Adventure, Fun, and Profit Teaching English

My husband, James, and I have lived in Malaysia’s cosmopolitan capital of Kuala Lumpur for just over two years now. Here we enjoy the wonderful balance of an exciting city life, but with tropical jungle and adventure just 30 minutes away. This means it’s easy to take mini vacations and day trips, even if you have a busy schedule.

Of course, as an English teacher, I’m rarely busy. I get 16 public holidays every year, plus three to five weeks off in the summer, three weeks off at Christmas, as well as a three-week mid-term break. This has enabled me to travel often, visit family, and see the surrounding islands. The coastal towns and other cities of Malaysia are a joy to explore, and share a fascinating colonial heritage. On the days I do work, I finish up at 3:30 p.m., so I have the rest of the day to do as I please.

James and I adapted to life quickly in Kuala Lumpur. It’s a modern, international city where you’ll find all of your home comforts. We joined a local church as soon as we arrived, which helped us plug into a community and make friends fast. This made it feel like home almost immediately.

Malaysia’s low cost of living is one of the major advantages of living here. While Kuala Lumpur isn’t as affordable as some of the cities in the north of Malaysia, we still enjoy big savings compared to back home. In the U.K., I paid $800 for a small, one-bedroom apartment. Here I pay $750 for a three-bedroom 1,100-square-foot condominium apartment with a balcony. We have access to gym and pool facilities, and a beautiful communal garden.

One of my favorite things about Kuala Lumpur—known locally as KL—has to be the world-class food scene. You can easily find amazing Indian, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes for affordable prices here. You can buy a good meal for two for about $20, and less if you don’t mind eating in small, family-run, local restaurants. My number-one restaurant is definitely Betel Leaf, an authentic Indian restaurant in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The waiters are extra friendly and the flavors are so rich.

Kuala Lumpur has some great cinemas and the price of a ticket can be as low as $4. The cinemas are clean, well-kept and there’s an awesome beanbag cinema where you can lie down on clean, leather beanbags for just $12 for two people. There’s always a wide selection of English-language movies, subtitled in Mandarin, Tamil, and the Bahasa Malaysia languages. I recently went to see The BFG and the whole cinema was laughing together—there was a real sense of community.

Working as an English teacher in an international school has enabled me to make friends with many amazing people from different cultures and religions. During Chinese New Year, I received a gift of an Ang Pow from my students—Ang Pow are red envelopes containing cash gifts, which are said to ward off evil spirits. Recently, I celebrated Deepavali—the Hindu Festival of Lights—with my friends at a huge house party.

It’s amazing how different our life is these days, and, at the same time, we feel totally at home.

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