The Do’s and Don’ts of Working and Living in Malaysia

Posted by Jeremy Chew
September 15, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

For the first time, I was able to experience what it was like to be independent. When I received an email informing me about a job offer in Kuala Lumpur, a range of emotions filled my brain. I was anxious but excited at the same time; it was my golden ticket to independence and to enrich my skills as a professional.

Throughout the months I have lived and worked in Malaysia, I have learned valuable lessons on how to cope with the Kuala Lumpur lifestyle. I have to admit, there’s a lot more to learn but here are some quick do’s and don’ts that would prove helpful if you plan on moving to the country.

The Don’ts

Don’t Forget About your Tax

If you want to work in Malaysia, the first thing that you need to know about is their tax scheme for expats. If it’s your first time to work in the country, you would have to pay 28% tax for the first 6 months of your stay. While it may sound daunting, it can be refunded the following year. It is also worth noting that in the event that you decide to go back to your home country, filing a tax clearance is imperative before you pack your bags to the airport. If you have questions, you can always ask your company’s HR for further information and clarification.

Don’t Overspend

One of the reasons why I applied in Malaysia was because of the promise of a better salary that what I am receiving and it was exactly that. I had the financial freedom to spend it on food, clothes, gadgets, and leisure but the leash is not that long. While I do have better salary than my previous job, it is important that you be responsible with your expenses. Now that you are living away from home, you have to budget your expenses strictly. Avoid being the “one-day millionaire” and always allot money for your rent, daily allowance, groceries, and the occasional “treat yo’ self” binge. Most importantly, always save up a few hundred ringgit every month for unexpected rainy days – believe me, it will happen.

Don’t Drink Tap Water

Coming from a region in the Philippines known for the cleanest water in the country, it came as a surprise for me to know that you cannot drink tap water in Malaysia. With that, there’s no free water when you eat out at a restaurant or the nearby mamak (which is a disappointment, really). Many locals recommend boiling tap water first or purchasing mineral water from the store as a source of drinking water. While it is generally okay for cooking, brushing your teeth, clothes, and bathing, a lot of people are discouraged to drink tap water because of the strong smell of chlorine. Personally, I never encountered problems with tap water but it’s never wrong to follow suit.

The Do’s

Do Travel

Malaysia offers tons of opportunities to travel. Within the country alone, you can travel to a lot of regions such as Penang, Ipoh, and Melaka or take a well-deserved vacation to Langkawi, Redang Island or Perhentian. Aside from that, you can also travel to nearby Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, etc. One great tip is to watch out for travel promotions and discounts for a cheaper way to fly. Malaysia is also a gateway If you have plans to travel to Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Malaysia is a haven for expats who love to travel.

Do Eat Malaysian Food

Where do you even begin with Malaysian food? For many foreigners, the food can be a little bit too overwhelming and extremely spicy but the more you eat, the better it tastes! There are even times when I find myself craving for nasi lemak or roti cannai. What’s great about Malaysian food is that there are tons of options in terms of price and palate. You can never connect with the culture better than eating Malaysian food.

Do Get Fit

As awesome as Malaysian food sounds, it is important that we exercise to wash out the ayam goreng you ate for lunch. Being fit in Malaysia is really easy and fun. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are tons of gyms and fitness studios that you sign up for. If you want more cost-effective options, you can join free yoga classes, run at your nearest park or if your condo has a gym, then get fit there. There are tons of ways to get fit in Kuala Lumpur, even if you are on a budget!

Malaysia is a great place for expats. There is a great job pool that you can dive in and diversify your skills as a professional, and meet new friends! Travelling in Malaysia is one thing but living and working in the country is definitely a valuable experience.


Written by Marjorie Mae Mendoza from iPrice Group.

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