17 Things To Know Before Moving To Malaysia For Work (Expat Tips)

Thu, Nov 30, 2023

0 min read

Are you considering Malaysia as your next work destination? Here are some things to think about as you’re planning your move:


Base Considerations



  • Working Visa

    • There are 4 potential type of visas you could get to work in Malaysia, dependent on multiple factors.
    • If it’s your first time working in Malaysia, the employing company should be supplying you with the work visa at no expense to you.
    • Read more in our overview of Malaysian work visas.

  • Taxation

    • It’s important to know that the first six months will be more taxing than you’d expect. Expats will be taxed 30% for the first 182 days of employment, as they’ll be considered non-residents, regardless of citizenship or nationality.
    • After 182 days, expats will follow a tax rate that scales from 0-30% depending on their annual income.

  • Accommodation

    • You can choose to rent a room or an entire unit.
    • Rental options are abundant, and prices vary depending on where you plan to stay.
    • Note: It’s sometimes required to sign a contract for a fixed period (1-2 years) and pay a deposit of 1-3 months beforehand.

  • Transportation

    • It’s more common to travel around by car and motorcycle, but there are a variety of public transportation options available, such as:
      • Train (e.g. KTM, LRT, Monorail, MRT, etc)
      • Bus
      • e-Hailing (e.g. Grab, inDrive, etc)
      • Taxi
    • Note: It’s easier to take public transportation in major cities.

  • Local Malaysian Laws and Regulations

    • Get a grasp of Malaysian laws and regulations, especially those related to employment, immigration, taxation and traffic.

  • Language

    • Malay (Bahasa Malaysia, BM) is the national language of Malaysia, but English is widely spoken, especially in a business setting.
    • As with any other country, it would be beneficial in the long run to learn some local words for smoother communication.

  • Banking

    • It’s mandatory to open a local bank account to receive your salary in Malaysian Ringgit.
    • It makes shopping, cash withdrawal and deposits, and transactions easier.

  • Healthcare

    • Healthcare is reasonably affordable in Malaysia.
    • You can opt to get personally insured for hospitalisation coverage.
    • General practitioners are available at clinics and hospitals, while specialists are found in hospitals or specialist centres.
    • Medicine can also be purchased from clinics and pharmacies.

Lifestyle Considerations



  • Cost of Living

    • Your total cost will vary depending on your location, especially if it’s in the city or well-developed townships.
    • A good way to estimate is checking the price of rentals and F&B in the locations you’re curious about.

  • Cultural Awareness

    • Malaysia is home to a diverse group of ethnicities, with the larger majority being of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures.
    • A cultural melting pot makes the local language and mannerisms diverse and unique, so practicing patience, curiousity, and empathy is recommended as you get used to living in Malaysia.

  • Food

    • Food is abundant and diverse, and a hot topic among the locals.
    • Local dishes are commonly more abundant in carbohydrates like rice and noodles, as meat is generally expensive.
    • Much of the population are Muslims, so there are many establishments that don’t sell or allow pork and alcohol.

  • Weather

    • Malaysia has a tropical climate with high humidity and rain all year round.
    • When it rains, it most likely pours! Thunderstorms are common.
    • Temperatures range between 23-33 Celsius.

  • Safety and Health

    • Malaysia is a safe country overall, but like anywhere else, it's important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions.

  • Social Life

    • Join expat groups and social clubs to meet people and make friends. Malaysia has a vibrant expat community.

  • Education

    • If you have children, you can search for private or international schools in your area.
    • The most common primary and secondary curriculums are Chinese Independent Schools, Cambridge International Curriculum (UK), Western Australian Curriculum, Canadian Curriculum, and IB Curriculum.
    • For tertiary education, there are a wealth of options, from fully local colleges to international universities with Malaysian campuses.

  • Local Holidays

    • Malaysia has a large number of public holidays due to its cultural landscape, and it’s affected by the region you are in.
    • The holidays may affect corporate business hours.

  • Emergency Contacts

    • Some important contact information to have in Malaysia is:
      • Your country’s embassy phone number
      • Emergency Response Services (Call 999)
        • Police
        • Firefighters
        • Hospital
        • Civil Defense
        • Maritime Division

It’s important to be informed and supported before your move. Please note that the information here is for reference only, and it may not be the latest information available.

Other than searching for information online, you can consult with your employer or expats who already live in Malaysia for more information.

Keen on what type of jobs are available in Malaysia? Browse all available jobs here.

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