6 Major Things To Consider When Renting A Home In Malaysia

woman jumping on bed

2019 is a tenant/renter’s market for Malaysia.

If you’re looking to rent, spend only about 30% of your take home/net income (after EPF, SOCSO, EIS deductions) on home rent.

This helps you maintain a healthy budget for living expenses, transportation, savings, and so on.

I’ve been renting in Petaling Jaya for 4.5 years since 2014 and have moved twice due to an upgrade and the ending of my tenancy agreement.

With all that experience, I wanted to share the things I’ve learned to consider when renting a home:

1. Location, traffic, and public transportation

cars in a traffic jam
Photo on Visual Hunt

The place you rent will be where you rest, relax, host friends and family, and basically, live your life.

So your safety and comfort come first when deciding where to live.

These are some questions you need to answer when choosing a home to rent:

  • Who will be your neighbours? Are they mostly families or singles?
  • Is the area prone to flooding, landslides, or any other natural disasters?
  • Is there going to be future development next to the house or building? Because construction noise or view blockage won’t be fun.
  • What sort of environment will you be living in? Is it safe or a crime hot spot?
  • Will you be alright living in a dense neighbourhood? Or do you prefer living somewhere with large roads and greenery?

Besides that, you also want to check out the traffic in the area you’re renting.

Use Google Maps to estimate the travel time to and from work/any other usual travel locations.

You can set the departure and arrival time and date with Google Maps as well as Waze. But I’ve found Google Maps to be slightly more accurate for this use.

And if you don’t drive and use public transportation instead, look for a place that’s in walking distance to bus stops and/or train stations.

2. Shared living or single living

woman reading book
Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels

If you’re considering living with a roommate or housemates, be sure to talk to them to get a sense of living with them. Look at the condition of the place you’ll live in, and see if it’s clean and tidy.

Shared living tips:

  • Come up with a schedule for chores – This ensures that everyone does their fair share of house cleaning
  • Rotate washing machine use – So that you have enough space to dry your clothes and bedsheets
  • Have a designated space in the fridge and general living area for each person

Living alone can be both awesome and a bit scary.

On the one hand, you’re in charge of everything, and on the other, you’re in charge of everything.

Be safety-conscious and responsible if you ever make the decision to live alone, because nobody’s going to be there to help you (at least immediately) in the instance where something bad happens. Know where your nearest local police station is located, and have their number on paper and on your phone.

Single living tips:

  • Place a CCTV/security camera in your hallway and in your living room
  • If you’re a woman, keep a pair of men’s shoes outside your home
  • Face your padlocks inside your door grill to indicate that you’re home
  • Keep your curtains and windows closed at night
  • Know your neighbours

3. Tenancy agreement and initial rental fee

hand holding keys
Image by mastersenaiper from Pixabay

When you rent a new place, there will be a tenancy agreement and a higher initial rental fee.

But honestly, the first two places I lived in did not come with a tenancy agreement.

In hindsight, this wasn’t the best choice for my landlords and I, because we would be unprotected if we ran into any disputes. Luckily, nothing bad happened and I moved on to upgrade my choice of home.

This legal contract between the landlord and you, the tenant, covers your responsibilities for the rental duration.

And as for the higher initial fee you pay when you first rent a new place, well, that’s pretty much unavoidable.

If you notice, most ads will mention that you need to pay a 2 + 1 rental deposit in your first month of renting a new home.

Here’s a breakdown of the deposits you pay:

  • Booking deposit – Usually 1 month’s rent. It lets you reserve the place for the next 7 days so the home owner doesn’t rent out the place to anyone else before your stay is made official. It can be used as the first month’s rent, security deposit, or housing agent’s commission fee.
  • Security deposit – Usually 2 month’s rent. Will be returned at the end of your stay if there aren’t any problems (damages, extensive cleaning required).
  • Utilities deposit – Sometimes charged. Covers any outstanding utility bills at the end of your stay. Usually returned if there are no outstanding utility bills.

4. Extra bills for utilities, the Internet, and parking

people working on paper and laptops
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When you look at home rental, be sure to consider how much you’ll pay on top of your monthly rent for utilities, the Internet, and/or parking. These bills can really add up depending on the:

  • Different utility rate calculation according to states
  • Type of property:
    • Residential property – water and electricity bills are subsidised and are generally cheaper
    • Commercial property – water and electricity bills are usually about 2.5 times more expensive because they are used for business purposes
  • Availability of Internet service providers and their Internet packages (TIME for example, is only available for high-rise buildings)
  • Whether or not the home comes with a free car park space

Here are the utility and extra bills you need to consider when renting a home:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Indah Water
  • Internet
  • Car park rent (if it’s not inclusive of the home rent)

These bills can either be paid:

  • Inclusive of rent
  • Exclusive of rent (payable to landlord when you pay rent)
  • On your own

5. Furnishing, interior design, and home maintenance

living room interior design
Photo by Peter Heeling 

Here are some things you should consider when checking out your potential home:

  • Condition of the home
    • Look for insects and mould
    • Test all water faucets, lights, fans, and air conditioners
    • Flush the toilet
    • Check water pressure
    • Check the flooring, walls, doors, and windows
  • Level of furnishing and condition of furniture
    • Fully furnished
    • Partially furnished – e.g.: air conditioner + ceiling fan + water heater
    • Unfurnished

Sometimes, getting an empty home makes more sense than a fully furnished one. It all depends on the length of your tenancy and the cost of rent. You gotta do the math.

6. Amenities

friends in swimming pool
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Depending on your lifestyle needs, here are some amenities you should look out for when choosing a place to rent:

  • Security
  • Elevator
  • Gym
  • Swimming pool
  • Laundromat
  • Food – restaurants, grocery or convenience store

Of course you can’t always have everything, especially if you’re on a tight budget, so make a list of your priorities and go from there.

So, what do you consider when you choose a place to rent? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂


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