I’d like to introduce to you one of my favourite books in the world, New Aging: Live smarter now to live better forever by Matthias Hollwich with Bruce Mau Design. Found it at the Big Bad Wolf Booksale some years back for RM12. One of the best purchases I ever made.
New Aging is a guidebook to optimising how we live, how to design our lifestyle so that we encourage lifelong happiness, productivity and self-development. I used to fear the ageing process (as we all), but this book helped me reframe that thinking, and even develop a positive attitude towards it.
The book gave lots of suggestions on living arrangements – the subject of this post. According to Google Analytics, 67% of the Ringgit Oh Ringgit audience is between 25-44 years old. If you belong in this age range, I’m sure you’re bombarded by lots and lots of property ad, each telling you how perfect life will be at their housing area/condo/apartment unit.
I’ve been a lifelong renter, but I’d be lying if I say I’ve never considered buying property myself after viewing those ads. Of course I have. I even daydream about what features and designs I want. I’m sure you have, too.
Here’s what I can share with you about getting an actual dream home in Malaysia, one that optimises your happiness, based on the book.
#1 – No matter where you live, make it easy to meet friends and family
Life is all about human connections, isn’t it? Beyond everything else, this is priority number 1. When you’re looking for a place, you want to make sure your dream house is near and accessible to friends and family. This is especially important for men, who are more likely to suffer from loneliness as they age.
Some suggestions from the book:
- Move closer to family members and friends
- Treat best friends like family
- Integrate colleagues and acquaintances into inner circle (note: personality fit is important too, obviously)
- Greet neighbours and people at places you frequently go to
- Add at least one unique and fun amenity that will reward those who visit (ie: pool, wifi, big kitchen, playroom)
- Live with housemates (and be open about diversity)
So yeah. Some people told me that they plan to retire in cheaper areas in Malaysia, because the cost of living and property prices there are lower. But for my case, that’s not an option at all. I know I need to be based in Klang Valley – all my family and friends are here. I need to be near them for a happier life.
Unless… I can brainwash all my friends to move to Ipoh with me. Lmao that’s an option.
#2 -Make it easy to incorporate, access and do activities that provide mental and physical stimulation
Essentially, your home should not, by design, prevents you from exercising your brain muscles and, er, muscles muscles. That means it must not be too far from the amenities you need, and must have enough room so you can work on your hobbies comfortably.
Having tried out a few types of living arrangements, I can say that my favourite type of place to live is anywhere that is friendly for car-free people. For example, somewhere within walking distance to commercial areas, where I can get my groceries and access public transportation easily. My second favourite is permaculture-centered communes. I’ve done short stints in France and Australia and love the focus on sustainability.
Your situation and priority might be different. For example, my parents are fairly religious and they like going to the neighbourhood surau. If you love tinkering with cars, ideally your home should have the space for it.
This segment is simple enough, right? Do more things that you love and is good for you = happier you. Make that easy by designing your home and lifestyle around it. It would suck if you LOVE going to the gym but live like 1 hour away from it!
#3 – Ageing-related enhancements to your home
Alright. So you live near family and friends, and your home allows you to indulge in hobbies (in or nearby). What next?
Accessibility. Something *I* personally have not considered up until recently. I’m lucky that I can move about now, but what happens when I lose my mobility?
That, for me, is the scariest part about ageing. Loss of mobility. The need to depend on others to take care of even the most basic of tasks. I can’t imagine the grief I’ll surely feel towards the loss of freedom and independence. I have friends who had a taste of this when they lost their mobility due to accidents. None of them told me it was fun.
Suggestions from the book:
- Hire a contractor to add handrails, doorpulls, etc in every room
- Walk around your home with a rolling suitcase to see where navigational challenge might appear. Add ramps where needed
- Have a guest room, so you have the option of having someone over when you really need their help
- Have enough obstacle-free paths in your home – for wheelchair
- Smart-homing everything. Make use of apps that can help you adjust temperature, lighting, security, things like that
In Malaysia, finding property designed with accessibility in mind seems… hard. I don’t think I have a choice but to make and pay for the enhancements myself out of pocket.
There’s no way around it. My dream home in Malaysia is going to be expensive.
People say that you should buy a home that you can afford. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to skimp on housing. If I’m going to make the biggest purchase of my life, I want to make sure I’m damn well happy with it.
So what’s the alternative? The rough estimate for the type of house I want in the location I want with the amenities I want will surely run at least RM500k, and much more with renovations to add accessibility features. Gedebuk gedebak let’s say RM1 million. I don’t have that much money.
So if I lack the funds, what options do I have? Three possible options I can think of:
- Buy an awesome house with some friends. 6 friends pooled their money together and bought a $1.3 million house in Toronto. According to the article, they knew they can’t afford to buy properties they love on their own, so they decided to do it together. Maybe my friends are crazy enough to do this with me too?
- Stay in a co-living space. The co-living movement in Malaysia is small, but it is growing. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the local co-living scene by the founder of Co-living Malaysia. I also found out about Co-Coon, the first commercial co-living solution in Malaysia!
- Start my own intentional community. I’ve subscribed to Intentional Communities for some time now, they give great newsletters and resources. I keep looking out for communities based in Malaysia but alas, no luck yet. Maybe some of you want to take a look and start one?
How does your dream home in Malaysia look like?
Tell me what kind of home and living arrangement you’re hoping for. What is your must-have, and what is optional? Do you plan to save up for your dream home, or go for something cheaper, or try out an unconventional solution? Let me know in the comments!