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Working in Kuala Lumpur?

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Adam Malewski

Living in Malaysia, from Poland

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Kuala Lumpur at a Glance

Working in Kuala Lumpur

There are a lot of advantages to working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s only global city and its center for international business. On InterNations, you’ll find the information you need, concerning work permits for expats, income tax, and social security in Kuala Lumpur.

Most people working in Kuala Lumpur are employed in the city’s fast-growing service sector. As the economic and business center of the country, Kuala Lumpur attracts not only Malaysians. Plenty of expats can be found in Kuala Lumpur as well, and foreign residents make up 9% of the people living in the city.

The city’s well-developed infrastructure makes working in Kuala Lumpur a pleasant experience: Many multinational companies choose to open their regional headquarters here.

Kuala Lumpur’s Biggest Economic Sector

The tertiary sector employs 83% of the workforce of Kuala Lumpur. Most of them are working in the finance, insurance, and real estate industry. However, tourism-related business as well as wholesale and retail trade also contributes significantly to providing job opportunities.

Transport, storage, communication, education, and health services are the other major players when it comes to creating jobs in Malaysia. It’s not only business and personal service providers working in Kuala Lumpur: Government services also play a big role on the economic stage.

Despite the relocation of Malaysia’s federal government administration to Putrajaya, many government institutions have remained in Kuala Lumpur. Most foreign diplomats and civil servants are still working in Kuala Lumpur, too.

Malaysia’s Financial Center

Many people employed in Kuala Lumpur’s service sector are specialized in finance. In fact, this city has become one of the global Islamic financing hubs in recent years. This is reflected in the strong presence of financial institutions from the Gulf region and representatives of Dow Jones & Company working in Kuala Lumpur’s stock exchange, the Bursa Malaysia, in order to set up Islamic Exchange Trade Funds.

The image of Kuala Lumpur as the financial center of the country is boosted by the continuing presence of important national financial institutions. The Bank of Malaysia has its headquarters here, and so do numerous branches of foreign banks and insurance companies with international staff.

In general, many foreign companies and multinational corporations, e.g. from the petrochemical industry or the IT sector, maintain regional offices or support centers in the city. This accounts for the large numbers of expats working in Kuala Lumpur.

The Medical and Tourism Sector

Other prominent providers of employment are educational institutions - Kuala Lumpur has several public universities and renowned private colleges. Hospitals and medical specialist centers are among the most important employers in Kuala Lumpur as well. After a mandatory three-year term in Kuala Lumpur’s public hospitals, many doctors find work in the city’s private clinics, which attract considerable numbers of medical tourists.

As the 8th most visited city in the world (2014 figures), Kuala Lumpur derives at least part of its economic power from tourism. People in Kuala Lumpur’s tourist industry have been trying hard to promote the city not only as a holiday destination but also as an international shopping destination. Conference tourism is another big source of income for the city.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine