Read What This Expat from Switzerland Has to Say about Malaysia

Name: Rainier Biemans
Home Country: Switzerland
Job/Industry: Event Management, Director Dirigo Events Sdn Bhd
Marital status: Married

What brought you to Malaysia?
I love to travel. In 2008 after the UEFA Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria, I was looking at the map for the next possible destination to unwind, mainly between South Africa and Southeast Asia. I had never been to Malaysia and decided to pay this country a visit, and after spending three weeks in Malaysia, I started to like it here. So on 16 February 2009 I landed at KLIA with a big suitcase and started in Kuala Lumpur as the Account Manager for a worldwide event agency running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon.

What do you like and dislike about living here?
The diversity of cultures here in Malaysia is fascinating. You get to experience the celebrations from every ethnicity and religion without having to book a flight. It is like Switzerland in a way with its many cultures coming from people all over Europe but with a big difference – the weather. The all-year-round ‘summer’ in Malaysia is great but it can get extremely hot and humid and takes me hours to get my body heat back to the normal level after a run.

Name three typical weekend activities that you enjoy.
I love riding my motorcycle! I put on my helmet whenever I get the chance to, even for a quick breakfast at Genting Highlands. Since I am Swiss at heart, I have my ‘Boys Night Out’ almost every Sunday at the Swiss Chalet, Ampang for the Swiss traditional card game- ‘Jass’, accompanied by fellow Swiss expats and great Swiss food.

What is your favourite holiday destination here? Why?
Whenever we want to escape the city, my wife and I love to visit Cameron Highlands. It has beautiful scenery and the weather is cooler up there, too.

Describe a memorable eating experience here.
My first experience with Malaysian food – ‘Masak Lemak Cili Padi’. It’s hot but I find it bearable. The other one is the ‘Chicken Fish’ of Jalan Alor. I would make sure to take all of my Swiss visitors here upon touch down. I even managed to convince a non-fish eater to eat this yummy dish!

Do you own property here?
No, I don’t. For some reason, I believe that there will be an adjustment in property prices. Ever since I have been here, I’ve seen vast development of housing areas. Some of the properties are even vacant for quite sometimes. I am, however, planning to get a property but not in the near future. I will probably wait to see how it all pans out.

What do you miss most about your home country?
It has to be my family and friends. Besides that, I miss the four seasons, mainly spring and autumn because you get to wear different clothes. I don’t miss winter though as I am always back to visit my parents during Christmas, which gives me the perfect opportunity to go up the mountains and do some skiing.

What advice do you have for new expats?
Get to know the culture, especially the working culture. It is totally different from where you come from. After that, learn to adapt. Once you master both, it will work like a charm and things will get easier.


How long do you plan to stay in Malaysia? Where would you like to go next, and why?
I am married to a Malaysian and own a company in Petaling Jaya. From what I see right now, I don’t think we are going anywhere anytime soon. Furthermore, it is cheaper to retire in Malaysia than in Switzerland.

Is Malaysia a good country to raise children?
I am not going to lie, I do think Switzerland is a better place to raise children. But I also think that Malaysia is not a bad place to start. It is a country where kids will get to learn about different cultures and how to respect people from different races and religions, so that’s a huge advantage.

Is Malaysia a good place in which to work and do business? Why?
There are a number of opportunities available in Malaysia for expats. The economy is stable, the country is safe and the Malaysian government welcomes investors from all over the globe with many business facilities.

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Source: The Expat Magazine November 2014

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