A few months ago, I was interviewed by ExpatFinder.com about my experiences living in Kuala Lumpur. That interview finally went live yesterday, so I thought I would share of bit of it here. (ExpatFinder.com is a website that helps people who are moving abroad with everything from finding housing and schools for their kids to providing information about insurance and jobs in their new homes.)
For those of us doing the ex-pat thing in conjunction with the US Department of State, we are lucky to have many of these issues either taken care of for us or have help from post once we arrive to sort out the rest. Not everyone has such a strong support system, so websites like ExpatFinder.com are crucial to making the moves easier.
Below are a few outtakes from the interview. The full thing can be found by clicking here.
Q: What made you move out of your home country?
A: After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years, moving “home” just felt too small when there was a whole world out there to explore.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Q: What has been the most difficult experience you’ve had when you were new in your host country?
A: Malaysia has been an easy transition, but I’d say the toughest part is getting used to the driving style, which is very different from driving norms in the US.
Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Malaysia? How did you manage to find a social circle in Malaysia?
A: There is a huge ex-pat community in Kuala Lumpur, so new folks will find a variety of ways to get involved with others with the same interests. The biggest international school, ISKL, is a great starting point for that for kids with families. There are also a number of Facebook pages dedicated to ex-pat living, as well as local publications that can assist in the process.
Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?
A: The travel out of KL is great. Air Asia is a good way to hop to nearby countries for long weekends or extended vacations. I love taking visitors to the KL Bird Park, which is always a hit with young and old alike.
Q: How does the cost of living in Malaysia compared to your home?
A: Expat living in KL can be quite expensive, especially for me since I was previously living in western China. You can find nearly anything your heart desires, but you will probably pay a pretty penny for it.
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Malaysia?
A: Malaysia is great for travel and I love the warm weather. The hardest part of living here is dealing with the traffic and just the sheer distance back to the States. With no direct flights from KL to the US, going home or getting guests out can be quite an ordeal.
Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
A: Each new country is just a matter of adjusting to a new way of doing things. Learning to pick up on the subtleties of a new culture is important, but never easy.
Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?
A: I’d say connect with other ex-pat before arriving, if at all possible. They will be able to help you find those much-desired goodies from home at the supermarkets, point you in the right direction for whom to trust with your blonde highlights or give you the name of an honest and reliable taxi driver.