Why I Quit my Bank Job and Moved to Malaysia

I’d always wanted to be a writer. It was something I yearned to do for a living. I had worked in banking all my life but in 2008, aged 47, I decided that it was now or never—I would take a chance.

So, I quit my job, sold my house, gave away my two cats (to a woman who adored them) and moved lock, stock and barrel with my wife to Malaysia—a country that I had only read about and never visited.

I started writing the moment we arrived, for a Malaysian magazine that caters to the expat market. They proved happy to pay me for the first beginner articles I sent them.

These days, we live in an apartment on the island of Penang. It’s a sprawling 2,100 square feet and costs us $900 per month, inclusive of all utilities. The magazine I write for covers my rent and allows me to travel and write about this enthralling part of the world. After two years spent writing for them I also produced a book on the history of Penang—it sold out after just four months!

One of the best things about living in Malaysia is its proximity to so many different countries and cultures. Traveling by plane to Bali (part of Indonesia) from Malaysia is relatively straight forward—and only takes two hours.

The town of Ubud on the Southeast Asian island of Bali was chosen as the location for Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts in 2010…and tourist numbers have increased by some 40% since.

It’s a great place to visit, but the mountainous regions around the island’s two volcanoes—Gunung Batur and Gunung Agung—are even better. Both are just one hour’s drive north of Ubud.

The main roads to get here are in great condition and there is little traffic. This part of the island is perfect for a quiet getaway—an escape to the cooler highlands is a fantastic alternative to the busier Ubud.

Gunung Batur last erupted in 1964. Black lava flow can still be seen in the countryside leading up to the lip of the volcano. Gunung Agung, on the other hand, last erupted spectacularly in 1999. It had previously erupted in 1926, in 1974 and again in 1994. On the active volcano count this one rates as a nine!

The hike to the summit is not for the faint hearted and is best done between July and September when the weather is cooler. It can take up to six hours. We were advised that the best time to start is at 6.00 a.m.; leave it later than mid-day and the clouds roll in—making it difficult to see anything at all from the summit.

Another popular option is to set out on your hike at midnight—you will get to the top just in time to witness a spectacular sunrise.

Writing for a living can fund your lifestyle; you just have to be brave enough to give it a go. If it’s something that you want to do or have always wondered about doing, then my advice is: Try it. You’ll be amazed by what’s possible.

Although we don’t earn anywhere near as much money as when I was in banking, we don’t have to. Our quality of life is certainly better in Malaysia than it ever was before.

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