I made my move to Kuala Lumpur for a two-year international assignment in 2003 and stayed for 11 years. For me, that just about says it all!
The best things about living there are the amazing people and the bagatelle of cultures and colours; and an extra bonus, is that most people speak English.
As a linguistically challenged Brit abroad it’s a dream – and there are many Multi-National Corporations whose main business language is English too.
I remember it was a big step for me to leave England, where I worked for a big bank, but I’ll never regret it because my move to Kuala Lumpur pretty soon became ‘home’ for me.
Perhaps the things that take most getting used to are the pace of life and the craziest driving you have ever seen. Nobody ever uses indicators! My advice when driving is be sure to have your wits about you, wear your seatbelt, use your mirror and anticipate the moves of other drivers. Expect the unexpected and you will be OK.
Time takes on a different meaning in Malaysia too – five minutes can be anything from 30 minutes to four hours – but it is very rarely 300 seconds.
But I’d rather concentrate on the good things about life my move to Kuala Lumpur. For a start, Malaysia’s food is amazing – in fact eating is a national pastime. Whether it’s spicy Malay, flavoursome Indian or tempting Chinese local food, there is something for every palate and every wallet. There is even a pub catering to British fish & chips, Spanish tapas bars and fine dining Italian restaurants!
There is always something to celebrate, too – like Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya, or a wedding. Somebody is always getting married in Malaysia!
This is where you will have opportunity for expats to mix with local friends and families, and my advice is to embrace it all. Open House is a common custom, and over the years I got used to being invited to random people’s homes, weddings, celebrations – everyone is always welcome. Malaysian hospitality is best experienced in someone’s home – just remember to leave your shoes at the front door.
Keeping an open mind and making local friends is the key to enjoying Malaysia. But there are also plenty of expat networks, many western bars and clubs and plenty of five-star international hotels.
And last but not least, there is shopping – lots of if. It is probably the country’s second national pastime after eating!
Give a move to Kuala Lumpur a try. You’ll love it.
Where to eat
My absolute favourite, and regularly appearing in the Top 10 Eating Out section in “Time Out KL” magazine is Soo Ke Mee, located on a street corner off Jalan Imbi. It’s a traditional old Chinese family restaurant, which has been in the owner Jess’s family for almost 80 years. She is quite a character and loves socialising with locals & expats alike. Don’t allow yourself to be put off by the décor, the food is cooked in full visibility of the public, and is in itself a delight to watch, and tastes great.
What to do
A must do in my view is to learn to Scuba dive! There is a myriad of amazing islands and dive sites all within a one-hour flight or a three-hour drive followed by boat ride from Kuala Lumpur. My only regret is I didn’t do it soon enough, but I made up for lost time. You will experience some of the most amazing reefs and marine life, turtles, sharks, corals.
Best places to take a visitor
The popular sites are the Petronas Twin Towers and the Hindu sites at Batu Caves – although be prepared for the climb and the cheeky monkeys when you get there! Further afield many visit the islands of Penang and Langkawi.
If you would like to discover more about a move to Kuala Lumpur click here to read our settling in tips.