As a digital nomad in Malaysia, you'll find plenty of fun things to do in the country between working. Malaysia has so much to offer for digital nomads looking for a beautiful country in Southeast Asia to live in. While most nomads choose the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur as their base, others can live in cities surrounded by lush rainforests and home to idyllic beaches.
Malaysia is a multicultural country colonized by the British for over a hundred years. Regardless of where you base yourself, you can experience different cultural offerings. You'll witness various religious and cultural events and savor dishes influenced by many diverse races, from Malay to Indian and Chinese.
If you're moving to this dynamic country and wondering where you should stay, here are the best places for digital nomads in Malaysia.
Penang is one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations and a favourite of digital nomads. It's home to the city of Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with colourful colonial-style houses and vibrant graffiti and street arts. As the food capital of Malaysia, Penang is a haven for digital nomads whose pastime is eating local street foods. Living in Penang means enjoying delicious street foods like Nasi Kandar or Assam Laksa for less than $2 while soaking up the lively atmosphere, especially at night when bars start opening up.
Aside from strolling through the picturesque streets of Georgetown, you'll find many other fun things to do in Penang when you're not working. The Penang National Park, which has several hiking trails, is only about an hour away. Penang is also home to some beautiful beaches where you can relax during the weekend.
As one of the top digital nomad cities in Malaysia, the cafe culture of Penang is thriving, and you'll find one on almost every street corner. Therefore, digital nomads who love coffee will find plenty of nice cafes to work in here. There are also several co-working spaces where you'll find fellow nomads taking up work. Best of all, the cost of living in Penang is cheaper than in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Here, you can spend approximately $1,020 per month and rent a one-bedroom studio for only $246 per month.
Since many digital nomads have moved to Penang over the past few years, several co-working spaces have opened up. The best ones include aCAT Penang, @FlexiSpace, Entrepreneur Growth Hub, and Regus Penang.
2. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital city, is one of Malaysia's best digital nomad cities and a popular base for digital nomads wanting to live in Southeast Asia. It's a bustling modern metropolis famous for its skyscrapers, including the Petronas Twin Towers. The city is well-connected to other major Southeast Asian countries, with Singapore only a four-hour drive away.
You will find a thriving digital nomad community in Kuala Lumpur, and it's easy to find co-working spaces where you can attend networking events and meet fellow nomads. But even though Kuala Lumpur is a major metropolis with many modern buildings, massive shopping malls, and western supermarkets, it also has plenty of cultural offerings. Check out the colourful streets of Chinatown, home to bustling markets and food stalls selling noodles and other Chinese delicacies. Meanwhile, Little India is a vibrant cultural enclave home to mosques, temples, and colourful buildings of Indian influences.
Indeed, Kuala Lumpur is a great place to live as a digital nomad in Malaysia. But this also comes with a price since the cost of living here is higher compared to other Malaysian cities. The average cost of living per month is $1,307, and studio apartments in the city centre could cost you an average of $558 per month.
You will have several options should you decide to work in a co-working space in Kuala Lumpur. As per Coworker, the city is home to more than a hundred co-working spaces. Some of the best ones include Regus, Sandbox Coworking Space, Spaces, and Common Ground.
Kuching may not be as popular as Penang or Kuala Lumpur for being a digital nomad hub in Malaysia, but it offers many things for digital nomads. The city is in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo and the capital of Sarawak State. Although the city is slowly becoming modernized, it still has that laidback charm many digital nomads will love.
Dubbed the “City of Cats,” you'll find cat murals and statues all over the city, especially in the town centre. The city's cat obsession stems from its name, “Kuching,” which means cat in the local language. Kuching is also famous for its large Chinese population. Because of this, you'll find many Chinese influences in the city, including ornate Chinese temples. Of course, Chinese street food dishes are also in abundance.
The best part about living in Kuching as a digital nomad in Malaysia is the affordable cost of living. You can only spend an average of $834 per month. And if you will rent a studio in the city centre, the average cost is only $246 per month.
Many digital nomads are recently discovering Kuching. Because of this, you will find a growing number of co-working spaces in the city. The most popular co-working spaces are My Placa, iCube Innovation, and the 381 Hub.
4. Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah. Located in the eastern section of the country, it's the gateway to the island of Borneo. For digital nomads in Malaysia looking for a tranquil place to live, Kota Kinabalu is an ideal place to consider. The city is also home to many beautiful beaches and offers plenty of opportunities for water sports. Kota Kinabalu is also a haven for hikers, with hiking trails taking you to nearby mountains, lush rainforest, and gorgeous coast. You can climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo.
As one of the most pleasant cities to live for digital nomads in Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is a walkable city with decent tourism facilities and a thriving food and cafe culture. If you are someone who loves the tropical vibe with the benefits of affordable city living, Kota Kinabalu is the perfect place for you. Living here is cheap, with the cost of living averaging $815 monthly. For a place to stay, you could rent an apartment for an average of only $195 per month!
There are five co-working spaces in Kota Kinabalu, according to Coworker. These are Regus, the Protege Hub, Workify, GASpace, and Opis Co-working Space.
5. Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is a city bordering Malaysia with Singapore. It is an ideal base for digital nomads who find Singapore expensive but want to live somewhere not too far from the country. Despite being close enough to Singapore, living here is way cheaper. In Johor Bahru, you can only spend an average of $826 per month. And if you will rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, you can expect to pay an average of $335 per month.
Located on the southern tip of Malaysia, Johor Bahru has plenty of great attractions that digital nomads can explore when not at work. It's home to Legoland Malaysia, the country's first international theme park. There are also cultural sites and attractions, such as the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, a Victorian-style mosque, and the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman, a glass temple with ornate interiors.
There is an increasing number of WiFi-enabled cafes all over Johor Bahru, so you'll have many choices if you prefer to work at cafes. And since the digital nomad community here is growing, you'll also find several co-working spaces in the city, such as Infinity 8, DreamSpace Shared Office, and a branch of Regus.
Langkawi is an island that's becoming more and more popular for being a digital nomad hotspot in Malaysia. It's easily connected to various major cities in Southeast Asia through its international airport. What draws many digital nomads here is its laidback atmosphere. Exuding peace and tranquillity, many digital nomads in Malaysia find that they are more productive living in Langkawi. It also has stunning natural scenery and petty beaches where you can chill out after a day of working.
WiFi is readily available across Langkawi, with many hotels, restaurants, and cafes offering guests free internet access. Getting around is easy since the island has a decent public transportation system. However, most digital nomads in Langkawi would choose to rent a motorbike, which gives them the freedom to go around. Most people in Langkawi speak decent English, another draw for digital nomads and ex-pats.
You could spend an average of $1,253 per month living in Langkawi. There are many affordable accommodations across the island, and the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is $223 per month.
There's only one co-working space listed in Coworker for Langkawi, the Jetpack Langkawi. However, the cafe culture on the island is thriving, so you won't have a hard time looking for a cafe to get some work done.
Malacca is a popular tourist destination and is slowly becoming one of the top digital nomad cities in Malaysia. It's famous for its abundance of historical sights and rich culture and history, giving nomads plenty of places to visit during work breaks. Some of the city's most popular attractions include the bustling market on Jonker Walk, lined with various stalls. If you feel like taking a walk between work, wander through Little India and get a taste of the Indian culture.
Living in Malacca is not too expensive, despite being a popular tourist destination. The monthly average cost of living is $1,037 per month. You will also find lots of affordable places to live. For instance, a studio apartment will only cost an average of $168 per month.
Coworker lists down one co-working space in Malacca, the Grind Shack Workspace, which charges only 20 Malaysian ringgit per day. Like most popular tourist destinations in the country, Malacca is home to several great cafes, a great alternative to a co-working space.