The interurban migration industry: ‘Migration products’ and the materialisation of urban speculation at Iskandar Malaysia

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Iskandar Malaysia (IM) is a 4749 km2 urban conurbation and development region located at the Malaysia–Singapore border. State-led development of this regional economic corridor has attracted inflows of foreign investments and spurred the rise of mid- to high-end urban developments by foreign developers. This has resulted in the emergence of an interurban migration industry consisting of intermediary entities that are co-developing and co-marketing ‘migration products’ (real estate, education and lifestyle migration) as an integrated package to middle-class, aspiring transnational investor/lifestyle migrants from the region. This article argues that this middlemen industry is crucial to the materialisation of urban speculation, for state actors and investor/lifestyle migrants alike. Through interurban alliances that capitalise on the broader state-led speculative urbanism landscape, the industry co-creates an imagined urban future that is grounded in transnational lifestyle mobilities. This article highlights the need to analyse speculative urbanism and transnational investment/lifestyle migration as intertwined processes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 2021


  • investment/lifestyle migrants
  • Iskandar Malaysia
  • real estate–education–migration nexus
  • speculative urbanism
  • transnational intermediaries
  • urban middlemen economy

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