expats? To find out, here are five compelling reasons why Malaysia is an incredible place to call home.
- Low cost of living
Achieving a high quality of life for a low price can be easily achieved in Malaysia. When compared to the USA, for example, housing prices are 63% cheaper in Malaysia. Adding to this, the cost of living in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is also much cheaper than many other neighbouring cities – for example, the price to rent a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre is a whopping 270 % cheaper than in Singapore.
Transportation is also as affordable as it is convenient in Malaysia’s major cities. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, expats can take full advantage of extremely affordable transport options including transit, train and monorail systems, bus services, taxi services, and more.
- Delicious cuisine
Known as the gastronomic hub of Southeast Asia, Malaysia offers a vast array of local and international delicacies for expats to sample. One such food item is the national dish, nasi lemak, which is a delicious and widely popular breakfast option that many people enjoy almost daily.
Finding fantastic food is as easy as it is affordable; with street food stands, known as hawkers, selling all sorts of must-try dishes almost everywhere you look. Great street food is one of the primary culinary pleasures of living in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia where you’ll find a delicious array of Chinese, Indian, and ethnic Malay culinary wonders at every turn.
While Malaysia is home to an abundance of diverse restaurants and eateries, the street food culture is prominent so be sure to experience all you can while living there.
- Diverse language and culture
While the country’s official language is Malay, English is widely spoken which makes it very easy for native English speakers to communicate. With a range of common languages as diverse as its culture, in Malaysia, you’ll hear people speaking Chinese dialects, such as Mandarin and Hokkien, alongside Indian dialects such as Tamil, along with an impressive number of indigenous languages.
For Char Ferrara, Creator at Wok & Skillet and a Malaysian expat, learning Malay is not necessarily essential, “although it could be very helpful; especially if the intention is to work or operate a business here. Locals who do not speak English at all appreciate it very much when foreigners try to communicate with them in Malay”.
Adding to this, most people in Malaysia – especially younger generations – are multilingual. So while it may not be essential to be fluent in Malay, it can be beneficial to have a basic understanding of the Malay language in order to integrate more easily.
- High-quality healthcare
Home to high-quality medical facilities and healthcare services, Malaysia is well known for its world-class healthcare system. In fact, Malaysia was recently awarded the top spot for healthcare in International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index.
Many expats even travel to Malaysia just to access the country’s excellent healthcare services. Ian and Vivi, authors of Wild ‘n’ Free Diary used Malaysia as their ‘base’ for two years while they travelled around Southeast Asia. They emphasised that one of the reasons they chose Malaysia as a base was due to the high-quality healthcare services; “Health is important and that is why we look for adequate service when we are choosing our ‘base’. Equally important is safety, and Malaysia is a peaceful and welcoming country” Ian and Vivi explain.
Adding to this, medical treatments from both public and private healthcare services are very affordable – much cheaper than you’re used to if you’re moving from a Western country. Char adds that “it is very easy to find healthcare services here. In most hospitals in larger cities, you’ll find desks or counters that offer assistance specifically for international patients. Most doctors and medical staff speak fluent English too, and many doctors were trained in Western countries”.
While healthcare in Malaysia is among the best in Southeast Asia, thanks to a booming private sector, medical care in rural areas of the country is likely to be much more limited and generally of a lower standard. So if you are moving to such an area, you may need to look into international health insurance options to ensure you can access high-quality medical facilities as and when you need to.
- Glorious weather
Malaysia enjoys tropical weather year-round and temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year, ranging from 20°C to 30°C. As a tropical paradise, the weather in Malaysia can often be quite humid and expats will also need to prepare for monsoon season which varies from location to location.
That said, the overall warm weather invites plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy the outdoors, which is never a difficult task due to Malaysia’s breathtakingly beautiful, natural landscapes.
There’s no doubt that Malaysia is a true mixing pot of diverse cultures and creeds, making it easy for expats of all origins to feel at home here. With glorious weather, a wonderfully low cost of living and a world-class healthcare system, it’s clear why Malaysia is such a desirable destination for expats. As a final piece of insight for those thinking of moving to Malaysia, Char offers some inspiring words:
“Enjoy Malaysia! Even though it takes a while to adjust and it can be frustrating at times, soak up the culture, enjoy the food, the weather, and the fantastic expat life here.”