Article from the Telegraph (UK) on British investors interested in Iskandar real estate: British expats and investors drawn to Malaysian metropolis
A huge development three times the size of Singapore is taking shape across the border in Malaysia, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of jobs, new homes and international schools.
Foreign investors are not just being encouraged but expat families and students too. Along with Marlborough College, Raffles American School, Newcastle University and the University of Southampton will all open campuses.
It is expected that when Iskandar Malaysia reaches maturity in 2025, the region will employ 1.4 million people. This involves the creation of 800,000 new jobs.
Both the [Legoland] theme park and Marlborough College are due to open in the autumn of 2012.
The article is certainly written like a publicity piece, talking about all the possibilities without any questioning of potentially issues. I do agree the potential is great. On the ground in Johor Bahru the key I feel is new jobs. Currently there are many real estate resources that are greatly underutilized: malls with many empty stores or completely shut down, condos with high vacancy rates, skyscrapers downtown that are just empty shells. The potential is great.
Care has to be taken to develop that potential into real success. Brining in jobs that will then create income to spend at malls, renting higher end condos, paying for more services which in turn create more jobs is the key. The critical jobs it seems to me are office jobs (economically these are high paying and can be added quickly without too much difficulty). And many of those can most easily be created quickly by providing support for businesses in Singapore. So the second key is continuing to build the cooperative relationship with Singapore.
Health care and education are good industries to target for Iskandar and that seems to be part of the plan.
There are, of course, many other important factors. Qualified people are needed to fill the jobs created. There is a need to continue to improve the safety in JB and reduce crime. There is a need to build the infrastructure toward world standards (better public transportation, more walkable areas [improved sidewalks], intelligent land use planning… Getting the residence pass for talented expats so that it can be used by those that are not yet in Malaysia. The program is meant to attract foreign talent yet 6 months after they started the process by accepting only applications from those that have been in Malaysia for 3 years on a work visa the program still only accepts applications for this small group of people.