Real Estate in Malaysia
Last updated on Feb 18, 2023
Summary: An expat looking to buy a home in Malaysia should begin by researching the different areas of the country and deciding which one best suits their needs. They should also consider their budget and the type of property they are looking for. It is also important to research the local real estate market and find a reputable real estate agent to help with the process. Foreigners are allowed to purchase property in Malaysia, but there are restrictions on the type of property they can buy. Generally, foreigners are only allowed to purchase residential properties, such as apartments, condominiums, and landed properties. Houses in Malaysia typically include amenities such as air conditioning, security systems, and swimming pools. Depending on the area and the type of property, other amenities may also be available, such as gyms, spas, and tennis courts.
How do I find a place to live in Malaysia?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"Finding a place to live in Malaysia can seem daunting, but there are several resources available to help. A good first step would be to search online for rental listings that offer the exact features, area, and price range that you are looking for. Additionally, if you are relocating to Malaysia, you could contact relocation or rental agencies that specialize in Malaysia and ask for their assistance. Another option is to contact real estate agents and inquire about available rental units in your desired location, or to check out popular expat websites or Facebook groups where people offer listings and discuss rental opportunities. Finally, classified ads and local publications offer listings of accommodations for rent too," said one person in Malaysia.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Malaysia?
"A typical expat home or apartment in Malaysia typically features modern and stylish furnishings, as well as all the conveniences of modern amenities such as air conditioning, a washer-dryer unit and access to internet and cable TV. Many expat homes come equipped with a large terrace or garden, providing a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for expats and their families. Expat apartments often come with access to swimming pools and gyms, as well as shared recreational areas such as BBQ pits or playgrounds. Security is also a top priority, with most homes and apartments featuring 24-hour security guards providing peace of mind for expats living in Malaysia," said one expat who made the move to Malaysia.
"We live in a 4 bedroom standalone house [bungalow]. Most expats take either a house or apartment, depending on whether or not they have children, or major security concerns. Apartments have better security and amenities, but are typically smaller. Many houses have pools," explained one foreigner living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
What is the average cost of housing in Malaysia?
If you are thinking about moving to Malaysia, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"It's higher. A good furnished apartment in Georgetown would cost around RM.1500-3500 ($450 - 1100)," said one expat in Penang.
"Housing rental charges are a lot higher here than in my native New Zealand. Typical monthly rental for a house is between 8000 and 12000 ringgit - say 2500 to 4000 USD. Apartments are cheaper, maybe 1000 to 2500 USD per month," remarked one member in Kuala Lumpur.
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Should I buy or rent a home in Malaysia?
If you have not spent a lot of time in Malaysia, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:
"It is ultimately a personal decision whether to buy or rent a home in Malaysia. Renting a home offers the flexibility of not taking on a large debt committment, and not having to worry about major repairs or maintenance. On the other hand, homeownership has the potential for increased financial stability and potential for appreciation over time, as well as more control over property value. When making the decision to buy or rent, potential homeowners should research the market, consider the costs associated with both options, and understand their finances. Ultimately, the answer to whether it is the best choice to buy or rent a home in Malaysia depends on individual circumstances," said one person in Malaysia.
"If you are over 50 or have children attending a Sarawak school (including International Schools) you are not REQUIRED to purchase property. Those 40-50 without kids can purchase a property to qulify though. BUT anyone on S-MM2H CAN buy property if they wish. There are some restrictions. It must be zoned residentially and have a structure on it or being constructed. It cannot be land zoned exclusively commercially, zoned for agricultural, or reserved native land. And if Landed Property it must be valued above a floor of RM600,000 in Kuching, or RM500,000 elsewhere. That's about US$135,000-$113,000. According to the Sarawak Lands Ordinance of 2019 one can purchase strata property (apartments or condos with no ownership of the underlying land) at any price. There is no floor. And one can rent property virtually anywhere and at any price. I rent, primarily because the property market is a buyers/renters market with a lot of vacancies. If a bargain dream-home emerged I might jump. But I live in the midtown area and prices are a little higher here. Downside of condo life is that many units don't allow pets," remarked one foreigner who made the move to Kuching.
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What do I need to know when buying property in Malaysia?
When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Malaysia, they said:
"1. It is important to understand the Malaysian property laws, including restrictions on foreign ownership depending on the state where the property is located. 2. You should ensure you have a reputable lawyer to guide you through the process as well as to assist with any legal matters concerning the property. 3. You should also be aware of the prevailing market conditions and prices in the area you are looking to purchase a property in. 4. You may also want to consider engaging the services of a property agent or negotiator to assist you in negotiating the best deal. 5. You will have to pay stamp duties, transfer fees and registration fees upon purchasing the property, so it is essential to work out the exact costs beforehand. 6. Malaysia's Central Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, also has restrictions on the purchase of more than one property in the same area by foreign purchasers. 7. In some cases, you may need to obtain an authorisation from the Central Bank before proceeding with the purchase of property. 8. Finally, make sure to conduct your due diligence to safeguard yourself from any potential pitfalls," explained one person living in Malaysia.
Are foreigners allowed to own property in Malaysia?
When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Malaysia, they said...
"Foreigners are allowed to own property in Malaysia, albeit under certain conditions. All purchases of properties in Malaysia must be made via local attorneys and property lawyers who are registered with the bar council. Furthermore, the value of the property must not exceed the amount of RM500,000 and the purchasing party must obtain approval from the respective state authorities and the Federal Government. Additionally, foreign-owned properties must be used solely by the original purchaser and must not be rented out or sold to any third parties," explained one foreigner living in Malaysia.
What appliances are typically included in a rental?
We asked foreigners in Malaysia what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included:
"In Malaysia, rental properties typically include common appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, air conditioners, and cooking stoves. In some cases, the rental property may also have a microwave, dishwasher, oven, and other kitchen appliances," explained one person living in Malaysia.
Additional Information about Searching for a Home in Malaysia:
We asked foreigners in Malaysia what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included...
"Expats can search for homes in Malaysia by asking their colleagues or friends for recommendations, researching property websites or viewing listings in traditional print newspapers and magazines, visiting property expos, attending home viewings with a reliable local realtor, and exploring neighborhoods to consider renting or buying in," said one in Malaysia.
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.
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- Healthcare & Health Insurance in Malaysia
- Members Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Malaysia
- Guide to Real Estate in Malaysia
- Pros & Cons of Living in Malaysia
- Cost of Living in Malaysia
- Discover the Best of Penang, Malaysia
- The Essential Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Expat Guide to Residency in Malaysia
- 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Malaysia
- 2023 Guide to Living in Malaysia
- 2023 Guide to Moving to Malaysia