Cyprus-born Brit JASON FOX and his Japanese wife MAKI both grew up in Brunei. After three years of living in Singapore, they crossed the causeway and never looked back. We talk to them about moving to Malaysia, and what choices they’ve made for schools and homes.
Why did you move to Johor Bahru?
We didn’t like the idea of paying someone else’s mortgage, so we wanted to buy. For the same price as a 1,600-square-foot apartment in Singapore, we bought a 6,500-square-foot house on 18,000 square feet of land with a pool, jacuzzi and garden. The two properties are only 45 minutes apart!
What are your favourite things about living in Johor?
Space, greenery, peace and quiet, prices and a Brunei pace of life – but with more places to imbibe.
What are the challenges?
Nothing happens quickly. Maid processing can take three months. Things are gradually moving online but websites are tricky and aren’t always in English.
How has your daily life changed?
There’s a great level of family time and activities in the great wide open. We have our own pool so we swim, have cosy dinners in nice restaurants and discover the nature surrounding us.
Describe your neighbourhood.
We live in Leisure Farm, in a landed property that is a bit too big now that my parents don’t visit as much! It’s the oldest development in the area with an amazing sense of community. People look out for each other and their environment. We live amongst all sorts of critters but there is a sense that they were here first, and we need to live together. We love that. We have two local mongrel dogs, or Malaysian Shepherds as we like to call them, and a cat.
Do either of you commute to work in Singapore?
We rarely travel to Singapore these days. I used to be a pilot, so work schedules meant I wasn’t really ever in the thick of it. When we moved in 2011, the traffic was rarely more than a minor delay. It’s harder now with more people in the area, stiffer border checks and more goods being imported into Singapore by road.
Where do your children attend school?
Our son was a founding pupil at Marlborough College Malaysia in 2012 as a Year 1 student, and our daughter joined three years later. They are day pupils as we live less than 15 minutes from the school. Marlborough isn’t a franchise but an extension of Marlborough UK.
Do they enjoy it?
Marlborough is more formal than other schools in the area but then again it’s related to one of the oldest schools in the UK. The kids enjoy it. They love the facilities and, again, the space. With 90 acres, there are plenty of green spaces and courts for sports. The “beaks”, or teachers, are a lovely bunch and provide great leadership in the school.
What’s a typical weekend like?
We’re often at the Balé Club for football coaching on Saturdays and rugby practice on Sundays. It’s a great spot in a great community.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Johor?
If you’re used to commuting and you value space and the opportunity to get away and switch off, this is it. We love it and don’t want to leave. There are amazing properties here, and it’s currently a buyer/renter market. Come look and see for yourself.
To learn more about schooling in Johor, visit marlboroughcollege.my.
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