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Fresh off the boat: New expat Iain Sallis on moving to Kuala Lumpur

NAME: Iain Sallis
AGE: 40
JOB: Head Teacher at Tenby International Secondary School, Kuala Lumpur



When did you move to Singapore?
I haven’t – I moved to Kuala Lumpur in August.

Right, that’s our researcher fired. Why Malaysia?
I travelled around Asia for six weeks about 15 years ago and loved the people, the weather and the opportunity for travel and to experience new things.

So why move here now, 15 years on?
I’d been working in the UK school system the whole time. I saw my life flash in front of me, and I started thinking that I wanted more from an educational and personal perspective.

Whereabouts in KL do you live and what do you get for your money?
A fabulous condo called Tropicana. We have a 2,800-square-foot apartment, which sets me back 6,000 Malaysian ringgit.

By our maths, 6,000 RM is … just over S$2,300. A bit cheaper than Singapore – that’s a round of drinks on Boat Quay.
I heard it was a bit pricey down there. I’ll get saving and pay you a visit.

We’ll welcome you with open wallets. Here with a partner or alone?
My partner Lottie is Head of Year at a local primary school and her daughter is at the school where I work, which might be a bit weird for her, but she loves the school. The learning culture here is completely different from UK – students want to learn, and she can’t wait to go back every day.

How do you get to work?
I live 20 minutes from work and luckily the traffic is all going the other way. I’m renting a car from school but looking to buy one soon.

Have you heard of our COE charge on cars?
What’s that?

Don’t worry about it. Do you get stuck into the local street food?
Yes, three or four times a week. It’s cheaper than buying from supermarket.

What’s your favourite local dish?
Indian banana leaf curry with pepper mutton is our current favourite.

Biggest culture shock since moving to Asia?
It’s difficult learning names and getting to grips with, and having a deep understanding and respect for, the different religions. Oh, and all the various holidays we get.

Had a chance to travel anywhere else since you got here?
Langkawi and Penang, and we’re off to Krabi at Christmas.

What do you miss most about home?
Friends, Friday beers with the boys, football at normal times, and family.