04 February, 2010

Typical Malaysian homes

Many of us have lived in a kampong house. It is usually a small, one storey detached house made of wood with one or two bedrooms, usually with a rusty zinc roof. There will be a small garden, at the back with vegetables and a few fruit trees like papaya, mango or coconut. The land is usually adequate but not too large. Problems arise when the younger generations all come into a city like Kuala Lumpur looking for work It is normal to look for accommodations, not too far away, to reduce the daily commuting time, to and from work.

In a big city like Kuala Lumpur, if you have just finished form 3 and are just starting work in a  factory in PJ, you will probably be living in a squatter area in a small hut, built by yourself and a few very close friends after midnight on a moonless night (gotong royong).  Next moonless night, you help to build another friend's house, probably just next to yours. You continue to do this until everyone in your clique has a squatter house . It does not cost much because most of the material is recycled, in case the gomen comes with the polis to bulldoze your homes while you were away at work! To reduce the risk of this happening, you could build your squatter house over the water at low tide and not on gomen land. 

You work hard and try your best to save enough money for the deposit on your first real home. It is probably a single storey terrace house with 2 or 3 bedrooms and garage space for your motor bike and a Kanjil.
For some of you who are more lucky, you could be moving into a low cost 2-brm house built by the gomen (government)  and offered to you  as a replacement, after they have bulldozed your squatter house; but the waiting list is very long, maybe 10 to 15 years.  You probably cannot afford to wait any more because your wife is pregnant and you urgently need to have a roof over your family. The other option is to pay rent (plan A) as you wait for  the low cost house  (plan B) and saving for the deposit on the terrace house (plan C).  It may be wise to stay single until you have moved out of the squatter house. For some there is also a plan D. A Malaysian can hope to buy a single storey 3-brm terrace (link) house within 5 to 10 years if you work very hard, give up smoking and Tiger beer and give all your gaji to your mum to save for you.

Your next house could probably be a double storey terrace house (super link), a corner terrace house or maybe even a single storey, semi detached house with a small garden for your children to play badminton. For some of us who love to soak in a large swimming pool instead of mowing the lawn on week ends, we should consider seriously about down sizing and moving into a condominium, especially after all the children are grown up and have moved out of the nest (empty nest syndrome).
There are short cuts available to climb this social ladder. For a few of us who worked very hard, continued our education beyond form 3, entered the business or political world, go into the jungle (logging timber), or even working offshore or in the middle east, in the oil industry, you can probably move into a detached house with a nice lawn and garden all around, a big garage with enough room for a Mercedes or two and perhaps even employing a few live-in  Indon-maids, a gardener, chauffeur and security guards.There may even be some servants' quarters behind that 10 foot concrete wall topped with broken glass! 
detached house

The way to show off your wealth and for social climbers is very clearly marked in Malaysia. You start with a squatter house or rent (no house); single storey terrace house; corner terrace (SS); double storey terrace house; corner terrace (DS); semi-D single storey; semi-D (DS); detached SS, detached DS; mansion with a large garden.

For those of you who love to keep up with the Joneses or even to beat them at their own game. There is no limit to the size of a mansion in Malaysia. Seeing is believing. The contrast between rich and poor is increasing. Take a drive along Jalan Luak in Miri in the evening and be convinced forever. None of those beach front houses are less than $1 million!  
The largest home owned by Shin Yang towkay cost more than $5 million to build 15 years ago. He even has his own private beach front, more than a km long! It is good to be able to run very fast, ahead of every one else. I don't mean jogging on the beach! 

For the rest of us, we try our best to put a roof over our heads and that of our loved ones. Perhaps the more realistic choice for a first house would be a small single storey terrace house as shown here:

Meanwhile, it is good to have dreams. A bed room window with this panoramic view of KL will probably be worth a couple of million!


  1. Good to note that Malaysians can dream of anything and walk their way up to dizzy heights. Nevertheless, I still love a kampung house by the stream,with green fringe,birds twittering,clean air for peace of mind.I guess this is one of the "10 things I want to do before i die".

  2. Mahmud,
    Yes, most of us dinos have the same kind of list of things to do. No: 1 for me was to get my golf h'cap down to 9; Still struggling hard at 16.

  3. Hiya David. It's Awatea here from the other day at the lake.How's the flute playing going?:)

  4. Thanks for sharing such an awesome post. How true ..... in the eyes of a retiree. :)

    1. Jess, Thanks for reading my blog. I just [followed] you on your WordPress blog!

  5. Well expressed ,houses in Malaysia are not affordable with the younger generation nowadays.Most of them still stay with their parents hoping one day the assets will be be mentioned in their will.

    1. yes, that is one way; but usually most of us have more than one child. It is better to [educate] all our children to become independent and not rely on us to feed, house and educate our grand children.


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