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Malaysia is a Digital Nomad’s Hidden Gem

February 1st, 2018 Malaysia is a Digital Nomad’s Hidden Gem

Malaysia is a Hidden Gem for Digital Nomads, Best Places for a Digital Nomad, Budget Living in Malaysia, Travel to Malaysia / Outglobing.com #digitalnomad #malaysia #kualalumpur #travel

You might be wondering what a digital nomad even is? The phrase has been around for many years, but up until recent popularity of the lifestyle, it has resurfaced. It’s the equivalent of being able to work remotely mixed with being a traveler. It’s also referred to as being location independent since you don’t need to rely on a specific place to conduct work. Due to this nature, I’ve found Malaysia to be the ideal destination.

Malaysia is the Next Digital Nomad Destination

Since my arrival in Kuala Lumpur, I have absolutely fallen in love with this country because it has everything I could ask for in a home base. Before living here, I was always told Malaysia is only a place people end up because of layovers. No one actually thinks to visit. With seeing how developed KL is and the efforts of growth, I truly believe Malaysia is an up-and-coming hotspot for digital nomads. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it ranked with Chiang Mai and Canggu in the next 3 years.

For me, determining whether a location is great for a digital nomad is based off of livability. I keep in mind the cost of living, food options, internet speed, and more. The following is entirely my preferences of what I look for in a destination, however I would consider myself the average person. I am not living life like I am dirt poor, but I also am not going out every other night and throwing cash all over the place. If you feel that I’m hashtag relatable then Malaysia might be the country for you!

On The Rise

What I noticed right away about Malaysia, is that it is developed and you can tell they are trying to grow and become a top city in Asia. The drive from the airport to Kuala Lumpur, I was impressed with seeing the many new developments along the way. It is clear that the city is growing larger by building out. With this, I also noticed that they are improving their internet. I saw a home internet advertisement with the slogan “bringing Malaysia up to speed” because they have a joke of being the least connected.

Of course, having internet is a must for a digital nomad living in Malaysia. I can’t speak about the home internet I saw, but using my phone as a hotspot worked terrifically for me. Especially after coming from Bali. So, if you’re currently in Canggu (don’t lie, we’ve all been there) then you’ll appreciate the connection here! I did a speed test and it was 43 mbps, which is actually what I was used to back home in St. Louis.

Cost of Living

Whether you’re new or a regular reader of mine, then I’m sure you know I’m all about affordable travels. Malaysia is no exception to that rule. The cost to live here coincides perfectly with my post about being able to travel the world for less than $10,000. I actually had a conversation with someone who gave me insight on her price of living lavishly in Malaysia, which was still less than $800 a month. I’m currently tracking my expenses, as I do with every place I’ve visited, and I’m consistently hitting my goal of how little I’d like to spend each day.

In addition to expenses, as digital nomads, we often are flying to new locations every couple months. Air Asia is actually based in Kuala Lumpur, which means your flights are almost always going to be the cheapest from here! Even outside of Asia, you can land some great deals for flights to U.S. and Europe. This is optimal for your traveling lifestyle.

Food

Speaking of spending little, you may think that I’m just not spending at all. That is not the case whatsoever. When I searched for an accommodation, I specifically looked for a full kitchen to be able to cook at least one daily meal at home. This is what I have done in Bangkok and Bali to keep my spending down… but let me confess: I’ve only cooked one meal in two weeks, so far. I always eat out, every day, all day! The food variety is so vast, delicious, and cheap. My friend who grew up in Penang told me Malaysians often eat 5 meals a day and I don’t blame them!

Melting Pot

What’s fascinating to me about Malaysia is that it’s a melting pot of cultures. There’s Chinese, Indian, British, Arabic, and the list goes on. It’s a beautiful sight to see and reminds me of home because of all the different types of people. When I was in Bali or Bangkok, I felt that I often got double looks, but I feel more welcomed here in Malaysia without people staring at me like I’m from another planet. Which brings me to the most important factor, everyone here speaks English. I had the hardest time in Bangkok because I only found a handful of people that could understand me. You won’t find that issue here.

Living here is comfortable and easy, I actually feel at home. This country is extremely underrated and has a bad reputation for not being much and having poor internet, but I really enjoy life here. I can’t wait to see the expansion of Kuala Lumpur, it has all the attributes of a perfect city and so much potential. I expect the digital nomad lifestyle to grow immensely in Malaysia over the next few years. For now, I will enjoy this hidden gem before the tourism kicks in!

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11 comments
  1. Wow, 43 mbps Internet speed!

    I’m really excited to visit Malaysia next. Probably will see KL for a few days, and then head up to Penang!

    It will be interesting to see Malaysia grow. I think you’re right that it will grow as a digital nomad hub. Can’t wait to read more about your experience there!

    Reply
  2. What an inspirational post! Would love to visit Malaysia, you have given some great advice!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Lexie!

      Yes, traveling to Malaysia has been under the radar for a bit, I’m so glad you’re wanting to visit here. It’s truly an amazing country <3

      Reply
  3. Dianna!! I am in love with your blog! I love your story and I’m not committed to following your traveling journey (somewhat like a stalker but less creepy of course hahah)! Malaysia sounds amazing! I must admit, the thought of traveling alone scares the crap out of me, so I’ll start slow and live through you. I’m also planning a trip for Atlanta this year (I live in Boston). Small, but still I’m excited!

    Reply
    1. Yes, love!

      I’m originally from St. Louis, and I moved to Chicago. And I think that small move was really was sparked my desire to travel more and farther. So, I think it’s great to start small! Who knows where it will get you 😉

      Reply
  4. It wasn’t in my plan to visit Malaysia when I went backpacking but I was so glad we did – it was surprising how cheap it is! So I definitely agree that it’s a great place for digital nomads 🙂 x

    Reply
    1. Hi Laura!

      That’s so awesome you’ve visited Malaysia. It makes me so happy to hear about others who have been here, I feel like people skip over it so much! 🙁

      Reply
  5. I absolutely adore Malaysia. I travelled around the country for six weeks last summer and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. One of the most beautiful countries in the world. Wish you a lovely time there.
    Sophie x

    Reply
    1. Hi Sophie!

      I’m so happy you’ve been able to experience Malaysia! Whenever I heard people speak about it, they don’t really say much because no one’s had an interest to visit and it saddens me. I’m leaving here at the end of March, but I know I can’t wait to be back again <3

      Reply
  6. Yea, I always get torn apart when writing about my home country. One part of me wants it to stay clear of obnoxious tourists (because you know, all popular cities in Asia have this problem due to our culture being so different), but one part of me really want to share how great it is.
    By the way, didn’t realize that Bali has bad connection. I always thought Malaysia has the worst connection in South East Asia. I actually googled just now, pretty surprised to see Malaysia is actually one of the top after Singapore and Thailand! I was so wrong when I told you it sucks… haha i was comparing it to Russia.
    Thank you for writing this beautiful piece about Malaysia, I hope more DNs see this.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Vivian! I would feel the same as you do about wanting to keep it safe from crazy tourists. Thankfully, they usually only reside in one area. I’d assume the area in KL will be Bukit Bintang, haha.

      Reply
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