What would it be like to live in Malaysia?

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ June 20th, 2011. Updated on September 21st, 2013. Published in: Travel blog » How to live overseas » Malaysia.
Quite street in Penang with old car

Malaysia is not all beaches and jungle, there’s an old peaceful side that attracts many people to relocate there

Move to or live in Malaysia?

Malaysia was always on my list of “possible” places to live in Asia. The primary reasons, for me, was that Malaysia seemed to be calling out for people to relocate there. It seemed living in Malaysia was quite viable, on paper.

Options were open, I took notes, filed them away, and 6 + years later I finally made it here.

Now that I am here, what’s the on the ground reality of a possible life in Malaysia really like?

First, a brief exploration of Malaysia, by way of travel

Writing down Malaysia as a possible option to find a place to live is one thing. Actually arriving and experiencing Malaysia, or any other country for that matter, is another thing.

I start with an idea, some practical knowledge, some experience, and say … “Okay, now lets put all that to the test …”

It’s only when I physically arrive in a place, that I can actually get a gut feel of whether things would be good or not.

Modern day tea leaf picker in Malaysia

Traveling a country is a good way to understand more about how the place works

For me, when I arrived in Sabah, Malaysia, my gut instinct was a good one. I liked the place. Especially Kota Kinabalu. The city is just nice.

It was only when I arrived that I really could understand that Malaysia was split into three very separate parts. And, in more than just the physical sense.

Peninsular, or West Malaysia, Sarawak (Borneo) and Sabah (Borneo), are all part of “Malaysia” but very different from each other.

Traveling Malaysia to get an understanding of its culture, people and lifestyle

Travel in Malaysia is very, very, easy. It’s a tourist hotbed, and as such, everything is presented to you with ease.

This, however, also brings the small challenge of going beyond travel and actually discovering how the real Malaysia works. As opposed to what the hotel receptionist or tour guide is trained to tell you.

And, I very much enjoyed traveling Malaysia. In particular, Sabah which I will return to. I also had to postpone parts of Sarawak for a personal reason**.


Subscribe to the longest way home newsletter**This was a very personal update. To read it you’ll need to subscribe to my travel journals.


Meanwhile, West Malaysia has been very simple to travel. You can go anywhere with relative ease.

This type of infrastructure enabled me to cover a varied range of the country, and get a fair idea of what it was like. Taking with me the knowledge I’ve learned over the years on my search.

Peeling back the layers of Malaysia to reveal its heart & soul

I saw a very good heart in Malaysia. A vast and rich cultural background makes Malaysia the most ethnically diverse country in Asia.

As an outsider, I did however find huge differences between the people of Sabah, Sarawak, and West Malaysia.

Even if you take the people from the south of West Malaysia and compare them to the north there are of course differences. But, these differences, to me, are substantially greater over the three main regions of Malaysia.

And strangely, although great in many respects, all these differences caused my first inkling of trouble in Malaysia.

So while I did see a very good heart in Malaysia, I also saw a troubled soul.

Problems with living in Malaysia

I am mainly going to deal with living in West Malaysia here. The reason is that this seems to be at the heart of many issues. While culturally diverse, Malaysia has serious underlying human rights issues.

Man begging for money in Malaysia

Not everything is blissful in Malaysia

These types of human rights issues don’t make world headlines that often. And, they are vastly complicated. So much so, that many Malaysian’s I’ve spoken to, don’t fully understand what’s happening themselves.

And, I don’t particularly want to debate these issues here. But, for me, they are important when it comes to choosing a place to live, permanently.

The main issue I found here was to do with ethnic racism. I know many Malaysian’s call this by many different names, which is possibly half the problem in itself, but this is the term I am using here.

Not always visible to the tourist, or even the retired couple living in a town. But, stay a while, travel a lot, listen to the different ethnic groups throughout Malaysia, and you’ll quickly discover a lot of anger and outright hatred.

This, and learning of some quite disturbing stories, makes me put my mental brakes on outright living in Malaysia.

Examples of problems in Malaysia

Even as I write this, I know that’s it’s impossible not to offend someone in Malaysia. For if I say that many ethnic Malays or Indians see the huge majority of Chinese Malays in political power as a serious issue. Many Chinese Malays will retaliate and say these people are using religious elements to place blame on them.

There is a multi-cultural vying of power in Malaysia in terms of commerce, politics, religion, education etc.

On the outside, as a tourist everything looks great, but beyond the Malaysia Truly Asia tourism smiles are some serious issues.

Add to this a strange quasi educational / financial / caste system that’s never really spoken about, and you’ll see a glimpse of a modern dark underbelly that runs through Malaysian society today.

Malaysia man playing a violin

This man is Malaysian, has he too many rights? Or not enough?

A modern-day caste hierarchy in Malaysia

This took me a while to finally catch onto. Mainly because of the different interpretations of a caste system in dealing with a country like Malaysia which has a huge Indian population. Wipe your mind of that. And, think about a specific Malaysian caste system that’s not spoken of.

Money talks in Malaysia, as it does in the rest of the world. But here I also noticed presumptions, of which there are of course many exceptions.

But, for the sake of argument here we go with some common perceptions I picked up on from speaking with everyday Malaysians: (keep in mind, these are not my perceptions, but those of Malaysians I’ve spoken with)

  • Chinese Malays with money rule the roost, will keep to their own, and are often linked with still being influenced by China, but argue they have the least rights of all groups in Malaysia.
  • Indian Malays are often accused of misgivings, really promoting their own caste system, and again keep to their own while often promoting Indian only business.
  • Ethnic Malays are often said to have too many rights, are lazy, and generally end up working for other people whilst having more support than any other group.

How bad can all this really be?

A Chinese Malay man was refused entry to university because a greater portion of placements were set aside for ethnic Malays. He moved to Korea for work, married and had a son. He is now being told that his son has to go on a waiting list before he can claim citizenship in Malaysia.

Indian lady from Malaysia

Has letting traditional values from home countries caused Malaysia to lose its way?

An Indian Malay had his house destroyed in a flood. He claims that the government did not help his community out financially as they were busy promoting an election where another ethnic group were seen as being more important in that region.

An ethnic Malay has worked for a Chinese Malay company for over 10 years. He is still paid less than his Chinese counterparts, and says he will never get a promotion here as the Chinese Malay’s will favor their own.

Life in Malaysia as a foreigner

I’ve met quite a few western foreigners either working, or living in West Malaysia. Most, are very happy there. To separate them, and their logic, I split them into two groups.

  1. The foreigner who is working there, but will not live forever in Malaysia
  2. The foreigner who’s married, or retired in Malaysia

I do this, as these are the main people I’ve met in Malaysia.

The working foreigner has taken advantage of Malaysia’s relatively open and free visa regulations (for certain countries only). They are earning money filling a niche, or for a company. Either way, life is good for them as Malaysia is really a beautiful country. And, one day they know they will leave.

The permanent foreigner may be married, or taken one of Malaysia’s many incentives for living here. An example is the government supported “Malaysia My Second Home Programme” (official website).

Here, if you have the money, you can buy a second home in Malaysia, and avail of a special visa to live there near on permanently.

So yes, there are some interesting options to living in Malaysia.

Mosque de Jame in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia’s multicultural population is to its credit, but will it also be its downfall?

My own view to living in Malaysia

As I mentioned at the start of this article, I had Malaysia listed as a strong potential in Asia. One of only two that I could see on paper.

Once here, the world of Malaysia opened up before me. And, again, it’s a very beautiful place, with a lot of great opportunity and amazing cultures.

Yet, through all this I see something that I personally have always struggled with on this journey. Inequality, bitterness, resentment, corruption, money-centric culture, and something dark which for lack of political correctness I shall just label as racism.

Would I live in Malaysia? Yes. Certainly if an opportunity came about to stay longer in Malaysia I would have no problems in staying for some time. Maybe I could even learn to accept all this.

But, can I say right now that I want to live in Malaysia with all my heart?

No, I can’t.

Simply put: Our hearts are beating to different rhythms.

Moving on from Malaysia

I left Borneo without fully exploring Sabah nor Sarawak in the way that I wanted. This was of no choice of mine. Again, something quite personal happened. I will not make it public here yet, but if you want to know more, it’s on my latest subscriber newsletter (if you get my updates like this one via email already, you’ll get the newsletter too. If not, sign up here).

Unlike many other countries I have traveled, I will return to Malaysia soon.

In summary:

Malaysia has a beautiful heart, but her soul is in anguish

I look forward to returning, writing, photographing and exploring Malaysia very soon. But, for now, this is what I am concluding.


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Coming Soon:

Let’s not delay the inevitable: a train ride away, Bangkok awaits … what will I make of the city backpackers & travelers have raved about for decades?

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99 Great responses to What would it be like to live in Malaysia?

  1. Mazlina says:

    I guess their trick is to import a lot of Chinese into any countries to replace the original people of any land. This is happening in Singapore (there are massive influx of Han Chinese from China brought in by the government to work there http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=570) and they end up becoming the population, the Malays become minority and Singapore doesnt have a tint of South East Asia culture, they do this is even in Tibet (http://www.tibetjustice.org/reports/wbank/index.html), even in Xinjiang province they flock the Han Chinese and took all the resources there (http://www.cfr.org/china/uighurs-chinas-xinjiang-region/p16870). Even the most patient people will feel disgusted and angry with these people. Please understand before you said we are all treating the Chinese differently, some people are good for you to help and shelter but not all. Some are just ungrateful and greedy lot that you need to put them in their place. Greed and money can’t buy you the world, if you stole a land from somebody, someday who knows your whole family will be stolen from you. Whatever goes around comes around.

  2. Reza Shah says:

    Dear Dave,

    For a traveller, you do have a sharp eyes & ears while noting all the subtle things that most often just passed over by other tourists.

    I am a Malaysian Malay. I do admit, underneath all the flashy 1Malaysia campaign, all the darker side within Malaysian societies still existed. But, there’s part & parcel of life in the country whose social demographics being screwed by colonialists, whose natives (the Bumiputras – either the Muslim-Malays, Sarawakian & Sabahan indigenous tribes) clings to their heritage rights (let us say, Europeans are still Master’s in Divide & Rule stratagem) whilst the Chinese & Indian migrants imported from their homeland … displaced & struggled to make this foreign land as home.

    But still, that’s a history lessons for us. The problem is that, every ethnics have claim to Malaysia but differed in their views on every matters. For a Malaysian, I am blessed that I myself a very well traveller in my own country, having spending my time growing up from the East Coast, West Coast, Northern & Southern part of Peninsular Malaysia & spending a decade living in Sarawak plus frequent travels to Sabah.

    To me, West Malaysia (Peninsular) is becoming too urbanised. Along the way, traditions, the old policy of ‘live & let live aka forgive to forget’ tolerance practised by Malaysian forefathers being tossed aside for the sake of modernity. Kids deprived of old values, becoming individualistic, parents becoming materialistic, every races becoming ethnocentric …. hell, its a wonder Malaysia didn’t become the hell-hole that was Bosnia-Herzegovina racial conflicts. Sure its a powder keg, but Malaysians are sensible enough not to fall under ethnic conflicts. For me, I don’t consider West Malaysia as my home, too many contradictions abounds. Although there are a few states like Kelantan, Terengganu (East Coast) & Kedah plus Penang (Northern part) where I myself will one day considers as ideal place to settle down …. but my heart tells me otherwise, to look beyond the Peninsular … to that of East Malaysia.

    In East Malaysia, the only resentments one will found that of perceived West Malaysians brown nosing the East Malaysian affairs. But that’s it. This is where 1Malaysia is being practised day in & day out. Living there for a decade, experiencing the local culture enrich my views. No wonder West Malaysians are so stuck up B@$T@RD$ that cannot see beyond their own skin colors! In KL, Malays stuck with Malays, Chinese with Chinese, Indians with Indians. In Sarawak, in a Chinese restaurant – there will be a Malay vendor specialising in halal food for Muslim customers, the Chinese towkay handle the beverage & non-halal servings. In one table, Sarawakian Malays, Chinese, Dayaks (Iban / Bidayuh / Org Ulus) mingled around & there the cultural divide disappears. They aired their usual complaints & grievances towards Sarawakian ministers, the Malaysian Government or the political brouhahas of the West Malaysian politics. But still, what a different picture that makes to a West Malaysian like me. Even my dad decides to live there for the rest of his live, married a Sarawakian after my mother’s death. Even my younger brother married an Iban girl. Me, OTOH, being seriously considering to relocate myself to spent my old age in East Malaysia.

    Dave, do not write off Malaysia just yet. Sure, while West Malaysia seems to caught up with its underbelly, well, you know what I know. But East Malaysia is where the gems really lies. Sure, it even does have warts, every place has one, but the darker forces that plagued West Malaysia is being kept at bay. Just experienced Sarawak (not that I won’t recommend Sabah, its a different kettle altogether with issues rival that of Peninsular Malaysia), as Sarawak IS A LIVING TESTIMONY of 1 Malaysia. Sarawak itself is a humongous state, each with different quirks of its own.

    Hope one day you will find your home, Dave.

    Cheers.

    For all our warts & all, we’re still the most stabilised country in South East Asia.

  3. RHendriks says:

    Dear Dave,

    You have indeed opened a can of worms. I’m a Malaysian, bonafied born and raised, 4th generation Indian. Malaysia is in my blood. It’s my country, my people, my nation regardless of race/religion. I respect my King and my constitution but I have no respect for the corrupted present govt. I want to tell you abt ppl like Mazalina up here who has made a comment abt Chinese Malaysians trying to bring in more Chinese to Malaysia and Indian Malaysians trying to bring in more Indians to Malaysia is a COMPLETE BULLCR**!

    Either she/he is a ruling party cyber-trooper over here peddling her propaganda or she is really an ignorant person! There is no such thing as non-Malay ethnic races in Malaysia trying to bring in more of our races, I don’t even have any relatives in India!!! So I wouldn’t know what she is on about. The only thing which is happening now which is completely true is the ruling government giving out free Malaysian Identity Cards to illegal Indonesian/Bangladeshi/Philippino immigrants to get more votes on their site! Malaysia is practicing apartheid, there’s no 2 way abt it. The provisions put in our constitution 50 years ago for positive discrimination for ethnic Malay was to last only 15 years, which they are still abusing till today. Do you know there used to 12% Indian Malaysian in Malaysia 20-25 years ago and now there are only 8% left to date? Does this look like the Indian population is going up or down if Mazlina is to be believed?? That’s because the educated ones have migrated and the poor ones are getting killed by Malaysian police everyday. I seriously fear for my family everyday I kid you not.

    Malaysia has a failed police system which are in cahoots with the ruling govt, has a failed judiciary system and a failed democracy system. Basically the present government is a terrorising govt. They have just passed a Peaceful Assembly Bill which gives the police the right to shoot to kill citizens if they all get together in the same place in a group without a notice to police 10 days before. That’s in your face democracy Malaysia-style.

    Anyways, I don’t know if you’ve been following Malaysia news but there is a huge backlash going on for the ruling government for all their corruptions and indiscretions. Most of us dissidents are on the internet shouting for our rights and freedom using Facebook, blogs and whatever means. It is not Indians or Chinese against Malays but Malays against Malays. There are many ethnic Malays who are so angry that the ruling “elite” Malays have eaten all their money and land. Everyday there are news abt how political bigwigs have squandered billions in loans, grants, contracts etc etc and one of the biggest culprit is sitting as a chief minister in Sabah while my Sabahan brothers are living in squalor.

    It’s true if you’re not a Malaysian, if you haven’t lived in apartheid you wouldn’t understand what it feels like. 3 million and counting of our biggest brains have already left the country thanks to apartheid and more will follow. 1Malaysia is not just a farce but a complete lie and as we say in Malay “wayang kulit”-puppet show. Oi Mazalina, saya tau cakap Bahasa lagi baik dari engkau ok-”I can speak better Malay than you!” as I speak it home. Most Chinese/Indians speak Malay because we all go to national school so that was also a lie.

    Malaysia is simmering underneath the facade and it will explode soon hopefully in the next general elections OR there will be blood! Frankly, I’m telling my foreign friends to stay away right now. It really is not safe for anyone there because the police are doing whatever they want. Malaysians and foreigners have been shot and killed for no reason and there has not been any inquiries relating to these incidences. That’s Malaysia Truly Asia for you.

    I know I sound anti-establishments but its because people like me, who are quite a lot of us, want change. I’m a mother of 1, 37 years old, journalism graduate from NZ and I’m not an abnormal Malaysian opposition weirdo, I’m your average Malaysian and I’m one of those ppl advocating change to my fellow Malaysians. Btw, there was no July race riots in Malaysia. Please check your facts. From now on, there will be no race riots. There was a peaceful demonstrations of people of all races in Malaysia asking the electoral commission to reform, where the police came with their tear gas&water canons and 1 guy ended up dead. The police charged these “rioters” who were also women & kids. If there are “race riots” in Malaysia from now on, will be the one perpetrated by the ruling govt to shoot & kill people who want change indiscriminately. It’s all a political agenda.

    • Hello there,

      Thank you for your in-depth comment. You certainly have an insight into life in Malaysia more than I ever will.

      It’s interesting to note that you’ve seen a decrease in Indian’s wanting to settle there. In Sabah, there seem to be very few Indians at all. I wonder if that is to do with the location, with less Indians originally settling in that region, or something else.

      I’d love to see a 1Malaysia. In fact, I’d like to see a 1World, but I think we are a long, long way off. We seem to be going in the opposite direction at the moment. Less immigration allowed, more obstacles, more money needed etc. I’m not sure what the ultimate answer is, other than what’s happening today, is surely not working.

      And by not working, I don’t just been Malaysia, but also in many other parts of the world too. We seem to be caught in a pivotal time both politically and socially. Power seems to be, as always, at the heart of it.

  4. RHendriks says:

    Sorry when I said “they” are abusing the provision for positive discrimination I didn’t mean Malays in general but the ruling party which consists of these “elite” Malays. Most other Malays who are not in this elitist circle as as much abused by them as we non-Malays. For example, please check on wiki for FELDA, this was a scheme set-up to help the Malays to acquire, work and settle their own agricultural lands but it has been failure and now they are suing the present govt for eating all the money in the FELDA pot. If you want real Malaysia news, read FreeMalaysiaToday, Malaysia Today, and all the so called “opposition” blogs…I hope you also know the Sabahans & Sarawakians have started their own call to freedom…

    • Yes, I’ve read about Sarawak and Sabah wanting to break away from Peninsular Malaysia’s political rule. Some of the arguments seem quite genuine too. And, from an outsiders point of view looking in, there really seems to be a huge difference socially between all three states.

  5. Dave,

    you’ve certainly touched a nerve here. A lot of Malaysians from all sides of the issue have personal feelings invested in it. Whether or not you call your conclusion an “observation” and not a “judgement”, others seem to feel a certain condemnation, as if their country doesn’t live up to your standards.

    Some Malaysians will shrug it off as the opinion of an unknowing foreigner, and go about their merry way of treating Malaysians of other races as second-class citizens or unwanted guests. I don’t think they will ever change their thinking because they see no need to.

    Others will put up with the racism because they feel it won’t get better no matter how much they rail against it. They “learn to live with it”. Realistically, what can they do – they’re just struggling to survive and provide for their families. If things change for the better, then good. But if not, then it’s ok as long as it doesn’t get too much worse.

    And others get angry, get active, and press as hard as they are able for change. Sure, they may be written off as crazy troublemakers, but they believe they’re fighting for what’s right and not for what’s convenient.

    I place my hope in this last group. Change for the better can only come through their struggles. Things like the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9 of this year are an example of the status quo being shaken.

    So, don’t write Malaysia completely off just yet! In fact, please do try to make it so Sarawak. Otherwise, you will have missed a gaping hole in the fabric that makes up Malaysia.

    • Hi Nate,

      Yes, my observations touched on something here alright. I guess it comes from looking behind the typical tourist perspective, which I do a lot of on this journey.

      This was also something that saddened me to write, as I didn’t and don’t want things to be like this. But, if you don’t write about these things then you’ll never hear other peoples views, opinions, and indeed be corrected on many issues or statements. It’s all about learning and understanding.

      And, it seems you’ve really hit the nail on the head with some other observations on Malaysians reactions to all this. Each element of what you wrote – shrugging it off as an unknowing foreigner, then going on their merry way continuing to do what’s not right. The “learn to live with it” crowd, which often add “or get out”. And the angry crowd, of whom I think there are several sides. I might add there’s also a thoughtful side here too.

      It’s a unique reaction I’ve not seen in too many other countries. Indeed on July 9th, I even had people telling me, as I was tweeting about it, that it wasn’t happening. So very strange, and wrong. I hope things so very definitely improve.

      I’m not writing Malaysia off, you’ll be glad to know. In fact, I really like Sabah, and find it so different culturally and socially to west Malaysia. So yes, Sarawak is most certainly on the cards. I’ve visited briefly, but will do so more thoroughly in the future. At the moment, hence I’m leaving and coming back so I can take more time there.

      • I forgot to mention about those Malaysians who, recognizing the injustices but also their inability to do anything about it, decide to leave their homeland for other shores. They could be called traitors by the haters, opportunists by the survivors, or allies by the fighters.

        As far as what happened on 9 July (I was not there), I believe for the most part it was peaceful but there were a couple of hotspots that the media (foreign, domestic and citizen) really wanted to play up for their own purposes. Several things resulted from it, including a newfound camaraderie between the different races, all agitating for change. On the flip side, however, we just had Parliament pass the onerous “Peaceful Assembly Bill” which, though highly unpopular, was ramrodded through without amendments. So, the struggle continues.

        As for those of us who live in Sarawak, however, we much prefer the peaceful coexistence of the races here compared to the turbulence of West Malaysia. We don’t like being used to prop up the ruling party. But I don’t think anyone here has the stomach to actually try and secede from the Federation.

  6. Tyas says:

    A nice insight, but

    ‘A vast and rich cultural background makes Malaysia the most ethnically diverse country in Asia.’

    Have you seen Indonesia?

  7. Paula says:

    Thanks for your article. It is probably one of the most interesting and informative I have found and felt engaged enough to fully read.

    In saying that, I just wanted to share one thought. I am Australian and I would like to immigrate to live in another culture.

    I have previously spent time in the Phillipines and Thailand, but not Malaysia as yet, but very interested to do so.

    But what I wanted to say was as I read your post much of it resonated as very similar to the under-lying culture here in Australia.

    Though the average tourist might see gorgeous white beaches and endless sunny days, Australia is experiencing greater and greater cultural divides, along with the building tensions and sometimes outright hatred towards other cultures as you mentioned in your post.

    The longer you spend here, the more you will see it, feel it.

    Certainly I don’t think most people world-wide would consider Australia to have culture issues – but they are wide spread here and growing everyday as more and more cultures immigrate and form disconnected communities based on their own value and cultural systems.

    I really had the feeling I was reading about Australia reading your post :) It was very informative and interesting, thanks again.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment Paula. A couple of things strike me on this little blue planet these days surrounding this topic and some of the points you brought up.

      The world is being joined together by social media. Anyone in the world can talk live to anyone anywhere. We share our culture and have more access to information about each other than ever. Yet when we look at many of our countries it seems like we want to distance ourselves from others as much as possible. Perhaps we feel threatened? Or perhaps we have become too social and forgotten about our individuality? I guess that might just be the next big question.

      You also hit upon a very valid point about the longer you stay in a place the more you see these problems. There’s one crux there, and I’m not sure if you’d agree, but I think this is dependent on the person’s life too. I’ve met expats, overseas workers and diplomats who don’t see these things. Some do, the majority don’t seem too. Likewise with one or two year temporary workers like TEFL teachers. And again there will be exceptions.

      However, for the most part it seems like the people who see these issues are those seeking out real genuine new homes. Or who have moved indefinitely to a new country. Or as like you, have the open mind to see issues around them :)

      Maybe for many the rose tinted glasses or a new country really stay on until it’s time to go to sleep in a new home before waking up to a morning of reality.

  8. Anon says:

    I have to say that I would very much prefer to be known as a ‘Malaysian’ rather than as a ‘Malay’ too. Second choice, Malaysian Chinese.
    (hahaha imagining the thoughts of Dave to be ‘not another one!! give it up already!’ ;)

    ‘Malay’ really doesn’t work as an abbreviation, since there is another word ‘Malay’ that used to refer to the ethnic group. I think why so many people brought it up (like me) again and again is because there is a fundamental difference in you are trying to convey ‘Malaysian’ vs ‘Malay’. It just doesn’t do very much for initial impression of credibility of the article. Though I am by no means casting any doubts on your article/opinion’s credibility. I have no issue with your post, as it is after all, your opinion. An opinion is just that.. an opinion. Everyone will have one. So, there’s no way I think I can fault one.

    As for the other ‘more important issues’.. well.. it’s a part of life. We’re working on it! :)
    Perhaps that is also another reason why not many, as you say, seek to address that ‘more important’ part of your post.

    As a Malaysian, I do admit that we do talk/whine/bItch about and make fun of the different races, cultures, families, people with different personalities, characters, actors, politicians, etc.. but in all seriousness.. i dont think many of us are actually serious when we talk like that. Most of the time, its like telling those jokes about different nationalities going into a bar.. ;) At other times, when the talk gets more serious…. I think the root cause is in the structure of the political parties and them trying to get more votes in whatever way they can (like through building an identity with people of their race).. and in many cases, to get more power to get more bribes.. SAD! So what I’m trying to say is.. I hope for change (for the better) in the next elections! :)

    In the end, I do get along and hang out with ‘different’ people.. and many of the ‘different’ people that I know also accept me for who I am. Personally, from where I come from and with the Malaysians I mix with, I find Malaysians a rather chill bunch.. We love our ‘teh-o-ais-limaus’ and mamak times and just generally love hanging out with one another and bItching/laughing about life ;)

    Yours sincerely,
    One of the Malaysians
    To be precise, from Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, ranked by the proportions of my life lived in those states. Not a Sabahan (haha sorry Sabahans.. saw one of the posts about it and couldn’t resist a jibe. I have Sabahan friends and seriously.. I have never seen them insist to be called a Sabahan other than in a jest ;)

    P.S. Love your pictures!!!

  9. Anon says:

    Apologies for missing out some words in my previous comment. Am rushing to do other stuff! :)

  10. lee says:

    malaysia is a blessed nation by the faith the people have over their believes in god, but there are many politician took advantage especially the so call umno,mic and mca leaders the bulk of the fund went to the leaders of each race, the malays,indians and chinese, malaysia was taken for a ride by one leader in particular mathadir muhammed in his 22yrs in power he has done good and grave damage to the people by dividing and rule policy, he fed himself and malay people and made them lazy,seriously by profession he was an doctor,by faith he was a muslim and by race he was an indian know as indian muslim there are alots of people like him in power who take advantage of the weakness of the malaysian society, simply because of suppression it was him mathadir who destroyed the harmoney of the malaysian in fact till today he never encouraged 1 malaysia because he believe 1 malaysia bring the three race together and he will be in trouble, because he is neither an malay nor indian

  11. moll says:

    i just wanted to know can you email me as i wanted to ask you a few questions about living over there ,thank you

  12. Imran says:

    Hi, i m a doctor and i have got a offer from one hospital in kaula lumpur for job with good salary. I am Indian muslim. Will it be safe to settle there in malasia for me?

    • I met quite a few Indians and Muslims living in KL and around Malaysia. Never saw any extreme nor dangerous problems other than what makes the international news.

    • Ruzaini says:

      Hi Imran,
      Nothing to worry, here don’t have any war, only have the issue with politic.Some political will used the sensitive issues that can me people angry such as religion, ethics, salary and land.
      We argue who will lead the Malaysia, either Malay or Chinese. What happen to Indian? Sorry, I cannot explain about that.
      Just imagined, if your colleagues got higher salary than you, what your feel? Jealous? Or happy? It happen to Malay and Chinese ethics. what your feel when other child got more attention than yours? Happy or sad?

      The government try to solve this issues, but it is easy work if political itself is corrupted?

  13. Edwin says:

    Hi there , i am a malaysian and it was very interesting to see this post from the heart. I don’t know which is more interesting … your post or the comments that came after it.

    My two cents worth … all the turbelance is also the beauty of Malaysia. To the ones who wish to leave … i dun think it’s that easy … else dave wont be still finding a home. To the once still trying … give it time … like dave said we have a long way to go as a human race. …

    I wan to put another class of citizen of malaysia which is the ” mix-maritial decendends ” … i truly love them … problem is there are always tendency to fall back to one side like the peranakan and i guess they are paying for it as its a dying culture. I always told people my teory of world peace … Marry each other untill it become a big jumble mess then you cant hate each other …

    Imagine your uncle, aunt, son-in law, daughther-in-law, father, mother, grandparents all came from a different race/etnic and let me emphasise this ” still alive ” it would be very hard to hate another race because its family. Still i know its near-impossible … but just a wish

    I wish you all the best dave in finding your home …
    Let us know when you have found paradise :)

  14. Scandinavian couple says:

    Hi. I am from scandinavia, and I have been offered a manager job in selangor with a good salary, and the oppertunity to rent a Nice home for my family which consist of wife and twin daughters at the age of 2.5 years.
    the Company will help in any Way possible with getting settled and getting the kids in school, finding a home etc. In the beginning my wife will be ” a house wife” taking Care of the house and kids.
    My question to you and the readers is whether it is possible, with an open mind as we have, to get settled in Malaysia and feel welcomed.
    I am not trying to take any job from the local People but have an oppertunity now to see a new World so to speak, and earn money.
    Will malaysians welcome my wife and make the kids feel safe and Secure, although they are foreigners…? Can she work in Malaysia without being looked at wrong?
    I might sound a bit cautious but it is a Big step for our little family and I want to use all the oppertunities I have to learn about pro’s and con’s when taking such a chance.

    I have visited the Company 2 times in malaysia now and i am sure that it will work out in the business perspective. My only concern is the well being of my family in the sense if they will thrive in that perticular country.

    I hope to hear some views from you guys out there.

    Thanks
    Scandinavian couple

    • Hi Scandinavian couple,

      Firstly congratulations on your job offer, and secondly well done for putting so much thought into your families big move.

      There are many aspects to moving a family to Malaysia from Scandinavia. While I would certainly encourage both you and your family to embrace, respect and join in with your new cultural surroundings I would also encourage you to seek out other Scandinavians living in Selangor.

      It’s great to integrate with local society but one should also stay in touch with ones own. I found that after a year of living overseas one starts to really grave a conversation with someone from your own cultural background. That’s not to say you can’t have a conversation with locals, but there are many aspects to a conversation and friendship with someone from back home also living in a new land. I wouldn’t go too deep though and become immersed in the “expat” lifestyle though. That can be equally isolating. It’s difficult but keeping an equal balance of an expat social circle and new local friends social circle is a good way to go about things. Likewise starting up new hobbies or reviving old ones is a good way to keep busy and active.

      There will be set backs along the way. And many positives. Children usual adjust surprisingly well while adults more stuck in their ways struggle. It helps to know you get let off steam every now and then rather than let things build up.

      It’s a big step alright, but many people have done it before you. Malaysia is culturally diverse, but it does have underlying cultural issues. Nothing that should in anyway put you off you move though!

      There’s a new forum here, if you or anyone else would like to continue this “Live or moving to Malaysia” discussion feel free to discuss it here http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/travel-forum.html

  15. Jessie Marie says:

    Hey there,
    I really liked your post. I came to KL via backpacking and ended up living and working here for three years. I know the reasons to love Malaysia, but it has gotten considerably worse over the years. I’m moving to another country in two weeks, and I’m sooo excited.

    Crime is skyrocketing, tension is thick, and immigration has become horrible to foreigners. Myself, I’m American, but my husband is Iranian. He studied here and I can’t believed he finished. Malaysia will suck out all the money you have, treat you like shit, and throw you out.

    Yes, I have wonderful friends here, the food is amazing, people places, but it’s just too much to be here. I hope Malaysia goes under a transformation, it’ll be better then.

    • Dorian says:

      Your always going to be seen as a foreigner , there is no way around that but this does not mean you can’t live there in hormony with the population. Good advice would be to stay away from politics and religion and any anti government rhetoric. Freedom of speach is limited here and you need to be careful what you say. Other then that you should be fine.

  16. Raymond says:

    Indeed Malaysia does seem nice from a tourists point of view but visiting from a real democracy it is obvious that there is no democracy at work here, just the appearance of one. The BN government should have been tossed out long ago because of mismanagement of the country’s resources and fuelling racism to separate the population while plundering the country’s wealth, add to that the patronage shown to the majority religion to maintain their position in power by fully funding their places of worship handing out free money to that particular segment of Malaysia while giving nothing to all others not of that faith then passing ridiculous laws to oppress anyone who is not an aboriginal and treating them like foreigners but having no problem taxing them heavily to support the loafers including this parasitic governing body.
    Without change in government the oil and gas reserves will soon be depleted then Malaysia returns to a third world banana republic as this government is looting Malaysias future.