Ever since I graduated from my computer engineering degree in Australia and came back to my hometown, Kota Kinabalu, I've been asked this question many, many times.
Most people assumed I would look for a job elsewhere. After all, there are only a handful of software companies here and opportunities are very limited.
But for the past 13 years, I've chosen to stay back in this beautiful city, despite getting offers and options to further my career elsewhere.
I had to say no to better positions and renumeration numerous times simply because I insist I want to be based here in KK.
Luckily, over the years, I've been blessed with projects and clients who are open to me working remotely. This allowed me to build a decent career for which I'm very thankful.
So why am I so adamant about staying here, even at the expense of limiting my career progression?
It's all about the food
Some may say it's the food. In Kota Kinabalu, you have easy access to exotic delicacies and fresh seafood. I consider myself somewhat of a foodie so this is definitely a plus.
In fact, one of my very first attempt at building a product was a food and restaurant review site named Ravejoint. It even predates Yelp but unfortunately we have long shut it down.
Couple with the fact that KK is not that big, you don't have to travel far to find good food. For us, munching down seafood is our preferred monthly team bonding activity.
Location, location, location
As I mentioned before, KK city isn't that big. You can get around pretty easily as long as you avoid commuting during peak hours. I simply love the fact that I can get to work within 10 mins everyday.
And with everything being nearby, I can suddenly decide to catch a movie, 30 minutes before it starts. Of course, it helps it to be able to quickly compare movie showtimes with our own site Showtimes.my.
If you are the adventurous type, within a few hours drive from the city, there are pristine beaches, resorts, nature, wildlife, hot springs, and the majestic Mount Kinabalu. It's very common for locals to take road trips around the state.
For jet setters, Kota Kinabalu is strategically located and ideal as the transit point for neighbouring countries. In less than 3 hours, you can reach Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Manila and other South East Asian cities.
Despite the city's rapid development in the past few decades, KK still feels like a small town. This is mainly due to the amazing people and their friendliness. You simply have to experience Sabahan hospitality first hand to understand what I mean.
The people here are not only the most hospitable people I've ever met but also extremely talented. Together with Dinoza, we organise Webcamp KK, a monthly meet-up where people from all walks of life come share their inspiring story. Even after running it for 6 years, we continue to encounter hidden gems every single month.
I've always believed talented people can be found anywhere and my experience with Webcamp KK confirms this. If you want to discover these talents in person, join us every first Tuesday of the month. Follow our Facebook page to be notified on our next session.
The little things
Even after living in KL and Sydney for a few years, I still prefer the hot and humid weather of KK. Well not so much the weather but it is after all my hometown.
There's something that I can't quite explain other than the fact that the quality of life is much higher here. Staying close to family where we can enjoy good food and take a scenic road trip over the weekend while surrounded by awesome people are things that many would die for.
And now that I have a family of my own, it's a joy to see my parents able to come see their grandson daily. I guess it's the little things in life that matters most.
I believe in KK
Having said that, there is in fact one big reason why I'm in KK. It's because I truly believe this place have untapped potential and I want to play a part, however small, in helping this city grow.
Over the years, I've seen the amazing achievements and accomplishments by our fellow Sabahans. We have all the right ingredients to take this place to the next level. The first step towards any change is to believe that it's possible. It's time to take that step.
So the next time someone asks me why am I still in KK? Well it's because I believe this is the place to be and someday you'll want to be here too.
If you too, believe in KK, please share this article with your friends. Let's work together to make this city the best place to work and live. And if you liked this article, do take a minute and subscribe to my blog for more random ramblings about this place I call home.