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Expats & International Student Life in Malaysia

Expats & International Student Life in Malaysia

In this post, we take a closer look at life in Malaysia for expats and international students, giving you a better idea of what you can expect and providing you with local perspectives and highlights.

Good Pace Of Life

Compared to many countries, Malaysia generally has a slower pace of life with people striving for a more balanced lifestyle between work and play. In a good way, you will also see that people tend to take things easy and enjoy a more varied lifestyle on their off-work/school time.

One of the activities Malaysians like to frequent are retail outlets. From shopping malls to strip malls and street markets, you will be spoiled with choices and find easy opportunities for retail therapy.

Within many of these malls are also many hidden gems of activities, like bowling alleys, family-friendly karaoke centres, ice skating rinks, archery, surfing and even rock climbing centres.

Diversity Of Cultures

Being a multi-racial country, you will experience different cultures across different ethnic groups. Be it adults mingling within the local communities or children blending in at schools, you may find the initial connection with Malaysians to be slow to catch on.

Malaysians tend to be a little more reserved, but not in an unfriendly way. They have warm and hospitable culture and, once the ice has been broken, are easy to get along with.

At work and in international schools, the English language is largely spoken and used, so you need not be concerned about any language barrier. Most of the locals tend to be able to speak more than one language, so language should not be a barrier for making friends with locals.

Settling In At International School

Many international schools in Malaysia follow an international syllabus and there are plenty of choices when moving from another country. Some schools offer both local and international curriculum in two separate streams. For the international stream, the typical language for conducting classes is English.

International schools in Malaysia comprise of not only expat students but also many local students. The pool of teachers are also a mix between foreign and local teachers, depending on schools.

In Malaysia, private tutors and tuition centres are widely available, along with many other after school enrichment programmes.

Fun Things To Do

Malaysia has numerous places of interests to offer. From state to state you will find unique experiences and offerings. From vibrant cities to quiet fishing villages to clear, untouched beaches, Malaysia has an endless trail of exploration for those who are adventurous.

For children, there are many activities in and around schools as well as outside of school that are available to keep them occupied. Many families enjoy bonding over day trips to animal or vegetable farms, going on a family road-trip from one state to another, or simply go food-hunting for special local delicacies.

Speaking of food, Malaysia has a huge array of food available at almost any time of day. From street-eats to cafes to restaurants, you will find a wide variety to sample for days on end. Even the food served in school cafes or canteens are no less colourful!

Always Be Prepared, Weather Wise

One of the things about living in Malaysia is that you always need to be prepared — for the weather, that is. For those who come from countries where the climate is very different from the Malaysian climate, it will bode well to quickly acclimatise yourself.

With summer all year round, Malaysia can be a sunny paradise for those who love the sun. Having said that, it can get rather scorching hot, much warmer and more humid compared to those hot summer days experienced in four season countries.

Also, sometimes when it rains in Malaysia, it pours. If you aren’t used to rainy days, well, Malaysia rains rather frequently and often cause flash floods in some cities.


Malaysia is generally a safe country. As with anywhere in the world, there are petty street crimes, so it is wise and makes good sense to always stay alert and avoid rowdy or questionable places and characters.

High Tech Lifestyle

Malaysia is rather well equipped and wired up in terms of its infrastructure. Internet access is a must and most of life’s conveniences are hooked up on the mobile phone apps. Whether it’s to shop online, order food and groceries, have access to world news and happenings, must-have subscriptions to Spotify and Netflix, etc., it’s all within easy reach.

With the current world pandemic situation, Malaysia is managing well with most of its workforce being able to work from home and school to be done online.

Community Support

There are also various expat support groups that can be found in online forums as well as on Facebook groups. To hear from other expats on how they find life in Malaysia and how their children are coping with school and life, you can join these groups and be part of the expat community to widen your circle of friends from across the world living in Malaysia.

You may even find sub-groups of your ethnicity within these expat groups and befriend your fellow countrymates, and exchange notes and tips on how to get the most out of living in Malaysia.

Enjoy Malaysia!

Many expats who have lived in Malaysia have a common piece of advise for those who are about to start their lives here. And that is, to live with an open mind and enjoy all the colours and diversities of life that the Malaysian scene has to offer. It is truly unlike any other countries in the world, and those who have returned to their home countries will always remember fondly the beautiful friendships built and the joy of living in Malaysia.