Kuala Lumpur

Choosing your New Home in Kuala Lumpur

In the first few days or weeks you will probably be spending a great deal of your time looking for somewhere to live during your stay in Kuala Lumpur. This section has been put together by volunteers from the Outpost KL office to help you with this decision. Please note that these are personal opinions and do not reflect Shell police, since everyone's needs and tastes are different.

Choosing a new home is probably one of the most important decisions you will make whilst in Kuala Lumpur. Your new home will be where you and your family will come home to every day, especially on those days when you haven't had a very good day. It needs to be somewhere you feel safe, happy and comfortable.

Most housing contracts are for 2 years, and on expire of the contract Shell will not pay for you to move, unless you are unable to renew your contract due to conditions beyond your control. Once your contract is signed, costs of moving accommodation during your assignment are, in most cases, for your own account. If your housing allowance increases due to a promotion or cost of living increases, Shell will not pay for you to move again.

House hunting may be challenging at times, remember to wear slip-on shoes (it is custom to take off your shoes before entering a Malaysian house), take plenty of water and lots of patience with you when you go.

Which area to live in

Detailed information about the most popular residential areas in Kuala Lumpur can be found on the Housing page. Where you choose to live will depend on a number of factors:

  • Shell office location
  • Location of schools
  • Where you choose to socialize
  • Budget - this should be detailed in your assignment contract
  • Personal experience

Do not forget to plan ahead, for example if you have young children, will they be starting school in the next few years?

Gather as much information as you can about your chosen area, many of the clubs, for example MANZA (Malaysian Australian and New Zealand Association) have "Link Ladies" who can tell you about their area. Outpost can put you in touch with other Shell families living in a specific area.

Stand Alone House, Condominium or Gated/Guarded Housing Estate?

Shell families live in houses, condominiums or gated housing estates. Which one you choose will be based on your personal experiences and needs. Here is a short overview of the different housing types and their pros and cons.

Houses

Pros

Cons

More room Higher electricity bills - a larger area to keep cool
More entertainment areas More vulnerable to break ins. You may need security grills, an alarm and to employ a night security guard.
Garden and lawn Need to maintain the garden - employ a gardener
More privacy Problems with insects
May be quieter Houses tend to be older and not as well maintained
Pets may be allowed depending on the owner May have to drive children to school or to pick up points for the school buses.
It may not be safe for children to play/ride bikes on the road outside your house

Condominiums

This may be the first posting you have had where you have the option to live in a condominium. The variety of condominiums in KL is wide from complexes with as few as 4 apartments to 300 apartments, brand new to fairly old.

Pros

Cons

Easy to meet other people around the pool or other facilities You may have to share facilities with people you do not get on with
Better security Less room for entertaining
More facilities - larger condos may have their own gym, shop, cafe, dry cleaning/ironing services, cleaning services, play ground, shuttle bus Unlikely to have a private garden area, but may have balcony
Less costly to maintain You may not be able to keep a pet, particularly dog - check with your Real Estate Agent
Some larger condos are pick-up points for school buses.

Gated and Guarded Housing Estates

There are quite a number of gated and guarded housing estates in KL - a group of houses (townhouses, bungalows) enclosed by a secured fence and with shared recreational facilities available to the residents.

Pros

Cons

Usually a private garden area but only a few have a private pool Some gated communities are located on the edge of town, so it may be quite a distance to work/schools etc.
Better security Many of the popular gated communities are serviced by school buses. Some school buses come to your doorstep or come to the guard house. However school bus routes can be full (check)
Safe streets for children to play on and visit friends Rents for these houses can be quite high
Quieter
Some gated communities have regularly scheduled activities organized by outside groups such as karate, dancing, bootcamp which residents can participate.
Shared recreational facilities, such as a pool and/or playground and/or gym
Pets generally allowed - check

Try to keep an open mind when looking for your new home. Even if you have chosen to live in a house, have a look at a few condominiums, and vice versa.

Once you have chosen your new home check the following, not exclusive, list:

  • Other buildings in the area, for example religious buildings, commercial buildings.
  • Traffic: visit the property in rush hour or school run time, what is the road system like around you new home?
  • Taxis: if you are planning to use taxis to get around how easy is it to get one at the property? If there is a shuttle bus have a look at the timetable.
  • Building work or potential work: construction sites are noise (24 hours working) and dirty. Are there plans to build on that vacant lot next to your chosen house?
  • Quality of fittings: a new apartment may look lovely but is the wooden floor laid properly, are all the plug sockets wired in etc.?
  • Safety issues: for example, how safe is the balcony for your toddler? Can it be altered so it will be? Will the landlord pay for it? Malaysian properties do not comply with UK/USA health and safety standards. Consider trip hazards, swimming pool safety etc.
  • Closeness to supermarkets, shops, etc.
  • Accommodation for live-in help.
  • Parking: are you assigned a specific parking spot, where is it? What about visitor cars?
  • School bus routes: check with your school.
  • Pets: does the owner or condominium management allow pets (How many cats? What size dogs?)
  • Repairs and renovations: what needs to be done before you move in? Who will pay?
  • Ongoing maintenance issues: how will they be managed? Some condominiums have "in-house" maintenance teams. Who pays for what? You may have to pay the first MYR100 of any maintenance issues after you move in.
  • Ask other residents in the condominium or area about the house/apartment, most people do not mind telling you.

Real Estate Agents

The Relocation Advisor provides you with a list of approved Real Estate Agents; you will be assigned one of these agents. You can choose any agent you wish to use, however you are advised to use one of the Shell approved agents as they are used to dealing with the Shell Lease Contract. You can have more than one agent working for you at any time. The agent is not paid by Shell (or by you); once you have signed your lease the agent will receive a commission from the owner.

Many agents will show you the properties that have been on their books for a while first, in the hope that you will take one of these. Do not be rushed into choosing a property, you may find that on the second or third (or even the tenth) day of viewing the quality of properties will improve. It is not uncommon to view 20 plus properties. Please choose carefully as this could be your home for up to 4 years.

Before You Sign the Contract

When it comes to negotiating the lease agreement this is usually done between Shell, the Agent and the Owner. Make sure any specific requests about the property (gardener, pool maintenance, air conditioner maintenance) are put in writing to your Agent and Shell Expatriate Services contact.

It is common to ask for certain maintenance issues to be done before signing the lease, these could include installation of ceiling fans, air conditioning units, painting the property, supplying white goods (washing machine/dryer, etc). Obviously the Owner may reject these requests – but it is worth asking for items before you sign up, they are unlikely to be fixed afterwards.

Before handing over the property, the owner should have had the property cleaned, have had pest control services done and the air conditioning units serviced.

Check the property before accepting it, run all taps and showers, flush toilets, turn on appliances and take pictures of any significantly damaged items or areas.