Should I work in Malaysia or Australia? (Should I call Australia or Malaysia as home?)

The dreaded moment will soon arrive. I’ll be graduating hopefully by the end of this year. Questions upon questions of what’s going to happen and what am I going to do arise.

Before, I was so certain of getting my Permanent Residency in Australia, setting up my abode over there, get a job/set up a business, then only come back to Malaysia. Now however, with all the mumbo-jumbo about the financial crisis and other what-not, I am now not so sure anymore.

In Australia, so many professionals are getting laid off and are left without jobs. How is it going to be for me? Furthermore, my academic records are really nothing to be proud of. Who’s going to hire me?

On the other hand, I have been offered a job in Malaysia. If I decide to return upon graduation, I can start right away. The salary is not that great but well, who am I to argue? It’s the time of employer’s dominance!

The thing that I’m worried about by working in Malaysia is that the things here are so bloody expensive! After deducting all the essential expenses out of my meagre salary, I’m left with not much of money to do other things (i.e. investment, luxuries, and etc.). Alright, you would say “Don’t spend on any luxuries then!” Well, that’s true, but you need to remember one thing. From time to time, I still need to spend on a little luxury for myself and my family. I do want to go on a vacation and I do want to change my mobile phone once in a while. After all, I am a human being. Not to mention, a Generation Y human being.

So, here’s the situation:

Stay in Australia:

– I need to get a proper job (which I personally think is nearly impossible to get)
– Pretty high starting salary and expenditures on essentials and luxuries are also not so bad, considering the salary.
– Need to spend on expensive rent and insurance.
– Greater spending power (if I get a good paying job of course).

Stay in Malaysia:

– I’ve already been offered a job
– OK salary but expensive essentials and luxuries
– Weaker spending power but nothing beats living in Malaysia eh? πŸ˜‰
– Don’t really need to pay rent in the beginning. Can always bunk in with the parents πŸ˜‰

Of course, a lot more factors will need to be considered before I can make a decision. I’ll be posting more posts relating to this issue soon.

Haih… Decisions decisions…


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About nadlique

This blog is about the journey of a 28-year-old Malaysian towards financial freedom. This blog was started back when the blogger was 21 years old. However, his journey towards financial freedom had begun way before that. Materials such as investing, business, entrepreneurship, equities, and real estate are presented. The author also posts his thoughts and observations on life in general.


  1. If possible, stay in Australia. Please perform istikharah prayer

  2. Pengalaman bekerja di Malaysia mudah di cari,
    Pengalaman kerja di Australia lebih sukar diperolehi, oleh itu saya cadangkan bekerja di Australia dulu dalam 1,2 tahun.

  3. fatenbest says:

    I would say work in Malaysia. Malaysia need a professional like u. Just imagine how it is gonna happen if all well educated Malaysian working out of the country, for the sake of money? Who is going to develop our beloved Malaysia? I understand all about the money issue. I totally do. I m Petroleum Engineering student in USA. PETRONAS are going to pay me RM 3500/mo only, while the average salary for Petroleum Engineer in US is USD 7000/mo for fresh grad. I even got an offer to work in US. But, to be honest i rejected it. There are a bunch of Malaysian Doctors in Ireland making money there, but we in Malaysia have shortage in medical professional. All is about money. We have so many intelligent and smart people, but we are not able to develop our own country. That is so sad. Who’s left than in Malaysia? Just the school dropout and rempit to develop Malaysia? But it is still up to individual’s preference and what is your goal. My goal is not about myself only, I have mission to develop Malaysia and our nation.

  4. fatenbest says:

    I m so sorry Nadlique if what I said hurts u. I didn’t meant it.

  5. There’s nothing to apologise about fatenbest. I take every opinion with a smile πŸ™‚

    True, the nation requires our service but I have to admit, a hint of selfishness do come into play for me. I want to develop myself first before actually doing that to the nation. Nothing beats experience in this case. I will be of more use to Malaysia if I perhaps ‘mature’ a bit further.

    Anyway, like what Hasbullah Pit had said, it’s harder to get overseas working experience. I agree with that.

    Plus, I don’t intend to be in Australia permanently. Nothing beats being in Malaysia lah. Nothing beats celebrating Ramadhan and Aidilfitri in Malaysia. I’m sure you agree with that πŸ˜‰

    However, to be absolutely honest, at the present moment, I am sort of leaning towards returning to Malaysia. Reasons will come shortly in my future posts.

    By the way, thanks fahmi for reminding me about istikharah prayers.

  6. I had the same dilemma back in 2001 after I graduated from Adelaide University.

    Stay or go back?

    Before jumping into the rat race, I decided to do a little back packing around Australia and NZ. From what I found out along the way:

    1. I will probably hit a glass ceiling and won’t be able to get anywhere in Australia. I met a lot of Asians in Australia that are mostly professional when they graduated 20 to 30 years ago. They either by passed for promotion or ended opening a food business. Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that Australians are racists, I have good experience with them, but somehow if Asians open engineering workshop or other type of business there, the whites won’t do business with you. The only thing that the whites couldn’t do well is Asian food.

    2. A WWII baby boomer generation is aging fast and looking at the demographics of the present Australia population, the number of young working people is less than the baby boom population. Australia’s government need a new source of revenue to pay for the baby boomer’s pension fund and that’s why they encouraged young foreign students which graduated in Australia(this will add points to your PR application) to get PR and work. So that the government can tax the young’s money and contribution to the Super Annuation fund( and paying for the lazy people too!) to finance the aging population. Not sure what is the carrot dangling in front of you now. But during my time, the promise is… so that next time your children will pay less for the Australia tertiary education if you are a PR instead of the full tuition fee paying foreign student.

    Huh? after I worked so hard to pay Australian tax??

    3. If I’m thinking that my “Australia” work experience can help to secure better pay job back in Malaysia later… just think of how many people thinking like I am now. It won’t matter anymore and it was proven true after I came back to work in Malaysia back in 2005( was in Brunei and NZ b4)

    Honestly, if you really want to achieve your financial freedom within your own self imposed time frame. I reckon that Malaysia is still the best place to achieve that. The grass is always greener back home.

  7. Thanks for your perspective. Indeed, something to ponder about.

  8. At the moment I am having the same dilemma too.
    Currently I am working and living in the UK.I have been offered a job in Msia but the salary is more or less the same as here.

    People may think that it is better to live in Msia as cost of living is lower but if u like cars like me, no, Msia is not cheap.

    You can buy less than 7year old BMW 3 series or a Mercedes C Class for less than Β£7k or about RM35k. In Malaysia that money can only buy you a secondhand Wira/Waja or Perodua Myvi(maybe new?).

    But like Boo said, there is an element of hatred towards successful oriental people like us and also they tax you to support the aging and the lazy. But you are not entitled to any benefits. My work permit is stamped with these words “No recourse to public funds”. Can you u imagine how lopsided the law is for us in the UK? Not that I need benefits etc but I can’t even get a loan or mortgage unless you have 3 years credit history. Well I may have those credit history now but still that left me with a bitter experience.

    So now I am seriously thinking about leaving the UK and work in Malaysia.

  9. Regardless of where you are or who you are. You need to develop a financial freedom “plan” and not working for the rest of your life. Note, the word “plan”.

    Unfortunately, our education system did not prepare us to be financially educated before we leave school.
    Most Commonwealth countries education systems originated from the Prussian system, where the priority is to prepare a good batch of employees that look for job(just-obey-boss) and pay tax forever.

    Either you are in UK, Australia or Malaysia. It is best to get your financial education and develop a plan to be financially free. That way, you don’t have to worry about depending on government support/EPF/Super Annuation during your golden years.

  10. fatenbest says:

    OO Wow.. i agree with u Boo.. But as for me, to be honest, i dont know what else i can do.. I just have Petroleum Engineering degree. Kinda hard to set up my own business.. Looks like I have to work for PETRONAS (or any other Oil company) for the whole life.. πŸ™

  11. While I was still selling my precious youth to the Ini Barang Mahal Sdn. Bhd. back in 2005. I was cracking my head on how to get out from the 9 to 5 rat race.
    This is just a guideline and not a HOW-TO, what worked for me might not work for you. But you can develop your own exit strategy from my own exit strategy.

    My “exit strategy” from Ini Barang Mahal was:

    1. Learn how to sell. – I worked for free(yes! worked for free, no salary, only commission) as a salesman. Online selling, forex, MLM, etc didn’t work me for me. It was difficult, but I learned a lot in handling rejection.

    2. Learn basic accounting. – Study at your local library a.k.a MPH, Popular. A recommended book : Account Basics 101 by Angie Mohr. I’m in IT industry, so accounting is alien to me, but I did manage to learn basic accounting from this RM 25.00 booklet.

    3. Learn how to develop my network of business associates. – dropped all my sense of “superiority” of being a graduate. I started hanging out at kedai kopi and talk to all kinds of people, from farmers to taukehs. Learning from them. Real education is on the street, not school. Remember, number 1 in school doesn’t translate into number 1 in society/street.

    4. Hangout with the people you want to be.
    – I found out that I was hanging out with employee mindset colleagues that somehow influenced my decision making. Slowly, I changed the 6 people that I hangout frequently to business people and this helped me significantly.You can change your friends, but keep your family members. Love is more important than money.

    Today, I’m running my own business selling engineering parts. If there is a will, I’m sure there is a way.
    All you need to do is develop an “exit strategy” from you day job and develop a financial freedom plan.

  12. hi i was googling ‘should i work in australia or malaysia’ and i stumbled upon ur website. FYI i graduated end of 2007 and currently am working in a small company doing tax and it has already been 9 months since i first started.

    Frankly, its not that fun working in a foreign land. Work is allright 9-5 and after that you are free to do your personal stuffs. Unlike Malaysia with slightly long hours. However i do miss my time whn i did my vacation work in malaysia. Although its long hours but u know after work u still can chill out with ur best buddies at ur favourite mamak stalls. Im definitely going back after my CA..maybe sooner..hehe

    My advice is that, since you are already in Australia, try to work here first at least for a few years. You dont get these kind of work environment and experience in Malaysia. It is not about the money only. It is about the knowledge that you can bring back to Malaysia. Like what i am doing now, i am learning a lot from the well developed tax system. Yes, i admit that the tax rate is high here.

    Before i landed my first job i did various odd jobs like working as a cleaner and in a supermarket. Took me 6 months to get my first job with lotsa setbacks from companies not wanting to employ me. But it is all worth the experience.

    You are right, nothing beats malaysia man but for me foreign exposure is more important. But to stay here for long is a no for me. I wouldnt think that i would rise up fast in australia.

    do what is best for you mate.

  13. I’ve read the topic and comments. Sorry i cant help you nadlique, but maybe you and your friends help me πŸ™‚ i will be pleased. and i am sorry if i distrub you as i joined your discussion without invation.

    i want to ask you: should i work in malaysia?
    I’m from Turkey. I’ve just come from Russia. (I’ve worked there for 1,5 years until crissis begins) and recently i have been invited by one of my friends to work in malaysia. They offered me 3250 Ringgit salary. I converted it to USD really it is very less than Russia and Turkey… But they said me the rent of my a house is about 100 USD so life easy to live… ?

    anyway living in malaysia was my dream when i was child. but sure i got adult so we need to thinks more realistically… but also i want to try for my dreams…:) i know i wont earn a lot of money there, because there is more much money in Turkey than there… but there life is easy ( i heard it). i may live there hapier and easier than Russia or Turkey…i may have more much time to spend for myself. or i may have more much ways to enjoy life… (good dreams πŸ™‚ )

    I’ve studied advertising and public relations. I can also speak Russian and kurdish. i am photographer, graphic designer and specialst marketing. but i cant speak english very flueantly. so with these abilities can i got a good job there? (more much salary than my friend offered)
    can i get used to live there? (because it was very hard for me to live in Russia. I didint eat meat for 6 months there πŸ™‚ because of it wasnt helal)

    i mean this: do you offer me to work and live there?

    thanks… have a nice work…

  14. I have been working in UK for 4 years and I decided come back to Malaysia next week. Tell you why:

    1) I am not white-british so people mostly they will treat you differently
    2) Because I can’t take the shit (racist), mostly white british don’t say it out but they will think in their head
    3) How good you are you won’t stay at the top in the most company
    4) I don’t think people here smarter than me, so I am confident to go back to build my economy
    5) I found out asian-british are less confident here compare to Malaysia born. So I don’t want my children like them lack of confident
    6) Kuala Lumpur is better place to stay company to alot of cities in UK.
    7) yes, you earn more money but everyting is expensive (ask youself if you spend the way you spend in malaysia, you have no money to save as well)
    8) My advice is stay for some years at oversea is good but don’t stay too long
    9) If you think you are smart, go back to your home country to build your country rather than take excuses say people are more friendly here but they ‘JUST LIE MOSTLY’
    10) human are the same I believe, so I hope some of you can come back to malaysia and do it better than them in term of economy, culture,ect. I believe we will beat them in the years to come.

    Conclusion, nowhere better than your home country! Malaysia is not a shit hole, asian generation is coming up, trust me!The grass won’t always GREEN than what I always believe!

  15. Jason Lee says:

    Good comments. I’m still studying and I’m still thinking through too.

    Politics aside, Malaysia is still the best place to live in!

  16. 1 month after graduation, I was very lucky to get a job with a corporate company. After 4 years of Australian working experience, i have decided to be back in Malaysia to try it out.

    Since you’re already in Australia, no harm getting some Australian work experience first. My advice is to get your PR so that you can continue to live and work in Australia. Give it a try for at least 2 – 4 years, and see if it works out for you.

    If you miss your family, or want to return for a holiday, permanent employees get 30 days paid annual leave! After all, Australia is only 5 – 8 hours flight away from Malaysia.

    Most, if given the opportunity prefers to work in Australia for a few years to save up some money, and then return to Malaysia to live comfortably i.e able to own a house/car with less financial difficulties in future. There is also strong purchasing power in Australia, so if you like to pamper yourself occasionally you’ll be able to afford some luxury goods/brands! πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, being back in Malaysia, i get to enjoy the warmer climate and to be closer to my family. Also eating out is not a problem in Malaysia. Opportunities are everywhere, it is only getting the right job that suits you, and of course to accept the difference in pay wise.

    Being young, you can have the best of both worlds. It’s a different lifestyle & culture in Australia. You can always start in Australia, and then be back in Malaysia for a few years, and then you can decide where you want to be. Who knows 20 – 30 years down the road you might change your mind again!

    Hope this has helped you a little! πŸ˜‰

  17. Money is not the big issue for us to work oversea. What’s the thing disappointing me is unfair policy which implement by government. What the hell…..Bumi (Native)company only allow to involve in governmet project, 100% Bumi (Native) company only allow to invovle in so call national company “Petronas”, Staff in Petronas 90 over % are Malay or Bumi. Chinese top student with 10A1 scored no recruit by University but the other hand those Malay student with 4A16B,7A12B had recruited. Ehhhh….too many unfair fucking policy to oppress Chinese, India & etc. Bloody racist..!

  18. simple.


    1. The Government is not corrupt and fair.
    2. 1st world country – Living standard is better for you and your future kids
    3. $ – you will earn more long term
    4. You will have recognition of your past careers in Australia if say you want to work in another European country. European Countries generally do NOT look much into your career past in Asia, speaking about (finance,banking sector.. correct me if i’m wrong..)

    I saw, build up your money in Australia, invest in businesses in Malaysia.. less tax.. earlier start

  19. This is a pretty interesting thread. I came across this page while googling “Malaysia work culture”. I must say I am very encouraged by those of you who chose to go back and serve your country.

    I, too am an Adelaidean graduate – wwho was faced with a similar decision to stay/return home. Ironically, prior to coming over to study, I never saw myself staying and working here long term until mom pestered me to apply for PR just in case. But the question lies: what do you want out of life? If it’s money, then by all means stay here. Don’t go back because you will never be satisfied with the pay and living expenditure.

    As for me, I choose to build my family back home because I do not want them to lose the asian heritage. Most ABC kids here seem pretty displaced in the Aussie community and some of them even think they’re “white” which is sad, really.

    More importantly, I’ll be going home because I want to be part of a generation of change in Malaysia. She needs more young ppl like us. To fight for justice in the corrupt system.

  20. Lawrence Tay says:

    Hey guys,

    I am a doctor who is working in a hospital in Melbourne, since 2009. Graduated from Melbourne Uni in 2008. Recently has been thinking (seriously) of my future plan, and of course, including going back to malaysia, my home country, to serve the nation or not.

    During my discussions with many people, including church brothers/sisters, colleagues, relatives, and parents, i get different answers…

    Honestly I have not done a solid conclusion yet for myself, but the chances of going back to Malaysia is higher than staying in Australia for good. Well I will probably stay here for another few years and finish my training (as a GP) before going back, so when I go back I would have at least a recognized status in Australia, so in case anything happens, there’s always a back-up plan.

    What interest me here is the fact that I could see a lot of Malaysians who are still very passionate of the country! I am actually very touched by this. There’re so much of migrations from Malaysia to overseas every year, but yet there’re still plenty that loves the country!

    Lots of political issues in Malaysia, which, I have to admit is surely one of the main reasons for the “export of talents”… but, I somehow has a feeling that, “IF”, all of those who are highly intelligent and well educated, all go back to the country, and, instead of complaining about the “unchangeable” political problems, try to serve with love and care to the neighbours, how would Malaysia be like in the future??

    Living in Malaysia, might not be easy… But when I thought of my childhood life in Malaysia, I think they are in-valuable, compared to the highly developed city life here in Melbourne. What is the benefit, if our future generations live in a well developed countries, with lots of luxuries, but not know how to play kite, to catch fish, or pepsi-cola 1, 2, 3???

    Lets go home…


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