Monday, June 13, 2016

Life on the Hard, Malaysia Style

Our cruising itinerary is mostly determined by where we can have Tortuguita hauled out of the water and put on land for maintenance and storage.  In the past 10 years, we have hauled in the Chesapeake, Grenada, Bahamas, Honduras, Mexico, Australia twice, and now Malaysia.  Prior to Australia, we always lived aboard 'on the hard', even though many of the boatyards were hot, buggy, dusty, dirty, and remote.  We just bit the bullet due to the economics.  In Australia, the boatyard did not allow liveaboards on the 'hardstand' due to it's commercial zoning status.  However, it did allow marina liveaboards.  This forced us to do something most cruisers don't like to do, spend money unnecessarily.  It was expensive for an apartment in Oz but we really did enjoy getting 'away from it all' at the end of the day.  We really got to experience and learn the area much more that way too.  We also had to rent a car, another expense, which did give us more freedom to explore.

The House
So here we are, in Malaysia, one of the best cost of living countries in the world.  If we could afford Australia, then Malaysia should be a dream.  Owing to the 100+ degree daytime temperatures and the need for a big floor space to set up the sewing machine, we decided to share a house with Kiwi Mike from FINE SPIRIT.   The house belongs to the marina owner's mother and is about 15 minutes away.  The rent is $450 US per month for this 5 bedroom furnished house.  So our share, $225/month, is less than what 1 week cost us in Australia.

Our daily commute

A small car can be rented from Hertz in the marina for $350/week. Since this is so outrageously expensive, there is a cottage industry of Malaysians renting private vehicles.  They can usually be rented for around $350/month.  Mike bought a beater car for $1500.  He plans to stay around for a few years so buying a car to him was a no-brainer.  We are not sure how long we'll be sticking around so it is difficult to make the cost analysis but in the end we figured buying is better than renting. 

The car parked in the 'driveway' of our house
The hunt for a car began.  I had the best luck on the website which is similar to craigslist, or it's Australia cousin gumtree.  After trying to contact about 10 sellers with no luck, I got a response from guy selling a Volvo S40 in the town of Taiping, about 2 hours away.  Mike took us up there.  We met at the DMV, which they call JPJ.  The price was good, $2500, the miles were low, 150K km, and it was in great shape.  I never owned a Volvo but am quite impressed with the engineering detail in this vehicle.  It is right hand drive, of course, but we had plenty of right hand driving experience in Australia.  Unlike the United States, there is no sales tax on second hand vehicles.  The road tax is $100/year.  Liability insurance is also $100/year. So that afternoon, Booker and I were driving back to our air conditioned rental house in our very own car.  Life's not so hard on the hard, in Malaysia.