Finding and renting property for expats in Malaysia

There are many different avenues for finding and renting a property for expats in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to be specific) and we’ll be looking at some of them and highlighting some great advice.

The good news is that you can do most of your home search online. However, I’ve found that some homeowners don’t always list their apartments online.

Foreign price

The top property search websites are Mudah, iProperty and Propwall. If you’re an ‘other expat‘ like me (especially black or Arab), it’s best to specify upfront when contacting the property agent/owner that you’re not local, and where you’re from.

If you’re in the country already and you already have an ideal neighbourhood in mind, you can check out the condominiums and houses for “To Let” signs or the noticeboards in nearby convenience shops like 7-11.

In many cases that will mean higher prices if the owner decides to rent the apartment to you, or you’ll get an outright rejection for being a ‘foreigner’. If you get rejected, maybe don’t take it too personally. The country, unfortunately, has no laws against preferential treatment. Homeowners have the right to rent their properties to whomever they choose.

Longer is better

When you find a place you like, and the homeowner has no qualms renting it to you, try to negotiate the asking price. If you can, getting a 2-year contract helps reduce the monthly rental. The owner is sure of his income for 24 months. You get a lower price. Win-win.

If you have a job and have a contact/business card (especially for other expats), this improves your chance of being considered someone who can afford the rent. If you work for a popular company, even better, mention that first.

Check everything

When viewing the house, check for damp walls and leaky faucets. I remember renting a place that had a bucket of water in the bathroom. And then after signing a contract, I realised the faucet leaked every time it was turned on. The previous occupant used the bucket instead of fixing the faucet.

For things like that, inform the homeowner and they can fix it out of pocket before you start living there or they’ll ask you to fix it and you deduct the amount from the monthly rent. Speaking of finances, you’ll need a deposit and the most common (sometimes negotiable) is the 2+1+0.5 arrangement.


That’s ‘2′ months rent as a deposit, which you’ll get back in full at the end of your contract assuming you don’t break anything in the house. The ‘1’ is your rental for the first month. The half-month rent goes to outstanding utility payments.

Your rental will be paid in advance on a monthly basis, usually within the first seven days of the month. This will be indicated in your tenancy agreement. Take note of the items listed in the agreement as being in the apartment. Check and confirm that they are indeed in the house.

The contract is important

Read through the entire tenancy agreement before you sign it. You’ll have to pay the lawyer fees to draw up the agreement. The cost varies from RM10 to RM100. The agreement will also indicate the number of months in advance you’ll need to inform the homeowner if you intend to renew your contract.

Typically, this is within two months. If you choose not to, the homeowner or agent checks the house on or before the last day of your contract before they can refund your deposit. If everything is intact, you get your full deposit. If you ruined something, the cost of repairs will be deducted from your initial deposit and the balance returned to you.

That’s it. Did I miss something? How easy or difficult is renting a property for expats in Kuala Lumpur/Selangor? What’s your experience been like?

Comments 3
  1. Great article with loads of useful information. I have lived in Bangsar South for two years plus and it has been fine. My colleagues with African passport have not had straightforward journeys.

  2. Hey there! I’m hollering all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa!

    Please could you list areas where I’m most likely to engage in a community of Black or a generous mix of multiracial expats? I’m currently looking for accommodation for myself and my small family, and would like to live in an area where my family and I would be able to settle down and find a like minded (and skinned) community.

    I’ll be working in Menara Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur so anything close to reliable public transport and international schools would be suitable. (Tall order, I know)
    I can’t wait to meet you all!

    1. Hi Busisiwe! Thanks for stopping by! The black expat community in Malaysia doesn’t have a strong single physical location, yet. We are spread out across everywhere 🙂 which is also great.

      If you’re interested in a multiracial environment with international schools, reliable public transport, then Bangsar is an excellent place to start. Neighbouring areas like Bangsar South (Kerinchi) and Mont Kiara are also great multiracial communities. Other places to check out are Bukit Damansara and Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI).

      It might be better to crowdsource opinions on accommodations in those areas and you can always ask for recommendations on any of the expat groups on Facebook?

      Expats in/around Mont Kiara
      KL EXPATS (Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia)
      Expats World Kuala Lumpur
      EXPAT in Kuala Lumpur
      KL Expat Malaysia

      Let us know if there’s any way we can assist! 🙂

Leave a Reply
Who’ll win the Malaysian General election? Choose wisely

Who’ll win the Malaysian General election? Choose wisely

There’s no discernible indication that the supposedly long-awaited

Your options for ride-hailing, ride-sharing in Malaysia

Your options for ride-hailing, ride-sharing in Malaysia

We are updating this in 2021 to reflect the current environment, which has Grab

You May Also Like