Australian Expat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Monica's Story

Published: 12 Jan at 3 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Malaysia
Monica Tindall, originally from Australia, has been working overseas for the past 16 years. Currently based in Malaysia she loves the education she gets through her adventures in exploring countries and culture. A foodie (and winey?) from way back, she plans her trips based on where to eat and sees the sights along the way. She is a greenie at heart with a soft spot for businesses doing their bit for the environment. Places that are organic, source local sustainable produce, minimize their impact on the environment and, those who support community programs get a special mention on her blog. Monica blogs at award-winning The Yum List (see listing here)

Meet Monica - Australian Expat in Malaysia
Meet Monica - Australian Expat in Malaysia

Here's the interview with Monica...

Where are you originally from?

In which country and city are you living now?
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in Malaysia for nine years and just keep on saying, "one more year" ever since my first contract, so we'll see...

Why did you move and what do you do?
I'm in international education so had previously worked in Venezuela, Singapore and Australia. I came because there were jobs for both my husband and myself.

Did you bring family with you?
A hubby.

French Toast
French Toast
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
In terms of comfort, transitioning from South America to Malaysia was reasonably easy. Most people speak English and the country has just about everything you could need in terms of goods and services. We at first found the city confusing (and at times still do) in its layout and road system. It also took us a while to find the arts scene, which were missing dearly from Latin America.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We have a host of both local and expat friends. I must say though, many of our local friends have traveled and have an international perspective. It's the same when we return home, most of our friends in Australia and Venezuela have broad experiences and tend to look at things with the 'bigger picture" in mind. Through both work and hobbies we are able to meet a lot of people and so have a fulfilling social life in Kuala Lumpur.

Crostini Delucca
Crostini Delucca
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Food, food, food! With a mélange of different cultures, the street food has to be some of the best in the world. It's very affordable too.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I like the warm climate and greenery. The location of Malaysia and access to transport make the travel opportunities a huge drawcard too.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
The cost of living in Malaysia is much less than home.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Traffic and bad drivers! I'd also like to see more Malaysians realize what a beautiful country in which they are living and move towards better practices to take care of it.

Mandara Spa, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur
Mandara Spa, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
When you're first finding a home in which to live, negotiate, bargain and be persistent! There are many vacant properties around the city. Take your time to look around.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Missing being around my young niece and nephew. With adults you can stay in contact over the phone and email, but children grow so quickly, it's not the same as being there.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Take your time in finding accommodation. Negotiation is a must!
  2. Try all of the local food - but just a little at a time so your tummy doesn't experience overload.
  3. Take time to find the national parks and natural beauty in the country.
  4. Smile and be friendly to the locals - they are lovely people.
  5. Remember, when someone says, "can" to your question - it could mean, "yes", "no", "I don't understand" or any gradient in between :-)

Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia
Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
The Yum List shares places that you'd recommend to a friend. If you wouldn't suggest a friend visit the place it doesn't get posted. I'm always on the hunt for the top spots to Eat, Stay, Spa, Explore and Enjoy - ranging from street food to five star luxury. Being based in Kuala Lumpur most of the content is in Malaysia, however I do have a series of Quick Escapes highlighting travel destinations within easy reach. Places that are attempting to be socially responsible such as by sourcing local, organic produce, involved in community education programs or, those using sustainable technology get a special mention. I would love to hear about your favourite places so please visit me at and leave your hot tips.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Drop by the blog, visit me on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest.

Monica blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. The Yum List has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Monica, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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