I have officially been living in my apartment for about a month now. I have to say that while it was fun traveling around a bit before I got here, it’s nice to have a place of my own again.
Finding My Place
Unlike the U.S. apartment building in Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Asia are operated more like condos. Each unit is individually owned and managed. In the U.S. you can pretty much walk into any complex and ask if there are any available units and just talk to the building management. For the most part here you have to actually hire a real estate agent to show you apartments and negotiate on your behalf. I was set up with an agent through work and after telling him my budget and the location I wanted he showed me a few places in the area. Of course most of the places he actually showed me were over my budget but some were open to negotiating the price down a bit. I wanted a place that was within a 15 minute walk to work and that had some of the nicer amenities (a pool and a gym), and was fully furnished. The place I eventually got fit those criteria.
If you are moving to a new country or really just moving anywhere, make sure to fully read your lease! I know this sounds like a no brainer but I know some people who really just assume that people are good and sign whatever is put in front of them. Since I had no clue what is typical in a lease in Malaysia I gave a copy of my lease to a local Malaysian who I work with to read over. She found a few things wrong with it. The main thing was that the lease basically said that if there was any damages in the apartment that cost over RM 150 ($35) the owner could decide if I had to pay it. Meaning if the air con, fridge, washer broke he could just say that I had to pay for it. Um no! The agent kept saying oh well you’d only pay if it was due to abuse, but that’s not what it actually said in the lease. I fought really hard to get that reworded. Also my lease said that I had to maintenance the air cons when I moved out, but the agent could provide me with proof that they were maintained before I moved in. After a very long conversation with the agent we got most of this worked out. Also in the U.S. it is very common that you will get charged for any damages to your place regardless of if those things were damaged when you moved in. I have had several companies’ charge me because I didn’t have proof that the walls were already scuffed or the carpet had stains. I don’t think that this is as big of a problem in Malaysia but I still made to do document everything that has any wear and tear already.
In most of Asia, ovens do not exist in apartments. A few friends places that I’ve been to have built in ovens but it’s pretty rare. So when I made the offer on my place I asked the owner if he would put in a microwave and a counter-top oven. This was a bit of a battle to because apparently they have these combined microwave oven/grill things here. I don’t exactly know what they do, but I know that they are not an oven. My agent was trying to buy a combined one. And after telling him (several) times that I wanted something that functioned exactly as an oven he bought me the one shown in the photo. I haven’t tried to bake anything in it yet, I’ve only used to for cooking, so we’ll see how it goes.
Side note: Getting used to Celsius is hard!!!
The area I live in is called Mont Kiara. It’s kind of a weird place. It’s home of a good amount of the expats that live in KL and is known as a richer area. It’s weird to live in a “rich” area. Pretty much every building has a pool, gym and a large amount of security to prevent break ins. From my building I can walk about ten to fifteen minutes and be at work or at an expat grocery store, which is in a mall. There’s a ton of food places nearby, most of which I still haven’t tried. There’s a market every Thursday night and on Sundays which has some awesome street vendors. There are two large private international schools in the area which attracts expat families to the area. Right across the highway is an area called Desa Sri Hartamas (or Desa for short) that has a lot of food places as well as some western style bars. I’ve been going to a kickboxing class in Desa for the last few weeks and have really enjoyed it. Down the road is Solaris which has a ton of cafes and other places to eat. There’s also Publika a little future away which is a pretty massive mall. It’s a nice area, about 20 minutes drive from KL city centre and cabs are fairly cheap and readily available. So far I’m really enjoying my place and the area. The haze on the other hand is more than welcome to leave!