Can I Find My Dream Home In 7 Days?

Ok, with or without my wife (boss may not let her go), I am planning to go to Malaysia in May for about a week (before I get really busy at work) to see if I honestly like it there or not.  I get it, it is only a week and the weather is probably going to be better than it can be during other times.

I have the following cities/areas down to visit for sure at this point:

1) Johor Bahru - gotta say hi to the inlaws too
2) Melaka and nearby Klebang which sounds interesting
3) Penang Island - gotta see what everyone is raving about
4) Ipoh - my wife's friend said this area is known for its good air (true?)
5) langkawi - sounds like a fun place.  any residential areas?

Realistically, can I cover all this in 7 days?

Does anyone know of a local tour company that is good and can do what is effectively a RE buying tour for me?  If anybody here is residing there and wouldn't mind earning a few US dollars doing this for, give me a holler.

Ok, I know you guys/gals have a secret oasis spot that I may be missing.  Would you be willing to share?  Please???

Here is my criteria:

1) near coast or beach area
2) prefer west side to east (I'm thinking less rain.  True?)
3) prefer SFH to buy with some land

More than likely, I will be having Alter Domus do the paperwork for us. 

Anything else?   Thanks!


Not a hope of doing that in a week.

Apart from the distance between the towns meaning long travel times, you have zero chance of looking at each place properly.

You're also going about this the wrong way. Make a list of what you need, then find towns that fit.
Beach bums are going to love Lankawi, but shoppers are likely to prefer  Johor Bahru because it's next to Singapore.
Ipoh is great for people into crime and prostitution.

Not a hope of doing that in a week.

Apart from the distance between the towns meaning long travel times, you have zero chance of looking at each place properly.

You're also going about this the wrong way. Make a list of what you need, then find towns that fit.
Beach bums are going to love Lankawi, but shoppers are likely to prefer  Johor Bahru because it's next to Singapore.
Ipoh is great for people into crime and prostitution.

Don't buy property in Malaysia yet as prices are still falling. Just do the reconnaissance this trip.

Mainland penang is cheaper than the island. If you don't have a longterm visa (Mm2h) minimum purchase price for  landed property for foreigners on the island is rm2 million. Think its less on mainland.

Ipoh has lowest requirement and because of this is growing in popularity. But its nowhere near the sea.

Monsoons affect all of Malaysia at different seasons. East/West theory doesn't really hold water.

If you don't need to be on peninsular Malaysia then think about Sabah.

Thank you both for your advice!

Agreed, this short visit (possibly up'ed to 10 days) will be to just survey the land and get a feel of the country.  Here is more information as to why I do think I don't really need that much time:

1) I am a Chinese American who grew up around mostly Chinese people (Chinatown) and I loved it (overall environment, culture, etc.).  So, I kind of know what I am getting into in terms of general lifestyle with the people there.
2) My inlaws are in Johor Bahru, so peninsular Malaysia it is for sure and I am fine with that.  I just want something on the coast or near a beach.  I just want to visit Penang to see it and check out my fav area so far, Batu Ferringhi.
3) The required pricing minimums are not a problem.  We own homes in the San Francisco/Bay Area so anywhere else practically will be a bargain.

Wow, is Ipoh that bad?  I think I would love Klebang.  Any advice on coastal areas in Southern peninsular Malaysia?

Johor has beaches and islands off east coast. Putri Harbour is also popular. Singapore is easily accessed.

Ipoh is a very dignified town these days and fast catching up with penang. Fred is just reminiscing about 30 yrs back

Most Malaysians return to their roots so all this haring about is possibly moot.

Check out for an idea of the property market. Minimums are misleading in some ways as actual property entry points are often much higher. The point of them is to protect low and medium priced property for locals.

Foreigners are split on Batu Ferringe. Until new planned roads are constructed. access in slow and difficult along the narrow cliff road. Some find it too touristy and remote. Others live there because of the international school. So far it doesn't have a supermarket.

Tanjung Bungah is most popular area. Perhaps check out houses at Moonlight Bay.

Fred is only thinking 12 years back to a town where every hotel offered me a pro on check in.
All 3 sorts were available.

Well, Fred did state this:

Ipoh is great for people into crime and prostitution.

Are you sure the eastern side of peninsular Malaysia is about the same as western side for rain (monsoon season)?

I just saw a few Youtube videos of Putri Harbour, looks nice.

Ok, maybe more research...

Thanks so much!!!

If you don't have many familial and tourism obligations then you might pull this off if very well planned. At each point you might look into two or three different opportunities. What you would want to do is look at several of the property hawking websites (;;; find some units that appear ideal. You mention that you want a SFH (single-family home) you plan on having kids? You might consider schooling opportunities, hospitals, malls and shopping centers.

  And then make an appointment to see them, or at least drive by them to get a taste of the area and other features.

If your wife retains Malaysian citizenship then there are different visa options than MM2H. If it is essential that you have the support of an agent (both for getting the MM2H, but  also assisting you in property purchase, etc.) you might want to get one near to your prospective place of residence. For Malacca or Johor you might want a different agent than Alter Domus.

Thanks for the info, cinnamonape!  Well, we initiated the process with Alter Domus already since they seemed to be the "go to" agent for the MM2H.  Yeah, it sounds like we may end up more in the South side than Penang but oh well, I haven't given up yet.  The thing is, if we purchased a nice large property (despite no kids) up North in Penang or close to it and have the inlaw parents move there from Johor to watch and enjoy a new, larger home my understanding is that their home in Johor Bahru should be easy to rent out.  So, that would be extra funds to help pay for anything while we are gone perhaps up to a half a year.  I take it having an agent close by would allow one to do other transactions easier but is it really necessary?  Can't we just hire someone local to where we live for anything needed after the initial approval anyway?  Technically, I haven't paid Alter Domus yet (although did initiate the process).  Can I just cancel?

Others certainly can act to assist.  Alter Domus would do the same services as someone in the South or just that you may have to spend a few days in Penang to do the Health Check and set up your Fixed Account.

Here are Alter Domus' basic fee, and the list of additional services they offer. The additional ones have added fees.

Ok, now that I semi survived figuring out/paying my US income tax return, onward to Malaysia for the ultimate "Do I Like It?" journey next month.  Ok, I got more than just 7 days to find my dream home in Malaysia.  I have about 11 days there next month!!!!   The plan is to fly into Singapore, take a local flight up to KL and start looking around up North before flying back down South to see my inlaws and to check out the South.

I plan to hit KL for maybe 2 days, then head to Ipoh maybe before Penang for maybe 2 days (check out homes in Batu Ferringhi).  Head back South for Melaka, Johor Bahru where I can see inlaws and check out Leisure Farms properties, Puteri Harbour and bang back to San Francisco I go.  Would like to see Klabang if possible (via Melaki?). 

If I happen to be by Alter Domus' office in Penang, I may drop by and say hello.  My wife's new US passport arrived fairly quickly, so our application is hopefully going to move along now.

Any suggestions from you travel veterans to/in Malaysia?

Any area that I missed out?  I would love some R/R in Lankawi, Gentling Islands, Cameron Highlands or the East side with the killer islands (Perinthian) but no time for that now.  I need to soak in Malaysia and find out where I would like to live.  Pina colada in the nude can wait....

In KL, if you want to stay right by the twin towers at a good value base, I use the Le Apple Boutique Hotel on Jalan Ampang (careful as quite a few with similar names) I've lived in kl and pg if you want some info. If you want to view some homes in PG check on FB for Elia Kasani. She also covers Tanjung Bungah. BF can be rather touristy and only has small shops and cafes as facilities. Currently the access is along a narrow coastal road which is prone to jams. But a new road is planned which will make BF more accessible. There are two parts to BF. Nearest to George Town is an area around Miami Bay and the Moonlight housing area. Further north is the hotel area. There are some amazing new condos in the south of the island which is cheaper and nearer the airport.

Thanks, Gravitas!  I will certainly check out that hotel. 

Yes, I am last of the Mohicans.... I AM NOT A FACEBOOK USER.  I'll survive somehow.... :)

At this rate you could have your mm2h rather rapidly … doSl3ib.99

Hey Gravitas,

Thanks for the tips on Penang.  I will probably try Airbnbing my way around Malaysia on my 9-10 days trip.  For example, I saw a nice room in a modern hotel in KLCC for about $15/night or what is that RM60?  Mind as well feed the cofers of a hometown internet company about to go IPO...

Regarding the Southern part of Penang, which areas do you recommend if not for condos but more so gated communities with access to coast/beach?  I will have a driver to take me around during the days there.

I understand the airport is in the south there.  Have you taken local flights from there to say Singapore or Johor?  I don't suppose you recommend another way back down there to Johor?

There are no gated communities in the south of the island with access to water. There are supposed to be some houses at The Light Collection near the first bridge with moorings but not sure how advanced that project is. Although there was a recent announcement there would be an art gallery built on part of the same site. There is one small development in Tanjung Bungah I recall but not gated. I'll see if I can find out more. I've seen some nice gated communities with club/pool facilities in the middle of the island. Right at the base of the island is a development called Botanica CT but the area of Balik Pulau is quite a way from facilities at Queensbay. Best to use a property portal to check what's available. TBH most people live north of George Town. The extreme north and south of the island are preferred Muslim areas.

Yes I've taken flights out of penang airport. I thought you might want to fly to Malaka. Penang has a good service to JB as well

Suggest using the train (as opposed to coaches) up or down the peninsular from Butterworth (penang mainland) through Ipoh to KL but booking is important

OK I forgot about the housing area around Straits Quay called Seri Tanjung Pinang. It has a public walkway along the water. Its where there is a huge offshore reclamation project and some new islands being developed. It's going to be a whole new community with schools and malls. It's north of GT. Popular area with expats and visitors as good facilities at SQ including a performing arts centre and a marina. But I think there may be some subsidence issues as the area is also reclaimed. I walked along the boardwalk a few years back and some property was being rebuilt

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