Where To Live in Malaysia

Where To Live in Malaysia

Malaysia is a diverse country. Its geographical location and historical migration has significantly influenced the culture and society of the country. Malaysia is home to many ethnic groups and individuals from different cultural backgrounds. The bustling country attracted visitors and immigrants over the years for its uniqueness and economic stability.

What Are the Best Places to Live in Malaysia?

Kuala Lumpur

Regarded as the heart of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is at the centre of all the activities in the country. The capital city is home to a huge number of commercial centres that offer a wide range of products and services. The vivid city is among the world’s cheapest cities to live in. However, compared with other cities in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur may still be a bit pricey.

The KL City Centre is home to a conglomeration of multinational companies, making it an ideal address for professionals. The city is home to high-rise buildings, shopping centres, posh hotels, and medical centres.

Kuala Lumpur offers expats comfortable homes that can range from modern condominiums in sky high buildings to semi-detached bungalows along peaceful streets.
The best thing about living in KL is accessibility and the convenience that comes with it. The place offers lots of transportation options such as buses, taxis, and trains.


In terms of gross domestic product (GDP), Selangor ranks as the richest state in Malaysia. In the past years, property valuation in the area performed strongly, making it a great city for those who are looking at real estate as an investment. Petaling Jaya and Klang-Shah Alam have taken an active presence in property development.

Langkawi Island

The city of Langkawi is a favourite among MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) visa holders because of its duty free status. More recently, property developers have become aggressive in property development in an effort to draw in more expats into the city.

Expats looking for a laid back and easy going vibe, Langkawi is a great choice. The island also has an engaging and reliable MM2H community.


Standing as the main focus of the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), Penang has a superb economic and social initiative that results to higher income. Those who want to live in a lively city without the crowd would love Penang. Many expats here own upscale seafront properties.


With a growing property market, Sabah has continued to attract foreigners. Aside from calling Sabah their home, many MM2H visa holders also consider their real estate as a good form of investment. Both the Karumbanai and Kota Kinabalu are popular choices for holiday properties.


Johor is the third largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. Being a populous state, Johor has maintained its colourful ambiance. It has a beautiful mix of island living, modern culture, and amazing biodiversity all in an urban setting.

What Are the Cheapest Places to Live In Malaysia?

Based on the cost of living, the top three cities Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, and George Town are the world’s cheapest places to live for expats.

What Are the Best Cities to Live in Malaysia for Expats?

Malaysia is a melting pot of religions and culture. The growing number of expats living in Malaysia helped the country to further increase its diversity. It has become a favored place for expats for its unique charm and accessibility to other Asian nations. In addition, English is widely spoken in Malaysia, allowing foreigners to feel connected with the locals.

The country has also made it easy for expats to enter, settle down, and make a living in the country. The MM2H visa and strongly performing property market make Malaysia a preferred country for expats.

Expats used to living in a lively and bustling city will find Kuala Lumpur a great choice to reside in. No one can blame expats for choosing the capital city to settle down. In here, they have plenty of choices for things to do, job opportunities, and even housing types. Foreigners can to live in exclusive and wealthy gated subdivisions or high rise condominiums. They can also choose to live in hilly suburbs of the Klang Valley. Going around the city is also easy with its reliable bus and train systems.

Expats looking to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city would love the Penang Island. The history-rich island also offers great food choices. There are still few expats living in the area so it is not hard to find cheaper housing options. Foreigners can choose from bungalow homes, detached homes, and condos. Those with kids would love that the island is home to top-rated international schools. While there are no trains serving the island, a bus system is available. Most locals, though, travel by private car. Another advantage of living in Penang is its proximity to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

A rather underrated state in Malaysia is Melaka. This cultural gem is the third smallest state in the country and is famous for its cuisine and historic buildings. Melaka’s expat community is relatively small but those who already live here rave about the walkability and tranquility of the place. The state has one international school. Public transportation is limited to bus and private cars.

Slowly entering urbanisation is Kota Kinabalu. The capital city of Sabah is known for its casual living despite the existence of many commercial establishments. Since the island is famous among tourists, has its very own international airport. Many expats living in the area also helped Kota Kinabalu to prosper. It now has reliable hospitals and an international school.

The expat community in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, is slowly growing in number. The area also has plenty of commercial establishments such as malls and bars but it has a much slower pace of life when compared with Kuala Lumpur. Expats love the culturally enigmatic Kuching for its affordability and accessibility.

What Are Housing Options for Expats in Malaysia?

Expats looking to relocate in Malaysia can choose from a wide array of housing options in Malaysia. The country even has options for those considering to have an investment property in the multi-ethnic country. The property market of Malaysia will continue to grow thanks to the Government Transformation Programme.

Compared with Hong Kong and Singapore, Malaysia’s property market remains cheap despite the recent developments. Malaysia allows foreigners to purchase a freehold land where their names can be stipulated on the sale and purchase agreement. Some of the lease agreements grant foreigners to own properties for 99 years, with renewal options. To protect low and middle income Malaysians from probable property inflation, foreigners are not allowed to buy lots with a market value of less than RM500,000. There are also Malaysian areas that are exclusive for Malaysia’s Bumiputra.

Malaysia does not have any shortages when it comes to providing housing options for expats. Foreigners who are staying the country for a short while find it useful to share accommodations with other expats. While those who are relocating to the country may find it better to invest on a property be it a condo unit in a high rise or a pleasant bungalow home in gated communities.

What is the Cost of Living in Malaysia?

For expats, Malaysia may be a retirement haven. The large number of housing options and special offers for expats are just too enticing. Compared with European countries, Malaysia has a low cost of living. However, the rapid and continuous growth of the economy has also pushed prices of basic living expenses to increase.

The nice thing about working in Malaysia is the potential for an increasing monthly income. In the past years, Malaysia’s average monthly income increased steadily. Most of those who felt the growth were those who are living in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

The increase in monthly income also allowed more Malaysian residents to indulge in more luxurious items. Basic monthly living expenses can cost up to RM2,500 to RM5,000 depending on the size of the household. Those with children may need to shell out RM50,000 annually to cover school expenses.

Penang Island and Kuala Lumpur are comparable when it comes to cost of living. Penang, while relatively smaller than Kuala Lumpur, used to be one of the expensive cities to live in Malaysia because of its popularity among tourists. Over the years, prices of the basic commodities, accommodations, and transportation has already stabilised.

When it comes to food, one can expect to spend about RM17 when eating out, about RM7 for 500grams of boneless chicken breast, one quart of whole fat milk, and 12 large eggs. A 16 oz local beer from the supermarket sells for RM11, while a bottle of red wine can cost up to RM70.

A monthly rent for a 900 square foot apartment can cost up to RM2,877 (an expensive area) and RM1,638 (normal area). Smaller apartments measuring 480 square foot can have a monthly rent of RM2,035 (an expensive area) and RM1,208 (normal area). Utilities range from RM200 to RM226.

Is It Safe to Live in Malaysia?

Malaysia is a safe country to live in. The tropical country is not often hit by any massive cyclones or typhoons. When it comes to crimes, Malaysia has made news about bag snatching. But as any other country, exercising caution at all times is a must. Wearing of expensive jewelry when walking dark alleys is a big no-no.

When going out, expats are highly advised to bring small bills especially when dining out and small restaurants or street stalls.

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