Job opportunity in Malaysia - Should I make a move?

This is going to be a long one, bear with me.

So I have been working in Taiwan for close to 6.5 years now, primarily in IT and most recently with a focus on Product Management. I can speak fluent Mandarin and do admit that I am lucky to be working in a multinational company, where I get 15 days of annual leave, can work from home, flexible work timings and what all. However, some universally Taiwan problems such as horrible middle management, lack of creativity, sluggish work culture, lack of any innovation etc sort of made me look for opportunity elsewhere in the Asia region.

My first preference was Singapore, but because of the high competition and cost of living, it didn’t really click ( COVID 19 didn’t make it any easier as well). What I did get was an opportunity to work as a product manager in a very well known Airlines holding company in Kuala Lumpur. I was initially a bit sceptical about KL, but after speaking with friends and other ex-pats living there, it seems it is not that bad - KL is very diverse, international, cheap, English friendly, welcoming to foreigners and more importantly, closer to where I come originally from.

Anyone here who has worked in KL or perhaps a local Malaysian who has an idea of the working culture and lifestyle there. Also any info on the expected salary or perhaps cost of living comparison between Taipei and KL.


@Andrew0409 is our resident expert on Malaysia.


I was just going to tag him too!

I’ll spoil the surprise and just say he didn’t have a great time in Malaysia (to put it gently), but his experience may not mirror OP’s own. I don’t know how it compares to Taiwan (and I know nothing about working in IT), but I did used to know an ex-pat who enjoyed living/working in Malaysia. He was there for about 15 years and was pretty positive about the experience.

And finally…

… this is mid-sized at best. You haven’t seen the real long ones here… I’m talking giant, impenetrable walls of text that take a full minute to scroll (not read, just scroll) down to the bottom. Usually about dating or girlfriend dramas, of course.


These aren’t exclusive to Taiwan. They are big company issues globally.


If you stuck in a rut why not try Malaysia

KL has more Westerners and Indians and Arabs and mainland Chinese. A lot of mainland Chinese. Cheap enough, lots of bars , restaurants, malls. They are into football and drinking (ethnic Chinese and Indians ) there more. I could easily live there. Friendly people overall. A bit less safe and some places are conservative but you can deal with it. Hot all year , can fly to a lot of places from KL domestic and Intl cheap (in normal times ).

How’s the job security going to work for an airline right now though ?

Yup! All those points are attracting me towards KL. Taipei is safer, cleaner, more organized but lacks diversity, English speaking envt for my wife and is not cheap.

For the job security, I am going to work in a project that is meant to accelerate growth during this COVID period. I guess it should be ok.

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You should be more than ok. Enjoy. I looked at making the move before. It also suits mixed families like ours because they have Chinese schools too. I’ve spoken both English and Chinese according to where I was in Malaysia, which has been fun.

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I’d say go for it if it’s what you want to do and the job looks good. I quite like KL/Malaysia and have thought about living there a few times myself.

Compared to Taipei, I like the 24-hour and multicultural aspects and prefer the food. I’ve also found it marginally cheaper for day-to-day stuff, and it’s good for regional travel. A bit dirty compared to Taipei, but I don’t really mind a bit of grubbiness in a city.

The downsides (for me) would be the constant year-round heat and humidity, the fact that KL isn’t very walkable (massive and not really built for pedestrians, and public transport can take a while too, although taxis are very cheap), and the distance from anything resembling nature/tranquility (there are a couple of nice places in Peninsular Malaysia, like Penang and Langkawi, but they’re not especially close). Malaysia also seems relatively organised and safe to me for the most part. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate too much to move there if some reason to do so came up.


I work in Singapore, and I had the opportunities to go to Malaysia fairly often due to my job and the proximity.
I’d say I have been there probably 30-40 times in the last two years, mainly in Kuala Lumpur, but also in Melaka, Georgetown and Petaling Jaya.

I never worked in Taiwan, but from what I could read online it seems that the working culture is very poor in comparison to other parts of Asia and mainly SEA, and I think that definitely in Kuala Lumpur you can find a better, forward looking, working environments specially for what concerns IT.
Considering your current situation in Taiwan, I am not sure how much difference you can find, but KL can be a stepping stone to more opportunities.

A lot of food and eateries are open 24/7, a lot of night markets/hawkers and street food.
The climate is good, always warm and hot and never going below 26-27C which is how I like.
A lot of nice natural activities and towns are reachable with 2-3 hours by car/train or 1 hour plane.

English is widely used everywhere, they also speak Bahasa and there is an high group of Mandarin speaker as well as Cantonese speakers. I am surprised by how many locals are native speakers in Cantonese but illiterate.

I always thought Taiwanese salaries were similar to Malaysians.
I would love to move to Taiwan from Singapore, so I am biased, but since you have been in Taiwan for so many years, you can probably give it a try.

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This is tough to condense into a simple answer, particularly not knowing too much about your background or what you’re going for. I speak from the perspective of an American-Malaysian of Chinese ancestry who spent most of my summers growing up in Malaysia. Also we live in the US currently but have been plotting a move to Asia for many years now and currently still agonizing over choosing between Malaysia and Taiwan (if you’ve read my posts on here then you’ll realize we are about 90% set on Taiwan). So I’m familiar with the two countries and cities being compared, but I have never lived in either one, fyi

The biggest difference to me is that KL will feel much more Anglo-centric. There will be little issue with day-to-day tasks speaking purely English. You will need some Malay in certain instances, so you’ll end up picking up some necessary skills there, but by and large English will suffice. Also note that the most common Chinese spoken in KL will be Cantonese. If you opt for a Chinese public school for your kids then they will get to keep up their Mandarin some.

As mentioned by others already, the built environment will feel quite different too. KL is sprawling and very auto-centric. The transit system isn’t that bad (remember I’m an American) but it’s certainly not anywhere on Taipei’s level. There are many decently walkable neighborhoods, but overall walkable connectivity is low and doesn’t come close to Taipei and vicinity. Also, the lush, green nature doesn’t compare to what can be found in and around Taipei either. You can find some nice nature 1-2 hours outside the city (depending on traffic). There are some nice suburbs of KL, and these are even more auto-centric and very American in feel.

Weather sucks (imo) year-round in KL. No reprieve from the heat like Taipei gets at least. Think of Taipei summer basically all year round. I like KL’s location for consistently cheap airfares and easy access, although hopefully you’d be getting perks so the low prices won’t matter as much for you.

I think you’d find a greater expat scene in KL, at least as far as Anglos go. Definitely more diversity with Malays and Indians being such large communities along with the Chinese. I think food is better although I love Taiwanese food also, so it’s a marginal difference. Costs are gonna be approx the same as well. I think your money will go a bit farther in KL in terms of real estate (size/quality) but that will probably depend a lot on your exact location. The big x-factor would be whether or not you need to get a car. Can’t speak to your industry necessarily, but local professionals and college grad wages are very low, just like in Taiwan.

Good luck to you! My cousin had been trying to land a job in Singapore for several years to no avail…finally she took an offer in JB since that company also has a Singapore presence. She will hope to eventually make her way across the border.

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One suggestion: JB is a dump.
One of the worse part of Malaysia and South East Asia in general.
Avoid taking recommendations from who moved there: I read the posts from Andrew and the picture he paints is nothing close to anyone else’s Malaysia’s experience, and probably because he ended up in JB.

Plus in his post there is a lot of false informations, specially around the food quality and the English speaking environment.

Read informations about KL, and read forum about KL, and make your decision.

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Just to avoid confusion, I think this is referring to the other Andrew, @Andrew0409, rather than my post above.


Yes Andrew, sorry! Andrew0409. Excuse me :slight_smile:


I’ive also visited many places in Malaysia for work and vacation, I didn’t see it anything as bad as the other Andrew reported either. In fact as a south east Asian country it’s run relatively well and very easy to navigate with English . People are friendly and talkative and open which is a big plus in my book. Diversity is a breath of fresh air as long as people respect each other. They even drive better than Taiwan. :grinning:


You should move, KL sounds more exciting than Taiwan if you’ve lived here a while

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For me the factors to consider were:

  1. Diversity - We come from a very diverse country and wanted a multicultural environment, which will lead to diversity in food/language/religion etc.
  2. Expat friendly - Taiwan is safe, but the ex-pat scene here can not be compared to Malaysia or Singapore.
  3. Work Culture - The company I will be working with is as diverse as Malaysia. My report manager is a Brit guy, his supervisor is a Spaniard and an Indian guy is leading the product. I haven’t seen this kind of diversity at work in Taiwan.
  4. Better value for money - I pay 15000 NTD for a run down place in New Taipei City. The bedroom and the living area are merged into one another and the place is infested with bugs (we called the exterminator last week ). For 15,000 NTD (~2200 MYR), we can get a proper place, which comes with a swimming pool, BBQ and a gym. Same goes for basic stuff such as dairy and veggies (Wife doesn’t eat meat)
  5. I am getting paid close to 15000 MYR, which is similar to what I get paid in Taiwan. I do agree that a move to Singapore would have enabled us to save more, but we can live very well for this money in KL. Further, we are getting our air-tickets covered, insurance for both etc. Not to mention that Malaysia has over 40 national holidays and my company is giving me 22 days of annual leave + 15 days of sick leave. (My first company in Taiwan gave me S.E.V.E.N annual leaves)
  6. Work culture - Unlike Taiwan, the people there do not squeeze you like lemons; in fact what I heard from people living in KL is that Malaysians are generally very laid back, often to the point where everything happens at ease. (this could be pros as well)

What I am sceptical of:

  1. Safety - In Taiwan, I can be drunk as a skunk at 2 in the night, without needing to worry for my safety. Hardly doubt that will be possible in KL.
  2. Infrastructure - I hate the scooters in Taipei, but I am a big fan of the MRT here. I do not need to drive unlike back home, where an hour drive is considered good. Not sure if KL has the same infrastructure.
  3. Corruption
  1. Same in Kuala Lumpur.
    You need to be street smart, and be able to avoid certain areas and certain businesses, such as drugs and prostitutions.
    Try do not be too flashy, and you will have no problems.
    Malaysia is pretty safe, apart from a few areas of KL and of course the whole JB.

  2. KL has an MRT, some buses (not the best) and some trains that connects you frequently to the airport and other part of town.
    Taxi are cheap and plenty.
    Anyway transportation is slightly better in Taipei, traffic management is slightly better in KL.

  3. It won’t affect you.
    There is no corruption when you go to post office, open a bank account, going to school and other stuff. Unless you are an entrepreneur or involved with city council and big enterprises, as an employee of what I guess could be Air Asia, you will have no issues.

How could you guess where I will work… and how could you get that right lol

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I have a strong network in SEA, and I am very familiar with the IT business around the region, since I work in the field as well.
Only an handful of companies right now might be embarking in a project such as the one you have been hired for, and after 5 minutes reading, I could bet 100$ I knew already.

I have a not so close friend who works in the company, and he is very happy about it, he is a Business Analyst.