Is Forest City Johor Bahru a good property investment in Malaysia?

While has a clear focus on travel, airlines, hospitality and dining sometimes I think it is worth branching out into different topics if there is something interesting to share.

This post will be such a different topic in which I want to share my thoughts and impressions of Forest City Johor Bahru, which is a massive property development taking place on several man-made islands off the coast of the Malaysian state near Singapore. Visiting Forest City was actually one of the reasons I went to Johor, to get some more information about the project I recommend a look at the developers website.

While I think on paper the project sounds and looks awesome and I am very excited to actually see it happening, knowing Asia and specifically Malaysia I am aware that there might be a huge difference between what this project wants to become and what it is and will be. So I decided to check out what is the current state of Forest City myself by driving down and visiting the already open sales gallery.

Besides the sales gallery a hotel next to it, which I presume is mostly used to accommodate the visitors that are being flown in by the developer to buy something, some shops and a pool and gardening area with a beach. The sales gallery also features free parking.

Upon arriving I found a pretty crowded huge room with several groups of visitors talking to sales agents, walking around and checking on the models, countless other sales agents, a cafe and huge models of the future islands. All that made up the sales gallery.

Full model of all islands to be built in Forest City Johor Bahru
Full model of all islands to be built in Forest City Johor Bahru

While it all looks very impressive and it is clear that the dimensions of this project are huge I was a bit surprised by the complete lack of information. There were no labels or brochures that would state what tower is what, when it is finished, sizes, prices, etc. Also despite walking around for a couple of minutes and purposely looking very interested none of the sales agents approached me or made any kind of contact attempt. A bit weird for a place that literally only exists to sell stuff to visitors…

I also feel that the residential towers look quite boring and simple, of course it is just a model but they have only one design and basically built the same tower in different heights 30 times. Not really a place I want to live in to be honest.

After leaving the sales gallery I walked around in the outdoor area that has several empty shop lots and one or two stores are opened already. There is also a big pool that hat lots of people enjoying the water, a beach with terrible view on the Singapore port and some nice gardening.

Beach in Forest City Johor Bahru
Garden near the Forest City sales gallery beach

Walking further down the walkway was the hotel with another pool and less people.

Hotel pool in Forest City Johor Bahru

I checked out the hotel which is huge and somewhat operational, it looks great and there are lots of staff but I found that most of the signs direct to places that are not yet opened/built.

From the hotel I walked back to the sales gallery which is connected by a mini mall with some shops opened and many lots left empty for now. There are also some show units for the first residential towers being built now.

I checked out the show units and was incredibly disappointed, Asia and Malaysia has some amazing condos and many stunning projects basically everywhere. Compared with that average of available projects I would sump up the Forest City show units like this:

  • A style that you have to like, but if you are not Chinese and 60+ you won’t
  • Low quality finishing
  • Small room sizes, no amenities (for example only the 4 room layout has a bathtub and proper kitchen)

When I saw the bathrooms I was simply shocked, keep in mind we talk about a project that wants to become a luxury residence on a man-made island near cosmopolitan Singapore. This is how you shower in the future Forest City.

Forest City Johor Bahru bathroom in 4 room show unit


Needless to say that the show units were also staffed with several sales agents who were all busy chatting with each other and playing on their phones, so once again no one was interested in selling anything to me.

Without knowing the prices for the units my impression from what I have seen is very unfavourable. The project looks amazing and it could be great, but it seems more likely it will be a 3rd grade development with a nice sales prospect, presumably high prices and very little ROI. It is kinda saddening that they built up man-made islands and put so much energy in some uninspiring and bad value for money condos. I for one don’t think that is a place where I will recommend people to invest money in, given the abundance of nice and more promising developments all over Malaysia.

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