Accommodation in Malaysia
Updated 2022-05-20 13:50

Finding accommodation in Malaysia is relatively simple as there is no shortage of accommodation for foreigners in this country. Moreover, many people who come to work alone in Malaysia enjoy sharing accommodation with other expats. However, if you are moving with your family, it is worth taking the time to determine where you want to live and in what type of accommodation, as rental contracts are usually for two years and therefore represent a long-term commitment.

If you're on a budget, you can find some of the most modern and comfortable accommodation in the world in Malaysia at an affordable price, compared to rental prices in other major cities. As the country is developing rapidly, there are no infrastructure problems, and new buildings are designed with all the desired equipment. Many expats are pleasantly surprised by the standard of living in Malaysia and whether you are alone or with family, you can be sure to find accommodation that meets your needs.

Buying property in Malaysia

Along with Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, Malaysia is one of the few countries in Asia where foreigners can purchase freehold real estate. Consequently, some expatriates seriously consider this opportunity. This option is indeed generally more affordable than in their country of origin, and this makes a good opportunity to start a profitable long-term investment. Anyone can become a homeowner in Malaysia as long as they have the financial means. On the other hand, if you are part of the MM2H program or have a business in Labuan, you can apply for a home loan. In this case, the bank will assess the value of the property you wish to purchase. Banks are usually willing to offer a home loan to foreigners based on this valuation but will often offer a loan between 75% and 90% of the total property value.

Malaysia being a country with a large Muslim majority, there are also Islamic banks that offer housing loan programs in accordance with the laws of Islam, therefore with a minimal interest margin. However, it is rare, if not exceptional, for such banking institutions to grant loans to foreigners.

House prices in Malaysia's most prized residential areas like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru, averaged almost RM432,000 in the first quarter of 2021. More luxurious dwellings, such as villas or penthouses, sell for several million RM, with prices varying according to size, location, furnishings, and other criteria. For around RM1 million, you can probably buy a nice condo close to downtown Kuala Lumpur, while a two-storey suburban bungalow will cost a minimum of RM1.5 million. Prices are significantly lower if you can accommodate with less desirable areas.

It should be noted that since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in early 2020, property prices in Malaysia have risen sharply, and continue to rise each year. For more information on the subject, see our article on Covid-19 related changes in Malaysia.

Renting property in Malaysia

If you do not have the means or the desire to buy your own property in Malaysia, the best solution is to rent an apartment, condominium, or landed property, whether it is a lodge, a villa, a community house, a detached house, semi-detached or semi-detached house. Most expats choose to rent a condominium, which is a large apartment with various additional amenities, such as a swimming pool, garden, barbecue, gym, sports court, and a nice reception area with security guards. Some of the newer condominiums even go so far as to offer facilities such as an adventure trail, a rooftop, a water maze, tree houses, or a banquet hall, among others.

The size of most condominiums is around 55m² (known in Malaysia as “studio condos”). The most spacious condos, on the other hand, can be more than 180m², and the most luxurious often include a jacuzzi, a sauna and a large common swimming pool. Your choice will obviously depend on your desires and means.

It is quite common in Malaysia to have to pay at least two months' rent in advance, as well as half a month to cover other charges (water, gas, electricity). Contracts are generally for a minimum of one year, but tenants often must sign a two-year contract. However, don't be afraid to negotiate the terms of your deal with landlords, as many landlords accommodate varying requirements, lengths, and budgets. Rental agreements are usually fairly standard and follow a general template. However, since this is a large commitment, you may wish to adjust certain conditions. Beyond the rental fee, you can request to add conditions like the following, provided they are not already mentioned in your contract: parking options, changes to the property, pets, guests, and general maintenance.

It's hard to find short-term rentals in Malaysia, and many condominium and building owners are becoming stricter about AirBnB and other short-term rentals. Some condominiums even deny access to short-term visitors or the option of subletting, and access cards are often required at the entrance to buildings and common areas to prove that you are a genuine tenant. As a result, it will be easier to find short-term accommodation in an independent and private residence or to extend your stay in a hotel.

Rental contracts

Renting a home is sometimes included in expat employment contracts, and it's worth negotiating it if you can. On the other hand, if you have no choice but to look for accommodation yourself, you will have to present your employment contract, your work permit and your visa to your potential owner. If the expiry date of any of these documents is before the end of your lease, you may be refused permission. You will also need to provide references, local contacts or a recommendation from a previous owner.

All rental agreements have exit clauses, and it is important to read them carefully and understand the terms before signing any document. If you break a clause of the contract, the owner can claim compensation, and it is likely that your initial deposit will not be refunded to you.

If you and your landlord wish to sign the lease, an inventory will be drawn up to detail the condition of the accommodation and all of the furniture. It is important to list all the small details so as not to be held responsible for any problems when the lease expires.

Rental fees

Rental costs vary depending on the type of accommodation, city and neighborhood. Accommodation in central Kuala Lumpur is much more expensive than in the suburbs, and even some accommodations on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur can be more expensive than in the center of other cities like Ipoh.

When comparing similar regions, a villa or a large pavilion will surely be more expensive than a standard condominium, and a condominium will be more expensive than an apartment. On the other hand, location certainly has the greatest influence on rental costs, anywhere in Malaysia. It can be hard to find a decent condo in Kuala Lumpur for less than RM2,000 per month, for example, and a more luxurious condo will cost you around RM7,000-8,000 per month minimum. Luxury suites and condos around the Petronas Twin Towers can easily reach RM20,000 per month or more.

If you're looking for short-term housing, expect to pay a higher monthly rent than if you sign for a long-term lease. That may not be always the case, provided you are dealing with an understanding owner.

Many expatriates choose furnished accommodation if they are not planning to stay in Malaysia for a long period. On the other hand, unfurnished accommodation can come considerably cheaper. If you plan to settle for more than a year, it is possibly interesting to buy your own furniture, whose prices remain very correct in Malaysia, and to rent unfurnished accommodation. Some unfurnished accommodations remain equipped with household appliances, such as the fridge and the washing machine, but this is not the case everywhere.

Home-related charges (repairs, painting, alterations) are generally paid by the tenant and are invoiced separately from the rent, but they remain in principle under the name of the owner. On the other hand, the owner is responsible for paying all the costs related to the accommodation such as water, gas or electricity. Generally, these costs are included in the rental price.

When you sign the lease, expect to pay notary fees. These are based on a percentage of the annual rent you will pay and are usually between 0.5 and 2%.

Finding accommodation in Malaysia

Sharing rooms, houses, or apartments is common for young foreigners who move to Malaysia on their own. It's the simplest and easiest way to reduce housing costs and meet new people. If you want to share accommodation, you can do your research through many online rental and roommate platforms such as SAFEHOUSE, Roomlala, or Nestpick, to name a few. You can also check our list of apartments for rent in Malaysia.

If you are moving with your family or have a comfortable budget, it is wiser to contact a real estate agency that will help you find accommodation that meets your expectations.

Housing insurance

As a tenant, it is safer to insure your belongings against theft, fire and other damage. As a landlord, you will be required to take out accommodation insurance in Malaysia. It is also strongly advised to add disaster cover, as the country is often plagued by floods, cyclones, and other natural disasters.

There are three main types of insurance you can choose from to protect your home and property if you own it: a basic fire policy, a homeowner's policy, or a resident's policy.

The basic fire contract covers loss or damage caused by fire, explosion or lightning. The property contract provides additional coverage to the base contract against fire, including loss or damage due to flooding. The resident contract covers the contents of your accommodation and fatal injuries but does not cover any damage to the accommodation and the infrastructure included within your property.

If you own a condominium, such as an apartment, the company that manages the building must take out insurance under the main contract. Therefore, you will need to ensure that you verify that this has been done by asking the manager for a copy of the individual insurance certificate for your property.

Useful links:



Ibilik - Flatsharing in Malaysia

Star Property

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