Want to Live in Malaysia and Work in Singapore?
So you wanna live in Malaysia and work in Singapore, eh? My, my, what a brave soul you are. I’m gonna come clean, it’s not going to be easy but it’s not that hard.
Perhaps you’re doing this because you only work 3 days (who knows?!), you could also be doing this working regular days or 6 days a week just to save a little more money.
You might also be doing this because your work requires you to drive around Singapore and to own a vehicle in Singapore is just not worth it. This article serves to bring light to some concerns for fellow Malaysians who want to live in Malaysia and work in Singapore.
To live in Malaysia and go to work every day in Singapore can be time-consuming.
Depending on which days you work and the time of day you need to be at work, traffic can be legit awful. With today’s fancy tech-savvy day and age, apps like Google Maps, Waze, or even Beat the Jam! etc… can help determine how much time you’ll need to travel back and forth.
Also, depending on where you depart from Malaysia and where you work in Singapore, apps like these will help a lot.
Alternatively, because I like to imagine, you could be living in IPOH, Perak, and still have a way to work in Singapore!
IT’S BY FLIGHT, and of course, it could be costly depending on the time of year and the type of airline (Skyscanner is my favourite app to find the cheapest flights!) But like I said, you could be living way up North, not anywhere near Singapore, but have business meetings frequently and need to commute maybe a few days in a week.
Ooh, what an exciting job! Anyway, there are direct coaches that cost just about the same as a flight on regular days but it’ll take 8-12 hours on average. Meanwhile, a flight takes just about an hour.
Anyway, let’s move to somewhere closer to Singapore, so let’s say Johor Bahru.
There are two “links” into Singapore: through Woodlands, or through Tuas. (If you didn’t already know that) I’ve taken the liberty of screen-shooting this google maps image (above) so it’s easy for you, but you can always go on google maps yourself to check it out.
So from google maps you can tell which parts of Johor are closer to the link bridges. (But of course if you’re from Johor, you might already know this, but this is for the people who don’t know, it doesn’t matter where you come from <3)
The biggest concern for the commute is the traffic jam because that’s the one that consumes all your time. A lot of Malaysians also choose to live in Singapore just to save the time it takes to
commute. So unless you work odd hours (unlike the regular 9-5), you can definitely save a lot of time. But if you do work the regular hours on regular days, you’re in for a lot of traffic. School holidays might have a little less traffic with less school children commuting to school. According to The Star Letters (by M Singh from JB), on a daily basis you might need to expect leaving the house at 4am
and getting home after 10pm, it’s normal to have four hour traffic jams.
Another cause for concern is VEP – Vehicle Entry Permit. To commute daily with your Malaysian registered car, you’ll need “authorisation” because you can’t just drive in drive out like it’s your grandfathers’ road mah. (Although maybe your grandfathers built it, hmm… that’s a different story la) Anway, back to VEP, you’ll also need an Autopass to get through tollgates and the autopass is basically our Touch N’ Go relevant to get in and out of Singapore. (Make sure it has credit, otherwise you can’t get in or out!)
So to enter and exit Singapore, there are certain fees that you’ll need to cover, you can use this calculator, to calculate how much you’ll need to pay each day. For the first 10 days it’s free but there will be a charge each day after. And there’s a different rate for weekends and weekdays and for peak hours and non-peak hours! (Sounds really payah right? Why do people still do this? Well, if you’re carpooling, it makes sense and it saves, you and your family or partner or friend or siapa-siapa can rent a nice, lush home in JB, spend in RM and earn in SGD *wink* and it makes the all too long traffic jam not entirely boring!)
I don’t want to get in too much detail for the VEP rates or what you’ll have to pay because I want to still keep you excited about doing this, just know that you have to pay tolls, it’s like working in KL but living in Seremban.
You’re gonna be too overwhelmed with all this info before even getting to know what living in Malaysia and working in Singapore is all about. Not that after finding out about the VEP rates is going to make you reconsider (because honestly it’s just paying toll, it’s a reasonable rate)
There’s also going in by bus- some companies might have contract or company busses that have pick up points in JB and drop off at the workplace.
Also, there are bus terminals with frequent busses going in and out of Singapore, so that’s something to consider.
The time used is just about the same as going in with a ca, just that you’ll save on getting the VEP and autopass.
But once you’re in Singapore you’ll still need to get around, so maybe give this a good, longggg think. If the busses stop at your workplace doorstep or even just minutes away from your workplace, it’s a good deal, otherwise, you might want to consider driving. (For driving you might want to think about parking fees and rates, make sure to ask your company about parking nearby the workplace!)
It sounds like a lot of trouble, doesn’t it? Well, don’t let all that trouble put you down; it might not be so troublesome if you think about why you’re doing it. Because there are still plenty of Malaysians going in and out of Singapore every single day, that means if they can do it, why can’t you too?
Let’s have a breakdown on what you might be saving on:
Housing - you might be looking to buy property in JB or Singapore, obviously JB is cheaper (considering the exchange rate). Rent would also be cheaper.
Renting a lush apartment in JB could cost around RM1k, in Singapore maybe a room would cost SGD400 (approx. RM1.2k, because the exchange rate is getting higher, let’s not lie to ourselves, kay), if you wanted to live in your own apartment in Singapore without sharing, it’ll cost 3 times more.
Like I mentioned earlier, you and your friends, family, cucu cicit abang adik kakak ipar all, can rent a house together, but if you’re not into having a house filled with so many people, maybe two or three of you could rent a two or three bedroom house or apartment (each their own room!). You might also consider renting a room in JB just to save cost. (I find it a lot cheaper to rent the whole unit and share with friends or family, and also it’s more comfortable living with people you know)
Transportation- you’re already driving a Malaysian licensed vehicle (whether car or motorcycle) so that’s already a save. A Singaporean licensed vehicle is so expensive for Malaysians that we might as well spend that money buying ourselves a brand-new Mercedes. Not to mention, there’s a ten-year
expiration date on your Singaporean car! Meanwhile, although you’ll need to pay your tolls driving in and out and about Singapore, you’ll probably save a bit if you’re carpooling with friends or family.
You can also imagine taking the train around Singapore (if you don’t have a vehicle) but it’s also another cost to bear- you won’t need to bother with vehicle maintenance but you’ll still need to pay to squeeze with a bunch of strangers to reach a station where you may or may not need to walk another 10-15 minutes to your workplace.
You’ll be saving time and discomfort going around Singapore in your own car, because it might take less time or more time with Singapore’s undeniably rich and convenient public transportation, but it’s definitely more comfortable going around (imagine your work requires you to carry all sorts of props or wood models etc, can you imagine going around with all your baggage in a train? You’ll want to take a taxi and that’s gonna cost!)
Food- I haven’t been to many places, but I’ve met people who have, and everyone comes back to tell me that Malaysian food is the cheapest.
We do have a lot of cheap food. Our local nasi lemak (depending on where you buy it from) can cost as little as RM0.50 (yes it’s the tiny, triangular, eat in one bite kind la). Our chicken rice can cost about RM4.50-RM9.00 depending on what you put in it. Meanwhile, eating in Singapore sounds cheap (and it is, if you earn in SGD, but it’s still cheaper to eat in Malaysia!) because a plate of chicken rice could be around SGD2.80 (approx. RM7-8). So imagine doing this, saving a little every day, maybe RM2-3 for each meal a day, so maybe RM4-6 a day for (let’s say) 20 days, that’s already RM80-RM120. You can have yourself a nice lush meal (in Singapore or in Malaysia) with what you’ve saved! A treat day for your hard work of daily commute!
Necessities- things like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, medicine, cups, plates, furniture, bedding, towels, etc…
I’m sure you’ll find it cheaper to get these things in Malaysia. I have some friends who live and work in Singapore who would take three days out (or 72 hours because it’s a duty and tax thing) from Singapore to buy things like medicine and hair gel because it’s cheaper in Malaysia.
Clothes are also cheaper in Malaysia- let’s not go for brands or franchises that have outlets in both Singapore and Malaysia because the rates are about the same- let’s go for basic boutiques or pasar malam clothes. So it’s the basic things that make Malaysia so cost-friendly to live, especially if you’re earning in SGD.
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Travel- want to go somewhere during the weekend? You don’t have to go through the hassle of going through customs (because you already do that on a daily basis, so you deserve a good weekend holiday!). You’re already in Malaysia! Why not explore some of our Malaysian gems- our rainforests or islands; our urban cities or historical sites. If you don’t plan on leaving the state of Johor, there are still plenty of places to explore! (How about LEGOLAND with the fam?) Meanwhile you can also consider going into Singapore for a holiday but why would you do that? You chose to live in Malaysia so TRAVEL LAH MALAYSIA! Cuti cuti Malaysia mahhhh
Well then, we’ve come close to the end of this article so here’s a run through of the
Sacrifices- you’ll have to make for the benefits (or savings) that you’ll reap.
Time- people say time is money, and to be honest, you could very much be spending that extra four hours on the road working on an online business, but who really wants to do that?
Energy- When you spend a lot of time only going back and forth, it’s going to take a toll on your energy, you’re going to be tired a lot.
Social gatherings- if you’re up for going out, getting drinks with friends, hanging out, it’s going to have to slow down, leaving at 4am and getting back at 10/11pm is not going to give you the time to spend on social gatherings because you’re going to need sleep. Of course, on occasion, you can sacrifice sleep for special gatherings but if you make it a habit to do it every night, you’re going end up feeling more tired.
Health- so if you’re a social butterfly and you can’t help yourself, you need to keep your health in check. Spending hours through the night drinking or just hanging out and then spending only a couple of hours of sleep will take a toll on your
health. If you feel that you need to have your nightly outings, make sure to make time for your body to recover.
So what do you think? Are you ready to take that challenge of living in Malaysia while working in Singapore? It’s hard but a lot of people do it so it can’t be that hard. I’m not gonna lie, you’ll be tired a lot, you’ll want to sleep in a lot, you might not even want to go out on weekends just to recover from the tedious journey you’ve had for the week. But don’t forget, you’re not alone. Get a friend or two, or find likeminded people who want to achieve the same things you want to do and do it together! It’s easier to go through tough times with good friends instead of going through it alone J You will be saving a reasonable (a lot) amount, so make sure to not spend it all recklessly. It’s tough work so you’ll need to be prepared. Good luck!
PSA: For those of you who are already living in Malaysia while working in Singapore: there are people (daily commuters) who would like to create a support group (perhaps a forum or an application) for various purposes. A group like MASIS (Malaysian Association in Singapore) which supports the Malaysian community living in Singapore. I hope that this article will encourage you to do so because you’re not alone in this, a lot of Malaysians commute every day, and it’s our Malaysian bloods that drives us to help each other (from Rukun Negara, Pendidikan Moral etc).
Perhaps even a Facebook group J Or maybe those who are living in Malaysia and working in Singapore are already too tired to create a support group. But it’ll be nice if you guys have a group where you can have therapy sessions or massage sessions.
There’s currently two groups on Facebook for Malaysians in Singapore, some sharing about job vacancies (there’s a whole other group for this) and some sharing about scamming patterns around Singapore.