LIVING IN MALAYSIA : our list of advantages and disadvantages

Salam alaykum, selamat datang to everyone!
Today, we are going to give you 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages concerning the expatriation in Malaysia.

Before starting, for the people who join us, know that we are a mixed French family : Asmae is Moroccan, I am Cambodian.
We expatriated in 2020, in the middle of COVID, and we live in Kuala Lumpur.

Finally, keep in mind that everything that follows is based solely on our experience and personal situation.
We hope that this video will help you in your expatriation to Malaysia.

Let’s start right away with 5 disadvantages of LIVING IN MALAYSIA.

Disadvantage 1 : DISTANCE

If all your family and friends have stayed in France, you should know that there are more than 15 hours of flights between Paris and Kuala Lumpur.
There is also a time difference of between 6 and 7 hours (depending on the daylight saving time).

Living in Malaysia disadvantage 1 : distance

For us, being a self-employed entrepreneur, we retain an undeniable advantage: freedom of movement (except in special cases, as is currently the case with COVID).
Our goal is to visit our families and friends regularly, whether in France, Morocco or Cambodia.

So you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you be willing to live away from your loved ones?
  • Would you have the facility to travel regularly to fill this gap?
  • Or will your relatives be able to visit you in Malaysia?

Disadvantage 2 : THE VISA

This is clearly, for our profile in any case, the big black spot of Malaysia.
The residence visa is very difficult to obtain if you are in the same case as us: self-employed entrepreneurs.
We have a visa because we created a company on Labuan and it is a work visa renewable every 2 years.

Having an MM2H visa in Malaysia

This does not apply to people who are married to a local (and even then… even if you are married to a local, it’s not that simple), or if you are employed by an international or local company operating here in Malaysia.

We will make another video about VISAS in Malaysia, it’s a very long subject to discuss.
In particular the work visa, and the MM2H visa for those who know this type of visa.

In any case, the residence visa, contrary to what many people think, cannot be obtained by buying a property, or by opening a local company only.
There are a multitude of conditions that must be met.

Disadvantage 3 : SCHOOL FEES

This inconvenience does not affect everyone.
If you don’t have children, it won’t concern you.
If you expatriate to Malaysia, thanks to an expatriate contract, these expenses are generally covered in full or in part.
If not, you will have to negotiate your contract well.

Be aware that as a foreigner, you will not be able to enroll your children in local public schools.
You should look into international schools.
These schools can cost anywhere from 200€ to over 1000€ per month per child.
There are other solutions, like everywhere else, such as home schooling.

Tuition fees for French high school Kuala Lumpur

We will also make another video in sha Allah, dedicated to the education of children, in Malaysia.
We’re not saying any more for now, just stay tuned.

Disadvantage 4 : HEALTH INSURANCE

As before, if you get an expat contract, these costs are usually fully or partially covered.
This is not the case for us. To be properly covered, you have the choice of taking out local insurance, or international insurance.
For us, we decided to take an international insurance.

We’ve already done a 30+ minute video on health insurance: what insurance to get, why, and at what cost etc.

Disadvantage 5 : THE WEATHER

It’s hot all year round, many like it but not all. So it’s purely subjective.
Personally, I don’t mind, on the contrary, I like the sun.
Asmae, on the other hand, would have preferred the 4 seasons I think.

One thing is for sure, we end up enjoying the rain.
As soon as it can, we hasten to open the windows, to air, to feel the fresh air too.

Now we move on to the benefits.
For this video, we’re going to list 5, and it’s pretty hard to pick just 5.

Advantage 1 : THE COST OF LIVING

The cost of living in general, in Malaysia is much lower than in France.
Especially in terms of accommodation: you can rent beautiful, spacious and modern apartments in Kuala Lumpur at very affordable prices compared to France. We made a series of videos about apartments in Malaysia. You will find the link in the description.

However, monthly fees can quickly escalate depending on your lifestyle.
If you only shop in expat-oriented stores (where you will find cheeses, cakes, cookies, and other foods), the monthly costs could go up very quickly!
The same is true if you eat out very often, in restaurants that cost more than the average.
So yes, life is cheaper, but don’t think that you can live like a king with a few hundred euros.

You can also see in story pinned on our IG, the different prices of products in Malaysia.

Advantage 2 : TRAVEL

We won’t draw you a picture, but Kuala Lumpur is a real hub for travel lovers. I used to call KL, Châtelet les halles, for the Parisians.
From KL, you can travel to many destinations.
Whether it’s Bali for a weekend, or Cambodia, Lombok, Thailand, Vietnam, but also Australia, or Japan etc..

Travel from Kuala Lumpur

With Airasia, you can find very affordable prices.
For example, a return ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket, you can find one for less than 100€ each way.
Same for a flight between Malaysia and Cambodia:

Flight Malaysia Cambodia

Advantage 3 : TAXATION

If like us, you have an inflow of money outside Malaysia, for example through an online business, e-Commerce, Amazon, dropshipping, coaching, training, but also rental income, dividends, etc.
You will be able to repatriate all these profits with 0% taxes in Malaysia.
Malaysia has a territorial taxation. You will find very few countries with the same tax system in the world.
I can name a few: Paraguay, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, etc.

In this list of countries, they are either islands, or countries that are not very developed, or else, with a cost of living that is too high, such as Dubai or Singapore.
The cost of living in the latter two countries, for example, is higher than in Malaysia.
It is also for this fiscal reason that many people have moved to Dubai.

If in addition you make a good arrangement, with a so-called transparent company, such as an LLC in the USA or an LLP in the UK, you can be at almost 0% tax in both territories (USA/UK and Malaysia): 0% in the country where your company is established (USA or UK), 0% in your country of tax residence (Malaysia).
This is a point that I have developed in detail in a course dedicated to the Labuan visa, linked in the description.

Tax expatriation Dubai
Tax expatriation Dubai

Advantage 4 : LANGUAGE – ENGLISH

In Kuala Lumpur and all major cities in Malaysia, English is spoken.
Administrative documents are generally in English and Malay.
If you go to the small provincial towns, like Kelantan (I think of my cousins there), many do not speak English.
On KL, Penang, or the tourist cities and islands: no worries.
We tell you this because we spent more than 5 months in Turkey, and I can tell you that it was not easy, especially when you have important appointments like at the hospital or for administrative procedures.

Advantage 5 : ISLAM

It won’t concern everyone, but for us, it was one of the most important criteria, if not the most important: it is the religion in Malaysia, Islam.
We’re going to go into a lot of detail, but if you’re a Muslim, you should find some peace, some daily comfort, if you can call it that.
By this, we mean that if you are a religious person, you should be able to find prayer rooms without any worries, mosques, halal restaurants, Islamic schools, muslim friendly hospitals (like maternity hospitals, etc.).

For veiled sisters, no worries here.
However, I would like to point out that there are other religions in Malaysia, for those who do not know.
You have Christians, and Buddhists.
The populations generally live well together.
So you will also find churches, or Buddhist temples, and many non-halal restaurants.

Other advantages and disadvantages of expatriating to Malaysia

There are many other disadvantages and advantages.
But again, this is mostly based on your personal situation.

For example, for some, creating a new social life here can be complicated.
This was not necessarily the case for us, as we already had family and friends in Malaysia.
But this does not prevent us from making many new encounters, whether with locals or expatriates.

With the Malaysian family
With the Malaysian family

And more…

Among other advantages, there is also the cultural diversity, or the cuisine which is very varied, whether it is fast food, local, Asian or wetern food, you will find everything.

Other advantages : The quality of the hospitals, the various infrastructures, the internet connection, the security, and also, contrary to Indonesia, Malaysia is less exposed to the risks of natural disasters.

Finally, we would like to point out that Malaysia is not a perfect country. So don’t idealize the country.

We will make future videos about all these different points.
If you liked the video, feel free to like, or share.
We say to the next video, see you soon.

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