What to Pack When Moving to Kuala Lumpur: Advice from Real KL Expats

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s melting-pot capital, is a buzzing Asian hub that nearly two-million people call home.

Dotted with skyscrapers – and with a shopping centre on practically every street corner, you can get almost anything you need.

But, if you’re moving to this frenetic, incense-infused city, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed with the agonising choice of what to take with, and what to leave behind.

But never fear. Here are six top tips to help you pack – courtesy of the city’s very own expats.

1. Bed Linen

This may sound strange, but finding quality bed sheets and bedding in Kuala Lumpur is a challenge. Therefore, you may need to bring your linen with you.

It’s not that bedding doesn’t exist in Kuala Lumpur (there are the likes of IKEA in Malaysia). It’s just that if you’re accustomed to high-end bedding, you’ll pay (a lot) for it.

If you do bring your bedding, keep in mind that the sizing might be quite different to what you’re used to. Here, a double bed doesn’t exist, and Malaysian beds are generally wider and shorter to Western ones.

Quality flat sheets aren’t easy to come by, either, so definitely bring those.

2. Clothes – If You’re on the Large Side

If you’re a short, small-built guy or a petite woman, you can skip this part. But if you have a larger frame you may run into problems.

Most department stores and brands cater to Asian sizes, and this includes shoes. For women, you’ll struggle to find any decent-looking shoes in anything larger than a 38 here (that’s a UK 6). Moreover, if you’re a guy with large, wide feet, best pack those kicks.

Bras above a C cup are an issue to find, as are swimming costumes for larger ladies. In general, if you’re a bigger person you’ll battle to find quality clothes, and your choices will be limited.

If you do decide to bring your wardrobe with, and if you’re female, make sure that items err on the conservative side. This is because Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country that prefers to keep things covered.

3. Certain Toiletries

If you’re fond of a particular personal hygiene- or toiletry brand, be prepared to pay, or have to hunt it down (or both).

This especially applies to:

  • certain tampon brands (particularly the applicator versions)
  • thong panty liners, decent deodorants
  • children’s mint-flavoured toothpaste
  • quality, high-SPF sunscreen

The last point is super important, especially if you’re fair-skinned, as the sun is relentless in Malaysia. Definitely, high SPF is a must but can be hard to come by. Mosquito repellent, another essential, can also be pretty expensive for the sizes sold.

A rule of thumb?

Bring a month’s supply of your favourite items, and substitute brands from there.

4. Prescription Medication

If you have a prescription for any chronic medication, make sure you bring a copy of the script and a letter from your doctor. Also, remember that you’ll only be allowed to bring three months’ worth of the medication into the country.

It’s worth adding that some cold and ‘flu remedies (like Lemsip), as well as sinus medication, can’t be found due to drug regulations. Hence, be prepared to leave those behind (for example, if they contain codeine, as well as certain painkillers).

Things to pack if you’re partial to non-prescription brands include your preferred vitamins. Also, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories – but check the limits you’re allowed to bring in, though.

5. Furniture

Although Malaysia boasts various international furniture outlets, it’s extremely expensive to stock up on furnishings if you don’t get them on sale.

It may sound like overkill, but rather transport your existing furniture over. Especially if you have high-end items and enjoy a particular taste in decor.

It even makes sense to buy furniture during a white sale in your home country and then ship it over. This is due to the fact that the expense of getting it in Kuala Lumpur will burn a massive hole in your wallet, fast.

6. Specialty Food-Stuff

During your initial adjustment to your new city, you’ll be longing for familiar things from home – like coffee. Quality ground beans are very pricey in Kuala Lumpur. If you have a particular brand that you love, rather bring a supply from home with, in case you can’t find it at first.

The same goes for certain spices and seasonings, high-quality tea bags, and baby-milk formula. You will be able to find formula, but the quality isn’t the greatest, and it’s expensive. And remember, nothing beats dealing with culture shock like tucking into a familiar comfort snack or sipping on your favourite java.

7. Experience-Ready Mindset

The most important thing to bring with if you’re moving to Kuala Lumpur?

Apart from flat sheets and shoes if you’ve got big feet, is the right mindset.

Like with any big move, you’ll need to be flexible – living in another country is always a massive adjustment, and culture shock is inevitable.

You’ll be able to find almost anything in your new city. But, it may take time to hunt it down (or, worst case scenario, you may need to find a substitute, or even pop over to Singapore to get it!). However, there’s always a workaround.

Preparing to move to Kuala Lumpur can be incredibly daunting, but having the right attitude is everything. It won’t be the same as home, and yes, you might not be able to use the same toothpaste you’re used to, but the experience will be worth it.

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