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I had this opportunity to work for a company in Singapore but I am not sure yet if I will accept it.

I was looking on a map how Singapore looks like and it is of course quite small. So the question came to mind whether it would be practical, safe, or otherwise feasible to live in Johor Baharu (Malaysia) while working in Singapore?

Does the border crossing between the two countries take a long time? Are there any options for faster processing at the border (like the U.S. Global Entry Program)?

The office would be somewhere near the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. I would not have my own a car as I am not sure I want to go into debt (in case the job does not last, etc).

  • 2
    I wonder if visas could be an issue - would Malaysia give you a visa to allow you to live there if you're working over the border? Taxes might be "interesting" as well... – Gagravarr Feb 19 '15 at 13:33
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    I think the MM2H Visa could be used for this purpose. Also based on this forum it is possible, but the commute will be hard and long, as there will be major traffic on the bridge between JB and SP – SztupY Feb 20 '15 at 9:02
  • Also if you plan on using a car, note that both Malaysia and Singapore both recently raised the tolls, so that a round trip will cost you around 20$ just in tolls for the causeway. – drat Feb 23 '15 at 0:46
  • @coderworks, It's doable. I believe it will take 4 hours per trip. So be prepared to wake up at 4.30 am everyday. – Pacerier Dec 30 '15 at 17:43
  • MM2H is not a simple visa to get, and it's a long-term commitment, with a lot of money to put in a locked Malaysian bank account... – dda Jan 11 '18 at 14:43
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It's possible, and quite a few people do it, but I would not recommend it. Singapore Expats has a good thread on this, but I'll summarize.

There are only two ways to travel between Singapore and JB:

  1. The Causeway from Woodlands to central JB. This is perennially congested, and central JB is (IMHO) not a particularly pleasant place to live.
  2. The Second Link from Jurong to Nusajaya/Iskandar and the expressway to KL. Much less crowded, although still packed at peak periods, and the Nusajaya area is fairly nice, although still under heavy construction.

Your main problem is going to be that public transit across these is pretty woeful. Buses across the Causeway are plentiful, but interminably slow, plus you need to disembark at both ends to go through Customs. Trains across the Causeway avoid the jams, but are very infrequent/unreliable and terminate in Woodlands, from where it's a bus plus a long MRT ride to Dhoby Ghaut. In addition, Immigration/Customs on both sides can be quite slow.

If you are going to do this, you'll want a car and cross the Second Link. However, the tolls will add up very quickly, driving Malaysian-registered cars in Singapore is (intentionally) very expensive, and parking around Dhoby Ghaut sounds expensive too.

The vehicle of choice for locals doing the commute is a motorbike: tolls are cheaper, jams can mostly be avoided, and parking is easier. However, I would consider biking in either country to be pretty close to Russian roulette. (YMMV.)

Things may improve c. 2019 2022 2024 if they ever get around to building the Singapore-JB RTS, but at time of writing they haven't even started.

And the final fly in the ointment is that you will also need to work out how you can stay in Malaysia long-term legally: Singaporean status won't help and a tourist visa won't cut it.

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    Excellent answer. The only points you forgot to mention, I think, are the time it takes to go through immigration, and the legal status in Malaysia – being a [temporary] resident in Singapore doesn't give you the right to live in JB. – dda Jan 11 '18 at 14:42
  • I wonder why Singapore won't extend the Woodlands line instead of building a brand new one close by... – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 14 '18 at 16:35
  • Because of the need for passengers to pass through Immigration at both ends. – lambshaanxy Jan 14 '18 at 20:23

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