Better to invest in Singapore or JB property?


Sorry for the lack of update folks. The last several months have been very crazy for me and the hubs because we’ve been house hunting in Singapore!

As you know, my hubs and I bought HH as our first home in 2011 due to the ridiculously high property prices in SG and have been staying here since. We’ve been really happy living in Malaysia, but with our family, friends and work in Singapore, we’ve always felt that it would be good to be able to own a piece of property in Singapore. Just in case, you know?

And so in December 2015, we finally bought an apartment in Singapore.

Initially, we thought we would move back to Singapore. Living in JB always felt like a temporary thing, and that we would eventually go back to Singapore to be closer to our friends and family. However, after doing some calculations (it’s a occupational hazard), we realised that we are by far better off staying in JB. Here’s why:

  1. It took us between 3 – 5 years to save up enough money for the downpayment of our private apartment in Singapore. We can’t buy a HDB without selling HH, in case you were wondering.
  2. Because we bought a super old apartment,the interior needs to be gutted out and be completely redone. Wiring, piping, flooring, ceiling….everything. Given the size of the place and the very extensive work required, renovation costs + furnishings + appliances will probably be upwards of S$150k to $200k. So, it will take us another 3 – 5 years to save up enough money to pay for the renovation.
  3. Adding the downpayment and reno costs together, we would have spent a total of 6 – 10 years to save up for, and buy, an apartment in Singapore.
  4. If we were to live in this apartment, this piece of property in Singapore then cannot be considered a true asset as it wouldn’t earn us any money. I know for a fact that I dislike moving, and downsizing my property when I’m older for cash isn’t an option that I want to entertain. I like my creature comforts now and I think I will only get fussier when I am older.
  5. Comparing the monthly mortgage instalment amount between HH and the SG Apt, the SG Apt costs 50% more. Ouch.
  6. Which also means that because I have to pay 50% more, I will be able to save less for my other financial goals and also have less to discretionary income to spend, affecting my lifestyle. Things are also more expensive in Singapore, thereby affecting my ability to save further.
  7. Property in Malaysia is hard to rent and the rent may not cover the mortgage loan instalment, which means that a part of our income will have to go into servicing the loan.

This has led us to the conclusion that if we choose to stay in a nice private apartment in Singapore, we would have pushed back saving for our retirement by at least 10 years. And the next earliest time we will only be able to do lump sum investment will be in 15 years time.

OMG…when looking at a SG property from this light, the opportunity cost to live in an apartment in Singapore is very high, right? Or is it just the occupational hazard/finance geeks in me and my husband talking? LOL.

My goal is to retire by 40 and my husband 45. And from our calculations, this can’t be done by living in a super expensive home in Singapore that literally eats up all our income. Glad to say, we’ve now built enough assets,  to be at the 50% mark and we managed to do this by living in JB and keeping our costs low.


Have you read about Winnie Tseng and Jeremy Jacobson, the couple who retired in their 30s and who are now travelling the world? The article really resonated with me when I read it as I see a number of similarities between what they’ve done and what we are now doing. Are any of you doing the same too? If yes, I’d love to hear from you.

I suppose you might be wondering why did we choose to invest in a property in Singapore rather than Malaysia? There are a whole bunch of reasons in addition to the above, but I’ll save it for another post as this post has become rather epic already. Till then!:)

House Painting


Time really flies and we’ve been living in HH for about 3.5 years now. Wow. Who knew we’d stay for so long!:)

Anyway, living in a landed property is not always a bed of roses. And it seems like the 3 year point is where things start to break down due to natural wear and tear. 3-4 years is also the duration that algae/moss needs to grow on external walls to the point of making the walls extremely unsightly and gross. Hah!

So, after deciding that we could no longer endure looking at greenish walls every time we came home, we decided to get our house painted. And boy, getting your house painted is an expensive business. A quote from the painters to paint the exterior of our 3 storey home came up to RM18,000. *faint*

I suspect the high price is because they need to get a scaffolding up to reach the top part of the house, but what do I know?

Anyway, we were supremely turned off by the 5 figure quote so we decided to skip the middleman (again) and hire workers to do the job for us directly.

We used 2 workers as well as bought our own paint and rollers. The paint came up to be about RM2k+ and that’s the cost of paint for walls and railings, basecoat, sealer, turpentine, remover, and extra waterproofing. We learnt that you should always buy your own paint because:

  1. There’s fake paint in the market
  2. Contractors often times give you inferior quality paint but charge you a premium
  3. Inferior quality paint doesn’t last

The wages for the workers came up to approximately $4k+, which brought our total cost to about $7k. Not too bad for the getting the entire exterior, garden walls, gate, railings and grills painted eh?:)

Downside is that we had to spend quite some time supervising the workers.  Given our flexi schedules, we were able to save some money by going it alone and skipping the middleman, though I guess this isn’t a very viable option for everyone.


Build, and they will come?


So, it’s finally started. The buildings are nearly done, but where’s the boom?

I hope that if you bought a unit in HH or JB, you will be staying in it, or at least intend to stay in it in the near future. It will be really difficult to sell units at a significant gain in the short/medium term for sure. To be honest, I’m pretty peeved with the Malaysian government’s lack of foresight – what kind of goondu will approve plans to build so many residential units at the same time? Like 6000 apartment units by a single developer and thousands more along the same stretch of road? And what place does a shoebox unit costing in excess of RM1million have in Johor Bahru?! JB is very far from being the capital of Malaysia. My friends, rationality has been totally thrown out of the window.

Anyway, here’s some news about how a major developer has shelved plans to build a trade hub. And here’s the PR company trying to do some media service recovery by calling a bursting bubble as “Plan B“.

The problem with investing in Malaysia is that the authorities keep changing their mind about how to develop and grow a particular area. Usually, they start off with a fantastic idea. They get people excited and pump a bunch of money into the project. Everything looks rosy, and more people buy into the idea. Halfway through, the folks on top get greedy and start veering off the original plan in view of faster and bigger profits. Corruption probably starts creeping in at this point, and the project starts going to the dogs.

Don’t get me wrong. I STILL think living in JB and working in Singapore is a great idea. With the exchange rate hitting 2.7 now, it’s even more shiok! Despite the stupid 6% GST (which I think was very badly implemented and probably half the establishments that charge the GST pocket the extra), and the increase in the tolls, life is still good here.

With the way things are going though, I just wish to warn folks who are thinking of buying to shop CAREFULLY. At this point, buying a completed unit probably would be more prudent due to the high vacancy and huge supply of units coming onto the market. It’s a rare thing in Singapore to have a developer go bust or stop building a project halfway, but it’s a very real thing here in Malaysia.

Happy hunting folks, I believe there should be some bargains coming onto the market really soon now.:)

Learning to be a fix-it man


It’s been slightly over 2 years since we moved into our place in HH and coming to 4 years since we signed our S&P. Time really flies! Especially so when there’s a big house to maintain on your own.

It’s kinda of funny that we actually manage our home without hired help. Considering that neither of us did much housework when we were living at our parents’ place previously. The trick, we’ve realized, is to put everything back exactly where we found it after we are done. I suppose this is pretty easy advice to follow since we don’t have kids. Lol.

Anyway, I’m writing this post because other than the mundane, there have been some more interesting things that’s happened which actually warrants a post.

So, the other day, big storm took down our TV antenna, which also smashed a couple of roof tiles in the process. Boo. Considering that we hardly watch local TV, I don’t really understand why we even bothered to install the TV antenna in the first place…but, well…I guess when it came to a new house, the general consensus was to install everything!😛

Yeah, so the wind blew the antenna down and we kind of left it dangling on the roof for a week or 2 before seriously looking into fixing it. In fact, we would just have left the blasted thing there for longer if not for the fear of it dragging more tiles off. It was the weekend when we finally found some time to look at it, and this being Malaysia, it’s REALLY hard to get a handyman to come by on the fly. It’s a near impossibility – the country is too big, and the people are not as money hungry pro business as the folks in Singapore.

That being the case, we ended up fixing the roof ourselves. It’s not as hard as you’d imagine, and it was good fun. Yes, climbing 3 stories up was scary, but that’s exactly what the roofers have to do, and they weren’t born different from you and I.

The cost to us was just a tube of silicon and 3 pieces of roof tile..which is also next to nothing.😛 If you EVER need to go up to your roof, be sure to do it in the early morning. If not, once the sun’s out, the roof tiles can literally cook the skin off your hands. Oh, and the corner tile shop along Nusa Bestari just after the flyover stocks the HH grey roof tiles. You need to get the right match for your tiles else they won’t fit.

Going up the roof

Going up the roof

Apart from replacing the tiles, we took down our antenna and decided not to install another one (we have astro anyway). From the way the antenna was secured to the roof, I am pretty sure that every house’s antenna will be blown down at some point. The equipment is just too big, and placed too precariously to be able to withstand multiple storms over a long period of time. Just disasters waiting to happen, IMHO.😛

In addition to the roof, our water tank also gave us some trouble. We got home after a long day at work (on a separate occasion) and within 30mins, we heard the pipes in our house creaking and cranking…and then wooooooossh…water gushing out from one of the pipes at the side of the house. And again, we couldn’t call anyone to come take a look because it was already past 10pm.

We ended up turning off the water mains for the night after climbing into the attic and checking there was no burst pipe. It was pretty dramatic to hear the pipes in your house creak like crazy in the middle of the night. Haha…luckily we are not superstitious people, if not I would have surely thought the house haunted. LOL!!!

Anyway, closer inspection of the water tank the next day indicated that the water float was broken. it’s kind of weird that the float would break since the house is pretty new (2 years) and neither me nor the hubs are OCD clean freaks (we bathe the average number of times as a normal person). The metal part connecting the float to the chain had just rusted off – maybe the water in JB is super acidic or something. The repair was really simple; just change the float! The float cost only rm3 and changing the float took less than 10mins!

Apart from these 2 instances, we’ve had to DIY our house a fair bit. Some of our friends thought we were crazy to try repair the house ourselves…but personally, I think most landed home owners do quite a bit of DIY themselves. And you probably should expect to have to get your hands dirty at some point if you want to live in a big space.

Our next project is to re-waterproof our RC roof. The flat top design of the roof is not great as it collects leaves and other organic debris which clogs up the pipe and prevents the outflow of water, which in turn affects the waterproofing. Wow..I think I sound like I’m a contractor after rereading what I just typed. Haha.

More home improvement projects to come!:)

Penny wise, pound foolish and Najib’s broken promise


So, it’s been nearly a week now since the Malaysian toll hike…and I am happy to report, the Causeway is VERY clear. I suppose this is the only positive thing that has come out from this whole ridiculous situation. Here are the new toll rates:

JB Custom tolls

JB Custom tolls

And the impact on our pocket?

Private cars – 469% price increase Small lorries – 453% price increase Heavy lorries – 446% price increase Taxis – 486% price increase Buses – 478% price increase

Honestly, Singaporeans are the LEAST affected by the hike, despite the hefty increase. Namely because most Singaporeans stay in Singapore and traveling into Malaysia is optional. 1 less shopping venue for the Singaporeans, but what does it really matter?

As for those who commute (like me), this price hike on the Causeway tolls is tolerable as it is approximately the same toll rate I pay when I travel through the 2nd Link anyway. That said, Singapore has made it known that they will ALSO raise their tolls to match Malaysia’s rate….so, I’m not sure how long my earlier statement can continue to hold true.

It is the Johorians who are truly bearing the brunt of this move by the State – Businesses in Johor will suffer with less Singaporeans, Malaysians who commute to Sg (namely on work permits and mostly blue collar workers) who already don’t earn a lot will end up with higher transport costs, and investments into Iskandar will stall.

Some people have argued that the reason for imposing the toll is fair. That there is nowhere on the EDL highway to install a tollbooth. That by imposing the toll at the customs will mean fewer Malaysians get taxed than if the toll was on the EDL highway itself. Bullshit. It is grossly unfair to make people pay for something they did not and do not use. And, isn’t it the job the of government to build and maintain roads – Isn’t a portion of existing taxes paid to the State used for this purpose?

Btw, for those who are not in the know, the recent hike in toll is just Najib backtracking on his 2012 promise (before the elections) on maintaining free use of the EDL. In 2012, after the Eastern Dispersal Highway was completed to link the Pasir Gudang side of JB to town, the private company who built the highway wanted to collect astronomical tolls to recoup their expenses. Following a huge public uproar, the highway was acquired by the Federal government who promised that no tolls would be collected for the use of the EDL. Well, I guess things always change after an election.😦

I suppose I should be happy that I don’t have to be stuck for hours in the commute anymore…but it is the way this change is implemented that scares me. When a country’s government gives scant regard to it’s own people and instead prefers to choose a quick route to line it’s coffers, it makes me wonder how much thought would they give in ensuring that foreign investors will get a fair deal. Najib better speak up and speak up quick, because I am pretty sure this (and the impending VEP) will have a large impact on how Singaporeans (who comprise of the largest group of investors in Malaysia) view the future of Iskandar.

VEP in Johor, Malaysia


So it seems that the Malaysian government is unable to resist the temptation of quick and fast money afterall.

Despite the fact that the success of the Iskandar project in general is greatly dependent on the spending of foreigners (chiefly Singaporeans and Malaysians working in Singapore), it seem counterproductive for the  government to try gain additional tax revenue through the VEP, only to lose hundreds of thousands in the broader economy.

That said, the VEP isn’t confirmed yet, and given how things are done in Malaysia, there is a chance that there might be a U-turn in the decision ultimately (remember the ridiculous and extremely costly biometric custom system that caused massive jams and that was later abandoned?).

The government really needs to hire a better PR agency to vet the comments of their ministers, and other political leaders. I find it ludricrous that the Malaysian government took the suggestion from their UMNO youth so seriously to the point of implementation. Like, hello!  The basis for this suggestion is retaliatory in nature, and comes from a total political greenhorn!😦

Here’s an excerpt of what the UMNO Youth Chief said…


“Even if we impose the fee, they will still come because where else are they going to go? They have no where else to go. They are still going to have to come to Malaysia.

“We don’t have to feel inferior about imposing the fee… they have no choice they are going to come. Let’s not feel so inferior… what is 10 or 20 dollars to them?”

“Let’s not sell ourselves short,” he said.


The main basis for the wanting to impose a higher tax seems like greed and ego!

To be very honest though, I am not surprised at how the Malaysian government is behaving – after all, they are not known to have a good track record in following through plans (think: crooked bridge, biometric system, etc). I guess this is the danger of investing in a foreign country. It could be that I am too used to the straight and narrow in Singapore (in this case, it’s a good thing) where the promises and plans made by the government are next to always seen through.

More importantly though, how does this impact one’s decision in wanting to make a move over into JB to live? Things have changed a lot in the last 2 – 3 years. When we first decided to move over to live in JB, the house prices were MUCH lower, the jams were predictable (and therefore avoidable), there were no massive plans for condos, and crime rate in Nusajaya in general was lower. It is definitely different now eh?

I still think living in JB has it’s perks, and I believe I will continue to stay here for a few more years as benefits (space, quality of life) still outweigh the cons. However, if Malaysian government implements the VEP, and the jams continue to worsen, and if the road systems in JB itself are not improved to ease traffic within the city itself, who’s to say Singapore won’t start looking more attractive again?😛

Car break-in at Bukit Indah


Crime seems to be rising in Nusajaya lately…..and while I thought it’d never happen to me, I too became a victim of a car break-in recently.

It happened last weekend in Bukit Indah when me and some friends went for breakfast. We parked our cars along a busy street near Hock Sang restaurant and went off for breakfast. On hindsight, I should have double checked to make sure that my friend took his bag out of the car instead of just leaving it to chance that he’d remember. Personally, I NEVER leave any bag or valuable in plain sight unattended in my car, but in our rush (and constant excited group chatter), I forgot to check.

Anyway, my friend left his black haversack on the backseat floor and when we returned, we found the rear window smashed in and the bag gone!😦

As my friend parked just behind my car, we managed to capture the entire event on camera (from the mounted front camera in her car). I’m sharing this video so you can see how the thief works…


My friend lost his SG passport in the process and had a lot of trouble getting back to Singapore. Just FYI, if you ever lose your SG passport, you need to go to the Singapore Embassy located in City Square (old JB central) to get temporary identification papers to clear customs. You will also need to get a local police report BEFORE you go to the embassy.

We made a police report and the experience was terrible. All I can say is that the policemen seemed very uninterested in wanting to solve the case.

Even though I managed to catch the entire incident on film and we are able to see the face of the thief clearly, I was told by the policeman that they did not know if they would be able to catch the guy.  When pressed to explain what he meant, he just said that even though we can see the face of the thief clearly, they did not know WHO this guy was and so it would be difficult to catch him. This is even AFTER we told him we suspect that there is a syndicate operating in that area (we discovered broken car glass windows on the grass near where we parked after the incident happened).

WTF?!!!!!! Like, seriously……based on his reply, it seems like the job of a policeman in  is to arrest people…not to solve crimes. Seriously, Malaysia boleh!

Anyway, please be careful if you will be out and about Bukit Indah area. Stay safe everybody!