Malaysia is a nation of stark contrasts: rural developing areas and ultra-modern cities like Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is a developed city with beautiful skyscrapers, including the famous twin towers and the impressive KL Tower. But living and working in Malaysia is not easy for foreigners.
Public transportation is irregular and not very reliable. But it is getting better. In cities like Kuala Lumpur, cars clog the roads every day, and traffic jams are frequent during rush hour and the number of traffic accidents is constantly increasing.
The cost of living in Malaysia is reasonable. However, rental costs are rising rapidly in the major cities, as security is a problem and therefore a constant surveillance service must be paid in many apartment complexes.
Security is an issue. Crime rates are high, and residential burglaries, robberies, and pickpocketing are common, especially in large cities. Corruption seems to be the normal way of doing business in Malaysia. Bribes are always demanded from both public and private entities. On the contrary, Malaysians are very friendly people who selflessly try to help newcomers integrate. Malaysia is a tolerant country where many religions are represented: Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus live together in peace, resulting in the celebration of a number of religious holidays throughout the year. Malaysia allows freedom of expression, and the Malaysian government celebrates a great number of religious holidays.
It is the most peaceful and liberal Muslim country in the world, where the majority of the workforce is made up of Muslim girls. It is a country where Muslims do not hesitate to celebrate Hindu festivals and Hindus do not hesitate to participate in Chinese festivals. However, it must be said that there is strong racism in Malaysia and everyone will judge and treat you based on your origin, economic situation and level of education.
It is very difficult to take up permanent residency in Malaysia. Even if you marry a local, you will be asked the real reasons for the marriage and yet you will be given a residence visa that you must renew every year.
Speaking of work, Malaysia’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, becoming a large industrial society based on innovation. It is not easy to find a job in Malaysia because companies are only allowed to hire international workers if there are no qualified Malaysians to fill the position. And with so many qualified Malaysians graduating every year, competition for jobs is fierce.
The tertiary sector provides the most employment opportunities. The job market is dominated by ethnic Chinese, so for many jobs you must also speak Chinese. It is best to move to the country only after you have already found a job. Flying to Malaysia on a tourist visa to find work rarely yields positive results unless you have years of experience and highly sought-after skills. English is widely spoken, but if you learn a little Malay, the country’s official language, before you arrive, you are guaranteed a better chance of finding a job.
Living and working in Malaysia – pros and cons
Living in Malaysia, pros
- Acceptable cost of living
- Warm weather all year round
- Beautiful nature and fabulous beaches
- Friendly and polite people
Living in Malaysia, cons
- Bureaucracy, corruption, slow and inefficient public offices
- Difficulty in understanding the English spoken by the local population
- Torrential rains
- High crime rate
- Lack of civil rights
- Poor cleaning and lack of hygiene
Living and working in Malaysia, conclusion
Malaysia is still a developing country, so one shouldn’t expect high standards for cultural life such as theater or musical events. The national pastime in the big cities is shopping.
Each country has its pros and cons and there is no perfect country in this world.
Malaysia has its positive and negative sides, as everywhere. However, there are some deeply anti-liberal and racist elements in the country. If you are not a Malaysian, you cannot own a business or have permanent residency. You can be expelled from the country for no reason and all your assets can be confiscated by the state. So before you start a business here, you need to be careful.