I landed here for six months, six years ago... A French Expat's Experience in Malaysia

French expat Jacques' motto "Seize the day" may have been instrumental in his decision to move from Europe to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, where he has been living for more than six years now. What does he think about the culture, the people, the cost of living in Malaysia? Read on to find out.


-Where were you born?


-In which country and city are you living now?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

-Are you living alone or with your family?

With my family

-How long have you been living in Malaysia?

More than six years now

-What is your age?


-When did you come up with the idea of living in Malaysia?

At the end of my business studies, I decided to take a few months to explore Asia and work in the region. After considering the usual top of minds for a French (Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand) I decided to go for Malaysia because it is a little more rustic than Singapore yet people speak good English. The multi-cultural specificity of the country also intrigued me. After six happy months, I decided to extend my stay a wee bit longer. It's been more than six years now.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?

It can be a lengthy and complicated process. If you are working, it is the responsibility of the employer to apply for the visa. You should never pay for the visa yourself. If you are planning to retire here under the Malaysia My Second Home program, then you should read as much as you can about it online before processing your application.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

Nope. Local and international insurances are easy to come by.

-How do you make your living in Malaysia? Do you have any type of income generated?

I'm a web entrepreneur working on a few projects of my own. Getting a job in Malaysia is all about who you know rather that what you know. So if you don't land here with a job waiting for you, go out and network!

-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.

Boleh Cakap sikit sikit. If you plan on living in KL, Penang or any other main city, learning the local language is not really necessary. Almost everyone speaks decent English.

It is very important that you respect local customs. Malaysia is a melting pot of culture, and it's a privilege to discover and experience them in one place. If you respect their cultures, locals will be very happy to welcome you and introduce them to you.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?

Of course I do! I make sure to go back to France every year for Xmas to see the family and indulge my tummy with delicious French meals. Leaving family and friends behind is the toughest part of becoming an expat. It is especially difficult when there is a birth or a wedding back home.

Still, we're lucky to live in such an inter-connected era. Emails, Facebook, Skype really do help with keeping in touch. But be prepared to be the one initiating contact most of the time. You only realize how precious those social interactions are when you can only rely on social tools to know the latest goss and happening in your family.

-Do you have other plans for the future?

Carpe Diem.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

We've bought. As expats, you can only buy properties that are tagged RM500K plus.

-What is the cost of living in Malaysia?

It all boils down to your lifestyle. If you plan on living and eating European most of the time, then it's going to be expensive. If you are ready to experience local fares and adapt to the Malaysian lifestyle, then life is cheap. The infamous Big Mac Index from The Economist shows how cheap life here can be. Two notable exceptions to this rule are cars and alcohol. Malaysia is the second most expensive place to buy or own a car in the world - after Singapore. It also is a Muslim country, so prices of haram products are heavily taxed.

-What do you think about the locals?

Very warm and welcoming. Being a Westerner in Malaysia is easy. You are well treated wherever you go.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Malaysia?

Positives: The people, awesome food, great quality of life, stunning beaches

Negatives: corruption, growing racial tension

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Malaysia?

  • Mingle with the locals and experience new things.
  • Do not try to re-create here what you enjoyed back home.
  • Take a few weeks to visit Malaysia before confirming your move.
  • Try as many different dishes as possible. Malaysian's culinary prowesses are endless.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Malaysia?

Hi Jacques. I'd like to

paulhbs67's picture

Hi Jacques. I'd like to correspondence with You about Your living in Malaysia. I'm very interesting to relocate there (I mean Living and working). Will be very grateful for contact me a.s.a.p.