For someone who\u2019s lived in Johor Bahru practically his whole life, I\u2019ve had a pretty typical upbringing as a Malaysian. We Johoreans don't all believe we're the enlightened leaders of Malaysia, but we do have our own stereotypes to deal with.\u00a0 People always say the exact same thing when they find out I\u2019m from Johor. Here are just a few that drive me crazy: 1. \u201cSo you always go to Singapore lah?\u201d The first thing that comes out of literally everyone\u2019s mouth is this \u2014 and it\u2019s tiresome as hell. My answer is always the same: \u201cNo, I don\u2019t. It\u2019s too expensive.\u201d Have you been to their Universal Studios? It\u2019s like Disneyland on steroids.\u00a0\u00a0 A plate of chicken rice, ordinarily RM5-6, would be SGD 4 (RM12).\u00a0\u00a0 That\u2019s what you get when you go for \u201cworld-class\u201d dining \u2014 it comes with world-class prices. What most people don\u2019t realise is that Johor Bahru\u2019s proximity to Singapore makes everything more expensive. That\u2019s because our Singaporean neighbors come over all the time to buy their groceries and fill up on cheap petrol.\u00a0 They\u2019re like that uncle that always comes over to your house to \u2018borrow\u2019 something and never returns it back. So local businesses price their stock higher, regardless of whether it's property values or Penang laksa (why we don\u2019t call it Johor laksa is a mystery).\u00a0 But for those of us who are working in JB on a Malaysian paycheck, we get shortchanged, resulting in the gentrification of Johorean neighborhoods.\u00a0 Gentrification is a social phenomenon where the rent prices go up, and the poor people are forced to move out.\u00a0 Now, because only rich people can afford to live here, there\u2019s a property overhang.\u00a0 As such, most people have no choice but to work in the pressure cooker that is Singapore \u2014 which leads to me being asked the second most common question:\u00a0 2. \u201cWhy don\u2019t you work in Singapore?\u201d It seems pretty obvious, right? And a good chunk of us do go down that route, like these Malaysians. For sure, working in Singapore is seen as the holy grail of jobs. Everyone wants to get a slice of the exchange rate pie (RM3 to SGD1, according to Oanda). But I was always wary of the hidden\u00a0 costs.\u00a0 Everyone knows the horror stories.\u00a0 \u201cI was overworked and undervalued,\u201d said CK. \u201cI was passed over for promotion because I was Malaysian,\u201d said Thiru.\u00a0 \u201cI was seen as a cheap and expendable source of labor,\u201d said Zamri. My dad used to travel in and out of Singapore when I was a kid. He worked as a ship navigator, and later on as a coach and maritime auditor. I hardly ever saw him on weekdays, and on weekends he would often sleep in \u2014 on both Saturday and Sunday. Through the years, I could see the toll his job took on his health.\u00a0 One night, after a particularly long day at the office, my dad had stopped by a petrol station to catch some Z\u2019s. When he woke up, he realised his laptop and about SGD500 in cash missing. So deep was his exhaustion, the thieves took off without even waking him up.\u00a0 My dad\u2019s experience wasn\u2019t isolated, but a symptom of a social ill that was happening on a larger scale. 3. \u201cIs it safe to live there?\u201d Back in the late 90s, Johor Bahru was known for its gang-related violence, snatch theft cases, and car theft. I\u2019ve had friends whose car windows have been smashed and laptops taken; a colleague walking to work at 6.30am was a victim of snatch theft. Since then, the crime rate has dropped, according to this report. Take this graph from 2015 to 2017: Nowadays, you\u2019re more likely to see dozens of new building projects littered across the landscape.\u00a0 In the wake of foreign investment from China, JB has seen a boom in property development. This has caused the overall living situation to improve, with young families sprouting up in the new developments.\u00a0 In these new areas, the crime rate is lower than Petaling Jaya or Klang.\u00a0 4. \u201cWhat\u2019s the deal with your Sultan?\u201d We get a lot of curiosity regarding our Royal family, especially our Sultan, Ibrahim Ismail. He\u2019s been in the news for a lot of things, mainly because of his open approval of Chinese investment. And he\u2019s famous for telling a Muslim laundromat to stop being racist. Pictures of the self-service launderette with its "Muslim Friendly" sign at the entrance had gone viral. The sign had big lettering saying that it only accepts clothes from Muslim customers for "reasons of cleanliness". The Sultan fired back: "I cannot accept this nonsense. This is Johor, which belongs to Bangsa Johor, and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state. More recently, he was on Twitter to point out the hypocrisy of those who ask Muslims to avoid using \u201cMerry Christmas\u201d as a greeting to non-Muslims. In short, he\u2019s a man who\u2019s not afraid to stand up for equality. I for one am glad he\u2019s my Sultan. So what was living in Johor in the 90s really like? I lived in Johor Bahru, the capital of Johor. I can\u2019t speak for those from Kulai, Desaru, or Batu Pahat, so I apologise if you feel left out by this article. For me, JB has always felt like it was simultaneously too large and too small for a kid growing up with a dial-up internet connection and a lack of cultural roots. \u201cIt was a city of suburbs and large-scale town planning,\u201d Zi Xuan, a school friend, reminisced.\u00a0 Memories of JB were of long pothole-filled roads, the smog rising through the air, the cloudy skies filled with a rusty-yellowish tinge as the sun hid behind them, the overbearing heat as we took the bus to the cluster schools in the heart of the city. \u201cThere was never really a cultural hub, not like KL where you can see the Menara KL from miles away,\u201d said Farid, who owns a cybercafe in Skudai. Traffic congestion on both directions of the Causeway. \u201cThe hub of JB was always the 5-lane causeway leading to Singapore. Everything else just sprouted up around it: malls, hotels, duty-free zones, schools and hospitals.\u201d\u00a0 I remember sprawling schools filled with loud students, endless tuition classes on weekends, and treating ourselves to Mcdonald\u2019s ice cream at City Square. Growing up in JB has always made me yearn for something bigger and better. And I\u2019m not the only one who feels like this.\u00a0 \u201cI\u2019ve always felt that Johorians collectively have the urge to prove ourselves as capable as our KLite or Singaporean counterparts,\u201d said Yi Ying, who\u2019s currently working as a remisier.\u00a0 It\u2019s true that Johoreans tend to be sidelined in favor of KLites or Singaporeans, who enjoy the perception that they\u2019re more worldly and enlightened. But based on my knowledge of my peers who have since travelled the world and become accomplished Johoreans in their own right, I think we\u2019ve earned our place. Do you know anyone who says these things? Tell us in the comments! For more articles like this, read: How are Malaysians Really Doing in Singapore? And Who\u2019s Really The King Of Street Food \u2013 Malaysia or Singapore?