In the early 90s, there was a huge demand for Filipino skilled workers in Saudi Arabia for manual labor. With their struggle to feed the family and give their kids a proper education, Filipino parents would often remind them to “study hard and get a good job.” Soon after, it was believed that working abroad would help Filipinos alleviate poverty thus the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) trend started. People then started to see huge improvements especially from OFW families and government keeps praising them as the modern hero of the Philippines. With the recent economic factors that aggravates the living conditions of the masses, Filipino parents would now remind their kids the same phrase… with a little tweak – “study hard and get a good job abroad.”
One of the most promising countries to work abroad is located roughly 1500 miles southwest of the Philippines – the Malaysia. Their labor force often demands a potentially huge number for manpower where Filipino workers often wage competition with laborers from neighboring countries such as India, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
However, they still want to work in Malaysia due to a variety of reasons which our country, the Philippines, does not adequately provide or makes it impossible to reach by sheer hard work and determination. As one of those employees who previously worked in our hometown, going abroad sounds like a fairly natural response that brings solution to this issue. Nevertheless, no matter what occupation you do or what skill set you have, many of the things here might make you say “Yes, this is exactly the reason I’ve gone abroad!”
So without further ado, here are the top ten reasons why it’s better to work in Malaysia compared to Philippines:
10. Different culture
Once you step foot on a foreign land, you’ll notice that everything you lay your eyes on is different from home. You may suddenly pay attention to the women wearing Muslim scarfs known as hijab. Also, when you’re roaming the malls that you’re so used to when you were in Philippines, you’ll observe that there are specific prayer rooms in some floors that they call surau, which we are not accustomed because we belong in a different culture.
Humans, in general, are curious beings and we as Filipinos, do not stray away from that behavior. We tend to be fascinated with these divergent perspectives including the mere differences in religion and celebrations. Moreover, as millenials, we embrace change so much that we like living out-of-the-norm and share our experiences in social media.
As such, we abide to these cultural standards, respect them and if possible, meet-in-between since we have an obligation to go to Church every Sunday and spread the word of God. And whatever you do, believe me, they will respect what you believe as well.
9. More opportunities
Although Malaysia is a developing country like Philippines, working here opens the gate to countless opportunities. In our home country, it is evidently hard to get a job even if you have the most impressive resume in town. However, in Malaysia, you can get a call for an interview in an hour provided that you have the right skills and experience that the foreign agency or headhunter needs.
If you have plans for furthering your career (especially in IT or engineering field), working in Malaysia is a boost on your hard-earned credential since HR often takes into account how you deal with your foreign bosses. It’s also a huge plus for a candidate to have the experience of managing superb work relationships with foreign clients.
Also, if you have other life event goals like immigrating to first-world countries such as Australia, Canada or New Zealand, processing the documents you need is relatively easier, faster and safer in Malaysia. Even though you need to go back home to gather papers for the lengthy list of immigration requirements, still its better to ‘just get it done’ in Malaysia because you have the edge, financially right?
8. Delicious cuisine
I’m turning 6 months now in Malaysia as of the time of writing and I have to say it out loud that Malaysian cuisine, in the simplest sense, is incomparable. No matter how I become “foodsick” (no it’s not what you think – I mean it as missing food back home) while living here, still every Malaysian dish I try completely satiates my craving and satisfies my tummy albeit going to toilets (because I cannot handle some spicy dishes).
Due to the different cooking traditions and practices from the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia – Malays, Chinese and Indians – Malaysian cuisine are so much imbued with a variety of spices that makes foods so much better than the ones at home. The popular everyday food you encounter here in Malaysia are Nasi Lemak, Mi Goreng, Rendang or Bak Kut Teh and some hot Teh Tarik on the side.
To top it all off, they are all cheap. The Fried Nasi Lemak in the picture costs around RM 6.70. With a huge plate and lots of servings on the side, you cannot get this type of food for P80 in the Philippines except if you live in the provincial area. Even with the GST (Goods and Services Tax) newly implemented this year, you can still eat on a budget by buying from wet markets and cooking it yourself. That way, you can eat at an even cheaper price AND can cook Filipino foods the way you want it.
7. Improved lifestyle
Once you arrive here in Malaysia, you’ll automatically be called a foreigner or expatriate. If your work does not have free accommodation, you’ll have no choice but to rent rooms on condominiums or on landed estates. Oftentimes, rental rate at major states like Kuala Lumpur and Selangor turns out to be higher than the usual.
However, housing units in Malaysia are usually equipped with aircon, automatic washing machines, fridges, water heater and induction cookers which will mostly make your life a bit easier. If you are living in the Philippines with just an electric fan and cold water, then your lifestyle in Malaysia will definitely get better.
If you choose your place right, you can have access to other engaging lifestyles such as going to gyms, shopping at malls or maybe swimming at condominium pools. Whatever your job is, I promise you, your life will be better, if not a bit then slightly better, but will still be better than it used to be back home, probably with your parents.
6. Easy travel back to hometown
With the boom of low-cost airlines and the accessibility of Asian countries to the world, it has now been very easy to book tickets online and fly back home. Tourists and backpackers from all parts of the world easily fly back and forth everyday to Malaysia including our very own OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers).
If an OFW becomes so homesick that she wants to be with her daughter during the school awarding ceremony or on her 7th birthday, she can just hit the keys on websites like AirAsia or CebuPacific, book flights and board the plane on the travel date to see her kids. With flight discounts ongoing every month, she can definitely travel back home and still be in budget thus a win-win situation for every OFWs in Malaysia. Moreover, it’s less than four hours going back to Philippines so it’s not that much of a hassle.
However, if your work partially restricts you from leaving the country (probably for domestic helpers), you can still contact them through social messaging apps like Whatsapp (very common in Malaysia) or Messenger and video call through Skype.
5. Tourist destination
As Malaysia strives to live up to their tourism brand – Malaysia Truly Asia – and remain a strong contender as Top 2 in the World Tourism Rankings on Asia’s top destination, it has always been included on every traveler’s checklist of the most wanted travel places. As a Filipino, can attest to the beauty of Malaysia and its awesome tourist attractions as I’ve seen it firsthand.
If you’re free on weekends, you can always travel to famous tourist destinations like Petronas Towers, Genting Highlands or the Petaling Street easily through trains and buses. You can also travel a bit farther to places like Melaka or Penang especially on long holidays since it’s surely a long drive from the city but I promise it’s definitely worth it. You need not to go taxi if you don’t know where they are located since you can fully navigate Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur, through web mapping services such as Google Maps.
On the other hand, if you are not sure where to go, you can browse TripAdvisor OR you can browse here at Roumery since I will be posting travel guides in Malaysia soon enough. Stay tuned for more updates!
4. Low cost of living
Some economists use a more digestible exchange rate theory called the Big Mac Index to enact a global standard in measuring Purchasing Power Parity. In layman’s term, it can be used to gauge, although not accurately, the cost of living in a certain country. If base rate is USD, then Malaysia’s currency, the Ringgit, is undervalued at 63% per the mentioned index. Thus, it means that the Big Mac in McDonalds Malaysia is cheaper than most of the countries hence it has low cost of living.
However, you don’t need to consult an expert to measure the cost of living since we do it ourselves automatically without knowing it. Often for first time OFWs, they always convert Ringgit to Pesos every time they buy something and conclude from their everyday groceries if Malaysia is generally cheaper than in Philippines.
In my opinion, food and transportation are customarily cheaper in Malaysia since oil is one of Malaysia’s ace card for its economic growth. Unit rentals are higher in urban areas but mostly normal on the outskirts of the major cities. In general, Malaysia still maintains a low cost of living (if outside Kuala Lumpur) compared to Philippines, or Singapore for that matter.
3. Faster internet
According to this chart, you’ll see that in year 2014, Malaysia has an Internet Speed Index of 5.5 Mbps while Philippines has an Internet Speed Index of 3.6 Mbps. If you are a Filipino reader, you can agree and attest that this is not true. This is one of the reasons why I worked in Malaysia – because they have faster Internet than the Philippines.
I was in the Philippines on the year 2014. The average plan for a home DSL (or WiMax) through any telco carrier was up to 1-2 Mbps as advertised and it had been consistently not even gaining at least 500 Kbps download speed even at 2 pm after midnight (to which 100 Kbps is the usual). Also they didn’t have fiber optic network until recently when PLDT Fibr has been introduced. The price ranged from P1000 to P1500 (RM 222 to RM 333) for this type of plan. As I’ve heard, new plans moving forward already have data caps according to the networks’ Fair Usage Policy.
Here in Malaysia, you can order for a 10 Mbps plan that efficiently exceeds after midnight (around 20 Mbps) and is consistent in the morning. This is already connected to the Fiber Network laid out on the condominium (or on landed house) and can range only from RM 100 to RM 150. Moreover, it is unlimited with no cap and can be disconnected (although with minimum 2 yrs bond) once you’re leaving the country. If you’ll look at the comparison, Malaysia is still leading the Internet race compared to the Philippines in this aspect.
2. Better transportation
If you have worked in Metro Manila like I did, chances are you’ve probably rode the MRT once, or everyday OR depending on where you’re coming you need to interchange from the LRT station first. There are already many stories in the Internet describing their misery on commuting through these trains everyday. I would not describe it here anymore but let me tell you that it is very stressful, time-consuming and unsafe to go to work by MRT everyday.
In Malaysia, the railway infrastructure consists of interconnected commuter rail service, rapid transit service, monorail service and airport rail link service. Commuting through train is not stressful since it’s easy to buy tokens from ticketing machines instead of waiting for long queue, not time-consuming since trains arrive faster than you think and safe since there are stationed guards on every train waiting area and locals are very disciplined that stealing is seemingly nonexistent on train stations.
As one of my wise colleague said, “A developed country is one in which rich people use public transport”.
1. Higher salary
Undoubtedly, the top reason you may want to work abroad is and has always been money. Even if you have the nine reasons above, if the salary discussed during the contract signing is not what you expected, then working abroad may not be possible.
Sometimes, if you are in a desperate situation, you’ll accept the job offer abroad regardless of the salary. On the other hand, your work colleagues would often advise you that if you’ll take another job, your asking salary should sure be twice of what you’re having currently. However, for me, part of the reason I took the work abroad is the lower income tax in Malaysia (around 5 to 10% per month depending on the salary) compared to Philippines (roughly 32% per month). It also helps that when you tune in to Philippines news, you’ll see that there are often reports on allegations of graft and corruption to your own politicians using the taxes that majority of the Filipinos pay.
But in all aspects, the salary must also reach your expectation since it’s the main reason you want to work abroad right? As an IT consultant and with conversations from some of my Filipino colleagues here in Malaysia, the salary will always be higher than what you earn in the Philippines. Since most of us are contractual, it is true that agencies have salary standards depending on your work experience and skillset. It’s also true that some agencies give a higher salary than the usual but it usually falls down to your negotiation skills although you can barter a bit more because of the unstable Malaysian currency (there, I gave you one tip – good luck!)
These are the top reasons to consider when you want to work abroad in Malaysia. There is always a job demand for expatriates but recently there had been raids on illegal workers so please be careful on who or what agencies you trust to (especially those asking for hefty placement fees). However, there are news of freeze hiring for incoming foreign workers in Malaysia so if you’re ready then by all means go apply and work abroad here in Malaysia. Cheers!