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Discover Malaysia

Prepare for expat living with our handy guides to life, work and managing your money in Malaysia.

Want to move to Malaysia?

When you move to Malaysia, you’ll likely be fascinated by the sheer diversity of the country – from its geography to the mix of cultures and ethnicities that call it home.

While your earning potential in Malaysia may not be as good as in other popular expat destinations, the lower cost of living makes up for it. Managing your money when you arrive can help you explore Malaysia's impressive sites, while covering all your everyday essentials.

With such a vivid and multicultural populace, locals are generally accepting of people from outside of their country, and you’ll enjoy a warm welcome.

Working in Malaysia

There are plenty of opportunities for expats in Malaysia, particularly in its burgeoning IT, engineering, teaching and banking sectors. You may need a visa to live and work here, and it’s important to make sure you have the right visa before you enter the country.

Malaysia has a largely unified workforce that tends to follow Western codes of conduct. But you’ll do business with people from a range of ethnic backgrounds – mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian – so it’s worth familiarising yourself with the cultural nuances.

If you work for a company where most employees are Malay, prayer sessions may take place throughout the day.

Malay is the official language, but English is widely spoken in business circles. Office hours are usually 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. Some businesses in the provinces close on Fridays.

Explore life in Malaysia

A luxury lifestyle and low living costs are some of the main attractions for expats moving to Malaysia. Other advantages include a highly developed infrastructure and excellent healthcare.

If you live in an urban area, you’ll have to get used to crowded streets and traffic congestion. But it’s easy to swap the humid bustle of the city for tranquil beaches and rainforests at the weekend.

Should you get an offshore bank account?

An offshore account can be useful for expats looking to keep some money in a central location, rather than one specific country or region. 

Our Expat Bank Account is an offshore account that comes with a range of benefits, including:

  • A Global Money Account - Make quick and easy payments across borders.
  • Relationship manager - Someone to help you and your family manage your money.
  • Online and on mobile - Manage your banking, FX and investments wherever, whenever.

You can set your account up in USD, EUR or GBP and you can hold it alongside accounts in the country you're leaving or the one you're moving to.


Top tips

Here's what expats have told us about living in Malaysia.

Make sure you arrange schooling well in advance. The waiting list in the international schools is long and it is very difficult to get your children into a school midway through the academic year.
Malaysia is a wonderful country to live in and visit, it is so diverse with excellent activities. Diving, beaches, golf, movies, tea plantations, jungle, animals etc. The people are so open and friendly and the cost of living is very reasonable. Overall - highly highly recommended.
Ask questions about the company culture and how your job duties will change. Negotiate for commensurate salary.

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Additional information

    All Expat Explorer survey data, including the tips in quotation marks, is provided by HSBC.

    All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in July 2023. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

    This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

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