[作者 Contributor Andy Chia 中译 Translator 吕大人 照片 Photo credit 刘大人]
Driving around Bukit Indah, Medini and Puteri Harbour in Iskandar Malaysia, we can easily spot many Korean restaurants that serve authentic Korean cuisine and you will be greeted by friendly Korean restaurant owners that make you feel like you are actually ordering food in Korea. There are also many Korean hair salons, Korean grocery store and Korean kids walking around the streets. Clearly, Iskandar Malaysia is becoming a more and more popular destination for Korean to live, work, study and play.
At the same time, Chinese is also moving to Iskandar Malaysia with at least 20 Chinese restaurants in Bukit Indah region and there are more and more Chinese young kids schooling at international schools in Iskandar Puteri. These are the rich Chinese from big Chinese cities such as Beijing and they are moving to Malaysia to start a new life.
So, what is attracting foreigners to invest and move to Iskandar Malaysia?
A breath of “fresh air”
Yes, the air that we breathe in and out. Most of the Malaysian take the clean air in Malaysia for granted and we have so used to seeing the blue sky with white clouds every day. This is possibly the least expected factor from the Malaysian perspective but it is one of the most important factors to foreigners living in Malaysia. Most people (or almost everyone) in Malaysia do not wear a mask but it is a common sight in some countries that people wear the mask due to air pollution.
Building infrastructure to support growth
Most of the cities and towns in Malaysia are well connected to highway and there is easy access to clean treated water, internet access and electricity supply across Malaysia. Malaysia has 2 container ports (located in Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Malaysia) that are ranked as top 20 busiest container port in the world in terms of volume. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is ranked as 12th most well-connected airport in the world (3rd in Asia Pacific region).
Embracing diversity in multicultural communities
It is very common for Malaysian to speak at least 2 to 5 different languages and English is one of the most widely spoken languages in Malaysia. Malaysia also has about 8 million population that can speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese which make visitors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore feel at home. There is virtually no language barrier for most foreigners visiting Malaysia.
Affluent yet affordable living
Although the cost of living in Malaysia has been on the rising trend, Malaysia is still sitting outside the global top 150 list. Kuala Lumpur is the most expensive city in Malaysia with a global ranking of 188th. The low cost of living has attracted many foreigners moving to Malaysia to expand the business and settle down with the whole families. There is a recent trend that, people are moving from Singapore to Iskandar Malaysia (only 2km apart) to enjoy the quality of lifestyle at 1/3 of the cost in Singapore.
A lifestyle of convenience
Malaysia is home to many global well-known retail franchises and you can easily find them in every corner of the streets in Malaysia, for example, McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Din Tai Fung, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Watsons, AEON and Tesco. Supermarkets and grocery stores are mushrooming in Malaysia, offering a wide range of products from the US, Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Asia’s emerging education hub
Many reputable international schools, colleges and universities from the UK, US, Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands have set up their campus in Iskandar Malaysia to offer the same quality primary, secondary and tertiary education to the Asian & European students. For example, Marlborough College (the top college in the UK) has about 80% students from Europe, Japan and Korea, Sunway International School has about 30-40% students from Korea and Raffles American School is the only school in Southeast Asia that has its own planetarium.
Freedom from natural disasters
Malaysia has no typhoon, earthquake, tsunami and volcano and the weather in Malaysia has been consistent at the comfortable range of about 24-32 degree Celsius throughout the year. Malaysia has recently been awarded as the best country to retire in Asia by US-based International Living Magazine, also partly due to the excellent healthcare system and friendly policies towards foreigners.
Positive economic growth outlook
Iskandar Malaysia has attracted USD69 billion from both domestic and foreign investors since the inception of Iskandar Malaysia in 2006 and the vast creation of new jobs over the past 10 years has driven the strong influx of Malaysian from other parts of Malaysia and foreigners into Iskandar Malaysia. The Malaysian government forecasts 1 million population growth from now to achieve the 3 million population mark by 2025.
The “Singapore” factor
Singapore is a beautiful and developed country but the high cost of living has been a major concern for most people and companies in Singapore. The close collaboration between Malaysia and Singapore to set up Singapore hospital, Singapore industrial park, Singapore universities and Singapore marina club in Iskandar Malaysia has paved way for Iskandar Malaysia to be a developed city in the near future. The discussion about the extension of Singapore MRT to Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail (with a stop in Iskandar Puteri) is currently on-going.
The above factors are driving the strong growth of population (both Malaysian and foreigners) in Iskandar Malaysia and it is not surprising that IKEA, and most recently Toppen has chosen to open the Southeast Asia largest outlet in Iskandar Malaysia in anticipation of the strong growth in demand for furniture on the back of rapidly growing population size in Iskandar Malaysia. Shenzhen is not built overnight and it is normal for a new city to take 2 to 3 decades to go through a complete cycle of planning, execution and growth before it becomes a world-class metropolitan.
We are witnessing and writing the history of the growth of Iskandar Malaysia and it is heartening to see many foreigners having strong confidence about Iskandar Malaysia and joining hand with the Malaysian government and Malaysian people to develop the city together. Once you start analysing and looking at Iskandar Malaysia from foreigner perspective and comparing the difference between Iskandar Malaysia and other Asian cities, you will be amazed by the huge potential and good opportunities that Iskandar Malaysia is presenting to you. Let’s move forward together to make Iskandar Malaysia the best place to live, work, play and study!
Andy Chia has spent 7 years in promoting Iskandar Malaysia as the ideal destination for business expansion and property investment in the Asia Pacific region including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. He has a master degree in finance from the UK university and has previously worked in finance and banking sector (Westport from Hutchison Whampoa, HSBC bank and UOB bank) for about 16 years in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.