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.
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!
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!