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Woman spends a night inside $100 billion ‘Forest City’ ghost town to see what it’s actually like

A peek behind the Forest City curtain
  • Forest City is sold as a luxurious paradise for holiday-goers to enjoy coastal life in high-rise apartments.
  • In reality, it’s a ghost town, with most of the buildings standing empty.
  • One journalist shared what it’s like to stay in one of these ‘high-end’ condos.

Published on Apr 9, 2024 at 1:53PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Apr 10, 2024 at 3:12PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood
What it's like to spend a night in Forest City ghost town
Eldines Hoo/Unsplash

Forest City in Malaysia cost $100 billion to build and was intended to be a ‘living paradise’.

Photos show pristine beaches, sprawling golf courses and luxurious hotel pools.

But in reality, it’s now known as a ghost town, with a shocking percentage of the buildings standing empty.

Recently, a journalist delved behind the city’s PR curtain by spending a night in one of its apartments.

READ MORE: Man built his own secret apartment in shopping mall and lived there for years

Development of Forest City began in 2006, financed mainly by Chinese developers Country Garden alongside the local government in Johor.

The project aimed to create luxury housing for 700,000 people who wanted the perks of coastal living without having to spend too much money.

The problem was it was only aimed at rich foreigners with locals unable to afford the properties.

The site was labeled as ‘eco-friendly’ but has in fact done irreparable damage to the environment and has cost a whopping $100 billion so far.

Several factors contributed to Forest City becoming a ghost town, such as China implementing a cap on how much buyers can spend in foreign countries a year.

It’s not the first time billions have been spent on something only for it to become abandoned.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge cost $19 billion but has been used so rarely that it was known by locals as the ‘ghost bridge’ – although that might be changing these days.

It’s estimated that just 9,000 people currently live in Forest City, leaving the vast majority of these skyscraper apartments completely empty.

The PR team would have you believe otherwise, maintaining that the spot is a ‘popular short-haul tourist destination’.

Journalist Marielle Descalsota decided to see for herself.

She booked a room in one of the thousands of vacant apartments listed on Airbnb, some for as little as $38 a night.

A doorman told her that just 20 of the units in the 39-storey building were occupied, which had 20 units on each floor.

After walking past peeling paint through the deserted hallways, she reached her ‘high-end’ apartment.

She suspected that no one had ever stayed on it, which was confirmed when she realized the bed’s mattress was still wrapped in plastic.

The rooms were decorated in a way that made them look like ‘an IKEA showroom’.

Other special touches to her stay included dead moths in the shower and windows that looked out into the communal hallway (maybe not such a bad thing considering how few people stay in this building).

It’s usually a perk to find the hotel swimming pool empty, but in this case, it was eerie.

Plus the once-grand pool was half empty and had become a breeding ground for dragonflies.

The only place that had a bit of life in it was the strip of restaurants and shops.

Forest City shows no signs of turning its fate around and seems destined to remain a ghost town.

It follows in the footsteps of Varosha, widely considered the world’s most luxurious abandoned city, and the town in South Dakota that has just one resident.

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