Frequently asked questions about Malaysia
Potential expats will no doubt have many questions about moving to Malaysia. From finding employment to minimum salaries and travel requirements to language barriers, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Malaysia.
What is the minimum I should expect to earn as a professional working in Malaysia?
As a working professional in Malaysia, the bare minimum that you can expect to earn is RM5000 per month. This is a high monthly salary by Malaysian standards, but most expat professionals should earn more than this amount. Earning more than RM5000 also enables you to apply for an Employment Pass, which is a more favourable work permit category.
Do I need a passport to travel to the Sabah and Sarawak (Borneo) part of Malaysia?
Yes, all foreign nationals need a passport to travel between Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia. Malaysian citizens are required to present their ID Cards when travelling between the two different parts of Malaysia, and as expats do not get issued with a Malaysian ID, they are required to present their passport on entry and departure.
Is Kuala Lumpur the only place that I would be able to find employment?
Companies located in both Kuala Lumpur and the greater Kuala Lumpur area, otherwise known as the Klang Valley, employ many expats. There is also a significant expat community in Johor Bahru just north of Singapore. Many foreigners choose to retire in Malaysia, which means that some areas, such as Malaka and Pulau Pinang, have a fair amount of expats, as does Ipor.
What Languages are spoken?
Malaysia is a mix of a number of ethnicities. The majority of the population is Malay and speak Bahasa Malaysia. As part of Malaysia’s colonial heritage English is also widely spoken, and is the official language in the business world. There are significant Chinese and Indian populations who use a number of Chinese dialects and Tamil. East Malaysia, consisting of Sarawak and Sabah, has a number of native tribes, and the two most common indigenous languages in this Borneo region are Iban and Dusunic.
Is it easy to hire domestic help in Malaysia?
It is both easy and cheap to hire a domestic worker in Malaysia. The government regulates salaries of domestic workers based on their nationalities. Indonesian maids earn approximately RM350 per month, while Filipino maids must be paid RM700 per month. There are various laws about opening joint bank accounts in order to pay your domestic worker, as some nationalities are prohibited from carrying cash during their initial few years in Malaysia. Due to all the laws and potential red tape, most expats choose to hire a domestic worker through an agency.