Moving to Malaysia?

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Moving to Malaysia

Are you ready to relocate to Malaysia, a popular expat destination and a great country to live in? To make the most of your expat experience, try to be well-prepared before heading off to Malaysia! InterNations provides you with plenty of advice on visa regulations, safety, transportation, and more.
The Ubudiah mosque is often considered the most beautiful mosque in Malaysia.

There is a steady flow of expats moving to Malaysia, a Southeast Asian state with a long history of both colonization and immigration. The first Europeans coming to Malaysia in larger numbers were the Portuguese, following their conquest of Malacca in 1511. Subsequently acquired by the Dutch, Malacca was eventually turned over to the British.

As was often the case in the history of British imperialism, the first British foray to Malaysia was made by the East India Company. It leased the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah in 1786. The first British colonialists created the Straits Settlements and, in the course of the 19th century, expanded their sphere of influence.

British Protection and Economy Growth

Malaysia saw a relatively short but turbulent period starting in 1948 when the Federation of Malaya was governed by autonomous rulers under British protection. The ensuing move towards Malaysia’s independence had become inevitable then. It was completed in 1957, followed by a Malaysian unification with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore in 1963. The union with Singapore obviously didn’t last long, as the city state declared its independence two years later.

With one of the best-performing and most stable economies in Asia, the country has done really well. Moving to Malaysia, you will find an open, newly industrialized market economy. Beginning in the 1980s, the country experienced a period of rapid economic growth and urbanization. The move towards a multi-sector economy — away from a focus on agriculture — has been successful. Since then, the country has attracted an increasing number of expats.

Travel and Health: Keep an Eye Out

Malaysia is considered a safe country for expats, but you should nevertheless consult the travel advice provided by your Foreign Office before moving to Malaysia. You should be aware of a general threat of terrorism, piracy, and kidnappings. This warning is not supposed to discourage anyone from relocating to Malaysia, but to increase their level of general awareness.

Health-wise, a couple of precautions should be taken. There has been an increase in reported cases of leptospirosis (a rare bacterial infection). People moving to Malaysia should bear this in mind and refrain from bathing in lakes, rivers, or waterfalls. Common tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever should also be on the list of things to expect. So make you sure you do your best to prevent mosquito bites!

If you are will be staying in the country for a period exceeding one month, you might want to consider immunization for rabies, typhoid, hepatitis A/B, diphtheria, cholera, and Japanese encephalitis. Other than that, you should at least make sure that all standard vaccinations have been refreshed before your relocation.

Two Regions and the Monsoon

Malaysia consists of two regions, which are separated by the South China Sea: Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. The former is divided into 11 states and two federal territories. The latter consists of two states and one federal territory. All of them have their own immigration policies and a unique residency status for people moving to Malaysia.

Both parts of the country share similar geographical characteristics, i.e. coastal plains rising to hills and mountains. The tropical equatorial climate and the relatively moderate temperatures due to the surrounding oceans are a plus. The only seasonal change is brought about by the two monsoon periods, which can cause heavy downpours. There is high humidity all year round.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Adam Malewski

"With all the great information on this site, getting settled in Kuala Lumpur was a piece of cake."

Yasmin Krüger-Darango

"A former business partner recommended InterNations to me when I moved abroad to Malaysia. We still use it to stay in touch."

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