Saturday, December 06, 2014

Suburb Demographics for Immigrants in Australia

The first thing that we do on surveying a suburb in Australia is we always look at it's demographics.

This website (i.e. Where Australia's Immigrants Were Born) is pretty cool that it basically list out the top 3 birthplaces for immigrants in all over the places in Australia.  I only came across this after I have decided to buy a property but nevertheless I think this is still useful for many of you especially if you plan to buy a property in Australia.

You can click on the different city and zoom in to the detail as you wish. It gives you an overview of who are the dominant in that area. Looking at Sydney as example, you can see that China and England dominate many places where city area is usually surrounded by Chinese.  Further away from city or near beaches are usually dominated by England based on my general observation.

Good luck in your survey!

P/S: The property that I bought is in Macquarie Park and it turns out Malaysia is listed as top 3. I don't aware of this at all when I purchase this. :D

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What is Off The Plan Property?

This is a new term that I learn since landed here in Australia.

Off the plan property basically means property that has not yet been constructed. So it also usually means, the property is directly sold from the developer. However this is not all the case. Sub-sales from a buyer could also can be off the plan property as long as the property has not been constructed. This is important because I misunderstood that buying off the plan property "MUST" be directly from developer.

A lot investors here buy off the plan properties and resell them again later. They are very smart, and they will know when is the best timing for sub-sales. For example, they grab all the 1-bedroom apartment in the market very fast and resell it when there is no more sale directly from developer. So buyer who really wants 1-bedroom apartment will have not choice but to buy from them.

Nevertheless if I knew about this, I would have just wait for the sub-sales option which gives me more options to choose. We wanted a 1-bedroom apartment but ended up with buying 2-bedroom apartment because all 1-bedroom apartment was sold out at that time and just left some units that we don't like. Please note that buying from sub-sales also means you're buying property that is more expensive than initial launch from developer. I guess no choice if you miss the boat.

Speaking of this, I realize I have been always buying off the plan property since my first house in Malaysia. Maybe I should talk about this why off the plan property is good for me. Anyway, I hope this sharing is useful and have a nice weekend!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Pass Driving Test in NSW or Australia?

I got my NSW car license few months ago and I took the test twice. This is considered not bad already because I heard many usually fail couple of times. But having said so, I could have passed it the very first time if my first driving instructor didn't give me the wrong instructions. Too bad, I met a wrong instructor. So, the key learning is, don't 100% rely on instructor unless you get a very good one but the problem is you won't know. :)

Here are some tips that I'm going to share with you which I believe will be very useful to you if you're coming from a country like me (i.e. Malaysia). I think it applies to most Asian countries maybe except Singapore? Some rules are different and some even doesn't make sense at all in my opinion. I will explain later.

(1) Always Give Ways to Right at Roundabout 

Not sure about the rule in Malaysia but I always apply US rule in Malaysia. The rule that I always follow is:

  • Whoever reach the roundabout junction has the higher priority and you must stop before you enter the roundabout. If both reach the junctions at the same time, the vehicle at the right has higher priority to enter the roundabout
I know it does not work in Malaysia sometimes but at least this is safe. Unfortunately, this rule that I understand doesn't apply here. I think it doesn't apply to Europe too. The rule is like this:
  • Must give way to right in all circumstances and you must NOT stop if you're not suppose to give way

If you're at 3 and there are cars coming at 2 (even not reach the 2 yet), you must give way to them. Assuming there is a very long queue at 2, you must wait until all the cars at 2 are clear, then you can only enter the roundabout. Does it make sense? I prefer the US rule, who comes first, who has the privilege to enter the roundabout.

Wait, there are some exceptions which I think it makes it more dangerous. If cars from 2 have indicate signal that they want to exit to 3, you don't need to give way to them. It means if you stop your car at 3, you fail! Similar to cars at 1 which have already entered the roundabout and have no indicator to right (means they go straight and want to exit at 3 - not exiting at 4),  you must not stop your car. What? What if they forget to indicate they want to exit at 4, I asked my instructor? She just told me, that is their fault. Alright, what if the indicator is malfunction? It is their fault too because you're can't drive if your indicator is not working. Oh my god, driving like this so dangerous...

This rule is dangerous because it simply assumes everyone follows the rules. If one doesn't follow the rules, it is going to crash! Anyway, just remember this is the roundabout rule in Australia although it doesn't make sense (at least to me). You just need to get used to it. The key is not to stop at roundabout if you're not suppose to give way. You just need to slow down a bit and move forward. It takes me sometime to get used to this.

(2) Change Lane and Indicator

I don't how you use indicator to change lane or to turn right. I will indicate right signal as long as I want to change to right lane and when there is a chance, I turn my car to right entering to the right lane. Wrong!

The rule here in Australia is different. The purpose of indicator is not to tell people you plan to turn right but is to tell you have already decided to turn right and you're turning now. So after you indicate right signal, you must turn right immediately. This means if you're not able to turn right for whatever reasons (e.g. there is a car behind you on the right), you can not indicate your signal! What? What if the right lane is in long queue again but you want to change to that lane. Yes, you can't because you are not safe to turn right. Oh boy...

Most instructors explain the 3 checks (i.e. back mirror, side mirror and shoulder check) but they fail to explain the purpose of indicators that I mentioned above and also the purpose of these 3 checks. These 3 checks basically to ensure that you're safe to turn right or left. If it is safe, you indicate the signal and turn right immediately. If it is not, you continue to do these 3 checks until you have chance to turn right.

Can this kind of driving survive in Malaysia? Indicate signals and turn immediately is the most dangerous driving that I have known since I know how to drive. This is how accident usually happens. After you indicate the signals, you always turn very slowly and gradually to the right lane. That's the safest way of driving in my opinion. If there is a hazard, those cars behind you will definitely horn you and you can get back to your lane safely.

(3) Observation is Important

I failed my first test because of lack of observations or maybe no observations at all. I thought I have observed very well because I drive extremely safe and avoid any potential hazard. :) If you want to pass the driving test, you must always look around when you're driving. Yes, always look around although your car is completely stop. This is what they test on you for observation.

If you're passing the intersection and you go straight, you must look at the right and the left junction very quickly to ensure no hazard. If your car is stop, start to look around, left and right, mirrors and etc instead of focusing at one spot. Then, you will pass your observation test! Oh I almost forget, make sure you turn your head not just your eyes so that it is clear to the instructor that you have done your observation. :)

This tip is very important, because many instructor don't know about this at all unless you're lucky enough to meet a good one.

(4) Hold Steering Wheel Correctly

Whenever I turn, I like to put my hand inside the steering wheel and turn. I also failed this because my first instructor told me this is completely fine as long as you hold the steering wheel with 2 hands. It is hard to explain, just don't hold the steering like this even with 2 hands. :)

I hope this is useful. Roundabout rule is the most common one and I believe most instructor will explain that to you but not for the purpose of indicators and observation. I think holding steering wheel correctly may be common too but somehow my first instructor just thought me wrongly.  So I think tip (2) and (3)  are the crucial one because no one is going to tell you that. If you're an experienced driver like me, giving these 4 most important tips, I don't think you will fail the test. I fail mine because of not aware of (2), (3) and (4).

If you have any questions, please leave your comment. I hope I can help more people passing the test. Good luck!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Attitude is Everything?

I read up some old emails and found this one is pretty useful. It says attitude is everything and in fact is 100% of life. You agree? They even have a mathematical formula to prove that!

People also usually link this to 90/10 principle from the 7-habit book (which I called it an ultimate financial book) many years ago although is not really a financial book.

This principle basically states that we really have no control over 10% of what happen to us but 90% of your life is decided by how you react. Then, this 90% is the attitude. Then, why the last slide is 100%? Just a joke, I guess. :) So no, attitude is not everything. It should be attitude is "almost" everything.

Enjoy, have a nice weekend!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Migrating to Australia Good Meh? by Ken Soong & Michael Soong

This is the book the I picked up in MPH before I migrated to Australia last year. It is a very good book to read especially for those who are deciding or have already decided migrate to Australia.

Since I"m here for > 6 months already, perhaps I can share with you my opinion about migrating to Australia. What I'm going do here is I will try to write down my own opinion in summary for each chapter. I may agree or disagree or neutral but ultimately this is my opinion. Please don't be too sensitive of it if you disagree.

Chapter 1 - Is The Western Culture Better for You?

There are lot comparisons & explanations about cultural perspective in this chapter (which is good) but for me, there are only 2 main reasons to decide whether western culture is for you:

First one is do you like to speak and write in English? Basically everything is English and you live within it. If you migrate to Australia with the mind that you're still preferring to speak your own language, then the western culture is not for you.

Second reason is do you like corruption?  For instance, driving test is way easier to pass if you know "how" in Malaysia. Here in Australia, there is only one way. Will you get used to it?

Chapter 2 - Land of Opportunities?

The authors talk a lot about business here but I can't comment much about business. For being an employee, I think getting a job in Australia is harder than in Malaysia. There are 2 reasons for that. :)

The first reason is you do not need to 100% master the skill in Malaysia to become an expert. So if you're an expert in Malaysia, you may not be expert in Australia. In Malaysia, you can fake your expertise easily and yet getting very high pay and this cannot be done easily in Australia.

The second reason is there're a lot of competitions in Australia than in Malaysia. The competition is not from Australian but the rest of the migrants from other countries like you. So you need to be better than all of them in order to secure a job.

Chapter 3 - Starting a Business in Australia

No comment on this chapter but if I want to guess, starting a business in Australia is harder than in Malaysia due to similar reasons above.

Chapter 4 - Customer Service Australia Style

I have a lot of bad experience with customer service since I landed here but it doesn't mean it is worst than in Malaysia. My take is customer service is as bad as in Malaysia. The customer service interaction may be is better than in Malaysia (for example they can talk very good) but no action is being taken seriously. The authors mention along this line too.

Chapter 5 - Choosing the Right Suburb

Honestly, no matter how much you read about a particular suburb, you still need to visit there and experience it by yourself.  The next important thing to know is whether the suburb is an established suburb. If it is not, what is the government's development plan for this suburb? It can be none or there is something and all these information can be found in the government website. This drives the potential property's value of this suburb.

The authors talk about certain suburb may not be good even if it is close to the train station and suggest to stay 50 mins walk away from the train station. I totally disagree with this. If a suburb is not good within 15 mins walk to the train station, it is the same if it is 50 mins walk to the train station. It won't make any big difference.

Anyway, I think what the authors mention is very special case. I think having your property close to the public transport is a "MUST" considered element. This is especially useful for new migrant, you can't go wrong with a property that close to transportation. It is matter of whether you can afford it or not.

The authors also suggest not to buy property and hold off your purchase until 2016 and move your money to gold.  I disagree with that unless you're not sure whether you will settle down permanently. If you have already decided to settle down, you should start researching and buying a property when you've found a suitable one. About moving your money to gold, I don't think is a wise choice too. The gold price has already reached it's peak - see my previous post: Can Gold Price Peak Again After 2012?

What about property bubble burst? Similar comment that I have with property bubble burst in Penang, I don't think it will happen, it will probably stable down for few years if economy turns bad. The property price in Australia is mainly driven by high population growth which primary as a result of high migration. As long as the government doesn't stop the migration inflow all the sudden, I don't think property bubble will burst.

Chapter 6 - "Rustbelt Schools" in Australia

Sorry, no comment in this area. :)

Chapter 7 - Schoolyard Bullying

This shouldn't be consideration at all if you plan to migrate. It happens everywhere, maybe in Malaysia it never gets reported. Unfortunately, I was the one who bullied those kids when I was young. I don't think this is ever reported. :)

Chapter 8 - How Good is an Australian Education for Your Child?

I don't have much comment here but I think everyone agrees that Australian education is better than in Malaysian education but let me share my perception about Australian education vs Malaysian education. 

  • Malaysian student can take more pressure. It is true in my generation but I"m not sure generation now. It seems like youngster in Malaysia lately also cannot take much pressure
  • Malaysian student is lack of communication skill. I think this is very true. Even for myself today, I have difficulty to communicate my message or express my feelings.

Chapter 9 - Assimilating into Racist... Australia?

This chapter is not that important. Racist is everywhere and nowhere. Whether you want to assimilating to Australia society is matter of choice. It is back to the fundamental question, do you try to avoid English? If yes, Australia is not good place for you.

Chapter 10 - Tips for "Succeeding" in Australia: Career-wise

The authors give a very useful information about how you can succeed at different stage of your life before you migrate to Australia. My opinion is if you want to migrate, the earlier the better. The older you're, the more difficult for you.

As mentioned before, getting a job is challenging here in Australia but I do not buy in the idea of "lack of local experience" (not by the authors but by most of my friends). Please don't blame it and give this reason as why you're not hired. You're not hired because your skills don't have the direct match of what they are looking for and they don't see your potential. This is the same for all the companies around the world. 

Chapter 11 - The welfare state and you

Just a piece of advice, don't rely on this system and therefore you don't put this as part of your migration consideration. If you do, you won't be living good here in Australia. Furthermore, if you're a new migrant, you need to wait for 2 years before you can apply for this benefit unless you have children. So if I were you, I won't put this in my financial planning so that whatever that I get from this system is an extra. 

Chapter 12 - Migrate for What?

Although the authors mention that they provide independent view but I feel that they're more biases against people migrating to Australia especially in this chapter.What they discuss here in chapter are mostly explaining why Malaysia could be a better place. :)

The fact that everyone knows is Australia is better than in Malaysia and we cannot deny that. If not, why so many people migrating to Australia? It is not just Malaysian but all the nations in the world. It is a very nature thing that human always migrates to a better place. That's why you see there are quite number of increasing foreign workers in Malaysia . This is simply because Malaysia is better than their countries, no?

Whether or not migrating to Australia is better, it is very personal thing. I can say Australia is good but I can also say Australia is bad. So, migrate for what? You're the only person can tell. Australia definitely is a better place but can you make use of it?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Do Not Buy Studio Apartment in Australia

I almost wanted to buy a studio apartment in the city for my own stay and future investment few weeks ago but at the end, I didn't make it because the bank won't lend me money. This is not because of my credit record but it is simply a RULE. No wonder there are still few studio units left over for quite some times in such a strategic place.

There is a rule by banks that they won't lend you money for buying a small property that less than a certain square meters. A studio apartment is a good example. The rule was used to be less than 50 square meters and now I think they change it to less than 40 square meters. Please note this measurement is for internal area and excluding the external (i.e. balcony).

The reason why bank does this is because small unit has no resale value according to them. Oh my God, isn't this a chicken and egg problem? Isn't that you set such a rule that people can't borrow money from you and thus no resale value? No matter what the reason is, "studio apartment has no resale value is a fact". So, I decided to pull out and luckily I hadn't put in any deposit yet.

I can continue to find a way but it may end up getting a higher interest loan which is unnecessary. For renting out, maybe there is value but what if I want to sell it one day? I'm going to have hard time. Now I start to understand why developers are building dual-key apartments. It is basically 2 studio units that stick together and selling it as a whole. I guess this is a loop hole for this bank's rule. :) Smart, isn't it?


So my conclusion is "Do Not Buy Studio Apartment in Australia" even if it is for investment. : ) Dual-key apartment may be an option for investment but I would rather go for either 1-bed or 2-bed rooms apartment which you can use it as investment or for your own stay. This is my opinion of course.

Hope this sharing is worth because it was a surprise to me that bank has such rule here. It becomes worst especially if you have made your deposits or booking fees and yet you fail to get a loan. Good luck!

P/S: Personally, I think studio unit has no resale value is caused by the bank not buyer. It should have high demands due to the higher living cost, higher rental yield and etc.  10 years ago maybe this is true because property price is still at very affordable price for larger property. What if bank removes such rule now? I bet Studio units will be sold like crazy especially in city like Sydney!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Don't Use Hot Water Directly from Water Tap

This is just a short sharing on using the water tap for drinking that I found out recently.

Although many developed countries can drink water directly from water tap, not many of us aware that it is not advisable to take the hot water directly from it. I used to it is okay but not really. It is better that you boil the water if you want the hot water! :)

I found this statement from New South Wales (NSW) Health website and it goes like this:

Use water taken straight from the cold water tap for drinking and cooking. Hot water systems generally contain more dissolved minerals and metals, due to the heating process.

However, I read in the forum and some people say these minerals and metals are too little that can be neglected. Maybe they are right but I guess this also depends on your body whether you can detox them effectively in long run? I"m not sure, can we detox lead? I leave it to you. :)

Another tip is when water has not been used for sometimes, it is is better to flush it for few minutes before drinking. This is because of water that has been standing in pipe for long time can dissolves metals (e.g. copper and lead) which are bad for health.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Global Migration Review - Reliable Australia & New Zealand Agent in Malaysia

Since I have moved to Australia, some of my friends ask me which agent to use and is the good one? I highly recommend this "Global Migration" agent that I used and you can visit their website here. Many of my friends who have already migrated use this agent too and they're very happy with their services.

On the other hand, be aware of not making assumption that all migration agents are professional because I have another friend has to change to another agent and all his money spend previously is not refundable.

Having said so, I have another type of friends who against going through agent. You can read and write, why do you still need to pay an agent to help you fill up the application form? This is ridiculous. It is true in certain extend but let me just share my experience here and you can make your own choice.

Why Agent?

Everything has an opportunity cost, the agent cost is about 50% of your total migration process cost. The total cost for me is around RM 20K, so the agent fee takes up to RM 10K. So the real question is should you pay RM 10K fee to the agent?

Note: By the way, the cost now should be higher already due to inflation.

Good - Save Your Time on Research 

The whole process can be quite complicated if you're not familiar with it. It also depends on whether you have enough points or not, the minimum points that you're eligible to apply. Assuming your points is in the border and requires state sponsorship (for example in my case), having an agent to help you is crucial.

This is because it is not easy to understand which state sponsorship you can apply (need to read a lot of documents to figure that out). If you make an mistake, the back and forth communication takes time which eventually may cause you miss the window of lodging your Visa application because every occupation has it's quota. Once the quota is reached, you will have to wait for another year.

Bad - Need to Spend RM10K 

As mentioned above, ultimately this depends on whether you have enough points or whether you want to spend time on researching the whole migration process by yourself. Of course also if money is a concern, it is better you don't go for an agent.

Please note that also there is an optimum age (e.g. between 33 and 36, just an example but please check the point system) to give you the highest points. If your age has not reached 33 (just an example) and you don't need to rush. You can slowly take your time and you don't need t waste this agent fee. If you miss this year due to some mistakes that you make, you can still try it out next year which is also easier for you because you will have higher points by then.

Some Notes about Global Migration

Even though you have an agent, you cannot trust the agent 100%. I think it depends on who is assigned to you. Basically they assign a single point of contact for each of their clients. For me, I don't think the one I got is experience enough to handle me (maybe I asked too tough questions?) because I can clearly tell the difference when I spoke to another worker.

One not so good experience that I had with them was they applied an unnecessary skill assessment for my spouse which caused us to waste few thousands ringgits and what really made me pissed off at that time was they didn't want to admit their mistake. What they did is to refund the agent fee to me for the skill assessment but not the fee that we paid for doing the skill assessment. Well, I guess this is still better than nothing.

Despite this bad experience that I had with them (don't get me wrong), I am still very thankful that they helped me a lot throughout this migration process. Without their services, I could not have gotten my Australia PR that soon.

Final Notes

Overall, I do highly recommend "Global Migration" if you're looking for an agent for Australia and New Zealand migration in Malaysia.

One thing I like about them is the money back guarantee but please note that the money back guarantee is "ONLY" for agent's fee. This means whatever fees that you pay to Australia/New Zealand government is not refundable. However according to them, their success rate so far to help their clients to get the Visa is 100%! I guess this also means they pick their clients to maintain this 100% achievement. So I was the lucky got picked!

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions, I have gone through this and I hope I can help.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cheapest Way to Transfer Money Oversea - Citibank Global Transfer

Before I migrated to Australia, I did some researches to transfer my money to Australia. I was looking at Australia banks (i.e. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Bank) at that time and they all require service charge % which is quite a big amount. Since Malaysia doesn't have these 2 banks, the charges is at 2 sides (i.e sender and receiver banks)!

Alternatively, a friend of mine told me HSBC Bank is free of charge but I checked, it was not free. I guessed it was an offer for certain period only. At the end (another friend recommended me to use Citibank), it turned out Citibank Global Transfer is the best and cheapest solution. No additional fees and charges are required!

So now you may wonder is there a hidden cost? The only thing the bank can play around is the foreign exchange rate. So I did a comparison with HSBC at that time (few months ago of course), it is about the same and in fact Citibank's conversion rate is slightly better. I don't think it will vary a lot unless you compare to money changers which usually have a better rate.

However there are few limitations. Not all countries are available to use this Global Transfer feature. For example, Europe and Canada are not part of the list. For a complete list, you can check it out in Citibank website. Another limitation is the transfer limit is cap at USD 12,500 daily. I'm not that rich, so it is not a concern for me! :)

Open Foreign Bank Account First

Before you start using this "Global Transfer" feature in Citibank, you must open the bank account first in the foreign country where you want to transfer your money to.

You have 3 options to open an account oversea:

  • Go through your local bank - I didn't know we can do that until a Citibank banker told us that we can make such arrangement. Basically they will send an officer from Australia to Malaysia's branch to help you on this. Of course there are some requirements like how much money you would like to transfer. Sorry I forgot the amount already, I think is RM 20K roughly. 
  • Apply it remotely - You can open a bank account remotely. The hardest part in this process is personal identity verification. I think you can choose "Online Verification" but I haven't not done this myself. You probably need to fax some documentations over. If online verification is not feasible, then you must go to the last option below.
  • Go there and apply directly - I applied directly there when I visited Australia. Since most of us need to do the "Initial Landing" once you get your PR, I would recommend you this unless you do not plan to visit the country at all. During the application, you need to provide your original passport and any original ID that shows your real name (e.g. your credit cards) for verification. 

Notes: If not mistaken, you can open the bank remotely and start transfer your money already. It is just that you can't withdraw the money until the verification is done either remotely or you go there directly.

Well, I have been using "Global Transfer" feature in Citibank for months and I find it very convenient! If you have other cheapest way of transfer money oversea (excluding hand carry cash), feel free to share. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Forgotten Death Planning - Buy Cemetery Plot Early

When people talk about death planning, 2 common things that you often hear are insurance and will witting. You rarely hear about buying cemetery plot as part of the package. Is this because of superstition and people are not comfortable with this topic or simply a forgotten death planning that we all don't prioritize?

It came into me how important of this when a relative of mine died in all sudden at very young age. It was unexpected, so many things became chaos at that time. Without a will is one thing (which I believe many have already known), buying cemetery plot is the one people often ignore it. This is essential because it is like a real estate or property. It appreciates every year.  The later you buy, it is more expensive. So one key take away for me in this incident is - "We Need to Buy Our Cemetery Plot Early".

However, I still haven't brought mine yet but have bought it for my parents in law. My parents are still in discussion stage. I think before you buy for your own, you need to buy for your parents first and this makes sense right? But be prepared for open discussion with them. :)

Where to Buy Cemetery Plot?

Depending on your preference, you can either choose to be buried or cremated. I think this also depends on what religions you're. Different religions do it differently. Since I don't have a religion, I go for the cheapest solution with cremated and we found this non-profit organization in Sungai Petani. It is called "Beng Siew Hall (明修善社)".

The building looks like it is only meant for Buddhism or Taoism but I think it should be independent because I have seen other religion cemetery's plots here (such as Christian and others). All the money that you buy for the cemetery plot is donated eventually.

When you go inside this building, you will see something like this.

There are total of 3 floors (if I remember correctly). This is in the middle section of each floor. There are sections that are facing east or west (facing the sky). Depends on your needs especially if you have Feng Shui considerations.

This is how the empty plot looks like and the prices. The one in middle and below eye level is usually the most expensive one. In this example, the highest level starts with letter A until the lowest letter J. The middle section is between number 9 and 15.

You can also buy the plaque (which is used to cover this box and also for displaying purpose). You need to decide what words that you want to put there. If you (not you obviously) want to buy it later on, it is okay too. Depends on your religion or your belief, there are also certain rules or requirements like how many words that you need to follow but this is totally up to you.


In my experience, buying cemetery plot is much or less very similar to buying a property. You need to choose the best location that best suits you or your parents but it is not necessary must be Feng Shui related considerations. For instance, you don't want your cemetery located at the unreachable area. On the other hand, it is also like an investment because the later you buy, the less choices you have with higher price. Isn't that it sound like buying a property?

The tricky part is, not everyone is comfortable in discussing this topic especially if you try to discuss this with your parents while thhey are still alive! It depends how open minded your parents are. In their perspective, it is like assuming they're going do die soon or you want them to die, that's why you discuss this with them. :)

Also, what I find strange here is I haven't heard of any financial planners talk about this topic at all. They often go for will and insurance when talk about death planning. It seems like none of them talking about buying or investing in cemetery plot. At least, I think they don't pay high attention in this area, do they?

Have you thought about this thing before? If no, I think we should all start to plan for it. Ultimately you don't want your kids suffering financially to find a home for you after your death. :) Personally, I have not yet do this for my parents and myself. It is one of my to do list. Things get harder now since I have migrated to Australia because I totally not familiar here.

I hope this article is useful. If you have any experience to share, feel free to leave your comment here.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Hanging Underwear in Balcony is Not Allowed in Australia?

Not just underwear, anything thing such as cloth or any other laundry items are not allowed to hang in Balcony of your apartment. I received notice not long ago after I move in. :)

Why I say only underwear? Because I've been told before only underwear is not allowed. So it is not just underwear, you basically can't hang "anything" in balcony. You're supposed to use dryer to make your cloth dry!

I look into the the strata title law in detail and this is what it says:

"Unless an owner or occupier has the written permission of the owners corporation they must not hang washing, towelling, bedding, clothing or other articles on any part of the strata scheme (eg. on the balcony of your lot) so that it may be seen from outside the building. Clothing hung on the common property clothes lines must only be there for a reasonable time."

This should be applicable to all apartment in Australia. Yes, you're not allowed to do that unless you get the formal approval. The last sentence is confusing but I guess it only applies to apartment that have common property clothes lines but "reasonable time' is a funny statement. Maybe not more than 24 hours?

So one of the drawbacks of living in strata title property in Australia is you can't simply hung stuff in your balcony! :)

P/S: Weird thing is I still see most my neighbors are hanging their clothes in balcony. Is this rule not really enforced here?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Can Gold Price Peak Again After 2012?

If you look at the gold trend chart here, you can see that the gold price has reached it's peak in 2012.

The most interesting is, my previous funny theory based on 2012 prophecy about gold price will reach it's peak in 2012 had become a reality. What??? Yes, if you don't believe me, you can read this post - "Gold Price Going Up Because of 2012 Prophecy" that I wrote in 2010. It seems like is really true that everyone sells gold once they realized they're not dead in 2012!!!

This is the 40 years gold's price trend (based on USD/oz) but it doesn't matter, all currencies should have about the same trend.

You can see that there are 2 peaks here. First peak is in 1980 and another one is 2012. After the first peak in 1980, it took ~30 years to start climbing up in ~2003. So now, the second peak is in 2012, it will take how long to start climbing up again? Yes, you know the answer.

My opinion is gold will not reach another peak anytime soon based on this historical data. Of course with one exception, another prophecy comes out. Perhaps 2024 doomsday prophecy? Then, this gold price will start climbing up again....

So investing in Gold is no longer can be considered as a long term investment. You can still invest in Gold but it is not for long term anymore. This means you need to watch closely to sell and buy at the right time. My suggestion is to use technical analysis to analyze the gold trend. The basic one is support and resistance and you can read more about it here - "How to Use Support & Resistance?" that I wrote sometime ago.

Let's look at the latest gold trend in 1 year below:

You can see the support is line at USD 1200 - converted to MYR per gram is RM 125 (you can refer to my gold trend chart so you don't need to do your own conversion). This basically means you should start buying gold when it reach the support line. If it breaks the support line (means goes below the support line), let's say more than 20% or 10% (up to you to define), then you sell it because this support line will become a resistance line.

This is just a very quick technical analysis of my own. You will need to do more analysis and also look at the different timeline to make the best decision.


So, can gold price peak again after 2012? I think is very unlikely in a very long time. Perhaps another 20 years or 30 years? The previous perception on gold is for long term investment is no longer true. You can't simply just invest and let it auto run.

You may just need to watch out if you still think gold has its very high potential to go beyond 2012's peak which maybe possible too. Who knows? Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

4 Common Obstacles Homebuyers Face

Guest Post By Tali Wee of Zillow

Shopping for a house is an exciting and potentially life-changing endeavor, full of emotional highs and lows. Shoppers hunt weekend after weekend at open houses and search online hourly, all for the ultimate goal of finding the perfect place to call home. The process might seem exhilarating for first-time shoppers, but the pressure of time-sensitive decision-making can become overwhelming.

When buyers have their finances in order, their lists of must-have features and the perfect neighborhoods in mind, they’re ready to dive into the house-hunting mission. Here are a four more circumstances they should mentally prepare for to avoid emotional fatigue if the process gets tough.

1. Low Supply

All home shoppers have at least a general idea of the types of homes they’re looking for when they begin their searches. Typically, they research the ideal neighborhoods with the best schools and lowest crime rates. As long as properties are within their price ranges, the hunt narrows down to the specific features they desire. When qualifications are restricted to a single community, school district, square-footage and price range, the properties in the best condition receive widespread interest. Only so many homes are up for sale, so it takes time to find the perfect property.

Unless buyers adjust their must-have lists and open their minds to homes that need repairs, it’s easy to become discouraged by the lack of inventory. It pays to make a list of non-negotiable features, and otherwise broaden the search to a few optimal communities.

2. Market Pressure

House hunting is not easy for those seeking instant gratification. Although some buyers luckily find their ideal homes at their price points, many continue searching for months. One benefit of a long pursuit is that buyers learn a deeper understanding of the true value of homes on the market. With a better idea of value, they gain confidence in making fair offers.

Buyers may begin to feel the pressure of rising interest rates and home value appreciation. Instead of throwing offers at moderately desirable properties before prices rise, house hunters should reevaluate their non-negotiable features. Avoid buyer’s remorse by sticking to the essential search criteria and making reasonable offers. Don’t settle on such an expensive and long-lasting decision.

3. Competitive Buyers

Another discouraging obstacle in the home-buying process is the level of local competition. In popular markets with low inventory, multiple parties sometimes engage in bidding wars. Add investors with all-cash offers into the mix and the conventional or FHA loan with 20 percent down won’t make the cut. Some buyers try to increase the chances of their offers getting accepted by foregoing inspections or offering more than asking price. Buyers offering substantially more than asking price may end up purchasing properties for more than they are truly worth.

However, if a buyer completely falls in love with a house he or she might justify the additional monthly cost. For instance, a home priced at $200,000 with a 20 percent down payment ($40,000) on a 30-year fixed loan with a 4.3 percent interest rate would cost the buyer $1,058 monthly (including 1.2 percent taxes and $800 insurance). If buyers with the same loan terms and same $40,000 down payment committed to $210,000, they would pay $1,180 monthly. Depending on FICO and loan amounts, borrowers would also pay $32 to $55 in private mortgage insurance (PMI) each month until they had 20 percent equity. Although $10,000 is a large sum, it only affects the monthly payment by $154 to $177. At $20,000 above asking, the buyer pays $1,243 monthly plus $35 to $59 PMI, or $220 to $244 more. As long as the appraiser and lender approve the purchase price, buyers can offer more than asking price.

4. Inspections

When a shopper finally outbids other buyers on a house he or she feels confident about, the buyer still risks losing the house based on the inspection. Buyers get the opportunity to hire a professional inspector to evaluate the roof, attic, crawl spaces, etc. The buyer might opt to back out of the purchase if the report indicates the property has asbestos, mold, extensive water damage, pest infestations, major electrical damages or other serious issues.

The costs of repairs are not always worth the investment for the buyer. They can negotiate with the seller to correct the issues, pay for the repairs or reduce the purchase price low enough to cover the cost of repairs. If buyers and sellers cannot come to a compromise, then buyers face the disappointment of heading back to the buyer’s market.

Even though home shopping produces some challenging obstacles for buyers, it’s still an exciting journey. Competitive markets require homebuyers to make major life-changing decisions in just hours, all for the sake of finding the perfect property to feel at home. With proper preparation, the experience can be both thrilling and successful.

Bio: Tali Wee is a blogger for Zillow and other partners. She writes about home-related topics such as home improvements, interior design on a budget and financing mortgages.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Is Malaysian Ringgit Currency Strong?

A lot of people say Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) currency is not strong and will be depreciating in long run and it is better we convert to foreign currency if we want to maintain the value. Is that true? So I dig a little bit research on the MYR currency trend in the past 10 years for your reference here.

The following graphs show you how much 1 MYR can be converted to foreign currency in the past 10 years. I list down the countries that I"m interested in. If the trend goes up, it means MYR currency is stronger and vice-verse.

AUD (Australia $) per 1 MYR

USD (United State $) per 1 MYR

EUR (Euro) per 1 MYR

GBP (British Pound) per 1 MYR

Well if you look at the starting point and ending point of these graphs, MYR currency is either stay stable or appreciate. To AUS and EUR currencies , MYR currency is stable. To USD and GBP, MYR currency is doing good (mostly due to subprime crisis I think).

Let's continue to see our neighbors...

HKG (Hong Kong $) per 1 MYR

SGD (Singapore $) per 1 MYR

CNY (Chinese Yuan) per 1 MYR

TWD (Taiwan New $) per 1 MYR

KRW (South Korea Won) per 1 MYR

IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) per 1 MYR

Compared to all our neighbours, MYR currency is doing good in the past 10 years except for for CNY (so, my previous prediction on RMB/CNY is correct? lol)  and SGD.  We only lost to these 2 countries. :)

Source: all charts are from


I"m not expert in Forex but just want to emphasize the perception on MYR currency has no value (or depreciate) in long run may not be true at least based on the past 10 years data, MYR currency is doing fine. Well, you can shorten to 5 years, it is not that great as 10 years but it is still considered okay in my opinion.

If you are really scare and don't trust MYR currency, it seems like CNY (Chinese Yuan) or SGD (Singapore Dollar) is the currency that you want to convert to based on the past 10 years trend above.

So, is Malaysia (MYR) currency strong? I think yes based the past 10 years. Just only 2 countries are doing better than Malaysia which is Singapore and China, I will consider that is doing quite good already. Agree?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Careful with 0% Interest Loan

When someone (it could be bank) offers you 0% interest loan, think twice!  In Chinese (Cantonese), we like to say "where could there be frog jumping around the street?" It basically means "how could that possibly true?".

I just want to share with this very good post from @knowthymoney, check it out here. In this specific example, the interest (not really interest, that's why the bank says is 0% interest) is at least 7.5% (assuming you take RM 200, not less than that) and if you are late for the payment, it can go up to 12%. So be careful, it is not really "FREE"! :) Not frog simply jumps around. lol

This is a very common trick used by bank. They sometimes call this "Cash on Call", "Petty Cash" or whatever. It basically, means you can just pick up a phone and call them, they will give you this petty cash. They sometimes proactively call you too to offer you this service. The loan amount is usually small so you can keep using it when you need it until you don't realize how much you have used already.

By the way don't worry, although banks create this trick, they also create a solution for you. This solution is called "AKPK" - you can read up my previous post here to know more about it. I also discuss the detailed AKPK walkthrough application here in case you are interested.

Well, what else do you still need since the complete solution is out there? :) So, don't worry, be happy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Travel and Stay Cheap with AirBnB

Have you heard for AirBnB? I just came to know about this last year and have used it 3 times. This is how I can settle down here in Australia with not so expensive accommodation. It is something that you can consider if you want to stay at a cheaper place than hotel for your next travel trip.

AirBnB is something similar to "Couch Surfing" if you have heard of it before. The only difference is AirBnB is not "FREE" but Couch Surfing is. It is basically a system that allows to earn extra income from your unused space. You become a host and rent it out your place.  On the other hand, you can also be a customer to stay in the hosted place.

Since "Couch Surfing"  is free, it is lacking of security and guarantee as compared to AirBnB in my opinion. However, it doesn't mean AirBnB has no risk at all or completely safe. It is just relatively safer in that sense. If you can take high risk, go for Couch Surfing. If you prefer lower risk (like I do), go for AirBnB. If you really can't take risk at all, go for hotel. The world is very fair, the risk gets lower if you pay more. I"m medium risk of person, so I love AirBnB!!! :)

Besides getting cheaper accommodation, you can also get to know more people especially the locals, the one who hosts you. All hosts I have met are very friendly and they brief me on what I can do or eat around that area.  You won't able to have this kind of local experience if you stay in hotel.

The payment system is also very user friendly and all can be done online. The only tip that I want to share with you is "don't book or make the reservation immediately" although you see the dates are available. Try to always contact the host first (there is a contact button), wait until you get their approval, then only proceed to reservation. Reason is once you make the reservation, you need to make payment but if it is not approved later on, your payment will be refunded by AirBnB. I just find this troublesome personally. So, I think is better just to contact the host directly and you can also see how fast the host respond to you which tells you how serious they are. You can also contact more than one host to increase your chance. During this process, you need to provide justification or purpose of your travel to allow the host to approve or reject you.

After you check out or leave the place, the review system kicks in. This is how most hosts build up their profile there by having a good ratings and reviews. They can write review to comment about you and you can also do the same about them. You can also choose to be anonymous which means the host won't know the review or ratting is from you. In that case, you can safely give a bad review especially you do not want the host to know. :)

For my next travel trip, AirBnB will be my first priority for accommodation. It is worldwide in case you don't know that. If you're interested, you can check it out their website here.

I also maybe will consider to host with AirBnB one day to earn some extra income and know more people. :) Thanks to AirBnB!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Steps to Rent a Property In Australia

Here are the general steps to rent a property in Australia that I learned lately. I think it should be more or less the same within Australia.

(1) Property Searching

The most popular one is "". I got mine here. You can also try "" but I think it is mostly unofficial - means somebody rents a property from the owner, and then he/she rents out a room to you for example. It is usually cheaper.

Note: A lot of applications (e.g. medicare, car license and etc.) require a proven residential address with your name. Especially if you're the first migrant here, my suggestion is better to go through the official channel, so you have the proof to show that you stay there.

(2) Inspection Appointment

If you are interested in a property, you contact the property agent to make an appointment for inspection. It is a requirement you must inspect the house by yourself.

I tried to negotiate with the agent before I came to Australia whether I can just rent the property by paying my deposit up front. The answer I got is "NO" and this is a policy that everyone must follow. :) So, you must physically present to inspect the property.

(3) Tenancy Application

If you have decided that you want to rent the property, you need to fill up an application form. This application form basically is sent to the property's owner for approval. This means the owner can choose his/her tenant and can reject or approve your application. This also means that you can apply more than one application. You can pull out anytime as long as you haven't signed the lease agreement yet although your tenancy application is approved.

One key thing here is "100 Point Identify Check" requirement. You need to have at least 100 points to prove your identify in this application. Here are the example (depends on the agency):

  • Driver's License (40 points)
  • Passport and Visa (40 points)
  • Birth Certificate (30 points)
  • Other Photo ID (30 points)
  • Student Card (30 points)
  • Medicare Card (20 points)
  • Proof of Income (20 points) - Must
  • Previous 2 Rental Receipts (20 points)
  • Previous Tenancy Reference (20 points)
  • Credit Card (10 points)
  • Telephone Account (10 points)
  • Gas/Electricity Account (10 points)
  • Motor Vehicle Registration (10 points)
  • Bank Statement (10 points)
If you don't have enough 100 points, the application will not be accepted. All documentations need to be in "English". For example if your driver's license is not in English, you need translation copy of it. 

Proof of income is a must. For my case I just show them my job offer letter. If you don't have income yet, I guess as long as you can show them your bank statement with enough cash, they will buy that (I think). 

You also need reference in your application, try to find someone who stays there to be your reference. If you really don't have (better to have one), I think it is okay too. It is up to the property's owner actually.

(4) Lease Agreement

Once your tenancy application is approved, the next step is proceed to signing lease agreement. It has all the details including landlord/tenants information, leasing term (e.g. 1 year), rental price and payment method. 

You're required to pay for rental bond as well (usually is 2 weeks). If your electricity & gas & water, and other stuff are included in the rent, it must be stated clearly there as well in the agreement.

A conditional report relating to the condition of your property must be done too before signing this agreement. Somehow my agent only did this after only I signed the agreement. That is not the right procedure but I just closed one eye.

(5) Collect Keys

Once you have signed the agreement and pay for the rental (including the bond), you can collect keys and start to move in.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Avoid 13 in Property Investment

I visited a developer office in Sydney when I touched down here not so long ago and I realized one very important fact - people here won't buy properties that are somehow related to 13!!!

I was looking at the condominium units and every floor only the unit 13 is not sold out. Now I only know, "Gwei Lo" also believes in Feng Shui, not just Chinese...

Since there are many Chinese here, I think not only "13" that I need to avoid, but also "4".  Not that I believe those are bad numbers, but from an investment perspective.

So, let's avoid "13 and "4" in your property investment too! Any other number that I should aware of? 

P/S: By the way, I"m staying in unit 13 now and think of it again, it is quite bad luck too when first moved here because number of unique issues only happened in my unit. But, I"m glad that now everything is okay. 

One final note, 13 is a lucky number for Italian. So it doesn't apply to Italy. :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sales and Purchase Agreement Process in Malaysia

Since I sold my house lately (last year), I try to share the Sales and Purchase (S&P) agreement process here with you. This is only applicable in Malaysia. Hope this is going to be useful to many of you since I can't find this information else where in the internet.

Firstly, you need to get a lawyer. There are 2 scenarios:

  • Buyer and seller use the same lawyer (First scenario)
  • Buyer and seller have their own lawyer (Second scenario)

For the first scenario, the buyer is protected and the seller is not. That means the lawyer will stand on the buyer's perspective and only charge the seller's for the basic processing fee. The lawyer's fee for seller in this case will be very minimum (i.e.g ~80% less the second scenario). 

For the second scenario, both buyer and seller are protected by their own lawyer. This also means the process will take slightly longer. For example, seller's lawyer drafts the S&P and the buyer's lawyer will review it and etc. There are a lot of back and forth "official" communication to basically make sure both parties interests are protected.

Which one is better? It is more on the seller's choice, the buyer is more or less the same. In short, you can choose first scenario if you trust and know the lawyer and you want to save cost and vice-verse. :) It sometimes also depends on what type of buyer that you have.

S&P Agreement Process

1. Letter Option to Purchase (2%)

This is a letter from seller to buyer. The buyer will need to pay the deposit (usually is 2% of the selling price - up to seller to decide) upon signing this letter. The payment is made directly to the seller. If you have agent, the agent will draft this letter for you. If you don't have an agent, get a lawyer to draft this letter for you.

Once this letter is signed, the S&P agreement must be signed within 15 days. Within this period, the buyer will try to get a bank loan unless he/she is buying with cash. If the buyer fails to get the bank loan, he/she can void this letter and get back the deposit. Of course the buyer needs to show proof.

2. S&P Agreement Signing (8%)

Upon signing this agreement (within 15 days), the buyer will need to pay the remaining 8% to the seller's lawyer.  If the buyer fails to sign this S&P agreement for some reasons, the seller can then take the deposit and start looking for another buyer.

When the seller's lawyer receive the 8%, he/she will withhold the 2% for Real Property Gain Tax (RPGT), requirement by the law and gives the remaining 6% to the seller. From seller's perspective, you will get 8% (i.e. 2% + 6%) of the total selling price. The lawyer will take care of the seller's RPGT stuff with the income tax office.

3. S&P Agreement Completion (90%)

To complete the whole process, the buyer has 3 months period to basically pay the remaining 90% of the selling price to the seller. If the seller has loan, the buyer must settle the seller's loan within this 3 months. These all go through the lawyer as a middle person. However, after 3 months the buyer fails to make the 90% payment, the seller will charge the buyer for 6% interest. Buyer will want to avoid this from happening.

Final Notes

If you have agent, you will need to pay for agent fee. It depends on your agreement with your agent how much you need to pay or follows the standard in the state (cause different states in Malaysia do this differently). Most agent will want you to pay the agent upon signing the S&P buy I would suggest you to pay only until the whole process is complete which is after 3.5 months. You can negotiate this with your agent.

Hope this gives you an high-level of the entire process! Let me know if you have any comments or questions. Also, you don't necessary need an agent to buy or sell a property, but you need to have a trust-able lawyer to protect you. Good luck!

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