Living in Kuala Lumpur as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Kuala Lumpur Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is a bustling metropolis known for its impressive skyline, diverse culture, and delicious cuisine. The city offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition, making it an ideal destination for expats seeking a dynamic and welcoming environment.

Tips for expats in Kuala Lumpur

Visa requirements

Expats planning to work in Kuala Lumpur will need to apply for a work visa, known as the Employment Pass. To be eligible, expats must secure a job offer from a Malaysian company, which will then facilitate the application process.

Language resources

Although Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, English is commonly spoken in most professional settings. Expats can choose to learn Bahasa Malaysia or Mandarin to deepen their connections with locals, with various language schools and resources available throughout the city.

Cost of living for expats in Kuala Lumpur


Housing options in Kuala Lumpur range from budget-friendly rooms in shared houses to luxury apartments. A room in a shared house averages around RM 500-800 (USD 120-190) per month, while a one-bedroom apartment can cost around RM 2,000-3,500 (USD 480-840) per month. Two and three-bedroom houses typically cost RM 3,500-6,000 (USD 840-1,440) and RM 6,000-10,000 (USD 1,440-2,400), respectively.


Groceries in Kuala Lumpur offer a mix of international and local products. Expat-oriented stores such as Jaya Grocer and Cold Storage provide a wide selection of Western and Asian items at slightly higher prices, while local markets offer fresh produce and seafood at lower costs. On average, expats can expect to spend RM 800-1,200 (USD 190-285) on groceries per month.


Public transportation in Kuala Lumpur is affordable, with a one-way ticket on the Rapid KL transit system costing RM 1.00-3.00 (USD 0.24-0.72) depending on the distance. Monthly passes are also available for RM 100 (USD 24). Grab, the region's equivalent of Uber, is widely used and provides an alternative transportation option.

Climate in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has a tropical rainforest climate with consistently high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The city experiences two monsoon seasons (northeast from October to March and southwest from April to October), resulting in frequent but brief rain showers. The average temperature ranges from 26°C to 30°C (79°F to 86°F), with occasional peaks above 34°C (93°F).

Job market in Kuala Lumpur

Key industries in Kuala Lumpur include technology, finance, healthcare, and tourism. The city is home to numerous multinational companies and offers expats a variety of job opportunities in these sectors. English is widely spoken in professional settings, but knowledge of Bahasa Malaysia or Mandarin can be advantageous.

Healthcare in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur boasts a modern and efficient healthcare system, with numerous private hospitals and clinics that employ highly trained medical professionals and cater to expat needs. Some notable facilities include Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, and Prince Court Medical Centre.

Transport in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has an extensive public transportation system, including the Light Rapid Transit (LRT), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Monorail, and bus services. These options connect the city center with suburban neighborhoods and surrounding areas, ensuring convenient transportation for expats within the city.

Safety in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is generally considered safe for expats, with low crime rates in most areas. However, taking standard safety precautions is always advised, especially in more densely populated and tourist-heavy districts such as Bukit Bintang and Chinatown.

Neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Bukit Bintang

    A popular entertainment and shopping district with a diverse population and an expansive selection of restaurants, bars, shopping malls, and nightclubs.

  2. Damansara Heights

    A modern and upscale neighborhood with an abundance of green spaces, cafes, and residential buildings, attracting both local and expat families.

  3. Mont'Kiara

    An upscale neighborhood popular among expats, offering luxury residential options, international schools, and numerous amenities such as shopping centers and restaurants.

  4. Bangsar

    An affluent neighborhood with a vibrant cafe culture, trendy bars, and restaurants, attracting a diverse expat population.

Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Petronas Twin Towers

    Standing at 452 meters tall, the Petronas Towers were once the world's tallest buildings and remain an iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur.

  2. Batu Caves

    A series of cave temples featuring intricate Hindu shrines and a towering golden statue, accessible via a steep staircase with 272 steps.

  3. Jalan Alor

    A bustling food street known for its diverse and affordable hawker fare, representing the best of Malaysian street food.

International Schools in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Garden International School


    A well-established international school offering a British curriculum to students from early years to pre-university.

  2. International School of Kuala Lumpur


    A prestigious international school providing a USA-based curriculum, offering Advanced Placement courses and a comprehensive range of extracurricular activities.

  3. The British International School of Kuala Lumpur


    A leading international school following the English National Curriculum, with a focus on academic excellence and personal development.

Useful expat resources in Kuala Lumpur

Expat destinations in Malaysia