Malaysians leaving S’pore to live, but work here – S’poreans too?

Photo by Maverick AsioPhoto by Maverick Asio

“Record-high HDB rents driving Malaysians working in S’pore to live in JB” (ST, Jan 22)

“A common room, or a bedroom without an attached toilet, in an HDB flat in Woodlands has gone up to between $800 and $1,000 a month, according to most listings on online property portals.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, a common room in Woodlands cost $600 to $700 to rent, said property agents The Sunday Times spoke to.

Woodlands town is popular with Malaysians as it is close to the border and rent is generally lower than in other residential estates.

Ms Lai, who has been working in Singapore for five years, is currently sharing a one-room HDB flat with another Malaysian. Each of them pays a monthly rent of $600.

“Many of my friends have already moved there, and they commute daily to Singapore for work,” added Ms Lai, who has managed to rent a fully furnished studio apartment at R&F Princess Cove for just RM1,950 (S$600), at least 30 per cent cheaper than a rental room in Woodlands.

The luxurious serviced residence is connected to the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex in Johor by a sheltered linkway, and it would take her less than an hour to get to work from her new home, said Ms Lai.

Property analysts noted that the financial strains are evident among Malaysians who have chosen to leave Singapore and live in Johor.

“They told me that the rent for a whole apartment in Johor costs less than that for an HDB room, and they live more comfortably there.”

He added: “They don’t mind waking up earlier to travel to Singapore at about 5am, and they would head back to Johor at around 4pm to avoid the peak-hour traffic congestion.”

Malaysian Gavin Chan, who works as a painter in Singapore, said: “The difference in the cost of living between Singapore and Malaysia is quite significant. It is not just rental. Food is also expensive in Singapore. I can save more than $300, which is at least RM1,000, by living in Johor.”

“It is not just Malaysians who have decided to move to Johor. I have three clients who are Singaporeans working in Singapore,” she said. “R&F Princess Cove is very popular among those who work in Singapore because it is only a 10-minute walk to the CIQ Complex.

“During the pandemic, it cost RM1,200 to rent a studio apartment there. Today, it is about RM2,000.

“Although rents have been increasing gradually since the border reopened, I don’t think they will surpass the sky-high rents in Singapore,” added Ms Choo.”


As to “Before the pandemic, around 300,000 people used the Causeway every day, including about 100,000 Malaysians who commuted daily to Singapore to work before returning home at night” – I believe the “100,000” may be quite low, as I remember reading that according to the Malaysians – about 250,000 commute daily to work and return daily

I know of many S’poreans who are living in Malaysia, because it is much cheaper

Do you know of any?

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.