Living in Penang: A Guide for Expats

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Buying Property

Living in Penang: A Guide for Expats

Penang is a Malaysian state that is located on the country’s northwest coast. This state is divided into two areas which include Seberang Perai which is located on the Malay Peninsula and Penang Island where the seat of the government is located. Both parts of Penang is connected by the Penang bridge.

Penang is officially known as Pulau Pinang and it actually a city given the status of a state (or province). This area is an important economic center in Malaysia and it is also a popular tourists destinations. Penang has a mixture of Chinese, Indians and Malays. The city also has thousands of people from different locations from all over the globe. Since English is the dominant language that is spoken in Penang many people from the western world have settled into this region as well. There are close to 2 million people that live in Penang and its surrounding regions.


Penang Street Art

Penang Street Art


Penang is a fairly modern area that provides local residents with a high standard of living at a low cost. People who live in Penang are called Penangites and they have access to decent schools, great community services and low housing costs. Life in Penang is quiet and laid back. Though there are a lot of people in Penang the city moves at a relatively slow pace. The city is decent looking but it does not have a vibrant nightlife or culture though activities and events commonly take place within the various communities. Penang is a great place for raising a family but for people looking for an exciting or fun place to be this city will not be the place for them. The crime rate is relatively low.


Penang Tour



The cost of housing in Penang is relatively inexpensive when compared to other Malaysia or other countries in Southeast Asia. A house inside of the city can be rented for RM1200 to RM5000 per month. The amount will be dependent on where the unit is located and it it is furnished or unfurnished. A Penang apartment (see here) can be rented for RM800-RM5000 per month. This price is also dependent on location and if furnishings are available. Property is relatively cheap in this area and this is also true for homes that are situated in the nicer sections of the city.

Cars will always be the most practical form of transportation but in Penang a person does not necessarily need one to get around. Automobiles make it easier for people to drop off children at school, run errands and to tranport products to the home but they are quite expensive to purchase in Malaysia. However the average cost to rent a vehicle is around RM1200 a month. The bus service in Malaysia is exceptional and it only cost RM2 per adult to ride. Groceries are relatively expensive in this city and Penangites will have to keep a close eye on their eating habits. Many local markets can help to keep food prices under control.




People in Penang have a variety of entertainment options at their disposal. They can go the movies, shop at malls, visit bars or pubs and there are even some dance clubs. Again, the overall mood of the city is quiet and laid back but there are things for people to do when they want to have some fun.

The schools in Malaysia place a high priority on education and they are not tolerant of bad behavior. Children will receive a solid education at many of Malaysia’s schools. Child Care centers are also available for children.

Penang offers local residents garbage collection services and there are fire departments, police stations and decent hospitals situated all over the city. The official religion of Malaysia is Islam but there are temples and churches for Buddhists and Christians to worship. Overall, many people consider the province of Penang to be a great place to work, play and to live.