Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

Is Malaysia a good place to live for expats? What is the quality of life in Malaysia?

Before starting, if this is the first time reading our blog, know that we are a mixed French-Hong Kong couple.

We lived in many countries around the world, and we have called Malaysia home since 2023!

Malaysia is a country known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse cultures, and economic stability. Over the last few years, it has become an increasingly popular destination for expatriates, retirees, and digital nomads.

In this post, we listed what we think (based on our personal situation and preferences), are the pros and cons of living in Malaysia and particularly in Kuala Lumpur.

What are the Pros of Living in Malaysia?

1. Pro: The cost of living!

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For us, it’s the first time we live in such a cheap country. We lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, & Seoul before, so 3 of the most expensive cities in Asia!

Finally, we got to enjoy reasonable prices, particularly in terms of accommodation: you can rent beautiful, spacious, and modern apartments in Kuala Lumpur at very affordable prices. Most of them come with a swimming pool, a gym, and other convenient amenities!

Also, eating outside (except for alcohol) is very affordable and very diverse!


2. Pro: Travel Opportunities

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Kuala Lumpur is a real hub for travelers! The airport is super well connected with many places in Asia! Whether it’s Bali for a weekend, or Cambodia, Lombok, Thailand, Vietnam, but also Australia, or even Japan etc.!

There is also several low-cost airlines, which are very affordable! In a nutshell, you won’t feel bored on any holidays while living in Malaysia!

3. Pro: English is widely Spoken!

What to do in Ipoh, Malaysia

In Kuala Lumpur and all major cities in Malaysia, English is widely spoken. Administrative documents are generally in English and Malay.

Also when you want to see a doctor or open a bank account, get a haircut, etc. everything is in English..

This makes it super easy and convenient to live in Malaysia! As we were living in South Korea 3 years before moving to Malaysia, it was a big difference for us, since language is a big cons in Korea…


4. Pro: Cultural Diversity

What to do in Ipoh, Malaysia

One of Malaysia’s most celebrated attributes is its multicultural society.

The country is home to a mix of ethnic groups, mainly Malays, Chinese, and Indians, alongside indigenous peoples and expatriates.

This diversity is reflected in Malaysia’s festivals, food, and traditions. When you walk on the street in Malaysia, you will all kinds of people! It’s pretty amazing actually!

This offers expats a rich cultural experience and the opportunity to learn about and participate in various cultural practices.


5. Pros: Natural Beauty

Mossy Forest in Cameron Highlands 1

From the dense rainforests of Borneo to the pristine beaches of the Perhentian Islands or Tioman Island, and to the mesmerizing Tea Plantation of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia’s natural beauty is unparalleled.

The country’s geographic diversity allows you to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, diving, and wildlife watching.

Malaysia is so underrated in terms of tourism, but there is so much to see! Indeed, you will find all our posts about Malaysia here.


6. Pro: Malaysia is a Food Paradise

Things to do in Chinatown in KL

Malaysian cuisine, influenced by its multicultural population, is a food lover’s paradise.

The country offers an incredible variety of food, from street food in Penang to fine dining in Kuala Lumpur. Whether you’re craving Malay, Chinese, Indian, or international cuisine, Malaysia has it all, often at very affordable prices.


7. Pro: Healthcare

KLCC Park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia boasts a high-quality healthcare system that is both affordable and accessible.

Many healthcare professionals are trained internationally, ensuring a high standard of medical care (besides they speak English!).

This, combined with the modern facilities available, makes Malaysia a peace of mind place to live for expats!

8. Pro: Friendly Locals and Expatriate Communities

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

Malaysia is well-known for the warmth and friendliness of its people.

Locals are generally welcoming to foreigners, often going out of their way to help or make them feel at home.

Additionally, the growing expatriate community in cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang provides a support network for newcomers, making the transition easier.

For us, it was super easy to make friends in Malaysia, either locals or expats!


What are the Cons of Living in Malaysia?

1. Con: Humidity and Heat

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

Malaysia’s tropical climate means it is hot and humid year-round, which can be a nice thing if you come from a cold country, but the humidity is at times quite unpleasant…

It can limit outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day. Forget about sitting outside on a terrace for a nice coffee after lunch… You will melt unless there are fans all around you…

2. Con: Traffic Congestion

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

In major cities like Kuala Lumpur, traffic congestion is a daily challenge. Despite having a public transportation system, many Malaysians prefer to drive, leading to significant traffic jams, especially during rush hours.

This can make commuting time-consuming and frustrating.

3. Con: Air Quality Issues

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

Certain times of the year, particularly during the dry season, Malaysia can experience haze due to forest fires in neighboring countries.

This air pollution can affect health and reduce visibility, impacting daily life and outdoor activities.

4. Con: Political and Social Conservatism

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and its laws and social norms reflect a conservative stance on various issues. Expatriates might find some of Malaysia’s laws and cultural norms restrictive, especially regarding LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression.

That being said, it didn’t really impact our daily life… it’s just something to bear in mind.

Although it’s a Muslim country, many things are still allowed in Malaysia, such as bars.

5. Con: Getting your visa

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

This is one of the downsides of Malaysia. Getting a working visa is not as easy as neighborhing country such as Singapore or Hong Kong.

If your company sponsors your visa, it will take up to 3 months until you will get it. And if you are a digital nomad or auto-entrepreneur, getting a visa would also be very difficult, although the government made some announcements about easing access to those visas…

6. Con: Schooling/tuition fee

Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

If you have children and intend to enroll them in international schools, this would be quite expensive compared to the cost of living in Malaysia.

Tuition fees would be as high as Singapore for instance…

If your company transfers to Malaysia, then make sure to negotiate properly this part of your contract!

The good part at least, is that there are many international schools in the main cities like Kuala Lumpur!

Final thoughts – Is Malaysia a good place to live for expats?

Living in Malaysia offers a unique blend of cultural diversity, natural beauty, and affordability.

While the pros of living in Malaysia are compelling, it’s essential to consider the disadvantages, such as the climate, traffic, and cultural conservatism.

Ultimately, whether Malaysia is the right place for you will depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and what you’re looking for in a new home.

As for us, we love it!

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