Moving to Malaysia - ISS Relocations

Moving to Malaysia – A Comprehensive Moving Service Guide

Moving to Malaysia, a Southeast Asian gem, has become an increasingly popular destination for expatriates seeking a new home. Its rich cultural diversity, friendly locals, and a blend of modernity and tradition create a welcoming environment for newcomers. However, moving to a new country can be daunting, especially without the right information and support. This comprehensive guide aims to simplify the process, providing valuable insights into moving services, preparation tips, and what to expect as an expat in Malaysia.

At ISS Relocations, we understand the complexities involved in international moves. Our expertise in relocation services ensures a seamless transition, allowing you to focus on the excitement of starting a new chapter in Malaysia. Whether you’re looking for cost-effective freight options or need guidance on preparing your move, this guide covers everything you need to know.

1. Why Choose Malaysia?

Malaysia offers a unique blend of cultural richness, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it an attractive destination for expatriates from around the world.

Malaysia’s Appeal to Expats

Malaysia’s appeal lies in its diversity. With a population comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, and various indigenous groups, the country offers a multicultural experience that is reflected in its cuisine, festivals, and daily life. English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas, making communication easier for expatriates. The friendly and welcoming nature of Malaysians further enhances the country’s attractiveness.

Cost of Living Moving to Malaysia

One of the significant advantages of living in Malaysia is the affordable cost of living compared to Western countries and even some neighboring Asian countries. Housing, in particular, is reasonably priced, whether you choose to rent or buy. Major cities like Kuala Lumpur offer modern apartments and condominiums, while smaller towns provide more spacious living options at lower costs.

Food is another area where Malaysia shines. Whether dining out or shopping for groceries, you’ll find that your money goes further here. Public transportation is efficient and inexpensive, and healthcare services are high-quality and affordable. By choosing ISS Relocations, you can gain insights into cost-saving measures and get personalized assistance to find the best living arrangements within your budget.

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2. Preparing for Your Move to Malaysia

Preparation is key to ensuring a smooth and hassle-free move to Malaysia. From handling documentation to organizing your finances, taking these steps in advance will help you settle in more comfortably.

Documentation and Legal Requirements

Before moving to Malaysia, ensure you have the necessary visas and permits. The type of visa required will depend on your purpose of stay, such as employment, education, or retirement. It’s essential to start the application process early and have all your paperwork in order.

  • Employment Pass: For those moving for work, the Employment Pass is the most common visa. It requires a job offer from a Malaysian company and is usually valid for up to five years.
  • Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Visa: This is a popular option for retirees and long-term residents. It offers a ten-year, renewable visa with certain financial requirements.
  • Student Visa: If you’re moving to study, you’ll need to obtain a Student Visa through your educational institution.


ISS Relocations can assist with the visa application process, ensuring that all forms are correctly filled out and submitted on time.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions

Health preparation is crucial for a moving to Malaysia. While the country has excellent healthcare facilities, it’s wise to get recommended vaccinations before your departure. These may include vaccines for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis, depending on your specific circumstances and travel plans within the country.

Financial Preparations

Setting up your finances before moving is another critical step. Open a Malaysian bank account to manage your finances more efficiently once you arrive. Research the best banks for expatriates, considering factors like international transfer fees and accessibility.

Managing Currency Exchange

Understand the currency exchange rates and consider the best methods for transferring your money. ISS Relocations offers financial advice and services to help you manage your funds effectively, ensuring you get the best rates and secure transactions.

By taking these preparatory steps, you can reduce the stress associated with moving and start enjoying your new life in Malaysia sooner. ISS Relocations is here to support you every step of the way, providing expert advice and reliable moving services to make your transition as smooth as possible.

3. Moving Services to Malaysia

Selecting the right moving service is crucial for a smooth and stress-free relocation moving to Malaysia. Whether you need a full-service mover or prefer a more hands-on approach, understanding the options and their benefits will help you make an informed decision.

Types of Moving Services

  • Full-Service Movers: These companies handle every aspect of your move, from packing and loading to shipping and unpacking. They are ideal for those who prefer a hassle-free experience and are willing to pay a premium for convenience.
  • Self-Packing and Container Services: For those looking to save on costs, self-packing services provide the materials, and you do the packing. Containers are then shipped to your new location. This option offers more control over the packing process and can be more cost-effective.
  • Freight Methods (Air vs. Sea):
      • Air Freight: Faster but more expensive, ideal for smaller shipments or urgent deliveries.
      • Sea Freight: More economical for larger shipments, but it takes longer. Suitable for moving household goods and furniture.


Choosing the Right Moving Service

Selecting the appropriate moving service depends on several factors, including your budget, timeline, and the volume of belongings. Here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend. Full-service movers offer convenience but come at a higher cost. Self-packing and container services are budget-friendly alternatives.
  • Timeline: If you need your belongings quickly, air freight is the best option. For non-urgent moves, sea freight is more economical.
  • Volume of Belongings: Larger shipments are better suited for sea freight, while smaller, urgent items can be sent via air.


ISS Relocations offers a range of moving services tailored to your needs, ensuring you find the best option for your relocation to Malaysia.

Cost-Effective Moving Tips

Moving doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some strategies to reduce your moving costs:

  • Move During Off-Season: Avoid peak moving times, such as summer months and holidays, to get better rates.
  • Declutter Before the Move: Sell, donate, or discard items you no longer need. This reduces the volume of belongings and lowers shipping costs.
  • Use Cost-Efficient Freight Methods: Opt for sea freight for larger, non-urgent shipments to save money.

4. Shipping Your Belongings

Shipping your belongings to Malaysia involves careful planning and understanding of customs regulations to ensure a smooth transition.

Packing Tips and Guidelines

Proper packing is essential to protect your belongings during transit. Follow these guidelines for effective packing:

  • Use Quality Packing Materials: Invest in sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, and tape. This ensures your items are well-protected.
  • Packing Techniques: Pack heavier items at the bottom and lighter ones on top. Fill empty spaces with packing peanuts or bubble wrap to prevent shifting.
  • Labeling and Inventory Lists: Clearly label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. Create an inventory list to keep track of your items.


Customs Regulations

Understanding Malaysian customs regulations is crucial to avoid delays and additional costs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Prohibited Items: Certain items, such as firearms, narcotics, and counterfeit goods, are prohibited from entering Malaysia.
  • Customs Clearance Process: Ensure all documentation is complete and accurate to facilitate a smooth customs clearance. This includes a detailed inventory list, receipts, and any necessary permits.


ISS Relocations can assist with customs clearance, ensuring all your paperwork is in order and your belongings comply with Malaysian regulations.

Freight Options

Choosing the right freight option depends on your needs and budget:

  • Air Freight: Best for smaller, high-priority items. It’s faster but more expensive.
  • Sea Freight: Ideal for larger shipments and more cost-effective. However, it takes longer to arrive.


At ISS Relocations, we provide both air and sea freight options, helping you choose the best method based on your specific requirements and budget.

5. Settling into Expat Life in Malaysia

Once you’ve arrived in Malaysia, the next step is to settle into your new environment. Here are some key aspects to consider.

Finding Accommodation

Finding the right place to live is crucial for a comfortable expat experience. Popular expat neighborhoods in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Johor Bahru offer a range of housing options:

  • Rental vs. Buying Property: Renting is a popular choice for expats due to its flexibility. However, buying property can be a good investment if you plan to stay long-term.
  • Popular Expat Areas: Kuala Lumpur’s Mont Kiara and Bangsar are known for their expat communities and amenities. Penang offers a more relaxed lifestyle with beautiful beaches and cultural heritage.

ISS Relocations can help you find suitable accommodation, connecting you with trusted real estate agents and providing insights into the best neighborhoods for expats.

Navigating Daily Life

Adjusting to daily life in Malaysia involves understanding local customs and finding your way around:

  • Public Transportation: Malaysia has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trains, and light rail. Kuala Lumpur’s RapidKL is an efficient way to travel around the city.
  • Local Customs and Etiquette: Malaysians are known for their hospitality. Learning a few phrases in Malay and understanding local customs will help you integrate smoothly into the community.


Community and Social Life

Building a social network is essential for a fulfilling expat experience:

  • Joining Expat Groups: There are numerous expat groups and communities where you can meet like-minded individuals. Websites like Internations and Meetup offer opportunities to connect with other expats.
  • Social Activities and Networking: Participate in local events, join clubs, and attend social gatherings to build a robust social network.


ISS Relocations offers resources and support to help you navigate expat life, from finding community groups to providing tips on local customs and daily living.

6. Cost of Living in Malaysia

Understanding the cost of living in Malaysia is crucial for budgeting and planning your move. Compared to many Western countries, Malaysia offers a high quality of life at a relatively low cost.

Housing and Utilities

  • Rent: The cost of renting varies depending on the location and type of property. In major cities like Kuala Lumpur, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages around RM 2,000 to RM 3,500 per month. In suburban areas, the rent can be significantly lower.
  • Buying Property: For those considering a long-term stay, purchasing property is a viable option. Prices vary, with city center properties being more expensive than those in the outskirts.
  • Utilities: Monthly utilities, including electricity, water, and gas, generally cost around RM 200 to RM 500, depending on usage and property size.


Food and Groceries

  • Eating Out: Malaysia offers a diverse range of dining options, from affordable street food to upscale restaurants. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant typically costs around RM 10 to RM 20, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs about RM 70 to RM 150.
  • Groceries: The cost of groceries is reasonable, with a typical monthly grocery bill for a couple averaging RM 300 to RM 500, depending on dietary preferences.



  • Public Transport: Malaysia has an efficient and affordable public transport system. A monthly pass for public transport in Kuala Lumpur costs around RM 100 to RM 150.
  • Owning a Car: While public transport is convenient, some expats prefer owning a car. The cost of a new car is relatively high due to import taxes, but fuel prices are low.



Malaysia boasts a high standard of healthcare services, with both public and private options available. Expatriates often prefer private healthcare due to shorter wait times and higher service quality.

  • Public Healthcare: Generally very affordable, with nominal fees for services.
  • Private Healthcare: More expensive but still affordable compared to Western countries. A visit to a general practitioner typically costs around RM 50 to RM 150.


ISS Relocations provides detailed cost-of-living guides and financial planning assistance to help you budget effectively for your new life in Malaysia.

7. Final Checklist for Moving to Malaysia

Ensuring you have everything in order before, during, and after your move can make the transition smoother. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to guide you:

Before the Move

  • Research and Plan: Understand the moving process, costs, and legal requirements.
  • Hire a Reputable Moving Company: Contact ISS Relocations for a tailored moving plan.
  • Declutter and Pack: Sort through your belongings, sell or donate items you no longer need, and start packing.
  • Handle Documentation: Apply for visas, prepare necessary documents, and keep copies of important paperwork.
  • Arrange Finances: Set up a Malaysian bank account and manage currency exchange.


During the Move

  • Supervise the Packing and Loading: Ensure everything is packed securely and labeled correctly.
  • Stay in Contact: Keep in touch with your moving company for updates on your shipment.


After Arrival

  • Settle into Your Accommodation: Unpack and organize your new home.
  • Register with Local Authorities: Complete any necessary registrations, such as with immigration and local healthcare providers.
  • Explore Your New Environment: Familiarize yourself with local amenities, transportation, and community services.


ISS Relocations offers comprehensive support throughout your move, ensuring all aspects are covered, from initial planning to settling into your new home.


What is the most cost-effective way to move to Malaysia?

The most cost-effective way to move to Malaysia depends on the volume of your belongings and your timeline. Generally, sea freight is the most economical option for large shipments, although it takes longer. Air freight is faster but more expensive. Opting for self-packing and container services can also reduce costs compared to full-service movers. ISS Relocations can help you evaluate your options and choose the most cost-effective solution.

How to prepare for my move to Malaysia?

Preparation is key for a successful move. Here’s a short point-by-point guide:

  • Research and plan your move.
  • Hire a reputable moving company like ISS Relocations.
  • Declutter and pack your belongings.
  • Apply for necessary visas and handle documentation.
  • Arrange your finances and set up a Malaysian bank account.
  • Get recommended vaccinations and healthcare arrangements.
  • Organize transportation and temporary accommodation upon arrival.


Is Malaysia cheap to live in?

Yes, Malaysia is generally cheaper to live in compared to many Western countries. The cost of housing, food, transportation, and healthcare is lower, providing a high quality of life at an affordable cost. However, costs can vary depending on your lifestyle and location within Malaysia.

What is expat life in Malaysia like?

Expat life in Malaysia is vibrant and diverse, with a strong community of expatriates. Major cities like Kuala Lumpur offer modern amenities, a variety of dining and entertainment options, and numerous expat groups and social activities. The multicultural environment makes it easy for expats to feel at home. ISS Relocations can help you connect with local expat communities and provide resources to make your transition smoother.

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