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There is no denying that even before the pandemic, there’s been an increase in digital nomads, especially in the tech industry.

A developer could be working on his laptop in a remote location or another country away from the office, and still be able to get work done.

As such, the Malaysian government has launched DE Rantau, a programme aimed at establishing Malaysia as the preferred digital nomad hub.

It’s meant to boost digital adoption, and promote digital professional mobility, along with uplifting tourism across the nation. 

Part of the Malaysia Digital (MD) initiative, DE Rantau is one of the first two Malaysia Digital Catalytic Programmes (PEMANGKIN) planned for 2022. It’s designed to create substantial economic spillover through equitable access to digital tools, knowledge, and income opportunities.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) together with the communications ministry intends to create a vibrant ecosystem that can support the digital nomad lifestyle, while balancing work and leisure.

Both foreign and local digital nomads are welcome to join the programme, and we’ve decided to explore what’s in it for domestic digital wanderers specifically.

What kinds of benefits can a local digital nomad gain from this programme?

MDEC aims to create a nomad-ready network of hubs, with services and facilities across the country to foster and elevate living standards and the remote-working lifestyle. 

Local nomads can register for benefits and discounts within the ecosystem built by this initiative, which will be shared by foreign nomads as well. 

Image Credit: DE Rantau

One of these benefits includes DE Rantau Hubs, which MDEC states are certified nomad-ready accommodations. 

DE Rantau Hubs will also benefit local accommodation providers and owners, helping them with the recovery of the tourism sector.

Accommodations that qualify as a DE Rantau Hub must provide the following criteria:

  1. Shared or private lodging with a bed, washroom, desk and chair for workspace, kitchen/pantry, cashless and security facilities, and be listed on accommodation hosting platforms.
  2. Appropriate internet speeds no less than 30Mbps through broadband connectivity, WiFi, or mobile internet.
  3. Located in a vibrant neighbourhood with cafés, stores, entertainment, recreational facilities, access to public transport, and other sharing economy digital platform services.
  4. Engagement-related activities to foster gatherings for nomad communities.

Qualifying as a local digital nomad 

​​The DE Rantau Nomad Pass introduced will allow foreign digital nomads to stay in Malaysia for a period of 12 months.

Of course, Malaysians don’t require a visa to work around the country, but there are still certain requirements locals need to meet to be a part of DE Rantau’s nomad network.

DE Rantau currently recognises digital nomads as digital freelancers, independent contractors, or remote workers.

Image Credit: Freepik

Technically, all sorts of digital work (so long as you need a laptop and stable internet connection) would qualify a person as a digital worker. 

Some specific jobs highlighted by the programme included those in the industries of IT (software development, UX, UI, cloud, cybersecurity, blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data-related), digital marketing, creative content, and/or content development, and so on.

Applications made must include a digital nomad’s proof of work showcasing your: 

  • Active project contract (freelance projects) or active employment contract;
  • Contract durations that are one month or longer (multiple contracts are allowed);
  • Clientele that may be local or foreign.

Domestic digital nomads joining DE Rantau must also have an annual income of at least RM36,000 per year (at least RM3,000 per month).

It is advisable to be prepared with a 45mm x 35mm passport photo in jpeg format, proof of work contracts, salary data, and other supporting documents when applying for DE Rantau starting October 1 here.


Despite facing close competition with other ASEAN nations in being a preferred digital nomad hub, Malaysia has all the right ingredients to be the most attractive choice for digital nomads.

That’s according to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia’s Tan Sri Annuar.

“We have a robust infrastructure, affordable cost of living, cultural diversity, a multilingual population, delicious cuisines, and many more offerings to strengthen our position,” said Annuar.

Driving this initiative, MDEC will oversee the development of digital nomad hubs and comprehensive local ecosystems suitable for the digital nomad lifestyle. 

Based on news reports, the programme is expected to inject a total of RM4.8 billion into the local economy by the year 2025.

Additionally, in its first phase, the identified digital nomad hubs will include Penang, Langkawi, Kedah, and Kuala Lumpur.

  • Learn more about DE Rantau here.
  • Read other articles on hybrid-working here.

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)