As more and more foreigners are deciding to settle down in Malaysia for work or retirement, deciding which properties are worth investing in has become a lingering problem.
It is not too hard to understand why many foreigners are choosing Malaysia as a destination to settle down. The economy in the West is not doing too well, and life is much more expensive than it ever was before, causing many to set their eyes on Southeast Asia where life is still considerably affordable.
Malaysia offers both an urban lifestyle and tropical landscapes. It is a place where you are connected to the rest of the world while slow-paced kampung life and islands are welcomed getaways.
Amongst the many foreigners who stay in the country for long periods of time, renting houses might seem like a waste of money. Hence, many are beginning to realise the potential of purchasing a property in a booming economy like Malaysia. Nonetheless, buying a property, in actual fact, is not an easy decision to make.
So the first crucial step would be to determine where. Location is the utmost important factor when it comes to buying a property. Although it will not be possible to tell you “the best” places to invest, here is our look at some of the most popular places to buy properties in Malaysia:
1. Kuala Lumpur
The capital is of course the first choice for home buyers to consider. There are many areas in KL and its surrounding that make up Greater Kuala Lumpur.
KL is a mixture of modern metropolis and cultural city, offering all the comforts of urban life. Therefore, living near Kuala Lumpur is definitely a good way of experiencing city life and culture. The capital is close to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 that connect the city to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. There is also a good network of roads and transportation infrastructure which links to other parts of the city, and Peninsular Malaysia.
Living in Kuala Lumpur doesn’t necessarily mean living in the heart of the capital. There are other neighbourhoods surrounding Kuala Lumpur itself that provide a more community-oriented lifestyle, such as Bangsar, Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara.
Needless to say, prices of properties are much higher in Kuala Lumpur than any other city in Malaysia. But as more residential properties are built, there are concerns that prices might decrease overtime. But for now, prices at these hotspots are relatively high. For instance, a 5-bedroom house in Mont Kiara can cost at least RM1.65 million.
Outside the city center of Kuala Lumpur, life is less hectic. Petaling Jaya (PJ) which is the most prosperous area in the state for property, which offers a more laid-back and secluded environment with good transportation links.
Many companies are now locating their headquarters in Selangor rather than KL city center because of cheaper prices. There are also numerous international schools in PJ and areas like Ampang and Seri Kembangan, which are seeing a rise in property investment.
Although prices are cheaper in these areas than Bangsar and Mont Kiara, the limitations set by the new housing laws on property purchase by foreigners may offset this.
For those who work in city centre, staying in Selangor will mean the extra hassle of commuting every day, but the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) rail system enable convenient connection to many parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
Penang has become a top choice for expats over the years, given its rich cultural heritage, local delicacies and wonderful natural landscapes. The expat community in the state is a flourishing one, as well as offering a selection of well-known international schools.
Penang is going to be largely involved in the Northern Corridor Economic Region development plan that aims at raising the social and economic standards of the northern states. There are many major projects that have already made their way to Penang.
It comes with no surprise then that new developments have caused the price of housing in Penang to go up. For example, the cost of a 5-bedroom bungalow in Batu Ferringhi area in Penang is equivalent to the price of houses in Bangsar or KL city centre, albeit with amazing sea views of course.
Located near Singapore, and the third-largest state in Peninsular Malaysia, Johor is expected to become a major residential and commercial hub in the near future. The state offers a good mix of modern, rural and coastal life. The Iskandar Development that begun some years ago is about to transform Johor, where many residential, educational and commercial spots have been built with countless more in-progress and planned for the future.
Prices of property in Johor start at around RM300,000 for a 3-bedroom condominium, but they can go as high as RM2.3 million for newly developed areas with more facilities such as golf courses, commercial outlets, and security.
Sabah is famous for being a paradise for nature lovers, be it locals or foreigners. The state has charming rainforests, the most fascinating wildlife in Malaysia and beautiful beaches. It may not be the best place for working expats, because most jobs are available in Peninsular Malaysia. However, property developments are on the rise to appeal to investors.
The Kota Kinabalu International Airport connects the state to KL and other regions in the country. Sabah has also seen a rise in tourism, and many are purchasing properties as holiday homes.
There, prices for a 3-bedroom condominium is at a minimum of RM450,000, but may go as high as RM1.7 million for newer developments. With the rapid increase in number of tourists and expats in Sabah, investing in a few properties in Sabah today could bring some good returns in the form of holiday rentals.
Melaka is a historical and cultural center with picturesque historical architecture. The city attracts many tourists every year, with the numbers having gone up since becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
During the weekdays, Melaka is nice and quiet, but come weekends, the town becomes crowded with local and foreign tourists. It offers a less busy and relaxing life than Kuala Lumpur, and is only about two hours away from the capital. There are some international schools and quality hospitals in town. Although finding a job might be difficult, Melaka is ideal for families given the easy access to such amenities.
Housing prices are much cheaper in Melaka than in KL. For instance, a 3-bedroom condominium could be as low as RM400,000. There are also a good number of new developments coming up in Melaka.
Ipoh, the capital of Perak is one of the main towns for foreign and local tourists, with its magnificent local food, cultural offerings and pre-war buildings. The pace of life is much slower in Perak than the capital allowing a glimpse of how Malaysia used to be. Ipoh is easily accessible from KL through the North-South Highway as well as the ETS (Electronic Train Service) which is just a 3-hour drive or 2-hour train ride away.
There are some modern developments in progress which offer high-end options for property buyers. The price of a condominium in such developments can begin at RM400,000, comparably much cheaper to other states in the country. Perak also has one of the lowest minimum purchase prices for foreigners under the MM2H program.
The rapid increase of construction in Malaysia may ring some alarms with many worrying that the property bubble will burst. Nevertheless, the number of people seeking to invest in the Malaysia property market is rising. Property investment is a huge decision, but one that can be extremely profitable. Hence, seeking good advice, taking time to look around carefully, and getting the right information from developers can lower the risks and make the investment worthwhile.