Financial Tips for Expats in Malaysia

Coming to a new country is challenging. Having to also deal with getting your finances aligned is even worse (especially when you're dealing with a 28% withholding tax). Which is why I'm creating the financial tips for expats in malaysia piece. These are all tips I wished I had when I first moved here.

Financial Tips for Expats in Malaysia is meant to give you a few optimal options for your finances so that you can focus on other things.

And if you have any questions or want to add anything, please ask in the facebook group Money Magnet Malaysia.

PS some of these things I have partnerships with and may get a referral (though I only partner with people who offer great services).

Housing tips for Expats in Malaysia

This is meant more for people at Mindvalley.

As part of the norm here in Malaysia, you are required to give 2.5x the monthly rent in a deposit in order to actually rent a place. This is particularly painful if you're still under the with-holding tax of 28%.

For those who are looking for much cheaper options than Bangsar, AND are interested in more local cuisine (ie no western food in the area), I would highly recommend the condo I'm at – Pacific Place. I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathrooms, fully furnished place for RM1800 / month.

Pacific Place is a 7min walk to the LRT station (and mostly under shelter) and it's a 20-25min LRT ride to the office. I use this time to listen to podcasts, getting me about 1hour of content each day.

There's also a lot of great local cuisine in this area 😉

Internet

If you are not heavy streamers, Maxis offers a 30mbs plan (enough for 2 people to be streaming Netflix at once) for RM89. However, if you want faster speeds (which honestly will never be felt unless you are working with huge files), Time has a 100mbs plan for RM99.

Banking

From a convenience perspective, Maybank is one of the best. The bank teller is right next to our office so you can easily go take care of stuff in person during work hours.

If you're looking for a bank that pays you good interest, I would suggest OCBC 360 account. The base interest rate is 0.50% and if you deposit RM500 / month into the account, you qualify for an additional 1.3% in interest. The total interest you can qualify with OCBC is 4.10%.

Coffee

If you would like 'better than Starbucks coffee' (as per other people at MV), and are usually getting coffee to go, then you might want to consider signing up for Arissto. Arissto is a coffee capsule subscription company that will rent you their coffee machine for RM1/month if you order on average 1 box of arissto coffee (comes with 10 capsules) for around RM20 each month. You can sign up here.

Money 101

I created a free mini course around money 101 – what I believe the most important things to be aware of with money (and how it connects into your life). No unlocking of any sort so you can probably finish this within a day 🙂

Financial Roadmap

I've partnered up with a credible financial advisor to help people create financial roadmaps for their lives. I've also got him to really focus in on including your life goals (think 3MIQ) as part of this plan so that you are able to save enough to check off your MIQ throughout your life.

This is great for those who want to get some sort of framework to think about their finances and / or those who would like to get a professional to guide your thought process.

Normally the company charges RM888 but I was able to negotiate it down to RM88 in return for helping them digitise and improve their offering.

Check it out here.

Travel Card

For those who do any sort of traveling, I would highly recommend getting a BigPay card. A BigPay card allows you to make purchases in foreign currency without being charged any exchange fee (which can be as high as 5%). It comes with a mastercard so all you do is you transfer money into your BigPay account and that money instantly becomes spendable.

Get started by downloading the app igPay app (andriod) or (iOS) and enter referral code B7D3YNZPGO to get RM10 free from BigPay (they also give me RM10). You can expect your card within a week 🙂

Travel Insurance

For those who want to do a lot of traveling (say 2month+ / year), and would like to get travel insurance, the best thing you can get is an annual travel insurance plan. The annual travel plan costs me a total of RM280.90 and covers me for anywhere in the world except USA, Canada, Iran, Syria, Belarus, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Crimea (including Sevastopol), Russia, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

As someone who's doing 3 months of travel, this works out to ~RM3 / day and more importantly, gives me the comfort in knowing that I don't have to worry about any sudden expenses.

Learn more about the AXA travel insurance and see the costs here.

If you're interested in getting it, talk to my financial planner friend (Jasper Hii), email her at jasperhii79@gmail.com and tell her you're interested in the same travel insurance policy as chungsoon.

Medical Insurance

Mindvalley covers us for up to RM25,000 in medical expenses a year. This is enough for anything minor like a visit to the clinic. However, it's not enough for anything that requires surgery.

There is an insurance policy that gives you up to RM200,000 coverage for around RM1,000 a year (this premium depends on your gender and age) which is more than enough for any complex surgery in Malaysia. To top it off, we can take advantage of the coverage that Mindvalley gives and drop our premium by 50%, making the plan cost around RM500.

I got it so that I never have to have any worry at the back of my mind and if you're also that type of person, I highly suggest this!

If you're interested in this, talk to my financial planner friend (Jasper Hii), email her at jasperhii79@gmail.com and tell her you're interested in the same medical insurance policy as chungsoon.

Investing

If you're already familiar with stock trading / investing, then I would suggest you get a TD Ameritrade account. It will give you access to the global market.

Besides that, a few other options are:

  • P2P lending – the most popular is stashaway who used to tout a 15% return, but now they tend to talk more in the 10% range. Not something I personally use but I do know a few people doing it and they seem to be having a good experience. Also important to know: it's a very passive thing so no work required on your end.
  • unit trusts – they're the mutual fund of Malaysia. Not the best option (as there are a lot of fees), but possibly better than nothing. They also give you the option to get exposure to different markets including the US and China. If you do want to get into this, I would suggest working with Jasper (jasperhii79@gmail.com) as she knows quite a bit when it comes to the market and what's happening (much more than your average financial advisor)
  • Some guaranteed 18% return – I am currently looking into something that can give a guaranteed 18% return. It's related to the coffee thing I mentioned above, but I don't have enough information about it to be able to recommend it. Though I am seriously looking at investing in it myself. I will update as I get more information but it's important to note that there's a minimum investment amount of about RM10k to get involved.