Ghost town in China, this is its history

The ghost town is usually an abandoned city, one of the most fascinating in the world, however not everyone considers it that way. For example, what was once going to be a Chinese paradise in Malaysia ended up becoming a practically uninhabited concrete mass. And it is curious that this has happened after Country Garden, a company with Chinese and Malaysian capital, invested a huge amount in the project.

Ghost towns are not only found in China. In recent years we have talked about cases such as Shenyang and Yujiapu, all located within the territory of the Asian giant (and there are also in many other countries).

Ghost town, the Forest City complex

It may seem like one of the most luxurious and wonderful ghost towns but according to the few residents it is a dark place to escape from. A year ago, the 30-year-old computer engineer moved to Forest City, an ambitious Chinese housing complex in Johor, on the southern tip of Malaysia, where he rented a one-bedroom apartment in a tower overlooking the sea.

After six months, Nazmi realized she had had enough. She didn’t want to continue living in what he calls a “ghost town.” “I didn’t care about the deposit, I didn’t care about the money, I just wanted to leave,” he says.

For this interview, we met in the same multi-story tower in which he lived. “I get goosebumps just coming back,” he says. “It’s very lonely here, just you and your thoughts.”

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At that time, the Chinese real estate boom was in full swing. Developers received loans of impressive amounts to build properties both at home and abroad, aimed at middle-class buyers.

In Malaysia, the plan was to build an ecological metropolis with a golf course, water park, offices, bars and restaurants. The company said Forest City would eventually house nearly a million people.

Eight years later, the complex has become a reminder that you don’t have to be in China to feel the effects of the real estate crisis in the Asian country. So far, only 15% of the project has been built and, according to recent estimates, just over 1% of the total is occupied.

“It’s scary to be here”

Forest City was advertised as “a dream paradise for all humanity” although, in reality, it was aimed directly at the Chinese domestic market.

The real estate initiative sought to give people with economic aspirations the opportunity to have a home abroad in addition to their home in China.

The selling prices were out of reach for the vast majority of Malaysians.

For Chinese buyers, the property would be an investment they could rent to Malaysians like Nazmi, or use as a holiday home.

But Forest City’s isolated location – built on reclaimed islands, far from the nearest big city, Johor Bahru – discouraged potential tenants and earned it the nickname “ghost town.”