×
Interested in our Partner Program for businesses or our Local Guide Program for experienced expats and digital nomads? Click here to learn more.
Expat Exchange - Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia
Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In
View from The Kuala Lumpur Tower


Pros and Cons of Living in Malaysia

By Betsy Burlingame

Allianz Care
Allianz Care

Summary: If you're moving to Malaysia, it's important to learn about both the Pros AND Cons of living in Malaysia.

Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country located on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo, is a popular destination for expatriates from around the world. Its diverse culture, vibrant cities, lush landscapes, and tropical climate make it an attractive place to live. However, like any country, living in Malaysia comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will delve into the pros and cons of living in Malaysia, providing you with a comprehensive overview to help you make an informed decision about relocating to this fascinating country.

Pros of Living in Malaysia

One of the most significant advantages of living in Malaysia is the cost of living. Compared to many Western countries, Malaysia offers a high standard of living at a much lower cost. Rent, groceries, dining out, and other everyday expenses are generally affordable. For example, a meal at a local restaurant can cost as little as $2, while a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be rented for around $500 per month.

Another major draw for expats is Malaysia's healthcare system. The country boasts a robust healthcare infrastructure, with modern facilities and highly trained medical professionals. Many doctors and nurses are fluent in English, which can be a relief for expats. Furthermore, the cost of healthcare is significantly lower than in many Western countries, even for procedures that would be considered major surgery elsewhere.

Malaysia's geographical location is also a plus. It's centrally located within Asia, making it a great base for exploring the region. Countries like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam are just a short flight away. This makes it easy for expats to travel and experience different cultures during their time in Malaysia.

Malaysia is also known for its cultural diversity. The country is a melting pot of cultures, with a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous influences. This diversity is reflected in the country's food, festivals, and everyday life. Living in Malaysia offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich cultural tapestry.

Finally, the ease of obtaining a long-term visa is another advantage of living in Malaysia. The country's Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program allows foreigners to stay in the country on a long-term basis. This program has been praised for its straightforward application process and generous terms, making Malaysia an attractive option for those looking to relocate internationally.

Cons of Living in Malaysia

Despite the many advantages, living in Malaysia also has its drawbacks. One of the main challenges expats face is the language barrier. While English is widely spoken in urban areas and among the younger generation, it's less common in rural areas. This can make everyday tasks like shopping or dealing with bureaucracy more difficult for those who don't speak Malay.

The tropical climate, while attractive to some, can also be a disadvantage. Malaysia is hot and humid year-round, with temperatures often reaching 30°C (86°F). The country also experiences a monsoon season, which can bring heavy rain and high humidity. This type of climate may not be comfortable for everyone, particularly those used to cooler, drier climates.

Another potential downside is the traffic. Malaysia's cities, particularly Kuala Lumpur, are known for their congested roads. Traffic jams are a common occurrence, and the public transportation system, while improving, still has room for development. This can make commuting a frustrating experience for many expats.

While Malaysia is generally safe, crime can be a concern in certain areas. Petty crime like pickpocketing and bag snatching can be a problem, particularly in tourist areas. It's important for expats to take precautions and be aware of their surroundings.

Lastly, while Malaysia is a multicultural country, it's important to note that it is a Muslim-majority country with conservative values. This can be a culture shock for some expats, particularly those from more liberal countries. It's important to respect local customs and laws, which may include dress codes and restrictions on alcohol consumption.

Overall, while Malaysia offers many benefits for expats, it also has its challenges. It's important to weigh these pros and cons carefully before deciding to make the move. However, for many, the benefits of living in Malaysia - the affordable cost of living, high-quality healthcare, and cultural diversity - far outweigh the drawbacks.

Expats Talk about Pros & Cons of Living in Malaysia

"There are multiple racial cultures, very positive experience regarding diverse life styles: customs, foods, religious expressions," commented one expat living in Penang, Malaysia.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


Allianz Care
Allianz Care

Allianz Care
Allianz Care

View from The Kuala Lumpur Tower

William Russell
William Russell

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get Quote

William RussellWilliam Russell

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get Quote

Contribute to Malaysia Network Contribute
Help others in Malaysia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Malaysia.

Allianz Care
Allianz Care

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal Partners & Local Guides