No, I’m not moving to Malaysia, but you might. A recurring theme in this blog is that countries seek immigrants who will add to the bottom line or otherwise offer a clear benefit their country or citizens. If you’re a low-skilled worker, teaching English or volunteering abroad are two options, however, money talks and can open up doors. In this case, Malaysia has created a program called Malaysia, My Second Home.
The “My Second Home” program gets you a “Social Visit Pass” that’s basically a residence permit. It’s good for ten years and is renewable. The conditions are pretty relaxed, assuming you have the money:
- Applicants aged below 50 years are required to show proof of liquid assets worth a minimum of RM500,000 ($163,000 US/€128,000) and offshore income of RM10,000 ($3,265US/€2,560) per month. For certified copy(s) of Current Account submitted as financial proof, applicants must provide the latest 3 months’ statement with each month’s credit balance of RM 500,000.
- Applicants aged 50 and above may comply with the financial proof of RM350,000 ($114,000US/€89,000) in liquid assets and off shore income of RM10,000 ($3,265US/€2,560) per month. For certified copy(s) of Current Account submitted as financial proof, applicants must provide the latest 3 months’ statement with each month’s credit balance of RM 350,000. For those who have retired, they are required to show proof of receiving pension from government approved funds of RM 10,000 per month.
- New applicants who have purchased properties worth at least RM 1 million ($327,000US/€256,000) qualify to place a lower fixed deposit amount upon approval.
If you meet their conditions, you have a few more hoops to jump through, but it’s pretty easy to get in.
So why would you want to move there? Well, Forbes ranks Malaysia the 10th most friendly country in the world and their capital, Kuala Lumpur, was ranked the number 2 spot in Asia for shopping. The latter, actually, is a very important consideration for many Western folks, even though you might think that it should not be. Simply put: the more foreign a culture is to your own, the less likely you are to succeed as an expat. Having a wide variety of goods and services available can ease some of the transition difficulties.
As an added bonus, English is widely spoken in Malaysia (it's their second language), or you could just watch some of their promo videos from other expats:
In short, Malaysia is a beautiful, friendly, low-crime, inexpensive country with a strong economy.
Why would you not want to move to Malaysia? It depends on your lifestyle and tolerance for other cultures.
USA Today has a nice summary of the important Malaysian laws you should know about. First, keep in mind that Malaysia is officially a Muslim country and Sharia law has been implemented, though that’s usually reserved for Muslims (yes, Muslims will find a stricter set of laws than non-Muslims). If you have a taste for illegal drugs or difficulty with alcohol, Malaysia is not a good option. Drug traffickers face the death penalty and driving while intoxicated will land you in prison very quickly. Using illegal drugs can result in a large fine, deportation or imprisonment.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, but I've read from multiple sources that there's a thriving gay scene in Kuala Lumpur. This one is particularly troubling for me as I despise such discrimination, but I can't think of a single country which agrees with my views on everything.
If Malaysia tickles your sense of adventure but you don't have a ready supply of cash on hand, I've written previously about a company willing to sponsor your work permit. In that post, I tell you about the positions they're looking for and a bit more about Malaysia.