Johor Bahru A cost effective way of living near Singapore

Andrew Leeson


Johor Bahru Malaysia

We’ve talked about ‘Sensational Singapore’ in a previous blog. The shopping, the culture, the world class healthcare and the transport links to anywhere in the World, but for anyone planning a long stay or retirement in the region, the cost of living in the Lion City has always been prohibitive. It’s even more expensive than many parts of Australia! So how can expats enjoy all that Singapore has to offer, but avoid the high costs? The answer is Johor Bahru, which is just across the Causeway from the island nation.

An Introduction to Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru is Malaysia’s second largest city, sitting snugly on the Southern tip of the Eurasian mainland. It’s home to over 1.5 million people and a centre of industry, commerce and increasingly tourism. Founded in 1855 the city offers a delightful mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay and colonial English heritage, where temples sit beside mosques and the city embraces diversity from all corners of the World. In recent times, the city’s location right next to South East Asia’s superstar economy has seen a huge amount of growth, which has made living in this vibrant, ‘cost effective’ city increasingly attractive.
Johor Bahru

Location, location, location

A large number of JB residents commute into Singapore for work. Since 2015 KTM has run a commuter train between Johor and Singapore. The service is subject to change, but runs more regularly from JB in the mornings and from Singapore in the afternoon and evenings. You have to pass through customs before getting on the train, but this has been simplified and improved significantly since operations have begun. The key plan for the future is to connect Johor to the Singapore MRT at Woodlands (part of the Thomson-East Coast Line). Whilst this plan has been delayed several times, there is huge potential in the project, and hopes are that this will be up and running in the early 2020’s. In addition to the train service, there are also regular buses, and taxis (for those with deeper pockets).

Johor Bahru Train LInes

Singapore to Johor link

Cost of Living

By far the biggest attraction for those considering Johor as a long stay or retirement destination, is its vastly cheaper cost if living, when compared to Singapore (and of course Australia). Generally speaking many costs, such as rent, utilities, entertainment and transport are around half the price.

More specific information on cost of living savings can be found through websites such as Numbeo or Expatistan.

Things to do

Setting aside all the benefits and attractions you have available in nearby Singapore, JB itself has become an attraction. You’ll find huge shopping complexes such as Johor Premium Outlet, AEON Tebaru City Shopping Centre, and City Square (all of which carry the big designer brands, and at excellent prices). There’s also plenty of local markets, offering a great range of fresh produce, together with household goods and clothes.

Major cultural attractions include the impressive Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, Old Chinese Temple and numerous quaint pre-war Colonial buildings. For the family there’s a growing list of theme parks, such as Malaysia LEGOLAND and the ever popular local Zoo. For those that enjoy the magnificent variety that is Malaysian food, you’ll find a wide array of restaurants, bars, cafe’s and street food. The nightlife is also growing rapidly, providing visitors and residents with plenty of options for fun and entertainment.

Lego Land Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia


Malaysia is widely regarded as one of the top retirement and long stay locations in the World. It offers a superb highly affordable lifestyle, where English is widely spoken and the healthcare is World Class. The country’s retirement visa ‘Malaysia, My Second Home’ (MM2H) allows you to live there for 10 years, and upon expiry, it can be extended for a further 10 years. The visa also allows you to bring your own car (if you wish) and household goods duty free.

For more information on MM2H please visit the Visa section of our website.

The best of both World’s

Johor Bahru provides its inhabitants with the best of everything. On it’s doorstep is a city which is the envy of the entire World, but by living in JB, having access to it won’t cost you the Earth. No wonder more and more expats are calling JB home.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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