From the UK to Malaysia: The Stay Abroad Dad

Published 2019-12-09 09:14:36

I am Dave, I'm originally from the UK and now I live in Malaysia with my wife Ruth and our two young children.

1.    Why did you move abroad?
In 2010, (our pre-kids days) we took the opportunity to leave the recession behind and go and work in schools in South Korea for a year. It was brilliant but we both agreed it would be a 12 month thing and we would return to the UK afterwards to pick up our careers where left off. We both had good jobs but we always had itchy feet because of our time in South Korea. In 2018, an advert for a job in Malaysia unexpectedly appeared in my wife's spam email folder. She jokingly said 'should I apply for it?'. We'd both had a pretty terrible day at work and felt like we needed to do something whilst the kids were young and before we fall into the trap of going 'through the motions' of everyday life. So, a few interviews and car boot sales later, we said our goodbyes and got on the plane!

2.    How do you make a living ?
My wife is a teacher so she is the main breadwinner out here and I look after our son who is yet to start school. I'm not one to be able to sit back though, I want to be contributing. We own property in the UK which I self-manage and I also do various bits and bobs online,  I'm sure my blog will make me a billionaire one day (!) and I know the next 'big thing' to sell is just around the corner, but ultimately whilst we're overseas we are living off my wife's incomes.

3.    How often do you communicate with home and how?
We try to speak to family once a week on Skype although its not always easy to do, especially with the time difference, by the time our UK family members are waking up, our kids are just about to have dinner are getting a bit 'fidgety'[ so getting them to speak to a screen for more than 30 seconds isn't always easy. We've had people out to visit us though and we went back to the UK for a holiday a few months back.

4.    What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Malaysia?
Swimming every day. We all love swimming but in the UK its cold, its expensive and it takes forever to get there and back. Here, we leave the house and two minutes later we're in a free outdoor pool which is warmer than most baths I've had. Our kids are now amazing swimmers, if my blog doesn't make me a billionaire, the future gold Olympic medals they'll get is always a good backup.

5.    What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Malaysia?

Its a tough one, there arent many things I would class as being really bad. I feel like I should put in 'missing friends and family' in case any of them are reading this.... but they all know we're having amazing time. In the heat of the day, it can get a bit too hot to be our so you often find yourself in a shopping mall which is something I don't like doing.....and...mosquitoes. I hate Mosquitoes! I don't think there is a more annoying creature on the planet!

6.    What do you miss most?
Doing constructive work I guess, for various restrictions, I can't really get a job here without massively disrupting our lives. I always used to be out working either in the office or on my properties. Whilst I don't miss sitting in an office one bit and I love looking after my son, going from being the main bread winner to the supporting partner hasn't been easy to get used to.

7.    What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
It worked out quite well for us in that there was a huge influx of new teachers at the school at the same time we arrived. We don't live in a very 'expaty' area  so we all had to rely on each other. It was a bit like the first week of university where everyone is out to make friends. We've got a really good group of friends here now.

8.    What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
When you're in a restaurant, they bring whatever food is ready first, rather than all at the same time. Quite often, me and my wife have finished our meals before our kids' meals have arrived, much to their dissatisfaction! I guess it means that your food isn't sat on a hot plate for ages and it comes out fresh, but it does mean that I have to give up half my meal to the kids, a favour they rarely return!  

9.    What is a myth about your adopted country?

That Malaysia is poor or 'behind'. So many people have an idea that Malaysia is a poor country. Its just not. As you head into Kuala Lumpur there are so many skyscrapers and so much construction going on, it puts the UK to shame!

10.    Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The general cost is lower, a meal in a restaurant is a fifth of the price of a meal in the UK. However, anything remotely western is the same price or more expensive than in the UK. Even food shopping, we spend more in Malaysia than we did in the UK. More often than not it costs more to cook a meal than it does to eat out which seems crazy. Pretty much every last penny we save goes on travelling with our kids, we want them to see as much of the world as they can.

11.    What advice would you give other expats?
Eat the food, make friends with the locals and travel the country. If you try and stay in a 'home bubble' what was the point in coming in the first place?

12.    When and why did you start your blog?
I started a few months after arriving to show people that, basically, it can be done. So many people say to themselves 'I wish i could spend more time with my kids than at work' , or 'I wish a lived somewhere sunny'. I did both. It's not easy, far from it, but its been the best thing we've done. Also, I'm a complete rookie when it comes to looking after kids on my own, I've found myself in some pretty ridiculous situations so hopefully it will provide a bit of humour as well !

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The Stay Abroad Dad

Guide for expatriates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



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Author: texkourgan
Part of the adventure since 2008. Drink, Travel, Write

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