News: Singaporeans with homes in Malaysia see their living costs double up

Oct 6, 2020

Singaporeans with properties in Malaysia are paying double the living cost since Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) kicked in. 

Since Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) kicked in on 18 March, many Singaporeans with homes in Malaysia have no choice but to spend on monthly payments for services they cannot enjoy, reported TODAY. 

For six months now, Singaporean couple K and S are paying a monthly rent of RM4,300 (S$1,407) for a bungalow they cannot live in, in addition to forking out RM2,500 (S$818) for the pet-boarding cost of their dog and RM1,900 (S$622) for a car in Malaysia. 

Declining to reveal their full names, the Johor residents of five years are stuck in Singapore, where K works as a manager at a multinational firm.

The couple is unable to end the lease on their Malaysian home without returning to sell their car and pack their belongings. They also face difficulty passing the red tape to rehome their golden retriever at their three-room flat in Singapore.

K used to travel back and forth the Causeway to work in Singapore, while their 16-year-old son attends an international school in Johor. Now that routine had been scuppered by the border restrictions.

Adding to their woes, their house at Horizon Hills, which is a gated development in Malaysia’s Iskandar Puteri, was burgled around two months ago.

A friend who checks on their home from time to time revealed that several of their belongings, including their son’s basketball shoes collection, K’s camera equipment and a few watches were stolen. And since they are out of the country, they were unable to file a police report.

Also paying two sets of cost is Randy Lee, who was attending a wedding reception in the city-state with his wife and two-year-old son when he learned about the border closure.

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Unable to find a flight to take them back to Penang, where they lived for the last two years, Lee now pays for two maids, one for RM1,500 per month in Penang and another for S$800 per month in Singapore who were employed to help his wife, who was pregnant with their second child at the time, and with household chores.

He was also paying for two infant care centres in the two countries up until September. He opted to continue the RM1,200 monthly fee for the Malaysian school for five months as it was a popular school and he may have difficulty enrolling his son there again should he decide to pull out.

Thinking that the MCO is only a temporary measure, he also believed that his family had a “good chance” of returning home soon.

In June, K and his wife planned to move to a smaller house that cost RM2,700 to rent, to lower costs in anticipation of the MCO’s lifting by August or September.

To prepare for that contingency, they even paid a month’s rent as a deposit. The border closure’s extension, however, forced them to rethink their plans.

All they are hoping now is to be able to bring back their personal items and their dog once the MCO is lifted.

“It is not to say that we are printing money down here. We are not. We are trying to make ends meet, but every time we try to do something and think positive, something changes,” said K as quoted by TODAY.

Gregory Low, a 39-year-old Singaporean property manager in Johor, suggests for the two countries to consider setting a quota, particularly for these travellers to return to their overseas properties.

“Instead of blocking requests, you can consider opening up 15,000 or 20,000 spaces, it is still a controllable number, and these individuals can resolve many of their problems,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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