As an important Southeast Asian hub, one of Greater KL’s principal appeals is its relative quality of life. In a recent BFM radio interview, DSP Relocations Asia’s Country Manager John Preston spoke about how KL’s liveability plays a key part of the overall expat experience.
When decision-makers at global multinationals consider setting up a regional headquarters, they look at a number of factors before settling on a location. There are a significant number of business and financial considerations that must be taken into account, as these factors will ultimately impact the company’s bottom line. Beyond the numbers, however, companies must look at the intangibles. Any company’s greatest asset is its human capital, and it is those very people who will be asked to relocate to the new location, often complementing local talent hired to satisfy staffing needs. So by that account, liveability comes into play. We regularly hear from expats who have turned down lucrative postings in other Asian cities based on concerns about air and water pollution, crime, poor medical care, or lack of quality education for their children.
Greater Kuala Lumpur fares well on all these points when compared to many other cities throughout Asia, and it is the overall quality of life available here that, in tandem with the positive business climate and modern infrastructure of the city, makes Greater KL such an attractive destination for MNCs seeking an Asian location for a regional hub.
Recently, John Preston, the country manager for DSP Relocations Asia, sat down with BFM’s Khoo Hsu Chang to talk about why he feels Greater Kuala Lumpur offers so much to the relocated expat.
Mr Preston attributed a significant portion of KL’s increasing global appeal to growth in the oil and gas sector, manufacturing, and information technology, all of which Malaysia is well-poised to capitalize on and benefit from. For any expat, however, Mr Preston noted that the settling of not just the working expat, but also the spouse is quite important, something The Expat Group’s own surveys have reinforced. In this respect, he believes Greater KL excels, as there are numerous clubs, associations, and organisations that help relocated expats settle into their new home.
When asked how KL stacked up against other expat postings he had personally held in Thailand and South Korea, he responded, “Very well, in Kuala Lumpur especially. When I was in Seoul, and in Bangkok as well, the biggest challenge I really had was communication. One very attractive thing about Kuala Lumpur is that communication is easy, and that’s very important when you’re going into a new country.” Indeed, the fact that English is widely spoken and understood throughout Greater KL unquestionably makes expat life here easier. And the people aren’t so bad, either. “Here, it’s very easy to get around,” Mr Preston added with a smile. “With Malaysians, if you pay them respect, they’ll treat you very friendly and will be very, very helpful.”
The interview also touched on cost of living. Mr Preston agreed with the several global rankings that laud Greater KL’s affordability. The city was recently ranked as the 8th most affordable city in the world to live in by TripAdvisor, and that affordability doesn’t come at the expense of comfortable housing or quality education. In fact, Mr Preston specifically pointed out that accommodation for expats in Greater KL is fantastic, and that the current oversupply on the market certainly benefits expats. Moreover, he added, for those with schoolage children, the quality of international education in and around KL is outstanding, with several area schools achieving highranking global recognition for the quality of education provided to students.
Mr Preston also praised the availability and cost-effectiveness of recreational activities in Greater KL, making particular mention of the excellent golf courses in the area, whose greens fees he termed as “very inexpensive.”
As country manager of DST Relocations, a company with direct insight into the comings and goings of expats, Mr Preston mentioned a notable uptick in expats arriving in KL on new postings, and later in the interview, also made a point of explaining that many expats here stay on beyond their mandated posting, because the lifestyle is so favourable. Though British by birth, Mr Preston considers himself a global nomad, having spent the last five years continuously in Malaysia after bouncing around the region and going back and forth between KL and other areas. And for the foreseeable future?
Mr Preston didn’t waste a moment, replying with a laugh, “Oh, I think I’ll stay here.”
Tasked by the Malaysian government to attract and facilitate large global multinationals to set up their regional business, innovation, and talent hubs in Greater Kuala Lumpur and strategically grow their business in Asia, InvestKL works with other government ministries, entities, and agencies to formulate attractive fiscal packages and help corporations identify business opportunities while strengthening their competitiveness regionally and globally.
Source: The Expat Magazine March 2015
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