An affluent residential area, Bangsar is among the most coveted addresses in Malaysia. A mere four kilometres from Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, Bangsar’s strategic location is only one of its many draws.
From model estate to prized residences
A little over a century ago, the township was a patch of undeveloped land before it was transformed into a rubber plantation to meet the demands of the emerging automobile industry. A portmanteau of two board members’ names - Edouard Bunge and Alfred Grisar – gave birth to the moniker, Bungsar Estate.
Owned by plantation giant, Socfin, the rubber estate was originally located at the crossroads between Jalan Damansara and Jalan Maarof, and had a reputation as a "model estate". As it was also the closest plantation to downtown KL, the estate was often visited by expatriates and colonials to savour a taste of tropical plantation life.
After Independence, with Malaysia’s economy and KL’s land use gradually diversifying, Bungsar Estate became Bangsar Park, one of the first planned housing estates in the capital in 1969, after Socfin sold the land to private developers. The interest was immediate, and by the 1990s, Bangsar Park was home to 700 households.
Real estate powerhouse
Today, no trace of rubber trees remains, and the whole of Bangsar has coalesced into a high-end residential area that boasts a vibrant mix of authentic local flavour alongside international standards of luxury.
Throw in the leafy surroundings and an endless supply of modern amenities - from public transport to malls, hospitals to daycares - often within walking distance, then it’s no wonder that Bangsar real estate commands one of KL’s strongest growth rates, with some properties boasting an appreciation of almost 240 percent in the last 20 years. Despite the pandemic, median property prices in Bangsar over the 12 months leading up to June 2020 reached a whooping RM6.9 million!
Since then, bungalow price averages have remained over RM1,100 psf while condominiums have held steady over the last few years with averages of around RM815 psf. Terrace houses are the most affordable, but have fluctuated quite a bit over the last few years, with averages between RM383 psf and RM522 psf.
The area’s unbeatable connectivity is a major factor in establishing Bangsar as among the most sought-after residential addresses in KL. No more than a 15-minute drive from the city centre, the township is also well-connected to virtually any place of interest in Greater Kuala Lumpur, through major roads and highways, such as the Sprint Expressway, which curves from south to north round Bangsar’s western edge. Public transport here is also top-notch, with extensive bus services and two dedicated rapid transit stations, with one located a mere stop away from KL Sentral, the terminus to the KLIA Express train. This means one can hop off an international flight and be in Bangsar in under an hour!
Unique sense of place
Bangsar’s success owes much to the enviable lifestyle and strong sense of place that it offers. Single-story houses with plenty of 20th century character sit cheek by jowl with luxury condominiums, occupied by expats and high-income Malaysians, coming together to create a uniquely community-focused, well-rounded, diverse and fun environment in this evergreen yet constantly evolving township.
"Throughout modernization, the neighbourhood has understood the importance of sticking to its roots, and has sustained mom-and-pop shops passed down from generation to generation, seamlessly integrating them into modern developments, giving Bangsar its unique charm,” head of residential and wealth at Zerin properties, Dina Russo told online real estate magazine Mansion Global.
Film producer, Priya Narayanan, who lives in Bangsar with her family, loves the balance between convenience, local authenticity and the availability of international offerings and contemporary trends.
“You have easy access to all the amenities you can think of - post office, dry cleaners, repair services – but there are also niche traditional things, like Indian sweets that are only made for special festivities.” she says, adding that you can get wet market fresh fish as well as high-end ocean trout, third wave hipster cappuccinos alongside kopitiam coffee, as well as the buzzy nightlife of the Telawi stretch.
Ashton Davidson agrees that Bangsar offers a multicultural mélange of eateries, from banana leaf to French bistros, but he also appreciates the greenness of Bangsar.
“Despite being close to key areas in Klang Valley, the breezy and lush landscape of Bangsar allows for a relaxing escape,” says the policy analyst who works in the city centre and chose to make Bangsar home.
Some of the greenery here is even community-led, like the Free Tree Society and Kebun-Kebun Bangsar. The latter is a community garden designed, built, funded and maintained purely by residents. This free-to-enter urban farm - complete with livestock and regular vegetable harvests - spans 2.5 acres on a hillside that culminates with fantastic views overlooking the city’s skyline.
Good for business
With such a diverse population here, including a strong subset with significant spending power, Bangsar also attracts specialised and boutique businesses. There are designer fashion houses, like Nurita Harith, Mimpikita and Melinda Looi, as well as art galleries like Richard Koh, performance spaces like Bobo KL, and Instagrammable staycation destinations, such as one of the famed Sekeping properties, a terrace house redesigned by star architect, Ng Seksan, in his signature style of bare concrete, steel mesh and gravel, with lots of natural light, lush trees and cascading vines.
Joanna Hutt, a child specialist and physiotherapist originally from Scotland, runs The Energy Source, a therapy and educational centre that caters mainly to special needs children. Such a niche yet highly sought-after service found a natural home in Bangsar.
“Bangsar is a great catchment area for my business. It is high-end but not crazy expensive, with a good mix of expats and locals,” says Joanna, who recently moved her family to Bangsar to enjoy the excellent lifestyle on offer, without being stuck in an expat bubble.
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