Some expatriates working in Singapore have moved to live in Johor's Nusajaya area, attracted by lower prices of homes and the extra space there.
They have bought houses to live in and commute to work in Singapore. Many plan to continue working in Singapore for the long haul, but say they moved because their housing allowances were reduced or cut altogether.
Developers and property agents said expatriates began moving to Johor from about five years ago, but the completion of houses and recent opening of international schools in the Iskandar Educity project has raised interest markedly.
UEM Land, the major developer in the area for projects including East Ledang and Horizon Hills, said about half of the buyers for its properties are foreigners, including Singaporeans.
For instance, at the waterfront condominium Imperia at Puteri Harbour, more than half of the buyers are foreigners. Of them, 34 per cent are Singaporeans while 37 per cent are other nationalities, including Japanese and Britons.
Mr David Bochsler, 40, director of sales and marketing of Exhale, which designs and builds homes in Nusajaya, moved his family to a villa there while maintaining an office in Singapore.
"With projects such as Marlborough College, Legoland, Pinewood Studios, and hospitals and universities completed or nearing completion, there is not the same level of risk associated with investing," he said.
Property agents such as Mr Jerry Lim, 51, from Aldini Real Estate Agency, began seeing a trend two years ago, even before the schools in Iskandar Educity opened. "Since then, there has been no looking back," he said.
Popular projects in Nusajaya are Horizon Hills, Leisure Farm Resort and Ledang Heights where rentals are between RM8,000 (S$3,200) and RM20,000 a month and bungalows sell for between RM2 million and RM7 million.
Project manager Geert Hulst, 47, and his wife Rochelle, 44, lived in Singapore for 21/2 years until 2009 before moving to a bungalow in Ledang Heights with their two children.
They wanted a home with more space and a garden, but found that it would cost too much in Singapore.
"Malaysia offered an affordable alternative," said Mrs Hulst, who is from Australia.