How exciting! You're about to pack up and move your entire life over to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, one of the main cities in Malaysia was just announced as one of the best places to live in for expats.
Over 12,000 expatriates in 186 countries were interviewed for this survey. Malaysia ended up at the top of that list!
Let's see some of the reasons why Malaysia was the top choice for expats this past year:
Great quality of life
It's really easy to settle in, there aren't that many language barriers here as English is one of the main languages
Easy access to healthcare, finance and insurance
There is good job security and there's also a pretty stable local economy
Sounds pretty dang good if you ask me! So, if you've just signed your offer and will soon be on a plane over to sunny ole' Malaysia, here are some things you should know as an expat moving to Malaysia.
What Do You Do Before Moving?
#1 Finding A Place To Stay
Besides getting your papers all ready, you should start looking into where you're going to stay here in Malaysia. There are a few options that you can look into when moving to Malaysia. The first option being, renting a hotel first for the first few weeks and then scouting for a more permanent lodging while you're here. You could easily find a place on AirBnB or iBilik or even Booking.com or Agoda.
Or the second option would be to go on websites like PropertyGuru, Mudah.com or iProperty to start scouting for a home that you like.
We would recommend renting as the rental market in Malaysia is really robust and the prices are not too bad when it comes to rental. Please note that there will be a deposit of 3.5x of the rental.
It's broken down by:
1 month advance on rental
2 months of rental deposit
0.5 months of deposit for utilities
Rest assured you will get that all back when you end your lease. Most condos in Malaysia are fully furnished, which is great for expats like yourself so that you would not have to worry about finding furniture when you move here.
Just bring your clothes and your awesome self along and you'll be good to go!
#2 Understanding The Cost of Living
Now, here comes to fun part. Understanding the cost of living and figuring out how much you'll need to save, budget and earn to ensure you have a comfortable living experience here in Malaysia.
Accommodation: A lovely studio apartment/condo in the city centre like Bangsar South that's around 750 square feet would cost you around RM1,500 to RM2,000. Bangsar South is a little bit pricier because it has good public transport and a lot of startups set up shop there. It's our very own little Silicone Valley.
Something a little farther away like Ara Damansara could have you renting a place that's 1500 square feet for RM2,000 to RM2,500. It really depends on what kind of experience you want. Being smack in the centre of the city or being around 15 minutes away by train.
Food: The great thing about Malaysia is the sheer diversity in our food options. You can easily eat at a mamak, a local Malaysian eatery and get a full meal for RM15-RM25. Or you can visit an upscale restaurant and pay up to RM300 per person.
The great thing is that there are options for everyone here in Malaysia and you will truly, never get bored of food.
Groceries: A week's worth of groceries for 1 person if you were to cook everyday could range between RM150-RM250. There are upscale grocers as well as wet market grocers that can be found almost anywhere.
Overall, according to Numbeo, the average cost of living for someone in Kuala Lumpur is around RM2,000 for a single person without rent!
What Do You Do When You Get Here?
#3 Opening Up A Bank Account
Yay! You're finally here. Before you set up anything else, you'll need to set up a bank account so that you can receive your money and wages as well.
There are a few options of banks here in Malaysia. There is Maybank, CIMB, Public Bank and so many more. We also have a lot of e-wallet options that allow you to diversify the way you spend.
All you need to bring with you is your passport, your work visa, proof of employment and some cash for the deposit. Usually it never goes up to more than RM200.
After getting a bank account, you're free to go off and spend to your heart's content!
#4 Moving Into Your New Place
Once you've found "the" place, it's time to move in! If you shipped some of your stuff over, you will need to go collect it and perhaps call some movers to come and help you move the furniture in.
As mentioned, most condo's for rent are fully furnished. So the main things you'd need to purchase are more for your comfort.
Things like groceries, soap, snacks and even the occasional plant! (yes, we're looking at you plant parents!) We also have multiple Ikea's in the country for you to go shop for candles and that amazing new throw blanket.
Try to make your home, your own!
#5 Settling In
How To Get Around?
Kuala Lumpur does have quite an extensive public transportation system. We have the KTM, which is our main railway system that takes you through different states. We also have our LRT system, which is our light railway system that gets you around in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor which are our main city centres.
There are also buses going almost everywhere and the local airlines like AirAsia can also fly you around to our amazing islands if you're looking to travel!
We also have Grab or AirAsia Ride, which is our very own versions of Uber if you want to get around faster!
Getting A Debit Card
Besides getting a debit card from your bank, we also have different e-wallets that you can use to help you spend better. Or, you could also use BigPay, an e-wallet app that comes with it's own debit card!
We have amazing deals on all the time so that you're not just spending your money but also making your money work for you.
Track your spending and split the bill with friends. We've heard that a lot of expats love the BigPay app because of how easy it is to get since some banks don't cater to specific people that hold specific passports here in Malaysia.
That's it! Some of our basics of things you should know as an expat moving to Malaysia soon! Stay tuned as we will come back for a part two soon enough!