Accommodation in Ipoh

Updated 2022-05-20 12:30

Compared to major cities in Southeast Asia, Ipoh is a more affordable choice and a dream come true for nature lovers. Ipoh is surrounded by limestone hills, cliffside temples, peaceful lakes and the fragrant Gaharu Tea Valley, and offers many advantages for those who wish to lay their hats down there. The city is also close to Kinta Nature Park and Gopeng. Hence, if you like nature and outdoor activities, Ipoh will suit you perfectly.

Generally speaking, Ipoh is ideally located in Peninsular Malaysia, close to Penang, the Cameron Highlands, and even to Kuala Lumpur situated halfway on the route to George Town. However, even if Ipoh is among the 10 most populated cities in Malaysia, it remains rather unknown to foreign visitors and expatriates. Moreover, Ipoh has the reputation of being the cleanest city in Malaysia, a valuable fact that has greatly increased the city's attractiveness in recent years.

The city, as well as the state of Perak, have been the subject of a vast government program since the beginning of the 2010s. Such a program was intended to increase investment and the number of residents in Ipoh, as well as its accessibility. In 2016, the Ministry of Transport doubled the frequency of Intercity Electric Train (KTM ETS) trips between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur. This strategy is based on a policy of decongestion and decentralization of the former administrative capital, as well as a better distribution of wealth between Malaysian cities.

Ipoh is a medium-sized agglomeration. The city can count on its natural charm and the authorities' efforts to attract new residents and investors. Thus, between 2016 and 2022, Ipoh welcomed almost 100,000 additional residents, with a population increasing from 754,000 to 842,000 inhabitants. However, despite this increase, Ipoh remains a small city that offers a quiet life. Expats can expect to enjoy modern amenities and infrastructure in Ipoh, without the overcrowding, pollution, traffic and skyscrapers of major Malaysian metropolises like Kuala Lumpur, Seberang Perai, Subang Jaya or George Town.

In 2014, US News, an American media, mentioned Ipoh in its list of the 9 best places in the world to retire, as well as one of the most affordable. The city is also very popular among Malaysian retirees who did not wait for Ipoh to be promoted to come and spend a peaceful retirement there, far from the stress of large urban centers.

In recent years, Ipoh's popularity grew exponentially among young professionals in Malaysia and elsewhere, not only for its tranquility and natural beauty, but also for its very affordable cost of living. Working in Ipoh is hence becoming an increasingly valued option across Malaysia, both by local citizens and by foreign residents. In addition, you won't have to worry about traffic jams: it's very easy to get to the office within 15 minutes, without having to blow your budget for a well-located apartment.

Where to live in Ipoh

Renting accommodation in Ipoh is significantly cheaper than in other places in Malaysia such as the Klang Valley, and accommodation is often more spacious due to the greater amount of available land. There are also more options for renting accommodation in Ipoh, so if you want to have a small garden in which to grow vegetables or entertain guests, you should be able to find what you're looking for without major problems.

With a comfortable salary, you will be able to choose from various property options in Ipoh. This ranges from condominiums to apartments, townhouses and villas. To give you an idea, renting a standard apartment or house would cost on average, less than RM1,000 per month, compared to around RM1,560 for a larger accommodation in a better location.

Since there are not many buildings in its centre, there is very little traffic in Ipoh. It is therefore quite easy to get around or to go to work, even if you do not live in the center. It is not necessarily required to reside close to one's place of work. This is what happens in congested cities, such as Penang and Kuala Lumpur. The main concern of those who settle in Ipoh is above all to find a pleasant and well-located neighborhood.

Like elsewhere in Malaysia, many expats live in condominiums in Ipoh. In contrast, some of the more affluent foreigners prefer to live in gated residential areas, enjoying 24-hour security and luxurious amenities. Sunway City Ipoh is the largest integrated municipality in the state of Perak and is very popular among expats. This township is also home to the Lost World of Tambun, one of Ipoh's main tourist attractions. Meru Valley Ecovillage is another example of a gated community and is also popular with foreigners, with the houses surrounded by an expansive golf course.

If easy access to Western cuisine is important to you, we recommend choosing a neighborhood near a modern shopping center. Otherwise, you can look for prime locations with high-end residences like Tiger Lane (also known as Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah). Tiger Lane is an upscale neighborhood prized by a prestigious community, where you could sometimes come across celebrities like Michelle Yeoh, a famous Malaysian actress and producer, who is also from Perak. The Upper East development has recently been launched in the heart of this elite residential area, with the aim of providing its wealthy residents with the best apartments in Perak.

Cost of buying or renting accommodation in Ipoh

Those wishing to buy property in Ipoh will be pleased to learn that prices are lower than in other more popular places in Malaysia. This is because the minimum purchase price for foreigners in Ipoh is RM500,000, which is lower than in other states in Malaysia. For those unaware, the minimum purchase price for real estate varies from state to state in Malaysia.

If you prefer to rent accommodation, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center would usually cost between RM15,000 and RM2,000 per month. If you don't mind living outside the center, the monthly rent can go down to less than RM1,000.

Please note that rental prices can vary greatly depending on the level of luxury of the accommodation and the equipment you are looking for. In addition, real estate inflation has been on the rise for some years in Ipoh, due to the growing popularity of the city and the construction of new infrastructure. Before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia in 2020, there was around 10% property inflation per year in Ipoh. Therefore, if you want to rent a place in this city, expect a big increase in your rent every year. One of the solutions to this problem is to look for a long-term rental, which shouldn't be too difficult. Property owners in Malaysia tend to favor long-term contracts (more than 3 years). However, you will have to negotiate the duration of the contract, which is usually one year.

When it comes to buying property in Ipoh, expats (especially Asians) prefer buying off-plan properties rather than existing homes. Since the minimum investment required is RM1 million for foreigners holding an MM2H visa, this option will be indeed cheaper. Those who opt for this strategy, however, will have to manage the construction of their residence, which can sometimes be tedious in Malaysia.

Finding accommodation in Ipoh

It is relatively easy and pleasant to live in Ipoh. In addition, the supply of accommodation currently exceeds demand, which means that you will have no trouble finding whatever would suit your needs in this city. To ease your search for accommodation, we recommend that you contact a few local real estate agents. They usually have on file almost all the properties available on rent or to buy in Ipoh. They should be able to assist you in finding your dream home or apartment in no time. They will be able to filter your options accordingly to your budget and requirements and guide you based on your exact needs.

It is also recommended to do your research on a Malaysian real estate website, where you will be helped in better understanding and considering what is available according to your budget. Among the best websites and blogs specialized in this field in Malaysia, are PropertyGuru, iProperty, PropWall, PenangPropertyTalk, MalaysiaPropertyNews, GoodPlace, PropCafe, PropertyWTF or even reijb, among others. A quick internet search should give you comprehensive listings of the best or most affordable properties in Ipoh.

One thing you should also know when planning to purchase a house in Ipoh is that houses there are generally more in demand than apartments in particular because of the pleasant climate and the splendor of nature in the State of Perak. However, the increase in demand for apartments in this city is a new phenomenon that has sprouted a few years ago. This has caused the narrowing of the price gap between houses and apartments. Buying an apartment in downtown Ipoh now costs around RM5,000 per square meter, compared to around RM3,500 in the suburbs.

Finally, the hitherto moderate costs of real estate in Ipoh should continue to increase over the next decade according to projections made by specialists in the field, even though the Covid-19 pandemic has severely slowed progress or caused the abandonment of certain projects. The Movies Animation Park Studio (MAPS), which opened in 2017, was one of the largest infrastructure projects in Ipoh in recent years and has quickly become one of the city's top tourist attractions. The park, unfortunately, had to close its doors permanently in 2021 following the severe measures taken by the Malaysian government against the pandemic and the consequent large losses. And this has had some impact on the local real estate market.

Nevertheless, everything seems to indicate that the Malaysian authorities will continue their investment policy in Ipoh. Other important projects should come live soon, and should thus help the regional and Malaysian economies to regain a correct growth rate. Potential investors in real estate in Ipoh can be reassured: this charming town should still be able to have housing at very reasonable prices for years to come. At the moment, the cost of real estate in Ipoh is indeed half the price of Kuala Lumpur's, which ultimately leaves a lot of room for potential buyers.

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