Paying the rent will not cover all your housing related expenses. There are further costs which need to be included in any overall housing budget. What are those? Here a non-exhaustive list:
Water (in Johor: SAJ)
Waste water (Indah Water)
Telecom (there are several providers such as TM, TIME etc)
Internet (comes usually with the fixed phone line and the speed depends on the area where you live; providers are the same as telephone lines), an alternative would be to use mobile broadband (3G or 4G), but the speed is usually slower.
Costs for regular aircon maintenance: it is advisable to have an electrician or an aircon company service and clean your aircon units every 3 to 6 months - depending on usage.
The electricity bill will most likely be your biggest expense since the aircon units are eletric. A big 5,000 sqf house will have an electricity bill of around RM 1,500. A semiD of 3,800 sqf will probably use around RM 900 per month. Naturally the actual amount will depend on how much you use the aircon units, the lights etc.
Generally landlords in the more prime areas will leave the basic utilities such as electricity, water, waste water in their name und you just need to pay the bills that arrive in your letterbox.
The more service oriented landlords - such as ourselves ;-) leave the telephone, internet and satellite TV connections also in their name so that all utilities are up and running when the tenants move in. All the tenants need to do is pay the monthly bills to each provider. It is worth checking out whether the existing satellite TV package fits your requirements. If you want to get an overview it is worth checking the providers website out which will contain a channel list. And for the telephone provider it is worth researching whether there are special packages available for calls to abroad. TM (Telekom Malaysia) for example has the so called IDD50 package which allows users to subscribe to a monthly minute package for RM 50 for 1000+minutes of calls to a lot of countries (US, Canada, UK, China etc).
Further potential costs for anyone moving to the tropics are:
Gardening: because of the tropical weather plants are growing like mad and the hot weather does not encourage to do all the gardening yourself. A bit of outsourcing can help. There are plenty of gardeners around: be it the basic grass cutter who runs around on his motorcycle or proper garden maintenance companies who can offer you a monthly price. We include gardening usually in the rent and our partner company One Nusa Sdn Bhd (see www.gardens.my) provides the service several times a month for our customers. They can also be booked and charge per hour - the rates are published on the just mentioned webiste.
Swimming pool maintenance: every pool needs a bit of vacuuming, some chemicals and generally some looking after. Here the same is true as for the gardening. We include this service for our tenants, but you can also book the service from third parties including our partner company One Nusa Sdn Bhd who will come once or twice a week. The costs start at around RM 400 per month plus costs for chemicals.
Pest control: because of the climate insects love Malaysia. There are sizeable flying cockroaches, ants of every shape and colour etc. To keep them off the premises most people engage a pest control company which once a month sprays the inside perimeters of the house. The costs will be around RM300 plus per house depending on the size (bigger houses are more expensive). In addition to the spraying some people opt for fogging, which is a dense white mist which kills mosquitoes.
Not to be paid by tenants are the estate maintenance fees (if it is a guarded and gated development or a condominium), cukai harta (council tax) and cukai tanah (land tax) - these costs are in a residential tenancy borne by the landlord.
The costs for membership in a club house are usually up to the tenant.
Hopefully the above summary will help anyone who is moving to Malaysia to work out the housing budget. For more details it is advisable to ask the potential landlord who will most likely be more than happy to provide answers based on the current costs and experience.
Our next blog post will deal with another expense for anyone wanting to rent in Malaysia: the costs for stamping the tenancy agreement.