Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 08/17/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have lived in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

San Francisco. Best case it's 21 hours with a two hour layover in Narita.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing is all really nice. Everyone lives in apartments. I live in a very heavily American area and it's a bit much as you are constantly seeing colleagues, but great for kids as they always have friends. Commute time is about 11 minutes door to door!

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get absolutely everything here for a reasonable price. I've never lived somewhere with such availability. I find the cost of living to be quite inexpensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. I shipped natural laundry detergent and cleaning products and I shouldn't have bothered. We have access to lots of Australian products here in addition to American.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

This is a food country. Everything is available. Literally everything. And almost everything can be delivered.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

This is where it gets tricky. Currently it seems nearly impossible for third country nationals to work in household help positions. Malaysians don't typically work as a domestic employees. Filipino maids/nannies are in hot demand here, but we're finding out that the sponsoring of domestic employees is nearly impossible. Plus, no maid/nanny that is currently here can work for anyone other than the person listed on their visa. If household help is important to your family, I'd make sure I understand this well before arrival as there's a possibility of not being able to hire anyone legally.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots. Comparable to the U.S.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Christian.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It's a developing country, but it's probably better than most in terms of elevators and side walks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Uber is the way to go. There are also metros that are easy to use.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SMALL!

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. It's not really high-speed. The internet in the Embassy is the worst I've every experienced. It can be arranged for installation before your arrival if you work with post and your sponsor.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local providers are cheap and easy.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of refugees here.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Typical petty crime. I feel perfectly safe here as a single woman. That being said, I always live in big cities and thus don't walk around at night!

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is fine. You can get most things treated here. If you want higher level care, you can travel down to Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not good. I think it's worse than many others but I'm susceptible to something in the pollution. I consistently have problems with my eyes. We're clocking in at about 186 today. That being said, very few people limit their activities here.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No. It's never winter here.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Humid and 90 degrees. It rains through out the year. It's hot. But, it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several options. ISKL is the main school used by Embassy personnel and it's phenomenal. If I could stay and keep my kids here for 12 years I would. It's truly the most amazing school I've ever seen.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISKL is the way to go. They've begun a new inclusion program and are very committed to meeting student needs. Again, guessing ISKL is better than schools in VA.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. They are fine. Reasonably priced for what you get.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Again, everything is available here.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Extraordinarily large. This is the most multicultural place I've lived and I'm from San Francisco. You don't stand out as an expat at all.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

This is a normal biggish city. All types of things to do.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not really LGBT friendly. There are no LGBT folks at the U.S. Embassy that I am aware of, probably as homosexuality is illegal for Malays.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yep. Yep. It's a Muslim country. I do not think expats face any prejudice, though.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Easiest living in the Foreign Service so far. Reasonably priced travel to so many places in Asia.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Again, very easy living. Good housing. Great school. 10 minute commute to work. Everything is available, but, it's a distance from the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05/14/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes, this is my first time living abroad.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

New York area. The flight between NYC or DC and Kuala Lumpur averages 26-26 hours including connections. From the East Coast of the U.S. you'll usually fly west with one connection in Asia (Tokyo, Taipei, or Hong Kong). There are sometimes flights heading East that will connect in London. With a two leg journey, one flight will be about 12-14 hours and the other will be about 8.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Assignment at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing in KL is VERY nice. They are roomy apartments in modern high rises very close to the Embassy. Singles and childless couples are typically housed closer to the Embassy (an 8-15 minute walk depending on the building), families stay a bit farther away in apartments closer to the school (a 10-15 minute drive from the Embassy). There are some maintenance issues, but GSO is very responsive. Typical issues would be repairs needed on wall mounted AC units and leaky pipes under sinks. All buildings have on-site security provided by the building management, and they coordinate very well with the embassy. Apartments typically have pools, gyms, and common areas for BBQs. Many also have small playground areas for the children.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get just about anything you want in KL. It's probably the easiest transition for an American moving overseas since you can find nearly every product you'd find back home, including familiar American brand (also tons of British and Australian brands). Groceries are certainly cheaper than what you would pay in the New York area. Australian and British imports can be pricier, but if you buy local brands you'll definitely be saving money. There are several very nice grocery stores within walking distance or a short drive from the housing area, and they're nicer than many grocery stores I've seen back home!

You can also get grocery delivery in KL. Jaya Grocer offers their own online service, but there are a couple of mobile apps including Happy Fresh where you can choose your store and then select your items. The items available are limited compared to what's in the store, but say you're hosting a game night and are too lazy to make the trip to the grocery store. You can order your snacks, paper cups and plates, and even alcohol online and have it delivered straight to your apartment.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None, as I enjoy exploring local food options. The only thing I miss that is a bit hard to find here are frozen pre-made meals. You can also find American brands of shampoos, conditioners, cleaning products, etc. If there's a particular niche product you can't live without, definitely bring that with you but major brands tend to be available.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

When it comes to restaurants, KL is Little America. We have almost every chain here (McDonald's, KFC, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden...the list goes on). Can't decide between Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts? No problem! We have both!

Want to get outside of the American bubble? Just about every style of cuisine is available here. Western-style brunch spots, hip cafes, sushi, dim sum, Korean BBQ, Indian buffets, stylish tropical bungalows serving gourmet Thai, hole in the wall noodle joints, and delicious hawker stalls. The main thing to do in KL is eat, so get prepared to gain some weight or desperately try to sweat it all off. The hardest part is deciding where you're going to eat and what you're in the mood for.

We also have Food Panda, an online app where you can order from 100+ local restaurants. Pick a style of cuisine, choose your restaurant, and order a feast on your phone. You can link your credit card to the app and a driver will come straight to your apartment on his trusty moped to deliver your meal.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some houses will have ants as they're par for the course in the tropics. A little ant bait usually does the trick!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy KL has a DPO, so all shipping and receiving is done on site. Everyone has a UPS one-click ship account and the mail room sticks the flat-rate shipping boxes.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I don't have household help, but many of my colleagues do. Some have a dedicated part-time helper who comes every day (mainly those with children). Some singles and childless couples will share a helper so that each apartment has someone stopping by once or twice a week.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms near to the embassy where some folks sign up for monthly memberships. These have all of the facilities you'd expect back home and host classes throughout the week (step, spin, kickboxing, pilates, etc). Most apartment buildings have on-site gyms with basic cardio and weight equipment, and there are a few fitness classes taught at the embassy.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, you can absolutely use credit cards. They can be used in the malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. Some smaller shops and food stalls will be cash only. If you try to use your credit card to pay for something online through a Malaysian payment site it will be hit or miss on whether your card will be accepted. I've had success about 70% of the time.

ATMs are very common, most people will use the ones in the mall and they are safe to use. If you're working at the embassy, you can cash checks there to get local currency and avoid using ATMs entirely.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't need to know any Bahasa to get by here. The only word you need to know is Keluar so you can recognize the emergency exit signs in the malls. Almost everyone speaks at least moderate English, and many Malaysians are fluent.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local transport is safe, efficient, and inexpensive. People generally do not take taxis around KL as they are very overpriced compared to Grab (Asia's version of Uber). Everyone has the Grab app on their phone, and like Uber you can link a credit card to the app so you don't have to worry about carrying around cash. It is often quicker to take a Grab around the city as opposed to navigating the train system, and it is also very inexpensive. Rides average $1.50 to $4.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Those without kids generally do not have cars. While they're nice to have if you want to explore outside of KL, they're definitely not necessary in the city. Everyone walks or takes Grab wherever they need to go. If you have kids you'll likely need a car to transport them and their equipment to/from school and sports.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, the internet speeds here are what you would expect in America. Internet/phone service is about $50/month and it can be installed before you arrive at post, to include your wi-fi router.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everyone uses Maxis. You can either get a set monthly plan or pay as you go. You can get 10GB unlimited data for about $30 or $40 a month. Simply bring your American phone with you and swap out the sim card for the new Maxis one. When traveling in the region, Maxis offers a data/call/text plan for about $10 a day, or you can buy local sim cards at the airports once you reach your destination.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There is a home for orphaned girls where many folks from the embassy community volunteer, and some folks are involved with the local SPCA.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The embassy is business casual, and for formal government meetings, business dress is required. Formal or business dress would be required at diplomatic receptions.

In public places, Malaysians and expats are very casual (shorts, tees, sundresses). Think summer in DC or NY. While it is a Muslim majority country, no one expects women to cover up. Some restaurants and bars have dress codes so you'll have to have some smart cocktail wear and nice shoes. If you're visiting religious sites (temples, shrines, mosques) you should wear long, loose pants and cover your shoulders.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is some petty crime, mostly purse snatching. If you're going to wear a purse where it on one shoulder so if it gets grabbed you can just let go of it easily (the snatchers come by on motor bikes). The best thing to do is to not carry a large bag at all, just bring whatever you need in a small clutch or wristlet that you can tuck up under your arm. Situational awareness is key, but the crime is similar to any major tourist city. There is virtually no violent crime, but most people don't walk alone at night in unpopulated areas just to be on the safe side.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Local medical care is excellent, the hospitals have English-speaking specialists and all of the equipment and facilities you would expect in a major American city. Malaysia is quickly becoming a medical tourism destinations. The sir is generally clean here, but every few years a significant haze may come through so those with respiratory conditions may choose to wear a mask or stay in doors if that happens. Tropical diseases like Zika and Dengue are present, and cases of Dengue have occurred among embassy personnel. Apartment buildings are regularly fumigated against mosquitoes, but it's always smart to wear insect repellent if you'll be outside in the evening, or when traveling to forested areas outside of the city.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Every few years Malaysia experiences a haze from crop burning in Indonesia. This has not happened in the year that I've been here, but there was a bad haze season a couple of years ago. The Embassy provides all apartments with air purifiers just in case. In general air quality is probably on par with many large American cities.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Food allergies can be tricky here, particularly fish and peanuts as they are used so frequently in Asian cuisine. Also, if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, you may run into problems because there is fish sauce, meat broth, or bits of meat in almost everything. If you go to the nicer sit-down restaurants and cafes they can accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions and many have special menus for vegetarians. The only places I would recommend avoiding would be smaller local restaurants and hawker stalls.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Imagine the hottest, most humid day of the year in a place like Louisiana. Now imagine that every day of the year. There's supposedly a wet and dry season here but I think that's a vicious lie because it rains basically every day. Most of the storms last for 1 or 2 hours but when it rains it tends to rain hard, to the point of mild flooding in the streets. It also seems like the weather enjoys strategically victimizing you by having many rain/thunderstorms start up around 4pm on weekdays when you're getting ready to try to walk home from work or around 2pm on the weekends when you're just getting settled at the pool.

Be prepared to put your clothes through the stress of frequent washes and carry an umbrella with you at all times.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

This is a mid-sized embassy, and there are diplomatic missions from many other countries here as well. There are fewer expats from the oil and gas sector, but some are still here. Overall expats really enjoy KL. It is not the most interesting city as there are not many museums or cultural events, and very few historic sites. However, it is a very easy city with everyone speaking English, modern infrastructure and conveniences, easy transportation, and great dining and night life. Morale is high because people are thankful for the ease of KL and enjoy traveling throughout the region.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is an expat group called Internations which hosts events throughout the city. Otherwise people meet for BBQs or pool parties, or go out for dinner and drinks/dancing.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This city is great for everyone. Families love it because of the high quality schools and activities (bird park, aquarium, science center, etc). Singles and couples have a great time traveling frequently within and outside of Malaysia, and spending time among the hawker stalls and on pub street. There is something for everyone here.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The number 1 highlight of Malaysia is traveling throughout the region. KL is the main AirAsia hub, so you can go almost anywhere on an inexpensive direct flight. In one year I have already been to 11 countries and still have several more to go. The most common trips are to Singapore, Bali, Thailand, and Cambodia. Visiting East Malaysia on the island of Borneo is also a must-do!

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Georgetown, Penang, is probably one of the most photogenic places you can visit, with great food, colonial row houses, and amazing street art. The islands off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia have white sand beaches and excellent snorkeling, and you can visit some of the largest cave systems in the world in the rainforest of Borneo in East Malaysia. For a quick day trip from KL, head south to the port city of Malacca for great food and vibrant, historic colonial flair.

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6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Malaysians seem to love malls more than almost anything else on earth. Some are a bit more "local" with less expensive stores, others are filled to the gills with global luxury brands and fine dining. Some have theme parks, almost all have movie theaters, you probably haven't spent this much time in a mall since you were in high school.

Central Market is a good place to go for handicrafts, batik, and antiques. The thing that is most unique to Malaysia would be the batik fabrics and pewter goods. Other than that many of the handicrafts are coming from other southeast Asian countries, and will look the same to what you may see in a market in Thailand, Cambodia, or Indonesia.

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7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The travel and convenience. You have almost all of the amenities you would expect in an American city with the added benefit of being able to be in Phuket in an hour.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I really didn't have to spend so much money buying toiletries and medicine to ship over here. Almost everything can be found on the local market, and if it's not the brand you're used to you can certainly find an acceptable local replacement.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. If you've ever wanted to live the life of one of those digital nomad travel bloggers without actually quitting your job and losing your health benefits, come to Kuala Lumpur. There are so many holidays in Malaysia that you can travel the entire region on long weekends and never break into your vacation time. Feeling like a change of pace? Pop down to Singapore or up to Bangkok after work on Friday for the weekend, the flight will be under an hour and probably about $50 roundtrip.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes and closed toe shoes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Umbrella!

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Kuala Lumpur is a cheaper, more relaxed version of Singapore. Your Instagram feed will look like that of a 20-something trust fund travel blogger, and your Facebook friends will constantly ask you if you're actually working.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 04/17/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our fourth expatriate tour.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Malaysia is a long way from the U.S. We usually fly to Tokyo and then enter the U.S. in California. It is at least 24 hours traveling door to door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived in KL for two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Husband's assignment with the US embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Nearly all of the US embassy employees live in apartments throughout the Ampang and downtown area. Commutes are easy, nothing is far. You do get stuck in traffic depending on the time of day. My commute to work is just five minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are willing to eat local food. We love the food stalls near the international school. We have found this to be the least expensive city we have lived in. However, dairy items cost more than in the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

No need to ship anything, we have found everything here including holiday items.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Kuala Lumpur has an amazing variety of restaurants within all price ranges. We love the Thai food, dumplings, Chinese food, and there is good Indian food. You can also find good Western food as well. The malls have all the U.S. chains.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of insects here, glad to be in a high-rise apartment where it isn't too much of an issue. Lots of mosquitoes, we always have bites. It is a small sacrifice to live in such a great city.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is really easy to find. You pay around $4.50 an hour.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most apartment buildings have gyms and pools.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, it's very easy to use U.S. credit cards. We have had no issues. We use cash a lot as well.

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4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You do not need to know Bahasa to function in the city. Language classes are available and inexpensive.

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sadly, the city is not wheelchair-friendly. If there are sidewalks they are not well maintained.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We mostly use Uber, it is inexpensive and readily available.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I would recommend buying a car here. Repairs are cheap if you have a local car. There are always lots of vehicles for sale in the embassy community. So glad we did not bring our minivan. This is Asia and parking spots are very compact.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We bought an unlocked iPhone here upon arrival (same prices as U.S.) and I use a pay-as-you-go plan. I spend around $20/month for phone and internet. Was easy to get a SIM card, you just need your passport.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I am currently employed as a teacher at the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) along with a few other embassy spouses. A bilateral work agreement was passed two years ago allowing diplomatic spouses to work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many volunteer opportunities at schools for individuals with disabilities and refugee schools.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

This is a Muslim country so expats are expected to dress modestly. Shorts are fine, just not too short.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is petty crime, you need to be careful when walking with a bag or purse outside. Most apartment buildings have excellent security.

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2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is good most of the year. We did have really bad air for two months last year when the Indonesians were burning their palm fields. This occurs every year, but the haze last year was especially awful.

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3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Our daughter has a nut allergy so we are very careful. Luckily the school provides a nut-free menu so she is happy eating lots of Asian foods from the cafeteria vendors.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid all year. Lots of tropical rain storms.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

My three children all attend the International School of Kuala Lumpur (I have a child in each division). We LOVE this school. It is our all-time favorite international school to date. Amazing opportunities at ISKL in every division. ISKL truly is an international school, there is not one dominant culture. They do a great job of facilitating a feeling of inclusion and kindness. It does not matter how much money you have, or where you come from, all are accepted by their peers. My kids all had friends shortly after arriving. I have been very fortunate to work at the school the last two years. I have immensely enjoyed working with such professional and caring teachers.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISKL offers learning support in all divisions. There is an LR teacher per each grade level. Students with mild learning difficulties are mainstreamed with push-in and/or pull-out support. Additionally, ISKL has now started an intensive needs program in their middle school. This program will expand to all divisions in 2018 when ISKL debuts their new campus. More information is available on the school website.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Lots of after school activities, including most sports, are offered at ISKL.

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Expat Life:

1. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Highlights of living in Kuala Lumpur: the school, the food, and the cheap travel around Asia. We have already been to Singapore, Bali, Cambodia, Australia, China, Japan, and Vietnam. Malaysia is central to many amazing destinations. The first thing I did upon arrival was to get scuba certified. There are great diving opportunities in this area.

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2. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots to do in the city, every weekend there is something going on. Many parks, museums, concerts, etc.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, we will be very sad to leave.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bug repellent.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 04/09/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I lived in England and then in the U.S.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC was our home base. We flew DC to Boston to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. It was about 30 hours with connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

About 9 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are in a 3000 sq ft, 3-bedroom, 5-bathroom apartment in a high-rise building. We can walk to KLCC Park/Mall or Pavilion. Pretty much all apartment buildings that we've visited seem to have pools and gyms. They usually have two kitchens. We have a teeny "maid's quarters" (small closet) where we keep a second refrigerator and some storage containers. Traffic can be horrendous at times, Friday afternoon rush hour seems to gridlock the city, but most people we know have a 15-minute or less commute to work for their 1-2 mile drive.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability and cost are comparable. Some things are less expensive, and other items cost more. It tends to even out. You can easily find products from the US, UK, Australia and all over Asia. There are lots of grocery stores and markets. The Marks and Spencer store in the KLCC mall has a decent supply of gluten-free products.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We found that most things we need are readily available. There is a KL Klubb-Lah Facebook group where people post to ask others where to find things if they need help sourcing something.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You will be spoiled for choice in KL. There are many, many, many amazing restaurants here. People also use the foodpanda app for delivery. It's reliable, has lots of choices, and is very reasonably priced. There is everything from high end French restaurants where you can get five or more courses to really good Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Malay and western choices.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Carry mosquito spray and know the symptoms for dengue etc.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use APO/DPO and it usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for letters and packages to arrive from Amazon, etc.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Help is readily available. People pay around 20RM an hour (about $4.50 an hour at the current exchange rate of 4.43). It's easy to get recommendations from friends who usually know an expat family who are transferring, or otherwise embassies often have a list or KL Klubb-Lah on Facebook is a good source to find someone. It's cheaper per hour if you hire someone full-time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most apartment buildings have a gym and a pool. There are running trails through KLCC park too. They can be busy, but it's a pretty place to run/walk. Sometimes there are fitness classes in the park, and there are multiple places to go for yoga or fitness classes in gyms. We sometimes have people offer yoga classes or personal training in our apartment gym.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards in most places, although you will find more places here that are cash only versus back in the UK/US. ATMs are everywhere, but as is good practice everywhere, we tend to use the ones in high visibility places such as the nicer shopping malls, banks, and airport. Some embassies offer check cashing facilities.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All kinds of services are available.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't need much at all and could happily survive without any language instruction. I was lucky enough to take a class that was a mix of learning some language and culture. It's nice to know pleasantries such as hello, please and thank you. I also find it handy to know numbers and phrases such as how much, can I have a discount, I would like (number) of them please. Sometimes a few little phrases will help get you a more reasonable price for something and you might not have to pay the tourist prices for everything.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Curbs tend to be high, cars sometimes park on sidewalks blocking them, and they're not always in the greatest condition, so I would say it's not the easiest place to live and get around in a wheelchair, but there are probably worse places too. Our apartment would be accessible to someone using a wheelchair. The only negative would be that if it rains, the way we go to pick up/drop off children at the school bus at our apartment would not be wheelchair accessible. There is also a ramp from the elevator down to our swimming pool and playground area, but the ramp would be far too steep for a person in a wheelchair to use without assistance from someone else.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I've taken the train for touristy options and it's been fine. I've found it easy and pleasant to use Uber. They are extremely cheap, reliable and I feel safer in an Uber than a taxi as the app means your drive and driver are known and connected to you, the passenger. I've had many engaging conversations with Uber drivers and feel like I've gotten to know Malaysia from some of the drivers. I can't think of an Uber journey that's cost more than about 12RM (under $4) and I've been all over the city.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You drive on the left, so we bought a car here. We have an SUV, but it's not necessary to have an SUV. I do feel very safe in it and parking hasn't been in a problem. If I go anywhere that I know parking is difficult to find, I just take an Uber. They seem to be resurfacing many of the main roads I use in KL. There are fewer potholes now, but you can get larger potholes in older sections of town. I've heard it's a difficult and lengthy process to bring in cars from outside and there are rules to be followed strictly such as no tinted windows. With so many people getting two- and three-year postings here, it's pretty easy to get a decent used car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We had social sponsors who helped set this up before we arrived. We weren't able to pay by credit card from the US, so our sponsors paid cash and we repaid them upon arrival. I've heard of even businesses complaining about difficulties getting phone lines/internet installed in a timely manner, so plan ahead and ask a work colleague to help get you set up ahead of time if you can. We paid for the most expensive/highest speed internet and it has fluctuations in service from time to time. We don't have cable and use Apple TV, but seem to be successful using this most of the time.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You need unlocked phones here to be able to put in a new sim card and get a local phone number. You can go to places such as My Maxis/Hotlink at KLCC and they will set it up for you. We pay $8-15 a month per person for our phones and we use them a lot. You can buy top up tickets at "mynews" outlets and add them to your phone when you need them. We use whatsapp, facetime and skype for many of our calls so that helps keep costs down.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We don't have pets, but have several friends that brought pets here. I believe quarantine was required. One friend's cat was in need of significant vet care after coming out of quarantine but is doing okay now.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Many spouses are teachers or become employed family members working in their embassy. There are full and part-time jobs available. Not all spouses work. Some spouses telecommute from jobs they held before moving to KL.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many opportunities because of all of the refugees here. There are opportunities through the SPCA and environmental groups as well as through the UN.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It depends on your place of employment. Most places seem to be business casual to business. There are sometimes events at either the schools such as International School of Kuala Lumpur, or events related to diplomatic missions that require formal dress. Out and about, you will notice that most Malaysian Muslim women are covered, but wear colorful clothes and headscarfs rather than wearing a full burqa, although you do also see this from time to time. As the country also has Chinese and Indian citizens, you will see the same kinds of fashion here that you do anywhere else in the world. There are US/British/European/Japanese/Australian stores from very high end to high street in the malls here.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There are reports of purse snatchings and so you are always advised to keep your bags across your body and away from the road while out walking and not to carry/wear valuables. In your car, you're recommended to keep bags out of sight, especially if driving alone. Having said that though, I haven't felt unsafe here and I walk around a lot with other female friends during the day or with my husband and children in the early evenings. Keep your wits about you and stay alert as you would in any other city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

In the nine months I've lived here, there have only been a few days of haze, but I've heard it can get really bad. I know that the International School of KL has air purifiers. They monitor readings and limit/end outdoor activities if the levels are too high. Medical care is decent with two good hospitals in the center of the city. Embassies will send people to Singapore if necessary for treatment beyond what is available here.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It's been decent except for a couple of days over the last nine months. Most people have air purifiers.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I'm not sure how seriously restaurant staff take it when you tell them about food allergies. I react to shellfish, so tend to order vegetarian a lot when out. Even doing this has no guarantees, because you'll often see vegetarian items that have scallops, shrimp, fish paste or shrimp paste as part of the ingredients. (How can this be?!!!) I took language classes for a while, and my Bahasa teacher told me that they don't have a word for "shellfish" here, so trying to explain to people who don't speak very good English that I can't eat anything with shrimp, crab, lobster or that type of thing can be a bit trying.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

You won't get winter blues here!

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is hot and humid all year long. There are some days where it cools down at night, but you will live in air conditioning. If you want an escape from the heat, go to Cameron Highlands for a weekend where the temperatures are lovely during the day and you might even need a sweater for the evening! Cameron Highlands is a great place to go to see tea plantations such as Boh. It's about a 3 hour drive from KL mostly because the last section is on twisty mountain roads.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We absolutely love the International School of Kuala Lumpur. https://www.iskl.edu.my/ My child had been in one school from age 3 until the end of Grade 5 before moving here, and they made her feel so welcome. She absolutely loves it and I know she won't want to leave when the time comes for us to transfer. The teachers are wonderful and often email with the children as they complete homework. They offer to work with students outside of classes on any material that is particularly challenging. There are lots of opportunities for arts, athletics, and after school activities in addition to having a robust academic program.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

This is on an individualized basis and worth reaching out to schools. ISKL is implementing plans to enrich and expand how they will serve special-needs children. They already have a team of learning specialists and always seem to be looking for ways to improve what they do.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are many preschools available and there are after school activities available at ISKL in ES, MS and HS.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community is large and morale seems to be excellent. There are bazaars and events put on by embassies and country community groups frequently and even more so during the lead up to Christmas.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Most apartment buildings have Facebook pages - join the group and go to group events. If your children are at school, join the PTA or attend informative sessions when you can during the school year to meet other parents. Connect with people through your place of employment.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think this is a great place for families and couples. I can't really speak to single people, but I think it has every chance of being as good a place to be as any other city.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

This is a mostly Muslim country, but I've heard it's tolerant compared to other Muslim countries.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Malaysia has preferences for the majority group (Muslim Malaysians). This tends to be for employment, getting into colleges, costs of housing etc. The Chinese and Indian Malaysian populations seem to accept this, at least on the surface.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Having Air Asia has made our time here amazing. We've already been to Cambodia, Langkawi, Penang and Bangkok. We have plans to go to Myanmar and Vietnam coming up soon. It's also really easy to drive to other destinations such as Pulau Redang (great snorkeling) and Tioman (scuba diving). Getting scuba certified costs about RM 1200 per person ($270) and that includes having the classroom lessons, materials, pool lessons and the diving instructor along for four open water sessions.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Central Market sells locally made clothing and crafts, it also has a great food court with local, western and SE Asian food choices. Central Market is in a two-story air conditioned building and just outside it is a quick walk to Chinatown, more outdoor market stalls and some great bakeries and florists. KL Bird Park has been a favorite with visitors because although it's enclosed it feels quite spacious. There are places just a short drive outside of the city for hiking and swimming in outdoor waterfalls. There are many Chinese Temples, Hindu Shrines (the Batu Caves is one of the most sacred Hindu places outside of India). and Mosques to visit around the city. The Petronas Towers offer excellent views of the city. There are several bars/restaurants around KLCC park that offer lovely views of the city and Petronas Towers (SkyBar at Traders Hotel, Fuegos, and Helipad just to name a few).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, lots of opportunities to buy locally made things including batiked items, beautiful wood furniture, local art and antiques.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The great food, the mix of old and new, the people, and the opportunities to visit other countries all within two hours flying time from here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How cheap Air Asia and accommodation in very nice hotels/resorts in SE Asia are so we could have started planning trips sooner!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter anything!

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience... Malaysia goes at its own speed and there is a saying "Malaysia-Lah" that you'll hear people say when things don't quite go as planned. Smile about it and just enjoy all this beautiful country has to offer!

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Evening is the Whole Day" by Preeta Samarasan. Well worth a read.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05/17/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is our fourth expat experience. We've previously lived in Kabul, Afghanistan; Ankara, Turkey; and Amman, Jordan.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Our home base is the Washington, DC area. The trip to post is usually about 30 hours, connecting through Hong Kong or Tokyo.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years, 2013-2016.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

In the KL city center area, housing is almost exclusively high-rise apartments. Single family and row houses are more common west of city center, in Mont Kiara and Damansara, and many private-sector employees choose to live in those areas. For those living and working in KLCC, commutes are generally over short distances (less than 5 miles) but traffic is nearly always an issue on major thoroughfares.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you shop at the "wet markets," produce and meat is quite reasonable - we can get a week's worth of groceries for our family of six for about $50. The grocery stores are more expensive but carry most everything you could want, including baking supplies and Western convenience foods. Prices are comparable to American grocery stores but a bit more expensive (maybe 20% mark-up?).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing I can think of.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find pretty much any type of food in KL. There's even a great Mexican restaurant! The whole range is available, from hawker stalls selling nasi lemak (coconut rice with spicy sambal) for less than 50 cents to fine dining restaurants in which you'll pay more than $20 for an entree.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes are a constant concern: dengue fever in particular was at epidemic levels for two of the three years we lived here. There are also concerns about malaria and Japanese encephalitis, although those are much less common than dengue.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have DPO and the diplomatic pouch through the embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available. Full-time housekeeper/nannies generally run about 2,000 RM per month (approximately $500).

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

They are available: most of the apartment buildings have gyms in them and there are private gyms as well. No idea as to the costs.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Both are widely available and generally safe to use. There are scams here as there are everywhere.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most varieties of Christian services are available: Anglican, general Protestant (evangelical and mainline/Presbyterian), Catholic, Latter Day Saints, etc. I don't know of any Jewish services in town.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much. Most people speak English, and those who don't speak English generally speak Cantonese or Tamil, so Bahasa Malaysia isn't really critical.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. It's not as bad as some places we've lived, but there are high curbs and buildings are not always wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. KL has Uber, and taxis are widely available and as safe here as they are anywhere. Intracity buses are quite crowded but otherwise safe, and intercity buses are a great way to get to Singapore or Penang. Trains have a limited number of stops but are generally clean and reliable where they do run.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Malaysia is a right-hand drive country (meaning cars drive on the left side of the road). You can get by with an American vehicle with the steering wheel on the left, but parking garages and such are quite inconvenient. Better to buy a car at post.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it's available. It costs us about $60/month, but that varies.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Any smartphone would be fine here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I don't know. Most apartments do not permit pets, so that's a consideration.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. I believe spouses are not authorized employment other than in the international schools, but I'm not really sure.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Probably plenty, but I don't have first-hand knowledge.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual to business for work

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The security concerns are primarily nonviolent theft, such as purse snatching (from pedestrians and from vehicles). Break-ins are an issue in ground-floor or townhouse-style housing, which is why most embassy housing is in high-rise apartment buildings. The terror threat here is not any more critical than in other large cities, to my knowledge.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

This is a big third world city in southeast Asia, so there is the normal range of intestinal and mosquito-borne illnesses to worry about. Medical care is quite good and not prohibitively expensive.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Most of the year the air quality is moderate (not stellar, but average for a big third world city). In September/October, however, when the corporations in Indonesia do their slash-and-burn for the palm oil plantations, the resulting haze makes the air quality dangerous for several days to months until the rainy season reaches Sumatra.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There are no seasons here. Pollen allergies are not a big issue since most of the plant life is jungle. People with gluten issues can find options here, the larger grocery stores carry gluten-free products. Peanuts are fairly prevalent in the local cuisine. Enough options exist that you can work around pretty much anything.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid. Imagine DC in August, but every single day all year long. There is very, very little variation, some months have a bit more or less rain but the temperature pretty much stays the same.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are several very reputable international schools in KL. The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) has an American curriculum. There are also British, Australian, and French schools and several smaller private schools. We home schooled during our time here, primarily because of the commute between KLCC and ISKL's primary school campus in Melawati (nearly an hour each way), but ISKL is building a new campus in KLCC that, when it is finished (currently scheduled for 2017/2018), will mean there is a top tier international school very close to the city center. Most people that I know with children in the international schools here are quite happy with them.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I have no personal experience with this issue. My understanding is that the schools here are private institutions, and are generally not set up to provide robust special needs programs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, preschools are available. I have not personally used them, but nearly everyone else at post does. There is a wide range of options, including Montessori and Reggio Emilia. They are not cheap, and most are set up for five days a week even for very young children (most preschools here start accepting children at age 2). For younger children, child care is usually provided by nannies.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. The schools all have sports programs, but there are also afternoon and weekend programs for soccer, gymnastics, tennis, fencing, horseback riding, swimming, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There's a large expatriate community, government and private sector (primarily oil companies). Morale is pretty high, KL is generally considered an easy place to live.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Pretty much anything you could imagine. There are great restaurants and bars and tons of shopping options. Most expats live in apartment buildings with pools, and given the climate, pool parties are the most comfortable way to be outside.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's good for families, and for couples and singles who are interested in travel. Most of the expatriates are here with their families.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I don't know. Malaysia is a Muslim country, but reasonably tolerant considering.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Malaysian society is quite striated, with the Bumiputera (Muslim Malay) population at the top of the heap by legal mandate, and sizable Chinese and Indian populations that are prevented from rising within the hierarchy beyond a certain point. For most expats this won't be a huge issue, although ethnically Chinese or Indian expats may face some prejudices from the local population. Christianity is well tolerated here, there are large churches that openly hold services, but as in any Muslim country proselytizing is illegal.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The food! Malaysia is famous for being a melting pot of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisine, and with reason. The regional travel opportunities are also quite good, KL is a hub for Air Asia and you can easily travel to Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Australia, and the Philippines, to name just a few.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Malaysia is full of travel opportunities: you can do everything from Legoland to shopping trips to canopy walks through the jungle.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batiks and pewter.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Kuala Lumpur is, in many respects, an easy city in which to live. There is a large expat community, English is widely spoken, foreigners are generally quite welcome and not particularly targeted for scams or crime, health care is good and you can find nearly anything that you want (groceries, clothing, shoes, medicine). It's a comfortable middle ground in the region - not as expensive (or as nice) as Singapore, cleaner than Jakarta, less conservative than Brunei.

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10. Can you save money?

Depends. It's not a super cheap city if you enjoy shopping in the Western-style grocery stores and malls, but it's not nearly as expensive as Singapore. If you want to do a ton of traveling you probably won't save much money, but those are all options that you can skip if you so choose.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That it really never does cool down, not even at night. Just expect to be sweaty any time you step outside.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Cold-weather clothing.

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4. But don't forget your:

Linen and cotton clothing, sunscreen and bug repellent. And your sense of humor, because TIM (This Is Malaysia!).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Entrapment" is the only movie I can think of set in KL. There was also an episode of "No Reservations" (Anthony Bourdain) filmed in Malaysia.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

I can't think of any set in KL, but "The Gift of Rain" by Tan Twan Eng is set in Penang and gives a pretty good idea of Malaysian culture.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 02/26/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No (Hamburg, Buenos Aires).

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. Long journey, about 30 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months in 2013.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Some good Embassy housing pool options near the U.S. Embassy. However most necessitate a car.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Several decent grocery stores are available.

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3. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Definitely mosquitoes and I knew folks who got dengue fever.

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Daily Life:

1. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, and at least one is within walking distance of the Embassy, is quite nice, and offers classes. Not sure of cost, but probably comprable to U.S.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Usually no problem.

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3. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

In KL, English is definitely fine.

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4. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, I imagine so. Sidewalks are rare, ramps are rare. Would present many challenges.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I always used the blue taxis which were U.S. prices but very nice, clean, safe, reliable. The local red cabs were cheap and made me nervous.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, petty theft affected many at the Embassy. Thieves breaking car windows - with the driver inside - to snatch visible bags. Motorcyclists grabbing purses from pedestrians. Local staff homes being broken into.

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2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate. Can be bad when the smoke comes over from Indonesia.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and rainy, hot and dry. But, not unbareable. I've never done well in heat but KL didnt bother me. The challenge is just dressing modestly as a woman when it's warm.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Know there was an American school attended by Embassy kids which was well liked.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not a good city for singles in my opinion. This is a family-friendly post, so singles will feel left out.

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2. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, there are prejudices, mostly against people of Indian descent. When trying to report her bag being stolen, a colleague told the police the perpetrator was Malay. He replied, "you must mean Indian," and would not accept her description of the thief.

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3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Getting outside of KL made me appreciate the country a lot more. Made local friends who were great.

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4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel outside of KL! If you can only stay within KL, there are malls. Lots and lots of malls.

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There aren't many nice local items on which to spend money. Some folks rave about the food (I found it greasy and lacking vegetables).

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Fantastic jumping off point for everywhere else in Southeast Asia, beautiful beaches.

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7. Can you save money?

Yes, but you should travel a ton, too!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It's not walkable, except for a little bit downtown. As a walker, I really missed being able to get around by foot. Also, as a single woman walking around, I didn't feel safe once it got dark out. That restricted my freedom. Visiting Singapore for a weekend was a breath of fresh air.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Nope. I'm glad I went for 6 months, but not being able to walk around freely (or even drive given the local driving style, left side of road, and roads that don't make a lot of sense), I felt very limited. Maybe if I had been there with a family, it would have been better.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 08/23/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

My second expat experience. I have lived in Karachi before this.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

My home base is Hyderabad in India. It's a 4.5 hours direct flight via Malaysian Airlines, no stops.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have been here since 2008 -- 5.5 years now!

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I moved here with my spouse who was offered an assignment here and now I work here too.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Lots of choices, log onto iproperty to get the best options, that's what I did.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries can be bought from stores like Jusco, Aeon, Tesco, Cold Storage or from the weekend of night markets (Pasar is teh word for markets). They are not very expensive unless you go foro the "foreign" brands.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Books, clothes, gifts etc.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Malaysia is known for its affordable and decent food. Major fast food brands like KFC, McDonald's, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks etc are all available with very popular local alternatives.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes can be a problem along with termites and these tiny little red insects that come and go as they please.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Mail, Pos Laju.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Affordable; hire part time or full time help via agencies to avoid illegal workers.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most of the condos have their own gym.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Mostly safe, but be careful about not using them in small shops and look at ATM stand-alone machines carefully.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Newspapers are RM1- RM2.5 depending on the edition, Astro has different packages for TV channels.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much as almost everyone understands English, but Malay is an easy language to learn and quite fun.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The roads could be a problem. This city is very well equipped for the visually challenged, as for the rest, it could be a bit difficult but not much.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transport is safe and affordable, but like all cities with heavy tourist traffic, care needs to be taken when taking cabs.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

No such restriction but carjackings could be a problem.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Definitely available. Check out Maxis Home, Unifi or Streamyx.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get a one year contract. Maxis has the best.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, sometimes.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, very nice ones.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Only one word. Decent.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There has been a recent increase in crime and that's scary, but like any cosmopolitan city, you need to carry your bags away from the road, be careful with your belongings, don't get into fights and if someone does try to snatch your bag, let it go.

Be careful while taking cabs at night.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Private hospitals are very good but very expensive; government healthcare is not so good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate most of the time, unless there's the deaded "haze."

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, rain, hotter, rain, rain, hot...sunny, rain.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Lots of international schools fitting all price ranges. The teachers are very well trained professionals.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Most of the international schools are special need sensitive.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Lots. Kidzania is a fun place, Petrosains is another

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Massive.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Awesome!

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a fantastic city for any age group/ family type, as long as you make up your mind to wake up every morning and say to yourself "I wonder what this day is going to teach me", vs "Oh No! another day the trains might be late!"

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

The LGBT culture here is very open. Since it's an Islamic country, it does have its restrictions, but as long as couples aren't heavily indulging in PDA's, it's all ok.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This is a multi racial society so be ready to hear some racial jokes! Most of the time they don't even realise they are being racial and it's taken in the right spirit most of the time.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

As someone who's only lived in India and Pakistan, my food choices were very ... let's just say tame.. Malaysia has truly opened up my gastronomic experiences. I can now truly say.. if it is Halal, I have eaten it!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

What do you want to do? Eat? Shop? Mountain climb? Surf? Adventure sports? It's all here!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots!! Discover them when you get here.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Malaysia is a truly amazing country! The people are lovely (most of them), the food is amazing and the weather is well... Let's just say I love it.

The most obvious advantages are the high standard of living vs. the low cost of living, but it's definitely more complex than that. Malaysia is uniquely positioned as the entrance to SE Asia and as a country it has very unique tourism spots. I live in KL and within 30 minutes - 2 hours drive from the city centre I have beaches, a rainforest, mini mountains, hidden retreats, mangroves and what not. The food is amazing, people are nice and the shopping is exquisite. Other than that, it's a paradise if you are someone who loves marine life. The diving is heavenly and I am still talking about peninsular Malaysia... go to East Malaysia and you are literally in heaven.. the world's top 5 diving spots are there.

And then if you had enough of Malaysia (though I can't imagine why!), hop on a bus or a train or a flight and go to Indonesia, Bangkok, Singapore, Vietname.. the list is endless!

Now why would you not want to live here?

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations and inhibitions.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and fun.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

I found most of my information from Time Out KL, a local franchise of the international brand. They have a comprehensive website and app and Expatriate Lifestyle which has a publication called "Arrivals." I also subscribed to a few magazines for free, e.g, expatriate Lifestyle.

I am not much of a book reader, prefer to jump in, in this case.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 08/07/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Philippines, El Salvador.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

United States.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 years. August 2009.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government: Department of State.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Condominium construction is flourishing in KL. The average cost of a condo within walking distance of the petronas towers is over 1.2 million MYR. Depending on where you wish to live, condos can range in price from US$2500-10,000. Commute is via private auto, bus, cab or motorcycles. During rush hours, you must allow 15 min to 1 1/2 hour travel from 5-20 miles.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Shopping at a wet market for fruits, vegetables, poultry, pork, and beef is reasonable for expats. If formal grocery chains such as Carrefore, Tesco, and Cold Storage is your preference, this could be costly. If you seek specialized butchers or U.S. products, then expect to pay 150% of US prices.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

If you have unique clothing size issues, remember this is an Asian country. If you seek U.S. products, these are also available in country, but can be costly. If you have a particular auto, maintenance can also be a factor. Thus, bring consumables, clothing, or essentials if you are not willing to compromise with the cost or local versions.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are small food stands, and U.S. and Worldwide fine dining are available. You can eat a decent Asian, Malay or Indian themed meal for approximately 5-16 MYR. Fine dining can range from 12-150 MYR per person. If the question is Western fast food: Pizza hut, Domino's, KFC, McDonald's, Popeye's, TGIF, Chili's, Baskin & Robbins, etc., are available.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

It is very difficult to define organic products in Malaysia. But substitutes for vegetarians is available.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Malaysia is a tropical country. Expect the typical infestations, but from a health concern mosquito-borne illnesses are common (Dengue & Malaria).

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I have not used the local government post office, but have used private companies such as DHL and the Diplomatic Pouch without problems.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cost depends on who you hire. Malays, Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and Cambodians is the norm. Other than local Malays or Indians, the cost of Visas and the requirements for physical examinations are something to consider. In general, the going monthly rate for home live-ins is US$300-600. For those commuting daily add 100-300 MYR per month. Consider cultural, religious, and communication factors before hiring.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Hotels, malls and private country clubs are widely available. Parks are not typical in comparison to the U.S.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Transactions at the mall, hotels, or with the airlines is relatively safe and the fees for these transactions can range from 1-3 MYR. If dealing with private retailers, using credit cards or ATM can be risky.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. If you are a Christian (Baptist, Adventist, Anglican, Protestant, etc..), Catholic, LDS, or JW, there are congregations.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable basic packages are 80MYR monthly. The local paper averages 3 MYR.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get away without really speaking Bahasa. The majority of Malaysians, which include the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, speak multiple languages, including English. When traveling to smaller towns, challenges occur, but otherwise there is always someone to assist you.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There is not a standard. Lifts, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.,are not standardized, thus limitations vary and frustrating.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Affordable yes, reliable...for the most part. Safety of private bus companies involved in motor vehicle accidents has been in the news lately. Thus, motor vehicle accidents is the concern.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

People drive on the left side of the road or steering wheels are on the right. Thus, parking lot entrance fees, toll plaza's, etc... cater to this arrangement. Roads in general are paved and though pot holes can be found, the government patches the areas where tourists frequently travel and/or the major highways. Do you need 4-wheel drive? Not really. The most important factor in purchasing a car locally is the tax. Expect to pay twice the cost of a vehicle due to auto tax. If you importing a vehicle, expect the same.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet services and speed vary depending on where you live, what is blocking the system, and the cement buildings you live in.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a quad-band phone. Phones are reasonable to purchase and use the SIM card. Reloading of phones start at 10 MYR. Texting is common to save money.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Costly and highly suspect quality.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. Compensation, visa requirements, and starting private businesses can be a nightmare.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dependent on whether your interactions will be with the government or with top industry representatives. Though Batik is tolerated, shirt and tie, and dresses versus pants suits, are the norm.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Petty crime has increased. If you live a stand alone home and do not have private security, house invasions or burglary is common. Car theft or vandalism common, and drive by motor bikes purse snatching is also a factor.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

A large disparity in the available specialist, facilities, services, cost, etc. But Glenneagles and Prince Court in KL are probably top notch. The KL government hospital can be utilized, with all the available services and specialists, but over-taxed with those from the local community.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

From June-August, harvesting or burning of crops is common resulting in the haze. Daily traffic congestion during morning and afternoon rush hour results in an increase in exhaust fumes. Rain promotes fungal growth, thus molds can be a factor in those with allergies.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Yearly, temperature ranges from 70-90 Farenheit. Humidity is a factor to consider. Kuala Lumpur is surrounded by moutains and is within a valley, thus air stagnation occurs.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have three children attending the International School of Kuala Lumpur. They have two campuses. The K-5 is located in Maliwati which is approximately 10 miles from the Petronas Towers or the Ampang campus 5-HS which is approximately 4-6 miles from the Petronas Towers. Tuition is a factor if it's coming from your pocket. If you add uniforms, extra curricular activities, food, etc., it's quite costly. Curriculum is U.S. based. Less than 1/5 of the students are from the United States.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISKL -- minimal.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Private or via-school activities is the most common programs available.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

A lot of expats from all over the world. I attend the Bridge Churc,h which includes representatives of more than 20 nations.

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2. Morale among expats:

In general Malaysia is a good experience due to the diversity of activities, food, and social structure.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Movies, theater, clubs, bars, fine dining, sports and concerts,etc...are widely available at reasonable expat prices.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

If urban life and comparisons with living in the U.S. is the standard....then yes. If you are single, social networking for men is relatively easy. If you are a career women 35-60 y/o, social dating can be very difficult. Couples will have a lot of diversity of interest that can be accommodated.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Homosexuality, trans-sexuals, and/or gay/lesbian is present but due to this being a Muslim country, not recognized to be legitimate.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

It would be nice to say that religious tolerance is the norm. But shuttle policies and by the dominant religious group can make things difficult or limit evangelical ministry.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel within the region is relatively affordable, cultural diversity and English communication is relatively common.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Again, it depends on your interest. The diversity of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture and the mixture between the past and recent race in urbanization provides ample things to do.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Indian, Chinese, and Malay items are available. Each culture has unique items from clothing to furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Despite depreciation of the dollar, $1 to 3 MYR food and entertainment is relatively cheap and gasoline is subsidized by the government.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you won't. A lot of cheap travel, entertainment, and things to buy.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Of course. I have traveled and lived in a lot of Asian Countries. Malaysia has both old and new. Other than rentals and hotel prices, vacationing or living in KL is by far better than in other Asian countries.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes, large vehicles, large furniture, etc. Space is prime and it is costly to store things.

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3. But don't forget your:

Items that you cannot live without.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Alot of local books, but addressing all aspects or interest is difficult

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 03/18/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most people (at least the ones without children) seem to be getting assigned to apartments within a 1-2 mile radius of the Embassy. The apartments vary in size and quality, as to be expected, but are acceptable.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most things are easily available. Local brands are generally cheap; international brands can be quite expensive ($8 for a box of Cheerios!).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Plenty of American fast food; McD's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. Prices maybe 2/3 of what you would see back in the States?

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

As Malaysians don't eat pork and Indians don't eat beef, there are quite a few places that are vegetarian (or nearly so).

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There can be a lot of mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Live in maids will run you $250-$500 a month, depending on nationality; Indonesian/Bangladeshi maids tend towards the low side, Filipinas on the high side.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, quite a few. The Embassy also has a mini-gym downstairs.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most places accept it readily. Some places only accept cards that have security chips embedded, which U.S. banks generally don't issue, but most places are fine with 'normal' cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, but I don't use them myself, so I don't know the cost.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most speak English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Malaysia is not very pedestrian friendly, period, much less handicapped-friendly.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes. Careful of taxi drivers trying to gouge you though!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Car servicing/repair is generally much cheaper than back in the U.S. Tinted windows can cause import problems, and left-side drive cars will cause some raised eyebrows.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes; TM/Streamyx has a virtual monopoly, and has recently rolled out its fiber-optic network, 'Unifi'.It goes from $50 for 5 mbps lines to $80 for 20 mbps lines. In places where Unifi is not available, most people use the standard 'Streamyx' connection, which ranges from 1 mbps to 4 mbps for roughly $25-$50/mth. Traffic shaping is used, and P2P is tightly throttled.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Most companies use GSM.Cell phones generally are unlocked, but calling plans can be a bit pricy. Phones tend to be more expensive than in the U.S., or even down in Singapore; people have been known to make trips down there to pick up cheaper iPhones.3G mobile internet is available, but it isn't the greatest.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Spouses of diplomatic staff are not permitted to work in Malaysia, outside of the Embassy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business formal/business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Generally no; Malaysia is a secular Muslim country, and Malaysians are generally quite hospitable.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

So far, I have been unimpressed in my interactions with local hospitals. Quality international hospitals are available, however.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid all year around; it's southeast Asia!Lots of rain, especially around 4-6 PM.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

None that I am aware of at the Embassy, at least.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Sizable, but the community is not that tight-knit, due to how easy it is to integrate/interact with locals.

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2. Morale among expats:

High

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Plenty of bars and clubs, especially in the Bangsar region. There are casinos up in the Genting Highlands as well, if that is your cup of tea.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes; there are plenty of places to take the family, and singles will find plenty of watering holes as well.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, and definitely looked down upon by many to say the least.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are some tensions between local Malays and local Chinese, and you'll hear about the odd Islamic radical from time to time, but overall, Malaysians are very hospitable and welcoming to foreigners.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel south east Asia dirt cheap!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batik shirts

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

AirAsia: hands down the best low-cost carrier anywhere, it allows you to visit all of southeast Asia (and as far as China/Japan/England), usually at a fraction of the price of full-cost airlines, especially when discounted.

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11. Can you save money?

Easily, if the travel bug doesn't eat up all of your money in plane tickets!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but in large part due to AirAsia.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Umbrella!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05/03/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, 6th expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

20 odd hours from East Coast. Usually you fly through Korea, Japan or Taiwan. It is a very long trip followed by an hours drive to the city.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Modern apartments very near or somewhat near the Embassy. Most are new. All very nice. Houses are further out and most have not been updated in a very long time. Apartments all have pools and security as well.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

I find things more expensive here though not unbearably so. There are two expat friendly shops in the Ampang area where you can find treats from home. There is also Carrefour or Tesco for cheap household items.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More craft items for the kids.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All the big chains here, though none serve pork. There is a Chili's, Carl's Junior (aka Hardee's) Dunkin Doughnuts just opened as did Papa John's.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have ants sometimes and geckos in our high rise apartment. People in houses sometimes get monkeys outside in the yard.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO currently.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There are plenty of maids from several different countries. They are somewhat pricey - 1500 RM is a mid range price I guess. Most people have at least a PT maid. A few do without.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most apartments have small gyms. There is a nice gym at KLCC some people have joined. Yoga studios are around.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

At the bigger places it is ok. Some people never use them, but we do all the time for groceries and have not had any problems.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a few churches around, the Mormons are here. No Jewish services as far as I am aware. No Israeli passport holders allowed in the country...

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Star or Straight Times are the local papers. Cheap.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most people speak good English or at least some.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very hard. There are open manholes on many sidewalks and some sidewalks are very high - presumably to keep mopeds off.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Subway is ok and cheap but hardly goes anywhere. Taxis are plentiful, unless it is raining or you really need one. Some taxi drivers are better than others about using the meter and not trying to rip you off.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

They drive on the other side here. Any car would be fine as long as you can get parts. Either buy it off someone leaving or order a used car from Japan or Singapore.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Depends on where you live.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can pretty easily buy a cheap one here or a new SIM card for your old one.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not sure.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are vets here. Most expats use the same chain.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

For diplomatic spouses there is no work unless at the Embassy. No teaching jobs, nothing. There has been a new law passed and now some expat spouses can get work permits somehow.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Fairly casual, often women bring a sweater as AC can get cold.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

It is moderate, though if your walking along busy streets there is a lot of exhaust to deal with.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

I think we had typhoid and rabies.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Houses have been broken into. The Embassy is trying to steer people into modern new apartments. There is the occasional purse snatching story here.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue fever is around. We have a small MED unit. There are 2 expat friendly hospitals to choose from. Serious things may involve a medivac to Singapore.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

About 92F all year, every day. Thunderstorms every day during certain parts of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

All embassy children (minus one family at Port Klang) go to ISKL.vWe have kids at both campuses and are pleased.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISKL seems to handles mild learning issues. There are two autism schools run by locals that are spoken highly of.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools are not great here. They are ok. Some are cleaner than others. All are locally run. Children's House is one, sort of near the Embassy but classes sizes are large. Steps Ahead is another, it is clean, has AC and inside a mall.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

ISKL has afterschool programs and weekend soccer and t-ball leagues. One Embassy kid does fencing another horsebacking riding and there is a ballet school not too far away.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty large.

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies. Europeans seem to love it here and find it cheap.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Embassy community is not going to provide you with enough of a social life. Make friends outside the Embassy.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it is good for anyone, but keep in mind that you will go through the guidebook suggestions pretty quick.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is a Muslim country but there do seem to be quite a few gay and lesbian locals.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

It depends on which of the three ethnic groups you are dealing with. Foreigners don't have too many problems but there is a lot of internal racial tension at times.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel. Air Asia is based in Malaysia and tickets can be cheap - some people do have problems with flights being delayed or canceled. Swim year round. Bring all your bathing gear.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not a whole lot. Furniture maybe.

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9. Can you save money?

Maybe, if you don't travel a lot or buy a lot of Western import items.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No I don't think so.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter coats and idea that Malaysia is a first world nation. It is working on it, but not there yet.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bathing suit

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Watch Malaysia's 'Malaysia Truly Asia' commercials and know it is not quite like that all the time. Anthony Bourdain does a show in Malaysia as well.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Consul's File.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Consul's File.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 03/05/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Tainan, Taiwan and Nanjing, China.

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2. How long have you lived here?

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

State Department - Foreign Service Officer.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

The Korean Air flight from Dulles through Seoul is ok taking less than 24 hours of flight time. Most other approved options double your travel time due to long layovers and at least two stops.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing is varied but usually quite nice. Mine has a pool but no gym. Some apartments have great views and some have a lot of character. There are a few places that are a bit soulless though.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are pretty cheap and readily available. There is not much you can't find here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

It is all here, but clothes and shoes are cheaper in U.S. Outdoor gear should be brought. Baby supplies are very expensive. Most electronics are more expensive here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons of food. American chains like Chili's, Tony Roma's, Wendy's, etc. Most chain restaurants are halal - so, get used to beef ribs and chicken ham. The Chinese restaurants all serve pork an there are some good european places that focus on the pig. Food is quite reasonably priced but it runs the full spectrum.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had ants for a time but they went away. Roaches exist but are manageable. Mosquitoes are plentiful. They fog for mosquitoes regularly but I think it just forces them indoors.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO is best and the pouch is pretty good for the other stuff.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We pay between US$4-5 per hour for live-out, part-time help. It is readily available but varies in quality.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Some apartments have them. There are a few private gyms. The Embassy has some very basic facilities.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Safest to stick to cash but I have used my card at IKEA and other more reputable places.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most are here.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Astro satellite TV is about US$30-40/month with ESPN, HBO, etc.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very little spoken Bahasa is needed because English is almost universally spoke. It does help to be able to read a few words but you'll pick that up in no time. I speak some Mandarin but most of the Chinese in KL speak Cantonese. So, you will have to work at it to find people to practice with.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not very accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe and affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Importing a car can take a while and it is expensive. They tend to hold their value though. I bought a car off of a departing expat for not much less than he paid for it. I expect to be able to sell it for close to that after almost 2 years of use.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, ADSL but the connection to the US is slow. I pay almost US$100 for the fastest connection available but you can get the basic package for like US$30 or so. The speed within the region is excellent but downloading movies or watching YouTube can be noticeably slow.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

GSM. I have an iPhone that I unlocked. I use my embassy SIM. No problems and it works great.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

7 day mandatory quarantine for our cat. The facility was acceptable and you can visit but it is like 45-60 minutes away.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets are available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not for embassy spouses. The Embassy will not let you work even if you find a job, which is hard anyway.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Smart casual is the norm for social events, meaning Batik shirts or suits with no tie. Work is typically dress shirts, slacks, and ties but no jacket.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

It has been very reasonable while I have been here. Maybe a day or two of high haze. The pollution from cars and buses is annoying and quite noticeable while walking.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Pretty safe but I know some women have been mugged.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Excellent medical care. Prince Court is a first rate hospital and GlenEagles is nice too. Relatively cheap.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, humid with quite a bit of rain. But you do get used to it. It can be tough to keep your house at the right temperature; A/C makes it too cold but turning the A/C to a higher temp leads to condensation. Turning it off is too hot.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There are people from all over. A lot of Brits and Aussies live here permanently.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating out.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Anyone can fit in here but I would say the embassy community is very family centered - few singles.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Bumiputra affirmative action policies can start to get on you even though it doesn't really impact expats directly. I would say that the racial tension is subtle but it rears its ugly head every once in a while.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Malaysians love their shopping malls and they have a lot of them. My main past time is eating. There is a lot of good food here, both local and international.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pewter?

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9. Can you save money?

Depends. Food is pretty cheap but almost everything else is more expensive. Things like movies are very cheap (US$2-4).

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, it is so comfortable living here.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

TV and DVD player - multisystem devices are cheap here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Electronics - aside from TVs and monitors, quality electronics are actually more expensive here.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"My Life as a Fake" by Peter Carey

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"My Life as a Fake" by Peter Carey

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7. Do you have any other comments?

KL is not really a historic place. You have to get out to Melaka and Penang to really feel Malaysia.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 07/26/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Not a first experience, lived previously in El Salvador; Spain; Korea; Djibouti.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Assigned to the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Over a day, routes include through Singapore, Seoul, or Hong Kong, to the U.S.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing ranges from homes to condos. All decent with nice bedrooms, and within easing reach of the Embassy, depending on traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you buy local much cheaper, especially vegetables and such. Imported food more expensive as the government still uses taxes to protect local products.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All sorts of cuisine is availble. All the typical fast food is here, but forget about pork on your pizza or pork sausages for breakfast, it will be chicken.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There is FedEx, andDHL here. Postal service is ok hre as well.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Filipino and Indonesian maids are available. Salaries vary, but is mostly below the poverty level. We pay above the poverty level and don't worry about or maid skipping out. Abuse of maids is a major problem in malaysia and many are victims of forced labor.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Use ATMs and Credit Cards only at major malls and international stores. Cloning is an issue here.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are no Jewish service, except in homes of expats. If you are Muslim, there are mosques everywhere. Catholics have a sattering of churches with English services available in nearly all parishes.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The major local english papers are the New Strait Times and the Star. Both are government-influenced. Malaysiakin.com overs news the government-influenced mainstream is not able to print. The Internation Herald Tribune is also highly read, but subject to some censorship.cost is reasonable.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I speak a little Malay, but hardly use it as nearly everyone you normally deal with has some level of English 2 or better.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The city is not set-up for disabled people.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

British style here.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are a gamble, if it is raining forget about them stopping. Also they'll overcharge you if you want to travel somewere too near. They are known to drop you off in the wrong location if they and you aren't familiar with the area. There is a deluxe bus service that is cheap and gice to use to go to Singapore. Trains are safe, take normal precautions against pick pockets.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Japanese cars are a good bet here, spare parts are available. There are luxury cars here, but the way people drive, not worth the risk of the dents and scratches you will get. Motorbikes are a plague on the rode. I've seen several cause accidents from their reckless driving. Local car are made by Proton and complete junk. Keep your packages in the trunk or hidden, smash and grabs do occur.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

There is Internet available, bandwidth varies and it costs about US$100 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Maxis is used by the Embassy.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Embassy has Vonage.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are incidents of family dogs being poisoned because local Musim kids were playing with them. Vets are available. Except for the occassional dog poisoning, I haven'theard of proplems with pet care.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not if you are with the Embassy. EFMs have decent job opportunities within the embassy. There are some volunteer opportunities, otherwise nothing locally.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Men can wear a silk batik long-sleeve shirt rather than a suit.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Usually moderate, unhealthy when haze is heavy.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Some petty crime, crooks riding motorbikes will grab purses if you walk too close to road. Police are not reliable investigators.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Pediatrics supplies, even in private hosiptals are not adequte. Local nurses are substandard. Doctors are usually trained in the UK, US, or continental Europe. I'd be wary of locally trained doctors without international training. If it is serious and you can make the trip go to Singapore where the medical care is MUCH higher.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and sunny or hot, humid, and rainy.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few. Ours go to the International School of Kuala Lumpur. We and our children are happy with the school. Spanish is the second language taught and the student population is diverse.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISKL has an elevator for disabled students. Not sure what programs are there for special needs kids.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are preschools, but most offer only 1/2 day programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community, including people from oil industry, diplomatic community, and multinationals.

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2. Morale among expats:

Medium, the race-based politics and attitude weighs you down. Otherwise Malaysia can be a great experience, especially in Eastern Malaysia, which is more tolerant.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Bars/Clubs/some theater/movies/going out to eat.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Single men are happy, KL is a target rich environment. Single women have the opposite experience it seems. Families have a lot of activitites and travel they can share together.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

The city is crawling with gays and lesbians. Even though the country is Muslim dominated, most gays/lesbians are left alone.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are all sorts or racial and religious problems. Think Apartheid-lite and you have Malaysia. Things are set to protect the Majority Malays at the expense of the Chinese, Indians, and other ethnicities. Muslims indoctrinated not to consider other religions equal or to mingl. Headscarfs are more a political than a religious statement. Foreign workers are mistreated and police detained two foreign diplomats last year, after they showed their diplomatic credentials, because they were from countries that provide cheap labor here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are cheap trips available to all parts of the country and throughout Southeast Asia from here. Lots of cultural aspects in KL, some concerts, but Muslim extremeist protest the better groups as corruptive of Islamic values, which tend to perform in Singapore rather than in Malaysia.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batik shirts, local dresses, some local art, pearls, etc.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really, unless you don't travel and eat only local food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, the social problems aside, Malaysia is an interesting country and most of the people ok.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Entrapment is set in Malaysia for part of the film.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

The country and government is very class conscious. You will see public firgue use any title ever given them in their name. when you here someone called tan sri or datuk, those are titles and not names.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05/10/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my fourth overseas living experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Via the Embassy routing: count on a minimum of 23 hours. They no longer require you to overnight in Singapore, however. From here to Seoul, it's 7 hours, then a lay over, then Seoul to Chicago 14 hours....etc.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Varies. Seems that the Embassy is moving towards putting people in luxury apartments for security reasons. The houses are nice and big but the Embassy does not allow pools so the houses they can choose from are limited.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Vegetables and fruits are very cheap if bought at the open markets. Otherwise, groceries are on par with the cost in America and some higher. You can find everything here...except cranberries when you want them, but you may pay a premium price. It is abundant here but sometimes you may have to shop around to find what you need.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Organic Peanut Butter.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons. KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, McDonald's, Burger King, as well as plenty of other non-American chains. Many deliver to your home as well! There are many MANY decent restaurants available. Malaysia is known for its variety of excellent cuisine. It deserves that reputation even though I personally cannot stand Malaysian food...as it is greasy and loaded with fermented fish sauce! Nevertheless, there are plenty of excellent choices from American, to Iranian, to Italian, and every variety of Asian.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I do have access to the APO and it's great. Some of my friends say that the local mail system is horrid for having things stolen and pilfered. But for letter mail, I have heard it's fine.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Our maids have cost around US$400-500 per month for full time live out. We finally imported one which the Embassy will help you with and she is a live-in. Much better for us.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I use both everywhere and have never had a problem. I should say that I only use the Credit Card at places known to be safe to use them.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

They have every religion, except Jewish as far as I know. There are churches, mosques, etc. everywhere.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The International Herald Tribune, local English Newspapers, and loads of great TV stations. We watch Lost, Ugly Betty, American Idol and other favorite shows here. CNN, BBC and Aljerza are all available for news. I think it costs about US$40 per month but not sure, as my spouse does all of the bills.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. BUT many of the stores have Indonesian employees who do not speak a word of English. Knowing some Bahassa would be a good thing.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Plenty. It is much better than other Asian cities however.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Same as the British....Left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains are great and very affordable. Taxis are safe and affordable but totally and utterly unreliable. If it rains they will not pick you up. If you live in a place they don't know, they will not take you. They may take you part of the way then drop you off. They are subsidized by the Malaysia Government and so do not feel compelled to need to pick you up if they don't want to. They are a real pain in the ___.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Best to buy one from someone who is selling locally. It is very time-consumming to have one shipped. Customs can make life miserable for those who need to deal with them, and it can take months for imported cars to be released. They will NOT allow tinted windows. Don't even try it. You will find your car stuck at the port and possibly will not even be able to get it. Truely, start reading the "want" ads and buy one from an expat that plans to sell it before you arrive! Carjackings are not an issue but there are loads of fender benders. You can get decent car service locally and will get over-charged depending upon who you use. You do not need a four wheel drive here as the road system is excellent. The best I have seen over-seas. However, the roads are poorly marked and it is very easy to get lost and then find that you have to drive 30 miles to turn around.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. See above. I think it is about US$100 per month. Not so fast, which surprised me as Malaysia is supposed to be such a high-tech place. Dell is here but the internet is slow and there really is no true Broadband.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everyone has at least one. They are essential here. Must have as it is the only way to stay in communcation with kids, and some Malaysians only have a cell phone.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We have a VOiP line so it is easy. Phone cards are available and cheap and some use Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Excellent vets. We have a bunch of dogs and cats and all have been well cared for. We don't use kennels so cannot comment on these.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not for Americans. NONE. There is no bilateral work agreement. It is a shame as there is a tremendous need for American expertise in medicine, high-tech, and tourism...but alas, the local government apparently doesn't see it that way.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Usual business dress. Men can get away with wearing a fancy batik shirt to work in some places but most in the Embassy wear a suit.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Depends on the time of the year. Generally fine but when the Malaysian Government Palm Oil corporations decide to clear cut and burn the fields to plant more palm oil trees, it can be HORRENDOUS! Last year there was NO burning because it was the Visit Malaysia year.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There have been break-ins.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of medical care is excellent. People come here from other countries to obtain it. There are good doctors, specialists and surgeons. Nursing care is very poor however and the Embasssy will send anyone needing major nursing care after thier procedure to Singapore.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are three seasons here but they often intermingle: Hot and humid, hot and humid with rain, and hot and humid with a slight breeze.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ISKL is a good school. The elementary school was fantastic but a bit of a commute. The middle school has many issues. Children are not allowed to stay and watch sporting events of their peers for example. There is absolutely no staying after school unless enrolled in an activity. The Middle School children are treated like infants.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not sure. There are loads with ADHD and ADD type disorders, but I haven't noticed too many with severe physical handicaps.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Many use some of the local preschools but others feel that there are none that are up to U.S. standard in terms of safety or Montessori standards. There are many that say they are Montessori certified but they are not. So, this has been a source of dissatisfaction for some. There are many families with small children at the Embassy and there are some wanting to start playgroups and organize more.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. Really. Lots of people that live here permanently.

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2. Morale among expats:

Great. I think. There are always those who will complain, but it is really an easy place to live, and the ability to get by in English makes it even more so.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Clubs, dances, art galleries...You name it, it is here. There are too many things to do to be able to do them all.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Absolutely. Good for all.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I am sure it is. I have had gay friends come and visit and they seem to find plenty to do. There are lots of transvestites everywhere and they are accepted in society! Hair-dressers, clerks in stores, etc.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There ARE relegious police here although they have learned to stay away from foreigners. Occassionally they can try to see a marriage certificate.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots and lots: music events, movies in brand new state of the art movie theaters. All movies are in English with subtitles. Shopping, malls, and travel to many other lovely places in Malaysia and the region.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Batiks but they are not as nice as in Indonesia. Electronics but not cheaper that what you will find in the USA. Service is better though!

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9. Can you save money?

Yes. But not as much as other places in Asia. It is too tempting to fly all over the place on Air Asia which offers budget travel...so makes it harder to save but we have, and it can be done.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. I would love to stay but there is no possibility of extension AT ALL if you are posted here. Don't even try it. NO ONE with the Department of State has been permitted to extend.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter ANYTHING.

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3. But don't forget your:

Suntan lotion and tolerance for air-conditioning! You cannot live here without it.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great post and our favorite thus far. I would recommend it for anyone.

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