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Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia
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Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 7 years, 7 months ago #213

  • Wasim
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I wrote this article for my community in Dubai, so please excuse the references. I hope you benefit from the content.

Globe trotting...

I have been asked to write about my relocation to Malaysia. Alhamdullilah, it has been a fantastic experience and one that I would like to elaborate upon so others might contemplate.

Having lived in Dubai for over 4 years, we have witnessed the good times and the not so good times in a city that has literally grown around us and we have grown to love. I personally established life-long friendships with devout and talented brothers from different parts of the world who I will never forget. I received guidance, knowledge and affection from the most informed and articulate brothers. Our family experience in Dubai was also very rich with friends near and far with young families just like ours. Gatherings were frequent and relationships developed between the children and the wives, Mashallah. So choosing to leave it all behind was quite daunting.

As many of you know, my situation in 2008 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It was a year of high expectations, great challenges and also some great disappointments. In short, and that is an understatement, Allah was merciful to us and after a prolonged period of existing reactively and feeling somewhat restricted, a change in circumstances granted us a great deal of autonomy. Basically, we got wings.

I had visited Malaysia previously on business trips and was confident that the family would like it as it is a rich environment in a new and exciting part of the Muslim world. So I began my investigation into the feasibility of a move here. I found out about the My Malaysia 2nd Home program, applied and qualified(more on this later). My wife has been truly supportive and optimistic and a real motivation in what some would consider a bold move. Her support is critical and not to be understated. In part, I believe that the community has begun to thrive as a result of people with such positive attitudes.

The main objective for our move to Malaysia was to take some time out and explore a new part of the world while making time for our young children and remaining in the Muslim world. Alhamdullilah this is proving fruitful. The kids are loving it and we are feeling the benefits of our free time. Although we have not pursued any formal education which is abundant here, the rate of learning has been significant strictly due to the crowd around us. The community aspect requires some attention but there is good potential. There are plenty of foreigners here, although scattered around the city. The locals are very hospitable, and often I feel positive discrimination, favouritism towards recognizably Muslim people. This is a refreshing change from the West and the Western dominated ME business sector. No superiority complex here my friends...

We have found a reliable and trustworthy scholar and through him a circle of likeminded people with whom we meet weekly and are becoming endeared to. Sheik Hussain Yee is Chinese in origin and accepted Islam in the 70s. Soon after he studied in Medina University and spent time with some great scholars of our time. He provides a great deal of content to Peace TV in English and it airs around the world. We try to spend as much time as possible with him, as it benefits us individually and as a community. The Sheik has also established a Hifz school and an orphanage here in Malaysia and often travels far and wide to serve the community. His establishment is called Al-Khaadem (literally translates to serving mankind) which is based out of his personal residence. He has built an office and a Musallah there, fit for 120 people, regularly used as a lecture theatre. Mashallah, he insists upon the Sunnah and implements it in Al Khaadem and whichever part of the community he touches. I happened to tell my father in the UK about him and he was surprised, as the Sheik is well known there, due to Peace TV.

I’ve taken a few responsibilities to manage a blog site and upload content for distribution to our brothers and sisters. Inshallah I intend to extend this to managing databases, maybe a website or email list, arranging courses, providing interviews and possibly participating in the production of new documentaries (in conjunction with AIM Media). Inshallah, I can cut and paste much of what we have created in Dubai to the community here. I found our DXB-Bros community to be a precious resource and worthy of duplication and maybe even connection in future. Of course a MMBN event is on the horizon; maybe some of you will be invited...

Many new brothers are emerging from the UK, us and even immigrants from UAE. I now know 4 families from our very own Sharjah (guess the traffic finally got to them!). Some are businessmen, some investors, students and just plain employees. The region is thriving and hence, so are business opportunities for the entrepreneur. The Far East is earmarked to be amongst the first to recover from the financial crisis.

Since arriving here in April of this year, we have found that it is very economical to live here especially when compared to Dubai, and no compromise is required in the quality of living. Shopping is abundant with quality malls at least as good as Dubai but about 25% cheaper. The key difference is that you can slum-it if you like. There are loads of neighbourhood shops and little shopping centres scattered everywhere. Rent is in a completely different bracket altogether. A reasonable 3 bed house outside of KL costs between 1000 and 1500 MYR which is the same as AED. About £300 per month. I have noticed that older properties are not so well maintained and do deteriorate due to the tropical weather, but there is plenty of new stock on the market. To stay within KL is more costly as with any city, but still, 10,000 MYR a month would get you a mansion and prices are under pressure with the slowdown.

Other expenses such as utilities and transportation are reasonable due to the limited local spending potential. Facilities are fantastic, one can busy themselves visiting the rich variety of must see locations and attractions. There is plenty to do with the kids either in the city or a day trip away. We have yet to explore so much of this beautiful country such as the many East coast islands that are renowned for their pristine beaches. Having been to Langkawi, I can tell you, the place is alluring. Had it not been for the children’s education, I would have settled there, bought a boat and lived my own ending to Shawshank Redemption, awaiting visits from some of you.

The climate is tropical and the greenery is lush; what a contrast to the desert and ocean in Dubai which, many of you know, I love dearly. There are more bugs here than most places but this is not a major put off as none of them really want to eat you, other than the mosquitoes. The people are friendly and helpful and seem to be competent, even in government institutions. The technology sector is up to date and prices are good. You have a good variety of food available, mostly Halal, with Non-Halal stuff clearly marked and the prices are nominal. So cheap that it is often more economical to eat out rather than cook at home.

Petrol is priced similarly to Dubai, which is around 6 AED/MYR for a US Gallon or about 30p per litre. The driving conditions are very relaxed and traffic is reasonable most of the day (outside rush hour), even in the city. Keep in mind that cars are costly here due to a very heavy tax burden (150% to 170% just tax). An average BMW 5 Series will set you back around 400K MYR new. Almost every one offers Islamic finance and rates are cheap currently. Importing your own car, tax free, is an incentive on the MM2H program.

There is a wide variety of schools to choose from, the key reason to stay in the city. As with any other place in the world where English is the second language, the best ones are secular and expensive, while the Islamic ones are generally perceived to be lower cost and lower performance. The school calendar here is from Jan to October, with a long break in the winter at local schools and the regular September to June for international schools.

I have little to report with regards to employment as I’m not actively seeking any, however it is obvious that salaries are a lot lower here as one is competing with the Chinese and local candidates, who in comparison to Dubai are quite competent. Expat jobs are less in quantity as per my observation especially in recent times. I recommend setting up investments or businesses internationally, as you don’t need much to survive here.

The cons are that there are a lot of Chinese here who seem to dominate the highest economic ranks in society leaving the Malay displeased. They maintain a unique and separatist culture, while being perfectly able to communicate well with you in English or Malay. There seems to be far less Masjids around, especially compared to old Dubai. There are however, plenty of prayers facilities everywhere you go. I have witnessed that the Malay are quite passive and introvert. It is not easy to integrate with them primarily due to the language barrier, however they warm up after you meet them a few times, not dissimilar to the Emiratis’.

Crime is an issue here. I have heard stories of robberies and burglaries taking place in parts of the city that are not within secured parameters. Carjacking and smash and grabs are on the increase; you must never leave items unattended in the car and never get out of the car after a fender bender without assessing the situation first. The crimes are rarely confrontational or aggravated, mostly just opportune. Still, it was a high priority for me to find a home inside a secure compound.

Now, more on MM2H: Malaysia welcomes established or mature foreigners for a tax free 10 year stay on MM2H (www.mm2h.gov.my/). The program requires you to set up a fixed deposit account for the duration of your stay, which the government then allows you to unlock half of, after the first year to purchase a property, pay for the kids schooling or cover medical expenses. You also need to demonstrate a regular income from outside the country. If you do not qualify for the MM2H program, and I have not heard of anyone being rejected, then you can always set up your own company here in the free-zone or even in Langkawi, which is a tax free island. That company can then sponsor you and your family at a nominal annual cost. The set up costs for such an operation are around 4,000 USD including residence permits. I have contacts that can manage the entire process should anyone be interested.

In summary, Malaysia is a rich and interesting country with much to explore in a region that is just as rich and alluring. The people are friendly, hospitable and tend to deliver upon their commitments. The community is blooming and the potential to effect positive change is substantial. Opportunities are rife and the quality of life is at-least as good as Dubai at a much lower cost. Malaysia is already established as a regional hub and brothers that are masters of their craft can certainly find opportunities here, and they should take the time to consider them carefully.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Zakiyyah

Re:Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 7 years, 1 month ago #244

  • Abid Khan
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Salaam U Alaikum,

That was one of the best posts I have read on relocating to Malaysia. Thank you very much it was very informative.

I am currently in the UK and have british nationality and work in IT- Web Development.

I am in position where I want to relocate to Malaysia ideally KL. I have some money to invest in a new business or even buy an existing business, but I cannot find information on how exactly to go about the visa and setting up business process.

I cannot go with MM2H scheme as its out of my scope financially.

You mention setting up a companiy in Langkawi to gain a business visa can you explain this a little further please.

Also I will be visiting Malayisa in June/July maybe we can meet up?


Re:Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 7 years, 1 month ago #247

  • Wasim
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Sure my brother.

send me an email: wasimDOTislamATgmailDOTcom

Re:Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 7 years, 1 month ago #249

  • Asim
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I think the easiest way to get a long-term visa if you want to set up a business is to form a company (which you can own wholly) and get a work permit for yourself for that company. Your family can then get dependent visas based off your work permit.

It\'s all very easy if the company has a genuine business.

Re:Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 3 years, 8 months ago #776

  • Isabelle
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Walaykum assalaam Bilal

In response to your post in the Schools thread please read brother Wasim's detailed post at the beginning of this thread.

I have been living in Malaysia for 8 years and still love living here and feel very much at home. You ask about my reasoning for 'leaving the Westernised life' but many aspects of living here are still very much as they would be in a Western country (for example there are no dress restrictions in KL as you would have in somewhere like Saudi, so even though you see a lot of hijabs you are just as likely to see short skirts in certain areas). The difference with living in the UK is that it is easier to practise Islam when prayer facilities, halal meat, are available everywhere and people are generally respectful of Muslims and our way of life. Just as importantly for me, my kids do not have to grow up feeling apologetic about being Muslims as they would surely feel growing up in the UK.

Some issues to weigh up when considering moving to Malaysia:
- Malaysia is very far from the UK (and even more so the US) and that's often the main reason why people decide to move back as they feel they are too far from their families.
- Schooling can be an issue as mentioned by brother Wasim and as you probably saw from the Islamic Schools thread. Our kids were in a Malay school and benefited from the different cultural/language environment in their early years. Now they are a bit older we decided to homeschool.
- Obviously, employment/business opportunities.
- Crime was also mentioned above and in comparison to Dubai it could be a concern but I feel safer here than I would in the UK where burglaries are also commonplace.

Bilal wrote:
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Aslamu Alaycum Sister

My name is Bilal and i currently live i in the UK i was hoping you could shed some light on how life is in Malaysia. i understand from the forum you have been living in Malaysia for around 5 years.
i just wanted to know how your experience is. i also have children aged 8, 7, and a set of twin girls 5 years old and same mindset to your reasoning for leaving the westernized life,.

i would really appreciate your reply.

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jzakallah khair


Re: Globe trotting - My relocation to Malaysia 2 years, 11 months ago #867

  • Amir
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Salaam, I know this thread was started several years ago but I think the originator's (Wasim) description of Malaysia is very accurate from my many visits. Only thing I want to correct is that the "Tax-free zone" he mentioned should be Labuan in East Malaysia right by Brunei – not the vacation island of Langkawi. Langkawi is a Duty-Free shopping zone, but Labuan is where you go to form a company. It is also not Tax-free, just less taxes and there is a business visa foreigners can apply for that enable them to live in the country provided they meet certain requirements. I could be wrong about it, so if I am please do not hesitate to correct me. JazakAllah Khair.
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