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This Stunning Southeast Asian Country Is The Next Big Digital Nomad Hotspot

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With remote work becoming more popular than ever, countries are introducing new visas and social policies that facilitate the lives of digital nomads, whose contribution to a country’s economy can be remarkable.

When remote workers look for their next destination of choice, low-cost countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia usually make it to the top of the list

That’s because they boast great prices while still maintaining a decent quality of life, allowing digital nomads to strike the perfect work-life balance.

However, there’s one particularly stunning Southeast Asian country that’s going the extra mile in terms of facilitating the lives of remote workers and, thus, is quickly becoming the region’s next big digital nomad hotspot.

Woman traveler at Kek Lok Si Temple in Georgetown, Penang island, Malaysia

Malaysia Launches A New Initiative To Promote Digital Nomadism

After issuing the long-awaited digital nomad visa in 2022, Malaysia is taking further steps to solidify its status as a Southeast Asian digital nomad hotspot.

Just recently, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Airbnb launched a game-changing initiative, DE Rantau. 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, city skyline

The main goal of this initiative is to promote digital nomadism in the country through several impressive undertakings and establish Malaysia as the region’s most preferred hub among remote workers.

DE Rantau is set to foster a mutually beneficial connection between foreigners and local communities and hopefully lead to more talented professionals contributing to the country’s intellectual and economic scene.

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Young woman taking photo of Petronas Twins Towers in Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia

Moreover, since digital nomads in the area are thought to be the main driving force behind a recent boost in long-term rental reservations, Airbnb has also jumped in on the initiative by identifying and promoting over 600 listings that are deemed ideal for remote workers.

These houses are generally located in some of the country’s most popular hotspots, feature dedicated workspaces, boast high-speed Wi-Fi, and are available for long-term renting.

In short, they’re curated to perfection for the average digital nomad.

Furthermore, the company has planned seminars for local hosts so that the premises and service leave remote workers coming back for more. 

woman working from home

This collaboration has been met with a great deal of enthusiasm by Malaysian officials, who feel like this is a great opportunity for the country’s economy.

The DE Rantau initiative also focuses on providing networking and community support for digital nomads all across the country, so its efforts go far beyond just getting foreigners settled with a work-friendly house. 

Applying For The Malaysian Digital Visa

Since finding decent housing just got a whole lot easier, the only obstacle between digital nomads and a fulfilling, balanced life in Malaysia remains obtaining the newly-introduced visa.

Fortunately, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge either since the DE Rantau Nomad Pass is the easiest (and cheapest) to qualify for in all of Asia.

Traveler With A Passport And Visa Application, Unspecified Location

To apply for the visa, you’ll have to set aside $225, 75% of which is refunded in case your application is rejected. 

Though rejections are rare, they can occur, with scarce reports claiming that their application was refuted with no explanation. 

Man on the phone at computer

If you want to slim down the chances of that happening to you, here are all the criteria you’ll have to meet before submitting an application:

  • Make at least $2,000 a month ($24,000 a year).
  • Work in the digital domain (IT, digital content creation, digital marketing)
  • Have a valid passport
  • Provide proof of income, proof of tax registration, proof of insurance, proof of good conduct, and proof of employment
  • Pay a personal bond ($225-$450), which is refunded when the visa expires.

The average application takes up to eight weeks to be processed (exclusions apply), and the entire process is carried out digitally. 

Though most applicants report positive experiences, the procedure is still in its first steps, so there’s always room for improvement.

The visa allows its holder to stay in Malaysia for up to a year, with the option for an additional yearly renewal.

Kek Lok Si Temple on Penang island, Georgetown, Malaysia

When you combine Malaysia’s latest efforts with its low cost of living, impressive infrastructure, rich cultural heritage, abundance of natural wonders, and friendly atmosphere, it’s clear why so many remote workers are flocking to the country.

If this latest initiative delivers the expected results, Malaysia is well on its way to becoming Southeast Asia’s biggest digital nomad hotspot.

Panoramic aerial view of Georgetown, Penang island, Malaysia

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