Living in rural Malaysia(28 Posts)
I appreciate this post will come across as silly and naive, feel free to set me straight, this is what is needed.
DH works a lot in Singapore, Malaysia and a bit in Thailand. We live in Europe and so far we've coped with him being away for a while and then being at home for a while. However DH is keen for us to move, possibly to Malaysia and I am coming around to the idea.
I have lived in three different European countries so I am not entirely new to the problems of adjusting, fitting in, feeling home sick, etc. On the other hand, I have never lived in Asia and I suspect the cultural differences may be more pronounced.
To make things more complicated I have always lived rurally. I love the space, the quiet and I have a lot of animals including horses. I don't mind being out of the way but now we have children so we have to be reasonable about access to schools.
Is it completely silly to think about living in rural Malaysia? Am I deluded? Is there any way one could live rurally in the periphery of a major town (Kuala Lumpur presumably but open to suggestions) and commute in for schools?
You can get out of KL into "countryside" quite easily. The area I'm familiar with suffers regular powercuts and has a slightly "rough" reputation though. The traffic around KL is a nightmare too.
Waving hi from KL. It might be quite difficult to live rurally from a safety aspect. Also the local wildlife and weather in rural areas could make your life interesting. I'm not saying it's impossible but you really need to go look for yourself and consider carefully. There are many international schools around KL, some located on the outskirts. Good luck.
Have a look at Johor Bahru. It's Malaysia but commutable to Singapore and has some great international schools but easier to live rurally as it's a much smaller town than KL....
If DH works in various countries, any reason why it has to be Malaysia you settle in? Singapore is much easier, and way safer, when you have young DCs. Only a 1hr flight from KL.
I have lived in Malaysia for 13 years.
Rural KL- your biggest issue is where exactly? If you want to genuinely get out of town and look at the villages (Kampungs) - most are based around extended family group and an outsider might find it difficult to break into the community. You are also going to be a decent way from western style medical care and English medium schooling. The roads are bad at it could take you hours to get to an even basic supermarket.
If you want your kids to go to an English Medium school you are going to have to base yourself in Penang, KL or Johor.
If you are serious, look at the Cheras/Ampang side of KL- there are lots of 'tucked' away places, that you could access schooling within an hours drive. Or Petaling Jaya - still a lot of older style out of the city houses, but you will spend a lot of time sat in your car.
I'm not a city girl either (I'm from rural Wales) , but tolerate KL fairly well. I have my Oasis of green in my house/garden. I don't go out for days sometimes apart from walking the dog and it's lovely! I only have one DC at home now though and she is 15 and gets herself places. With younger kids you need to live near people IMO.
Thank you everyone this is all very helpful, albeit worrying which is what I expected.
I have horses and have always lived in rural places we could afford land and are surrounded by lovely countryside to hack in. There is no hope for recreating this in Malaysia is there?
It doesn't have to be Malaysia but my impression of Singapore is that it is very densely populated and impossible to afford land.
I will look at Johor Bakru thanks. DH also suggests either KL so the south within commutable distance of Singapore.
Also can I ask in what way is the countryside dangerous? Someone is likely to come nick your garden tools or seriously dangerous? Are the cities safer or would you have to live in a gated community in the cities?
I do know people who ride here but they stable their horses away from home and ride from there.
I wouldn't say the countryside isn't safe in itself but living out of town will make you stand out ands therefore make you a target
I live in town but have never lived in a gated community
If your dh needs to work out of Singapore, KL isn't really commutable daily. It's a four/five hour drive works clear road and immigration can take a long time.
Johor Bahru has a growing expat community and has Marlborough school.
There's not much to do there - everyone goes into Singapore - but that sounds like what you're after.
I doubt you could buy land at any price in Singapore. The only green left is the zoo and parks
I know people who have horses in jb and the Malaysian government has initiatives encouraging foreigners to buy property. Conversely you cannot buy land in Singapore as a non Singaporean and property (condos without land) are subject to an 18% expat tax if you are not sgp. There is horse riding in sgp, my friend volunteers for rda and I have another friend who plays polo but there is no hacking or similar, any green in sgp that isn't zoo or parks is military owned and closed to the public.
Sorry I didn't explain this well, DH doesn't need to commute to Singapore as such. He works from home, or he flies out so we are more flexible that way.
Not much to do is not an issue as we're used to that!
Ideally I would like to keep the horses at home as I've had them at home for the last 16 years but of course many riding centres look after their horses very well so that's an option.
Definitely Johor Bahru.
You cant buy land in singapore unless you are PR or citizen and then again only with a pemit.
Johor bahru has special economic zones for foreigners with purpose built residential ccompounds
Yes visas shouldn't be a problem.
This is a huge ask but does anyone have any friends who ride in Malaysia who might be willing to chat to me about riding and keeping horses there?
Rural Malaysia is not particularly pretty countryside, if that's important. I live in Singapore but driving through Johor for holidays in other parts there's lots of shanty type buildings, open drains, litter... then there are the gated communities that look like legoland or housing estates. Then there is the haze... It would be worth coming and having a good look to see if it is you want before committing.
The plan is to visit in the next year or so when DS will be three and, hopefully, won't drive everyone on the plane crazy!
We are also considering Thailand, just to mess things up a bit more!
Thailand is much much nicer than johor BUT they have massively cracked down on visas/immigration. They have quotas and only a very small number of applications get through every year. Especially UK passports. Although it is a stable country, the policy environment is unstable.
And you cant buy land as a foreigner. There are ways around it but again, unstable regulatory environment so better make sure you have a steady reliable local partner if you go down that route. There are international schools in many areas in Thailand.
Lots of beautiful areas in close proximity to airports to Sg, KL, HK etc....
Penang and langkawi in Malaysia worth considering too. Malaysia's regulatory environment is more stable and predictable. It is also a much more conservative society in rural areas. Not as many international schools.
DH is dealing with the practicalities and thinks we are OK with visas, taxes, buying property, etc in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam (obviously completely different requirement at each country but all, apparently, manageable).
I am trying to figure out what life would be like in these countries. My preference is between Thailand and Malaysia but that is all on paper. On paper Thailand seems to me more accepting and liberal but of course there is some political instability at the moment. Malaysia is closer to Singapore for some of our needs but I am not sure about some of the conservative aspects of the society.
Khao Yai provence in Thailand may be a possibility but I accept that what we want, rural property close to schools, may be a tall ask.
We don't have UK passports, sorry forgot to say.
There are some international schools around the edges of KL so access from a bit outside is doable, though there would be traffic as you would be moving along the same roads and times as all the commuters.
The countryside in Malaysia, as Saltedcaramellavacak
Around Seremban, Semenyih, or as fatowl says Apang/Cheras may be suitable.
KL is not really commutable to Singapore, unless it's going occasionally for a couple of days (making the 5 hour trip not too bad).
It's practically unheard of to live on big enough landed property to have animals. Dogs already are difficult to have: many gated compounds and condos don't allow dogs. There is a hilly area north of KL called Janda Baik, that in addition to local villages has a some holiday house type of places and could be suitable for rural living - but it is an hour away from the city and perhaps 30-45 mins to the nearest international schools IGB and ELC.
For more on living in KL check: happygokl.com/moving-to-kl/
You may also want to consider access to vet care for serious problems e.g. Colic, tendon injuries, chronic laminitis etc.
Whilst vets do exist in SE Asia the training is almost all focussed on livestock so very little equine or small animal speciality, and access to drugs/equine anaesthesia facilities is challenging.
Vietnam and Cambodia are both beautiful countries and easy to get along in if you did move overseas but I'd suggest a long visit to start with.
The heat/traffic/constant noise/traffic jams is grinding and you need to know you can deal with it before a move.
You may also want to consider security for pets e.g. Off lead dog walking is a problem in some areas due to dog theft for the meat trade.
And yes they can get stolen almost from under your nose.
In Malaysia there are plenty of vets that take good care of smaller pets, that are very common. Dogs are difficult more because as a Muslim country they are not allowed in most parks and there are very few places you can walk them - hence many opt for toy dogs or live in private houses or gated communities that have more relaxed rules. I have no information about vets for horses but there are roughly 5 bigger stables in and around KL that do mostly polo and livery so I assume they have vets that they use. You can go for hacks in the jungly forest area at Mont Kiara Equestrian Club if you have a horse there or lease one.
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