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Types of Property

by The Expatriate Lifestyle Editorial Team 3 Jun 2013
Types of Property

Settling into life in a foreign country can be one of the toughest aspects of expatriation. Following the adrenaline-fuelled buzz of the initial days that span departure, flight and arrival, making your new base feel like home is undeniably difficult but an absolute necessity.

To the inexperienced expatriate, this may feel like it will never be granted the “home” moniker, but seasoned travellers will tell you that soon, past the inevitable tough days and tears for friends and family left behind, Malaysia will soon become a familiar base worthy of calling home. It may sound false, especially during your first couple of weeks, but trust the advice you are given by hardened expats and start settling into a routine as soon as possible.

And the best thing? The overriding positive that will always be present? An expat’s routine in Malaysia is sure to top that which has been left behind. Unless, of course, that routine involved sun, swimming, balconies, verandahs, coffee shops, shopping malls, fine dining and relaxation whenever you chose. And if it did: welcome to your home away from home.

Perhaps the biggest and most important step to making your new country home is accepting and adapting to the local way of life. Unfortunately it’s also probably the most difficult - adjusting to the pace, traditions and eccentricities.


A major decision facing expatriates when looking to make Malaysia home will be the type of accommodation to opt for. Basically, the choice falls to two options: a house or a condominium. Each undoubtedly has its advantages and the decision will depend wholly on your personal criteria for the ideal home.

Also worth noting is the availability of serviced apartments as either a temporary measure or even as a long-term option. Should you require time to find or renovate a home, for example, the serviced apartment route is a particularly sensible one to tread.

Upon choosing your preferred type of residency, the area or community in which it is situated should be your next consideration. Again, the choice stems largely from your requirements; do you need to be close to work? Do you want to live in the city; out of the city? Close to a supermarket, other expatriates or simply away from the rush hour traffic?

The criteria can be endless but whatever your needs, Malaysia’s abundance of varied residential options and areas are bound to offer something suitable.

It may be a stressful time, with disputes over location, style, price and so on but once sorted, a residency in which you are happy is crucial to establishing your home.


Houses (commonly referred to as bungalows in Malaysia, irrespective of their floor-count) offer a spacious way of living, allowing expatriates the luxury of freedom, privacy and control over the property. For those moving to the city for the first time, a house with a garden will be a welcome familiarity as well as an ideal area for hosting and entertaining guests.

Moreover, many expatriates will feel more comfortable with the multi-tiered living provided by most houses as well as the added storage that usually comes with it. However, there are also a number of downsides to this type of accommodation.

Firstly, though the extra space can be a luxury in terms of lifestyle, it also means added maintenance both inside and outside the property. Typically, utility bills will also be higher than in a condominium due to the larger square-footage (it takes a lot of energy to light and cool big houses).

Finally, security can be a concern for many expatriates and though this is solved by houses within gated communities, those located outside of such complexes often lack firm security measures.


Apartments or condominiums offer a vastly different way of living to a house or bungalow and one that’s favoured by many expatriates. Security, ease and convenience perhaps epitomise condo life and many blocks are centrally located in the city.

As such, shopping, work and other everyday necessities are often close by as are the condominium’s own amenities - usually a swimming pool, fitness centre and maybe even a small convenience store or eatery, for example. It means that you may never have to leave your building or complex and if that suits, an apartment is likely your most promising option.

It should be noted, however, that condo living isn’t necessarily pain-free. Whilst maintenance is typically cared for by the management, residents are allowed less control and freedom over any modifications or “improvements” to the property.

Naturally, space is also at a premium in an apartment elevated above the city and expatriates used to living in a house may find condominium confines a little too claustrophobic.

Serviced Apartments

Serviced apartments are the third option for expatriates looking to settle in Malaysia. Offering hotel-like services and levels of independence close to that of your own property, they could be ideal. Fortunately, they are in abundance in Malaysia.

This type of living is popular amongst expats on a temporary basis—whilst house/ apartment hunting, for example—though some fall for the convenience and comfort, committing to a long term stay. More than welcoming guests like those to a luxury hotel though, serviced apartments also afford a level of freedom not found in these establishments.

To top this, security is usually tight and well-managed, facilities are modern and up-to-date with everything well-maintained. The cost is also often no more than a high-end condominium so it’s easy to see the draw.

Negatives can be found though and while the level of freedom to cook and clean for yourself, for example, is greater than that on offer in a hotel, it is no match for that of a house or condominium of your own.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to overlook the potential of serviced apartments and with properties dotted around the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Malaysia.

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