Southeast Asia’s reputation as the next hot expat destination is rising and has a lot more to offer including year-round warm weather, affordable living costs and a vibrant culture. Considering your move to Southeast Asia? Kuala Lumpur, or better known by its acronym “KL”, should definitely be on your radar! KL is the capital, the largest city and the beating heart of Malaysia.
Little Steps has worked on putting together this super handy guide for families moving to KL with kids in tow. This mega guide covers everything you need from schooling to accommodations and transportations to neighborhoods recommended for families! Share it, print it, save it – it’s a beast of information!
One of the main reasons as to why people choose to settle down in KL is the city’s diversified culture. Beyond that, it’s impossible to get enough culinary options in the city, which are endless from the street food available at every corner of the city to the array of charming fine dining restaurants of international standards. KL has a variety of attractions ranging from culture, heritage and places of interest, shopping, entertainment, nature and adventure and luxury travel – all of which will complete the diversity that anyone will experience in the city.
KL is considered as one district and we’ve compiled some of the best neighborhoods not only to live in but also to spend the day in. The main areas you’ll want to know, to start, are:
Best neighborhoods to live in KL:
KLCC: Designed to be a city within the city, Kuala Lumpur City Centre is where you’ll find the Petronas Twin Towers, with Suria KLCC mall at its base, the aquarium, and the forested KLCC Park and fountains out front.
Ampang: An affluent large, mostly residential and commercial area encompassing KLCC with plenty of restaurants, bars and activities. It is also fondly nicknamed as the ‘Korean Town’ due to the small Korean population that inhabits this city.
Bangsar: An eclectic neighborhood with a good mix of restaurants, bars, and cafes. Its population is a good mix between all three ethnic groups that make up Malaysia’s demographic and a growing wave of expats.
Mont Kiara: This affluent township is an expat-oriented suburb that mainly houses residential condominiums, office complexes and international schools.
Damansara Heights: Acknowledged by Lonely Planet as one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world, this is a highly desirable address in KL, Damansara Heights is an affluent township with an interesting mix of architecture and a vibrant offering of cafes and restaurants.
Petaling Jaya: A dynamic suburb with a forest of glitzy shopping malls, interspersed with traditional restaurants and temples - all just half an hour or so from the center of Malaysia's capital.
Bangsar South: A highly sought-after address for today’s discerning urbanites who appreciate stylish suburban living within a dynamic cityscape
Others: You’ll learn about other areas as you spend time in the city, like Damansara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Cheras and Bukit Jalil.
Best neighborhoods to spend the day in for cultural exploration:
Bukit Bintang: A busy thoroughfare with upscale malls and luxe fashion boutiques. Al fresco bars and live music clubs line Changkat street, while Jalan Alor is a lively strip known for sidewalk restaurants serving Chinese fare like chicken wings and coconut ice-cream.
Chinatown: A nice area to spend an afternoon, it has Central Market, lantern-laden Petaling Street, Buddhist and Hindu temples, Chinese street food, and nightlife.
Brickfields: Vibrant Brickfields is home to Little India, a colorful maze of textile shops and jewelry stores, plus low-key restaurants serving authentic banana-leaf meals.
KL has a comprehensive network of buses, taxis and trains that provide convenient and quick access to various parts of the city and its surroundings.
With KL Sentral — the largest train station in Southeast Asia — serving as the hub, four ambitious rail systems tie the city together. The RapidKL LRT, KTM Komuter and MRT trains service over 100 stations, while the KL Monorail connects 11 more stations dotted around the city center. The KLIA Ekspres trains connect the two main airport terminals within the city center. You can download the map here.
Rapid Bus is the largest single operator of the bus network in Malaysia. Within the city centre, Rapid Bus also operates eight free GoKL City Bus lines. It operates more than 170 bus routes.
Taxi stands are available around the city and most taxis will stop at the taxi stand. Taxis in Kuala Lumpur are coloured in red or blue and could be easily recognised as the taxis' vehicle registration number carries a prefix H.
The safest way of getting a taxi or private cars is through e-hailing services as the app will also display such details as the driver, license plate and mobile number.
The house hunting process can be an arduous one and it is advisable to start searching for the new house at least one to two months early. There are landed terrace houses, townhouses, apartments, condominiums, semi-detached, and bungalows and properties are typically measured in square feets. If you have pets, do check with the owners if pets are allowed in the house. If the property happens to be a condominium unit, you should also check with the management if it is a pet-friendly condo.
In terms of furnishings, houses usually either come:
Fees and costs to take into consideration:
As the tenant, you should prepare the following, and they are quite standard in Malaysia:
The two most reliable online property search portals are Property Guru and iProperty and in most cases, a property agent is involved. On their website, you can filter your search by location, budget, and type of property. Some of the properties listed also have virtual tours which may be useful if you are looking for rental properties from abroad.
You can indeed look for property rentals on your own on websites such as mudah.my and negotiate personally with the landlord, without the aid of an agent. However, do be aware of rental scams when using this site.
Expats moving to Kuala Lumpur will benefit from easy access to relatively inexpensive healthcare, well-trained medical staff and high-tech facilities. There is a two-tier healthcare system in Malaysia; government-run universal healthcare and a co-existing private healthcare system. Below is a list of recommended public and private hospitals in Kuala Lumpur:
Check our other family health articles for some tips on the best options for healthcare and health practitioners in KL.
KL is not short of educational institutions to choose from, making it ideal for expatriates who want to enjoy a happy balance of Asian culture with western educational facilities. Whether you prefer a Montessori school or a play-based curriculum, a Reggio-Emilia-inspired or a French curriculum – we’ve rounded up the best preschools and kindergartens for you.
Here’s our list of the top International Schools in Kuala Lumpur for educating your child for both primary and secondary education.
Kuala Lumpur is a treat for families with kids. The options are endless when it comes to things to do with them, and it goes without saying, also dining places. You can trust our food and dining guides to be your ultimate go-tos for family-friendly dining options:
Whether you want your groceries delivered or pay a visit to the grocery store, to quickly pick up some last minute items, KL has everything you will ever need.
Supermarkets In KL For Groceries:
Here are our guides to grocery shopping in KL, whether online or retail.
If you're looking for places to take the kids where they can get active or just away from the screens, look no further. Possible weekend outings can range from science to theme parks and escape rooms to nature spots. KL has much to offer, so let’s get started!
Check out our play guides for more ways to have some family-fun in KL!
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