Frequently Asked Questions about Malaysia

Potential expats will no doubt have many questions about moving to Malaysia. From travel requirements to language barriers and working, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Malaysia.

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 Melaka and Pulau Pinang, have a fair amount of expats, as does Ipoh.

What languages are spoken in Malaysia?

The Malaysian population is a mix of a number of ethnicities. The majority of the population is Malay and speak Bahasa Malaysia. As part of the country'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.

Are there good schools in Malaysia?

Malaysia has an excellent education system and expats will have a wide range of options when it comes to schooling for their children. Due to the language barrier and numerous bureaucratic obstacles, most expats choose to send their children to international schools. There is a good selection of international schools in Malaysia, mostly based in Kuala Lumpur. These cater to various nationalities, with the majority offering the British curriculum, and others following the International Baccalaureate programme.

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