Packing for Malaysia

Your decision on what to take with you will, to some extent, be determined based on the living conditions you have chosen in Malaysia. Is your place going to be fully, semi or non-furnished? What size housing will your budget allow?

Ask yourself: “Is it essential to take all my worldly possessions to Malaysia?” There are few essential items that cannot be purchased in Malaysia so you will not have to take everything. Maybe you are lucky enough to be replacing a previous employee and the house and basics come with the job. If you work in a large organisation there is good chance that someone will be assigned to assist you in your transition to Malaysian life. Such a person will be able to assist with setting up and settling in.

Read more:
Preparing for the culture shock in Malaysia
Pre-move checklist for Malaysia

Therefore, take a few things but leave the big stuff back home. There are some great pieces of local and regional furniture available in Malaysia so this could be your big opportunity to obtain some pieces to take back home. Professional packers will most likely assist you with the move but insurance is always recommended.

What goes 

Your decision on what to take with you will, to some extent, be determined based on the living conditions you have chosen in Malaysia. Is your place going to be fully, semi or non-furnished? What size housing will your budget allow?

The first step is to negotiate the details of your company’s relocation package. Find out what allowances and benefits are included and what is excluded from their proposal. Consider the duration of your shipment and where you will stay during this time. You could air-freight essential basics so you can camp at your new place, or rent a serviced apartment for the first couple of months. Negotiate these factors into your relocation package.

Then, choose your removal company and a real estate agency in Malaysia as soon as possible. Your company may be able to put you in touch with a removalist or real Estate Agency, so check and make the most of your company’s networks. Next, arrange a “look see” visit to Malaysia and begin the house hunt. This is useful to get a sense of the type of accommodation which suits your budget and taste. You’ll be surprised at how cheap nice places can be in Malaysia.

Most unfurnished housing in Malaysia is totally bare, with kitchen cabinets at the most. Light fixtures and air-conditioning may exist in the master bedroom. Most Malaysian homeowners are accommodating and would be prepared to add some little extras that you might require, but this often means an increase in the rental rate. There is also the question of taste, so being specific about your expectations of the furniture and fittings is crucial to avoid having to put up with an eye sore. In this regard, it is safer for you to bring as many personal items as your container/company will allow.

Appliances

Malaysia uses the same voltage and plugs as the British system. If you are coming from somewhere other than the UK, you may need to change the plugs for some of your electrical appliances or buy an adaptor. A transformer may also be necessary. Almost all homes are fitted with standard 3-point sockets to accommodate the standard 3 or 2 point plugs on electrical appliances.

Televisions use the British PAL system so it might be a good time to update to a new multi-system TV. For example, Sony’s latest 34-inch model is less than RM5,000 in Malaysia. Be careful of what video tapes, cassettes and CDs you bring in as censorship is quite strict in Malaysia. Bear in mind that you are coming into a Muslim country, and if in doubt, leave it at home.

The temperature range in Malaysia is between 21° to 32° Celsius in the lowlands, and can be as low as 16° Celsius in the highlands. Be sure to determine which part of the country you’ll be working and staying in. If in the major towns or cities, clothing for very hot weather is recommended – cotton based is best. If there is no space in your container, don’t worry. Shops carrying international sytles, sizes and labels are strewn all over the city so just take your pick.

What stays 

Storage of large items is best done at a purpose-built security facility. A safe deposit box at the bank is the best place for small valuables you won’t use while away. Don’t take anything too precious to Malaysia that could be irreparably damaged by the humidity, such as photo albums, personal archives or artwork. And don’t pack the potted plants – they won’t survive the trip and may give you problems at customs.

There are plenty of beautiful tropical plants for you to seed and raise in Malaysia. Unless you are planning vacations in a cold climate leave most of your winter clothes behind as you will not need them anywhere in Malaysia or the neighbouring countries.

If you have a PC it is probably best to buy a new one when you arrive as they often do not travel that well. You can store all your important files on a thumb drive and carry them with you. PCs can be acquired quite cheaply in Malaysia. Plan a garage sale to clear unwanted items and the money could be used to pay for some new purchases when you arrive.

What to carry in your hand luggage 

Documents 

Passport, visa, travel tickets, cash, credit cards, vaccination certificate, driver’s licence, social security card, relocation company documents and local contact, car and pet papers if applicable, medical records and prescriptions, school records, insurance policies, Will, extra passport photos, original marriage and birth certificates, copies of your Degrees and Diplomas.

Valuables 

Jewellery and other highly valuable small items, family medical kit and prescription medicines, laptop computer, set of spare keys.

Travel accessories 

Camera equipment, inflatable neck pillow, toiletries, cosmetics (there’s always duty free available for fresh supplies), sweater (in case it gets cold in the plane). Try to avoid buying new suitcases before seeing the range and good value of travel items in Malaysia.

Kids accessories 

Toys, books, travel games, pack of cards, puzzle, magazine, camera, journal, sweets/lolly /candy for air pressurisation, pacifier for baby if applicable, and baby’s special security item to help at sleep time.

Read more: Pre Move Checklist for Malaysia

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