Your guide to expat life in Malaysia

A cultural metropolis where the city meets the rainforest


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Diverse in population and landscape, Malaysia is a multicultural hub for the adventurous

Malaysia is a hotspot for serial expats. A combination of picturesque beaches and lively cities are convincing these repeat expats to finally put down long term roots and settle in Malaysia for at least five years, if not longer.

Although international workers in Malaysia receive relatively low wages, compared to the global average, the lower cost of living puts more of their money at their fingertips. As a result, expats have the opportunity to explore Malaysia's impressive sites. For some, the appeal lies in the cityscapes such as the world-famous Kuala Lumpur skyline, while others are enticed by the promise of adventure in some of the world's oldest tropical rainforests. With all of this on offer for new arrivals, plus an excellent selection of restaurants and street food, expats have plenty to spend their hard-earned wages on and can expect to have a lot of fun as a result.

Looking beyond the country's rich cultural heritage, the advantageous location, sharing a border with Thailand and Indonesia, makes it an excellent base to explore the rest of South East Asia. With a welcoming atmosphere and plenty for children to do, it's no wonder expats can't bear to leave.

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Quick Facts

  • Population: About 32 million
  • Capital city: Kuala Lumpur
  • Neighbouring Malaysia: Malaysia has common maritime boundaries with Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Main language: Malay is the official language, but English is widely spoken in business. The Chinese population in Malaysia speaks Cantonese, Hokkien or Hakka, while the Indian population speaks Tamil, Hindi or Malayalam.
  • Time: GMT+8

Contact an expat living in Malaysia before you move to get an understanding of the country

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Relocation Checklist

Our checklists give you a comprehensive overview of the kinds of things you need to do before you move and also what to consider in your first few months in your new country or region.

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Next public holiday

Birth of Prophet Muhammad*

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It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people.

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Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more
Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more