Global Survey Finds Expats in Malaysia Are Highly Satisfied

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For the sixth year, InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with 3.6 million members, has published its Expat Insider survey. With more than 20,000 respondents, it is one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, collecting and sharing insights into expat life in 64 destinations. The survey offers in-depth information about expats’ satisfaction with the quality of life, ease of settling in, working life, personal finance, cost of living, and family life in their respective country of residence.

This year, Malaysia was ranked ninth out of 64 destinations in the Expat Insider 2019 survey. Expats are happy with the affordability of life in the Southeast Asian country and find it easy to settle in. However, when it comes to working abroad, Malaysia only ranks a slightly above-average 27th out of 64. Meanwhile, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Portugal are among the best expat destinations: all of them attract expats with their ease of settling in and good personal finances. While expats in Taiwan and Portugal are also extremely satisfied with the quality of life, those in Vietnam appreciate their great work life. At the other end of the ranking, Kuwait (64th out of 64), Italy, and Nigeria are the worst destinations for expats in 2019. While Kuwait is the country where expats find it hardest to settle in, Italy offers the worst work life, and Nigeria the worst quality of life in the world.

Affording a good life in Malaysia does not seem to be hard for expats: the country came in seventh place out of 64 countries in the ‘Cost of Living’ index, with 82% of expats rating costs positively (vs. 47% globally). As one British expat highlights, there are good “earning opportunities compared to very reasonable costs of living.” In fact, Malaysia also scored seventh place when it comes to ‘Personal Finance,’ with 62% reporting that their household income is more than enough to cover daily costs (vs. 49% globally).

What’s more, Malaysia is one of the best countries in the ‘Ease of Settling In’ index, ranking third only after Mexico (1st) and Bahrain (2nd). Expats in the country find it easy to settle down (76% vs. 59% globally) and make new friends (64% vs. 54% globally). Maybe it helps that expats are also happy with the socialising and leisure activities available in Malaysia (8th out of 64). As a Philippine expat pointed out, “There are many places to visit, and you will never run out of things to do.”

However, Malaysia is an average destination for working abroad (27th), with just around half the expats (52%) being satisfied with their career prospects (vs. 55% worldwide). Nevertheless, though, Malaysia scored very well in terms of general ‘Satisfaction,’ with 84% of respondents giving expat living here a thumbs-up, and the country ranked #1 for ‘Language,’ underscoring the appreciation by expats that English is widely spoken and used here.

Malaysia’s ninth-place overall ranking in 2019 marks its best showing in the six surveys conducted by InterNations so far. Last year’s survey had Malaysia ranked 17th out of 68.

Based on our own less-extensive but more local surveys over the years, we have found expats to overwhelmingly enjoy their time in Malaysia – with the possible exception of driving here! Easy integration, widespread English usage, good infrastructure, excellent and easy travel opportunities in the region, high-quality international schools, great healthcare, and a tolerant and welcoming local population all seem to contribute to Malaysia’s great expat appeal.

We regularly hear from expats how much they appreciate what Malaysia offers them, and how much they enjoy living among Malaysians who welcome and embrace them, and we certainly hope that this appreciation by Malaysians for what expats bring to their country continues!

The Expat Insider survey is conducted by InterNations ( and is not affiliated in any way with or The Expat magazine.

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