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7 things to sort out when settling into a new country

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This post is brought to you in part by Merchantrade Asia.

Everyone knows that moving to a new country requires lots of planning –  you’ll need to figure out accommodation, healthcare, banking, get a local number, and find out how to get around. Here, we’ve listed some suggestions to help get the ball rolling when you first move to Malaysia.

1. Find accommodation

First things first: you need a place to stay. These are the common terms to describe the types of residential property available:

  • Terraced, where the house shares a wall with the adjoining property, typically one or two floors high;
  • Townhouses and bungalows, which tend to be more upmarket;
  • Apartments and flats – some may be inside condos, which have a pool, squash and tennis courts, and a gym;
  • Gated Community, with a guard house and fencing around the property

Good websites for checking what is available for sale or for rent as well as information about property in Malaysia are and You can also learn more about the property market in Malaysia with our ExpatGo Property Guide.

2. Set up a local bank account and transfer funds

Life’s no fun without money. The main traditional banks in Malaysia are as follows: MayBank (officially known as Malayan Banking), Public Bank Berhad, CIMB, RHB, AmBank, and Hong Leong Bank. Here are a few things to consider when choosing: widespread availability of ATMs, reasonable fees, features like online bill payment and mobile banking, and the function to wire (via telegraphic transfer) funds between countries.

There are also other options for transferring money, such as eRemit. eRemit is a secure online money transfer portal by Merchantrade Asia Sdn Bhd.  This online platform enables you to transfer money and make payments globally, quickly (in 10 minutes or less) and at a lower cost compared with a traditional wire service from the comfort of your home. Merchantrade has 72 branches, around 200 agents and over 300 agent locations. It has moved over RM4.5 billion of remittance and more than 2 million transactions globally in 2015.

3. Learn about where to get healthcare

Malaysia is known for having inexpensive, quality healthcare. The exchange rate and the low cost of healthcare services in general means that, if you’re coming from a Western country such as the US or UK, your medical procedures in Malaysia will generally cost a fraction of the price that you would pay in your home country.

Furthermore, the facilities available at the private hospitals are completely up to international standards, including the the latest treatments and techniques. Gleneagles and Pantai Hospitals are some well known private hospitals that are found in major cities, like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

You can learn more healthcare in Malaysia with our ExpatGo Healthcare Guide.

4. Register for internet and buy a SIM card

It’s as easy as anywhere in the world to pick up a SIM card and mobile phone in Malaysia – although it may be harder to get a contract as a foreigner, you can easily buy a handset and pay as you go SIM card. When your account runs low, top up your with a reload card from your service provider or a nearby convenience store. The most popular telecommunications companies are Maxis, Hotlink, DiGi, Celcom, U Mobile, and Tune Talk.

As for internet in your home, there also plenty of providers offering high-speed connections: UniFi, TM WiFi, Time, Maxis Webe, for example. Any of their stores will let you sign up for a monthly subscriptions and a specialist will arrive usually within a week to install the unit at your home.

5. Work out how to get around

Getting around Malaysia can be simple in the major cities that have Grab and Uber. With these services, you can have a car pick you up with just a few clicks. There are also plenty of taxis patrolling the streets – and nowadays they’re a lot more willing to use the metre. Kuala Lumpur also has the LRT (Light Rail Transport), Monorail and all major cities are connected by the KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu, or Malayan Railways), the national network.

Many people still prefer owning and driving a car to get around. If you’re keen to purchase a foreign car brand in Malaysia, be prepared to pay a hefty premium. Malaysia imposes considerable taxes on foreign cars to encourage consumers to purchase the local cars brands, Proton and Perodua.  You can learn more about driving in Malaysia with the ExpatGo Driving Guide.

6. Choose an international school for your child

If you have a child, you’ll be glad to know Malaysia is becoming a major hot-spot for international education. There dozens of international schools in Malaysia, and the total number is expected to approach (or perhaps exceed) 100 by 2020. In major expat cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, there are a wide range of options to meet the specific needs of expatriate children, including British schools, American schools, IB World schools, Montessori schools, and more.

With increasing school options available, you will need to decide your priorities. These can include school size and number of students, proximity to your home, the latest learning support tools, the number of native English speaking teachers, the type of curriculum, the learning approach, special needs support, sports or arts facilities, and so on. To learn more about international schools in Malaysia, you can check the ExpatGo Education Guide.

7. Get your head around the exchange rate

One of the worst things about moving to or visiting a new country is needing to know how far your money will go: “Is one dollar four ringgit or five?” or “How much is this coffee in money I understand?”.

Fortunately, Merchantrade can help you with this too. Their secure, convenient, online money exchange service, called eForex, is like a money changer in your pocket. It allows you to buy currency in 3 easy steps: register via the app, buy the currency when you need it, and collect at any selected pick up point at your convenience.

It also features an alert function which tracks real time rate changes, and has a reminder so you remember to change your currency before you travel. The savvy traveller will want to have this App handy to take advantage when rates are low and beat the crowds at shopping malls. They even offer exchange rate promotions every Monday called “Hot Currency Deals”.

More about Merchantrade

Merchantrade is a leading home-grown Money Services Business operator, conducting remittance, money changing and wholesale currency services. Through its branch network and online platform, Merchantrade provides consumers with easy access to a secure, reliable and fast channel for currency exchange, money transfers and payments across borders, seven days a week. Furthermore, eRemit has won the Florin Awards Asia 2016 for Best Remittance Breakthrough Transfers and MyClear’s FPX Awards for 2013 & 2012.

In partnership with international wire transfer operators, foreign banks and other established payment centres, Merchantrade’s remittance network comprises over 200,000 pay-out points in 200 countries worldwide, including Singapore, New Zealand, UK, USA, and Australia. You can visit their 2 newest branches in Celcom Blue Cube Nu Sentral and Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

For more information, check out the following links:



"ExpatGo welcomes and encourages comments, input, and divergent opinions. However, we kindly request that you use suitable language in your comments, and refrain from any sort of personal attack, hate speech, or disparaging rhetoric. Comments not in line with this are subject to removal from the site. "


Silvius von Lindeiner

Interesting: find an international school for your children. Why? Are local schools say in the US not good enough for your child?


This website is about Malaysia Silvius?

Silvius von Lindeiner

ExpatGo No, it is a very general website


I think I know what our website is about 😉

Mauro Begnini

Definetely not in order of priority…first is school for kids to get a placement, second bank account, third the house, fourth internet, fifth a car…


Not everyone has kids, Mauro – that’s why we didn’t put it top of the list

James Viney

KPJ Hospitals provide fantastic care.

Richard Joseph

Don’t bring your wife. Get thin. Be a man again in Asia.

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