As I meet more and more people who are interested in moving here, I think back to the day in 2009 when I made the decision to move to Malaysia. It wasn’t that I was unhappy—in fact, far from it. I just made a conscious change in the way I saw things, and the way I thought about my life.
I was earning a good salary and had a really good job. I was an investment banker…but I decided to resign when I’d had enough. I’d worked hard all my life and I knew I wanted to try new things while I still had the chance. I didn’t want to be one of those people who end up boxed in and thought of by the jobs that they do.
My wife and I knew we wanted to live somewhere exotic. We also wanted to travel before it was too late. Moving to Southeast Asia seemed like the natural step for us. I had lived and worked in Hong Kong for a number of years and I had grown up in Singapore and Brunei. We had also vacationed in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and after leaving Hong Kong, we spent six months traveling in India.
I chose Malaysia, and then Penang because of the low cost of living, its friendly people, the fact that everyone spoke English, and ultimately the weather. I hate the cold and Malaysia has a year-round average temperature of 80 F.
There’s plenty to see and do in Penang, too, and its capital George Town.
George Town is a walkable vibrant city, with cool cafés and great street food (some stalls don’t open until 11 p.m., by which time there’s a queue of hungry customers). A UNESCO-listed historic site, George Town also has numerous temples, museums, and art galleries to keep you occupied.
The quality of life is amazing in Malaysia. The government has a strong commitment to I.T, a stable exchange rate, and amazing infrastructure. Its roads are the best that I have seen anywhere in Asia and its international airports are first class.
The amazing healthcare in Malaysia, too, is a big bonus to my life here. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, and Penang are medical centers of excellence. As someone who mountain bikes and plays tennis three to four times a week, it was important that any care I might need would be affordable—and it is. Here, a trip to the doctor can cost as little as $15; a visit to see a specialist can cost the same. Plus—you don’t have to make an appointment. Once you’re registered at the hospital, which takes just 20 minutes, you can go straight to the doctor’s waiting area. I couldn’t do that back home. Some of the specialists there had a three-month waiting period.
Life is easier, and far more interesting, since I came to Malaysia. I’ve been able to pursue all my interests—particularly writing. I started off by writing a book on scuba diving and followed that up with a book about Penang, and then another about Malaysia’s festivals. Another Australian author, Marcus Langdon, and I also formed a publishing company last year. Now I hire writers and we have five new books coming out between now and the end of the year. This is something that I would never have done had I stayed at home. All because I took a chance and made the move.
Moving from your home is always a brave step, I know, I’ve done it, but I’ve never regretted it, not once. After six years of living here, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Malaysia is an amazing country, its people are wonderful and its natural beauty is unmatched by anything else that I have seen on my travels. Give it a try. I guarantee you won’t regret it either…
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