Malaysia is one of few countries in Southeast Asia that has finalized a digital nomad visa, allowing digital nomads to spend a year living and working there. This digital nomad visa is an excellent option if you want to establish yourself in Southeast Asia and bring your family members with you. The income requirements for this visa are extremely low, and Malaysia’s cost of living is very competitive. Malaysia, which brands itself as Truly Asia, is one of the most intriguing tourist destinations in Asia because of its cultural and geographical diversity. Applying for this digital nomad visa can be a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy the numerous tourist attractions in the country.
Semporna is an amazing Island you can visit while in Malaysia with your Digital Nomad Visa
LIVING IN MALAYSIA
If you are a digital nomad interested in Asia, options are relatively sparse, as many countries are not offering programs, and other major digital nomad visa programs are still pending. Malaysia can be an excellent base for digital nomads interested in exploring the country and other Southeast Asian destinations.
Malaysia’s internet speed is relatively fast and better than most destinations in Southeast Asia. The country’s average fixed broadband download speed is 90.89 Mbps, which is better relative to other countries in Asia.
Cost of Living
It is very affordable to live in Malaysia, even though it is slightly more expensive than other Southeast Asian destinations. The average monthly salary in Malaysia is around 3,000 ringgit, around $700 USD/month. If you live in Kuala Lumpur, you can find plenty of apartment options in the $250-500 USD/month range, and your monthly rent could be cheaper if you can find accommodation in smaller cities.
Good regional hub
You can fly to over 100 destinations directly from Kuala Lumpur, so this is a great hub for both regional and global travel. Malaysia is one of the most easily accessible countries for digital nomads at the moment, so Malaysia is likely the best bet if you are a digital nomad with a long-term interest in Asia.
There are many popular Hindu and Buddhist religious destinations, including Kek Lo Si Temple and Batu Caves. There are plenty of beaches and Mount Kinabalu, one of the region's highest mountains. There are plenty of options throughout the country, and Malaysia typically attracts 25 million or more tourists every year. Most tourists cannot see everything in the country in 30 days, so living there as a digital nomad for one year could give you time to explore tourism in Malaysia.
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You can spend a good time with your digital nomad visa at Kapalai Resort
DIGITAL NOMAD VISA OVERVIEW
This digital nomad visa allows foreign remote workers to spend up to 12 months living and working in Malaysia. This digital nomad visa was introduced in October 2022, as digital nomads were previously only able to spend up to 90 days in the country on a tourist or business visa.
One benefit of this program is that you are allowed to bring family members with you. If you do this, you will need to pay a higher application fee and prove that your income is higher than the requirements for single applicants. The income requirements are $24,000 USD/year for applicants, which is relatively low. Given Malaysia’s low cost of living, it should be easy to live and save on this amount, even if you live in a larger city like Kuala Lumpur. The application process is also straightforward, and you do not have to visit an embassy or consulate to apply.
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Batu Caves is one of the most popular religious tourism destinations
Citizens from any country who can work remotely while living in Malaysia are eligible for this visa, provided they earn $2,000 USD/month or more in income. Applicants need to submit the following when applying:
- Proof of income: Any form of documentation showing that you consistently make more than $2,000 USD/month.
- Employment information: You must submit an offer letter or other document showing employment.
- Contracts: If you are self-employed, you must provide contracts or other documents showing active clients.
- Resume: Submitting a resume will help support the fact that you can work in your field remotely.
- Bank statements: Both employees and freelancers must submit bank statements verifying their income.
- Criminal background check: You will need a criminal background check from any county you have lived in during the past five years.
- Health/travel insurance: Digital nomads also need to purchase a health insurance policy that covers them while in Malaysia.
- Copy of your passport
- Personal Bond form: This form declares that you will abide by local laws.
- Dependent info: You will need to provide information varying your relationship with dependents.
Cost to apply: It costs slightly over $200 USD to apply for this digital nomad visa and is an additional $110 for each dependent. Digital nomads can also pay to extend their digital nomad visa after they have spent 12 months living in the country.
Application timeline: The application process is faster because you complete everything online. Assuming there are no issues with your application, you should expect to hear back in a couple of weeks.
Taxes: Another benefit of this digital nomad visa is that you do not have to pay any taxes on your foreign income while living in Malaysia. This is good news, as Malaysia’s tax rate can be as high as 30%.
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Langkawi Island, Malaysia
If you want to get a digital nomad visa in Asia, your options are limited. Indonesia’s digital nomad visa is still pending, Thailand and Taiwan’s programs have much loftier income requirements, and Sri Lanka’s digital nomad visa program is also pending. Malaysia’s digital nomad visa is one of the most straightforward options, so this is a great program to check out. The country offers an easy online application with low minimum income requirements and allows you to bring family members. If you are interested in other Asian destinations, Malaysia is only a short flight away from many countries.