Amidst sky high living costs in Singapore, people to opt for life in Johor Bahru

The changing narrative of Johor Bahru, transforming from a formerly perceived high-crime area to an appealing destination for Singaporeans, highlights the dynamic nature of urban dynamics in the region.

Once marred by a reputation as a hotbed for crime, the border city of Johor Bahru, connecting Singapore to Malaysia, is experiencing a remarkable transformation. Singaporean citizens, tired of exorbitant rents and the ever-rising cost of living in their home city, are now turning their gaze towards Johor Bahru, relishing the prospect of escaping financial constraints while stretching their hard-earned dollars.

Singapore, often tied with Zurich, has held the unenviable distinction of being one of the world’s most expensive cities, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual ranking. Singapore has clinched the top spot for nine out of the last 11 years, leaving other major global cities trailing behind. Last year, Hong Kong secured the fifth position on the list. However, Johor Bahru remains noticeably absent from this roster, sitting quietly on the opposite end of the Johor–Singapore Causeway, offering a contrasting haven for those seeking more affordable living options.

The allure of Johor Bahru lies not only in its relatively lower living costs but also in the potential for Singaporeans to enjoy a higher quality of life without sacrificing proximity to their homeland. The 1km strait that separates Johor Bahru from Singapore is proving to be a bridge to economic relief for many.

The transformation of Johor Bahru is attributed to coordinated efforts to increase security and reduce crime rates, effectively shedding its former image as a crime-ridden area. The city has undergone infrastructural improvements, making it more attractive to potential residents seeking a blend of affordability and convenience.

The city has seen an increase in the high-rise condominiums within walking distance of the border checkpoint along with a new rail station connecting directly to the expansive mass rapid transit line of Singapore. The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore in the year 2023 reported that rent of private residential properties escalated by almost 29.7 per cent between 2021 and 2022. This has been compounded by the latest increase in the Goods and Services Tax of Singapore from 7 per cent to at least 9 per cent at the beginning of the year and the rising electricity cost, the highest since late 2022.