Top Three Places for Tax Expats to Live in Malaysia

Budha statue in Malaysia

Rich in culture and heritage, Malaysia boasts large tax and accountancy multinationals, making it the ideal location for your next move. A place where the ‘big four’ call home in some of its most vibrant cities, employment prospects for international tax expats are naturally high for foreign workers.

Cost of living database, Numbeo recently claimed consumer prices are 38% lower than London and with English as the most widely spoken language this move will make sense for most. In this article we provide a guide for employees and their families on where to live and the best schools in the area.

Moving to Malaysia with or without a family can be easily done. Like most cities crime exists, however, violent crime is rare. Access to high-quality healthcare systems is easy to come by and there are a large number of facilities spread throughout the country. Schools can be found at both government and international levels. Government schools require foreign students to use the bureaucratic registration process and language barriers may be faced. The teacher to student ratio can be high and some schools have been designed with only Malaysians in mind. All international schools use English as their first language, with the majority using a British curriculum and fees varying significantly.

Kuala Lumpur

This capital city is amongst some of the cheapest cities in the world to live for tax or transfer pricing expats who have relocated. Providing various types of accommodation, expats are likely to be found living in modern condominiums and semi-detached bungalows in gated communities. Areas such as KLCC or the affluent suburb of Damansara are favoured. Both excellent neighbourhoods, a fast-paced life should be expected. Families looking to live within a short distance of well-established international schools should look no further than Mont Kiara. Home to Garden International, school children can learn in a safe and respected environment from the age of 3-18. Other international schools are situated in this area and the majority follow English or IB programmes. Alternatively, a more rural and suburban setting can be found in Klang valley, this neighbourhood provides semidetached bungalows and condos in gated subdivisions with reliable public transport for the short commute into the city centre. Kuala Lumpur provides an excess of high-end shopping malls as well as attractions such as the world-renowned Petronas Towers and the largest covered bird park in the world.


Beaches, temples and malls allow Penang to provide a taste of both city and island life for tax expats. The northern corridor of the economic region hosts large multinational firms in a city that houses the second largest expat community after Kuala Lumpur. With good economic and social initiative, the island enables a life away from the bustle of the busy city that tax expats would enjoy outside of work. Here more can be found for your money and large properties on the seafront are popular with expats. Foreigners gravitate towards a more relaxed lifestyle in areas such as Tanjung Bungah, a less touristy suburb of George Town. As well as Batu Ferringhi, famous for its seafood restaurants and popular with Japanese and British expats. Gurney Drive is thought to provide a higher quality of life and is located near large corporate offices, shopping centres and hawkers’ stalls. Good international schools can be found across the island. Well sought-after establishments include St Christopher’s primary school, The international school of Penang (Uplands) and Prince of Wales Island international school. Likewise, high quality healthcare is available, the main private hospitals used by expats are Penang Adventist and Gleneagles Hospital. Only a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport Penang is connected to the mainland by two bridges.

Johor Bahru

Located at the southernmost tip of the country this city provides a lower cost of living. A bridge connected to Singapore allows the city to be easily accessed. On a day-to day basis people make the commute across to Singapore for work due to the significant difference in cost that the neighbouring island provides. Johor is also a popular holiday home destination to the residents of Singapore. The city itself is a business hub where large firms choose to locate regional offices. Marlborough College and Excelsior International are two of the most in demand schools, however, schools can be found with significantly differing fees. Here it is more common that expats would choose to live in gated communities such as Leisure farm, Ledang Heights or Horizon Hills. These all provide good family-sized homes in a safe environment.

If you are interested in a move to Malaysia or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about International Tax Opportunities, across Direct Tax, Transfer Pricing or Indirect Tax please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, view our current International Tax vacancies.

Are you pondering a relocation to Malaysia to focus on your international tax career? Discover our articles below:
The cost of living in Malaysia for International Tax Expats
Malaysia as a great destination for Tax Expats
Relocating to Malaysia: Expat Communities