Wednesday, August 26, 2009


When we first got married, the first agenda on the list is to buy a house. In those days, houses cost as low as RM 35,000. I am not very particular about what type of house and the location as long as I have a home where I can have my privacy. Unlike most women, they are very particular about their type of houses they are buying, one of the reasons of course is to make a good impression on their relatives and friends that they can afford such a home.
I do agree with Valiant Knight that men are more realistic and practical; the first thing that comes in their mind is the location. Most people want to live in a place where shops or supermarkets are nearby so that we can get our groceries. Valiant Knight is stressing his point in west Malaysia where public transport is accessible. In Sarawak, public transport is poor, they only service in certain residential areas in Kuching or in Miri. And most people in Sarawak have their own cars and their only concern is the access roads to and from their work places and fetching their children from schools. Traffic jam is not a constraint to Sarawakians yet ,as parents, fetching their children only happens during peak hours and our roads in Sarawak are accessible to the schools. I know of a bachelor friend who buys a house where there is a bus stop right in front of his house. He didn’t have to worry about parking fees and after making a survey, he found that he had actually saved a lot on transport. Sometimes, he gets a free ride from colleagues.
In West Malaysia, people go to work, they start their journey as early as 7 am and only comes home around 8 pm or even later than that especially among the singles. In Sarawak, the people start their journey at around 7.30 am and get off from work at 5 pm, the latest 6 pm and they can go shopping, or go for a game and go straight home. For those who have children, they would be early to send their children to school and some can still go home to have their breakfast before they get to work.
Security and Neighbours
People in Sarawak are not very particular about their neighbours. When a new residential area was launched, most people (especially among the Chinese) would choose a good number for their house and be concerned about the “feng shui” of the house. Some are particular about their neighbours and would check out who are living next door to them. You will be lucky if you get good neighbours but sometimes you get inconsiderate neighbours and then it’s too late to withdraw because you have already committed to buy the house. This often happened because some owners buy a house to rent it out.
Most house owners are not worried about the security because “breaks-in” are not frequent in those days. Buying houses in areas of “High Class Residential” or “Low Cost Housing Area” makes no different nowadays because “robberies” or “break-ins” are common everywhere. I know of a huge mansion, surrounded with high stainless steel fencing, security system and security guards in a high class residential areas in Miri, this house was robbed and the victims were shocked and refused to stay in the lovely mansion. They moved into a condominium where security is better.
Most people don’t fix security system until their houses got broke into.
Finance and Insurance
I was lucky that I am not involved in contribute part of my salary when my husband first bought a house. I only feel the pain when I got my second house in Miri and I am still paying the loan, although I can easily just pay off the balance, but I am reluctant to let go because of the insurance terms that benefit my husband when I die. The people with the government agencies are lucky because they can get special housing loan with interest rates as low as 4 %. Those in the private sector usually get bank loans. I can see the trend of young people buying their own house, of course with strong backing from their parents. EPF have special withdrawals schemes to help buy houses. For a working couple, with an average income of RM 3,000 per month, they can afford a monthly payment between RM 800 – RM 1,000 for a 25 year long term, depending how much they borrow.
It is not the trend yet for singles to get their own home early yet. My niece hits 26 years old this year and still lives with her parents and some as old as 40 years old still do the same. Unlike in western cultures, once they are over 18 years, they want to stay on their own and most of them would consider to rent rather to buy a house.
House insurance often comes in a package when buying a house. Single premium depending on how much you service the loan will benefit your beneficiary when you die. One has to name someone to benefit from this, however will making is not popular yet in Sarawak.
I conclude by encouraging young couples to buy a house once they are financially stable, to set aside a certain sum of money to service their housing loan. Start young and get use to live a life moderately.

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