Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Deciding where to Live in Malaysia

When we decided to move to Malaysia in early 2009 and even before, I had checked properties online to see what kind of house we could get for our money. The main property sites are:
Later I found where Malaysian’s list their own properties as well as other items (cars, house goods, etc.) for sale.

Looking at these sites we managed to find pockets of areas where the houses looked the best for the money.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city, was out as we were looking for a house with a yard. Properties are generally the following: Condo/Apartments, Terrace and Link Houses (narrow connected houses on both sides like a townhouse), Semi-detached houses (sharing one side with a neighbor) and Detached Bungalows (standalone homes). Well, I wanted a bungalow which is the least common form of housing in Malaysia and of course, the most expensive. A bungalow in or around Kuala Lumpur was cost prohibitive for us, but we weren’t interested in living in or around KL due to the tightness of the city. I lived in New York City for many years and wasn’t interested in being stuffed into a place or dealing with the traffic. Don’t get me wrong, KL is a fantastic town and great to visit and get products that can’t be found in other towns in Malaysia, I just don’t want to live there. This was, of course, surprising to nearly everyone we came in contact with.

Penang, We loved Penang on our previous visits, but online, it looked like we wouldn’t find a detached bungalow in our price range.

So we decided we would head to Malaysia, buy a car (another post later) and start driving to different states to see which city worked best for us. The plan was to start in the state of Negeri Sembilan, if we didn’t like it there, head up to Kelantan in the northern part of the country and to Perak.

After taking care of all of our business in KL and briefly looking at the market in KL, we rented a car (the Honda we purchased wasn’t ready) and headed south to the state of Negeri Sembilan. We looked in the state's various towns such as Seremban, Nilai and Port Dickson.

We soon saw that the houses' photos online looked better than the properties themselves and there was very little to choose from. One property in Seremban though, which we had seen online, was looking good. At 3,700+ square feet of build up space the double story was big and had been recently renovated (partially). Apparently, no one had lived in the house before, it was vacant. The size of the yard was decent and the house was in a small group of bungalows with a pool and gated/guarded for security with 24-hour coverage (many houses for sale list that a house is in a gated/guarded community but when you drive up to the guard house it is empty... anyone can get in). We heard that house break-ins are common so security is necessary.

Seremban at twilight, view from condo rental

The more we thought about the house the more we liked it... Seremban itself is a nice size town and has most of the stores we would need (Jusco and Tesco which are large shopping marts). But Seremban is also located only 45 minutes south of Kuala Lumpur via E2 a direct route expressway. And it is only 30 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The town is also located about 30 minutes from the beach (which was less important to us, but still easily accessible). We decided to make an offer on the house in mid-October which was accepted. After a long process of working out the details, the Sales and Purchase agreement for the house was completed in Early December and submitted to Negeri Sembilan in the last days of 2009. Since we made the offer we have been living in a condo in Seremban waiting to have the deal finalized and move into the house. The Negeri Sembilan committee approved the sale in early March and since then we have been waiting for the transfer and for the lawyers to orchestrate the final stages of the sale. We had a joint inspection on the house on Monday and now wait for the owner to make a couple repairs. Once they are done the owner will receive the funds and we will get the keys. We hope this happens in the next few days. But, with the slowness we have seen in nearly every process here, we aren’t sure when it will actually happen.

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