Best Asian country to live in as a foreigner: top 3 for expats

The sun-kissed streets of Kuala Lumpur hummed with life as Sarah stepped off the plane, her heart brimming with anticipation. She had decided that the best asian country to live in as a foreigner was Malaysia.

She had left behind the familiar comforts of her home to embark on a new chapter in Malaysia. The air was thick with the scent of spices and the symphony of languages filled her ears, a testament to the country’s vibrant multicultural tapestry.

As she weaved through the bustling city, Sarah marveled at the towering skyscrapers that reached for the heavens, juxtaposed against ornate temples that whispered tales of ancient traditions. 

The tantalizing aroma of street food drew her in, and she savored the delicate flavors of nasi lemak and satay, immersing herself in Malaysia’s culinary delights.

Embracing the warmth of the locals, Sarah found herself welcomed into a close-knit expatriate community, where friendships blossomed over shared adventures, laughter, and the occasional karaoke night. 

Together, they explored Malaysia’s breathtaking landscapes, from the turquoise waters of Langkawi’s pristine beaches to the emerald-hued depths of Borneo’s rainforests, where elusive orangutans swung through the treetops.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the allure of living abroad has captured the imaginations of many. 

Asia, with its rich cultural heritage, vibrant cities, and economic opportunities, has emerged as a sought-after destination for foreigners looking to put down roots in a new country. 

With numerous options available, it’s crucial to identify the Asian countries that stand out as the best choices for expatriates. 

In this article, we will delve into the top Asian countries that offer an inviting environment, excellent quality of life, and exciting prospects for foreigners seeking to build a life away from home.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Country

Before embarking on a journey to a new land, it is essential to consider various factors that can greatly impact your experience. 

These factors include the cost of living, quality of life, safety and security, job opportunities, cultural experience, and access to healthcare and education. 

By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal preferences and aspirations.

The Best Asian Country to Live in as a Foreigner: 3 Strong Candidates for Expats

Singapore: The Global Business Hub

best asian country to live in as a foreigner - singapore example

Singapore consistently ranks among the top destinations for expatriates, known as a financial and commercial powerhouse. 

This city-state, located at the heart of Southeast Asia, offers a high standard of living, world-class infrastructure, and a multicultural environment that seamlessly blends Eastern and Western influences. 

Singapore’s efficient transportation system, clean streets, and low crime rates contribute to a safe and comfortable living experience.

Renowned for its finance, technology, and innovation sectors, Singapore is an attractive destination for professionals seeking career growth. Many multinational corporations have regional headquarters in Singapore, creating diverse job opportunities. 

The government’s business-friendly policies and proactive approach to attracting foreign investment have contributed to Singapore’s robust economy.

English is widely spoken in Singapore, simplifying communication for foreigners. The country’s multiculturalism enriches the social fabric, offering a diverse range of culinary delights, festivals, and cultural events. 

From its stunning skyline to its vibrant food scene, Singapore offers a modern cosmopolitan lifestyle with a touch of Asian charm.

Economy and Infrastructure

Singapore boasts a highly developed and diversified economy, driven by sectors such as finance, trade, logistics, and technology. 

The city-state’s strategic location has made it a crucial hub for international trade and investment, attracting multinational corporations from around the world. 

Singapore’s pro-business policies, robust legal framework, and transparent regulatory environment have contributed to its reputation as one of the easiest places to do business.

Globally recognized for its well-developed infrastructure, Singapore’s Changi Airport consistently ranks as one of the best airports worldwide, offering excellent connectivity. 

The efficient public transportation system, including the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) network, makes commuting within the city convenient and hassle-free. Singapore’s commitment to sustainability is evident through its green spaces, eco-friendly initiatives, and efforts to create a smart and sustainable city.

Quality of Life

Singapore offers a high standard of living, with world-class healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Especially, if you work in industries like finance, banking, or tech could this be the best Asian country to live in as a foreigner.

The city-state’s healthcare system is renowned for its efficiency and accessibility, providing residents with quality medical care. 

Singapore’s education system is highly regarded, attracting students from around the world to its top-ranked universities and schools.

Safety and cleanliness are hallmarks of Singapore. The city-state consistently ranks among the safest cities globally, with low crime rates and strict enforcement of laws. Singapore’s commitment to cleanliness is evident in its well-maintained streets, parks, and public spaces.

Cultural Diversity

Singapore’s multiculturalism is a defining aspect of its identity. The city-state is home to a diverse mix of ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and many others. 

This multicultural fabric has shaped Singapore’s vibrant food scene, with a wide array of cuisines available, ranging from local hawker fare to international fine dining. 

Singapore’s hawker centers, recognized as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, serve affordable and delicious food.

The blend of cultures is also evident in Singapore’s festivals and celebrations. 

Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Diwali, and Christmas are just a few examples of the diverse range of festivities celebrated with great enthusiasm and unity.

Green Spaces and Recreation

Despite being a bustling metropolis, Singapore has made significant efforts to preserve and enhance its green spaces. 

The city-state is home to numerous parks, gardens, and nature reserves where residents can relax, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. 

The iconic Gardens by the Bay, with its futuristic Supertrees and breathtaking floral displays, is a testament to Singapore’s commitment to blending nature with urban development. Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city.

Singaporeans embrace an active lifestyle, with a range of sports and recreational activities available. 

The city hosts international sporting events and offers world-class facilities for various sports, including golf, tennis, swimming, and more. The East Coast Park, a popular recreational area, provides opportunities for cycling, jogging, and beach activities.

Expatriates in Singapore can enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle, savor diverse cuisines, explore green spaces, and immerse themselves in a vibrant and multicultural society. With its blend of opportunities and amenities, Singapore offers a unique and enriching expatriate experience in the heart of Southeast Asia.

Japan: The Blend of Modern and Traditional

best asian country to live in as a foreigner - japan example

Japan offers a unique experience for expats but has been said to be challenging to adapt to if you come from the West as everything is so different. If you’re okay taking your time getting used to the difference in culture, this could be the best Asian country to live in as a foreigner for you.

Living in Japan allows expatriates to immerse themselves in a rich cultural heritage. From traditional arts like tea ceremonies and calligraphy to participating in local festivals and visiting historic sites, expats can engage with Japan’s unique customs and traditions. 

This cultural immersion provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese society.

High Standard of Living

Japan consistently ranks high in terms of quality of life. 

The country boasts excellent infrastructure, efficient public transportation, and clean and safe cities. Expatriates can enjoy a comfortable and convenient lifestyle with access to modern amenities and services.

Japan is known for being one of the safest countries in the world. 

The low crime rates contribute to a sense of security and peace of mind for expatriates and their families. Walking alone at night and using public transportation are generally considered safe in most areas.

Japan’s strong economy and technological advancements provide expatriates with diverse career opportunities. 

The country is home to global companies in various industries, offering positions for skilled professionals. Expats who possess expertise in fields such as IT, engineering, finance, and research and development can find rewarding career paths in Japan.

For expatriates with families, Japan offers a high standard of education. International schools are available in major cities, providing education in English or other languages. 

These schools follow international curricula, making it easier for expat children to transition into the Japanese education system or continue their education in their home country.

Japan’s healthcare system is renowned for its efficiency and quality. 

Expatriates have access to excellent medical care through a combination of public and private healthcare facilities. The national health insurance system ensures that residents have affordable and accessible healthcare services.

Language and Communication

While Japanese is the primary language spoken in Japan, many international companies, universities, and expat communities provide English-speaking environments. 

In major cities and tourist areas, English signage and services are prevalent. However, learning basic Japanese can greatly enhance the expatriate experience and facilitate communication with locals.

Natural Beauty and Recreation

Japan’s natural landscapes are breathtaking and offer opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking in lush mountains to exploring tranquil gardens and relaxing in hot springs, expatriates can enjoy the country’s natural beauty. 

Japan’s proximity to the ocean also provides opportunities for water sports and beach activities.

Social Etiquette and Work Culture 

Japanese society places importance on politeness, respect, and harmony. 

Expatriates may need to familiarize themselves with Japanese social etiquette, including bowing, removing shoes in certain places, and observing customs in public spaces. In the workplace, the Japanese work ethic emphasizes diligence, teamwork, and strong attention to detail.

Living in Japan as an expatriate offers a blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences. 

Expats can experience the country’s rich cultural heritage, enjoy a high standard of living, pursue rewarding careers, and explore Japan’s natural wonders. 

With an open mind and a willingness to embrace the unique aspects of Japanese life, expatriates can create a fulfilling and memorable experience in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Malaysia: A Vibrant Destination – the Best Asian Country to Live in as a foreigner?

Malaysia beckons expatriates with its vibrant culture, diverse communities, and thriving economy. 

Having lived there myself for a few years, I’ve found that it’s underrated for the working professional and perhaps my personal favorite to the title as the best Asian country to live in as a foreigner.

As you consider relocating for work, Malaysia presents a compelling opportunity to experience a unique blend of modernity and rich traditions.

Malaysia’s robust economy offers promising career prospects across various industries. The country has emerged as a regional hub for finance, technology, manufacturing, and oil and gas sectors. 

Expatriates with expertise in these fields can find abundant job opportunities, with multinational companies and local enterprises alike.

Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Malaysia offers an excellent quality of life, combining affordable living costs with modern amenities. Expatriates will find a range of housing options, from vibrant city condominiums to suburban family homes. 

The cost of groceries, dining out, and transportation is generally lower compared to many other countries, allowing expats to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

One of Malaysia’s greatest strengths is its multicultural society. Malays, Indians, Chinese, and numerous indigenous groups coexist harmoniously, creating a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions. 

Expatriates can embrace this diversity, immersing themselves in multicultural festivals, exploring vibrant neighborhoods, and sampling a vast array of cuisines. 

Nature lovers will be enthralled by Malaysia’s breathtaking landscapes. From pristine beaches and tropical rainforests to majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls, the country offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities. 

Expatriates can indulge in activities like hiking, diving, wildlife spotting, and exploring lush national parks, all within easy reach from urban centers.

Malaysia boasts modern infrastructure, efficient public transportation, and well-connected cities. Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is a bustling metropolis with iconic skyscrapers, shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife. 

The country’s healthcare system is highly regarded, with a mix of public and private hospitals offering comprehensive medical services. Expatriates can have peace of mind knowing that quality healthcare is accessible and affordable.

Ease of Communication

English is widely spoken in Malaysia, making it easier for expatriates to communicate both in daily life and the workplace. Additionally, many companies and institutions have English-speaking environments, fostering a smooth integration into the professional sphere.

Proximity to Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s strategic location makes it an ideal base for exploring the rest of Southeast Asia. With its well-connected airports, expatriates can easily embark on weekend getaways or longer trips to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, experiencing the region’s diverse cultures and stunning landscapes.


Ultimately, the choice between Malaysia, Japan, and Singapore for the best Asian country to live in as a foreigner, specifically for you depends on your personality and life situation.

Malaysia’s cultural diversity, affordability, and natural beauty make it an attractive option. 

Japan’s unique blend of tradition and technology, along with its strong economy, appeals to those seeking a captivating and dynamic expatriate experience.

Singapore’s global connectivity, business opportunities, and modern infrastructure make it an ideal choice for expatriates looking for a cosmopolitan lifestyle.

By Expat A

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