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Top 5 Reasons to Retire in Penang, Malaysia

By Wan Phing Lim

Summary: With its beautiful beaches, laid-back lifestyle and UNESCO World Heritage status for the historic capital of Georgetown, Penang is a great overseas retirement destination.

Retiring Abroad - Top 5 Reasons to Retire in Penang, Malaysia

As a native Penangnite, I'm biased towards the hometown I was born and raised in. But, having left home at the age of 18 and currently living and working abroad in Singapore, Penang will always be home for me and is a place I aspire to retire in.

Here are 5 reasons why:

Island Life

Penang is a paradise island located in the northwest of Malaysia. With a population of just under a million living on the 293 square kilometre island, Penang has stretches of beautiful winding coasts along Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang. With an average temperature of 30°C all year round with no drastic seasonalities except rain or shine, Penang embodies the typical laid-back and relaxing lifestyle. Geographically, Penang is also close to other famous islands - it is a mere 40-minute flight to Langkawi and a 1-hour flight to Phuket.

Good Housing

The property landscape in Penang is fast growing thanks to its robust economy in tourism and electronics manufacturing. With everything from sea view condominiums to brand new bungalows or heritage shophouses, there's a good choice of housing options to rent or buy. In 2008, the UNESCO World Heritage status was bestowed upon Penang's historic capital, Georgetown, and this has helped to uplift the property market.

Medical Hospitals

Penang's medical tourism has been booming since the 1980s, as the island is home to world-class private healthcare - most notably in Loh Guan Lye Medical Centre, Island Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and Pantai Medical Centre. With most doctors and consultants trained in Europe and Australia, the quality is high and cost relatively lower than what you would pay in the West. English is also the language used in private healthcare, so there is no fear of miscommunication.

English Speakers

Most people in Penang speak English as a second language, if not their first. As a British colony that gained independence after the Second World War in 1957, Malaysians do speak English even though the national language is Bahasa Malaysia. You may find that official documents and civil service affairs are mostly conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, however, the good news is that Malay, like Indonesian, is a Roman-script language and is easy to read and pick-up.

Multicultural Society

Penang is an inherently multicultural society thanks to its history as a booming international port town dating as far back as the 18th century. With Malay, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian influences, it comes as no surprise that Penang is home to The Malaysian German Society, The Pink Hibiscus Club (Japan), Penang Irish Association and the Alliance Française de Penang. The tiny and cozy island has Malaysia's second largest expatriate community.

It's also helpful to note that the Malaysian government has a programme called Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H), which aims to help expatriates move to Malaysia. Currently, the long-term social visit pass lasts for 10 years and can be renewed.

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About the Author

Wan Phing is the Online Editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, she has lived in Beijing, London, Benevento, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and currently resides in Singapore. She loves travel, photography and discovering new trends.

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Comments about this Article

guest
May 27, 2013 07:16

Top reason not to retire in Malaysia - it's moslem. Islam in Malaysia is becoming more militant as time passes and no moslem can stand non-moslems enjoying their lives.

guest
May 27, 2013 10:29

Why didn't you mention what are the residency Requirements Or how long you can stay with a tourist visa? Not a very usefull article...

guest
May 27, 2013 21:50

Visited Penang. It could be beautiful but the beaches are too dirty.

guest
May 29, 2013 20:41

The sicker anyone in my family is, the more we have to pay? No way! In USA I have pension with medical and would need same or at least similar medical benefits.

kebinger
Jul 26, 2013 09:15

It looks like the long stay away from home made you forget what is the most important part for Penangites Expats and visitors: the fantastic choice of excellent food. Living in Penang you have access to most western foods but you’ll find yourself quickly drawn to the excellent and healthy local foods. The island is well-known all over South-East Asia for its Hawker food, prepared street-side or in stalls that are limited space but big on taste. Hawker Centers can house up to 50 different stalls for an amazing choice of Malay, Indian, Chinese dishes costing € 2 to € 5. One category up is Coffee Shops, usually with one chef and a crew of helpers who will serve a three to five course dinner for about € 5 to € 10 consisting of soup, squid, prawns, fish, clams, pork, beef or poultry, vegetables with rice or noodles in a combination to suit your taste. Finally, Penang boasts numerous restaurants with a range of cuisines for any occasion; European including Italian, French and German and Asian from Japanese to Korean to Thai. The difficulty is the choice, whether Hawker food, your local Coffee Shop or fine dining.

guest
Feb 25, 2014 08:09

Excellent, I agree with you. It's wonderful and peaceful living in Penang. Qualify life and food of course not employment. Most quality hawkers of Malaysia remain in Penang. Compare to Bali, it is still safe to live in Penang provided you are more cautious when you walk on quiet lane or avoid to walk alone. Though politics is a bit upset but at least there is no severe protest or riot. Most Islam are welcomed foreigners.

markkwilliams
Sep 24, 2018 20:34

We are visiting Penang in December/January for a month. Looking at it as a potential retirement destination. Thanks for the tips.

First Published: May 23, 2013

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10 Tips for Living in Malaysia

Expats in Malaysia agree that living in Malaysia has its pros and cons. Expats love the welcoming Malay people, cultural diversity, lower cost of living and amazing food. Many find that the noisiness, dirty city streets and dangerous driving conditions can be a challenge. Where you choose to live makes a big difference in lifestyle as well.

Expats in Malaysia agree that living in Malaysia has its pros and cons. Expats love the welcoming Malay people, cultural diversity, lower cost of living and amazing food. Many find that the noisines...

Healthcare in Malaysia

Expats in Malaysia recommend that newcomers talk to friends and learn about the best hospitals, clinics and doctors in their area before a medical emergency arises. Plus, obtaining expat health insurance is recommended.

Expats in Malaysia recommend that newcomers talk to friends and learn about the best hospitals, clinics and doctors in their area before a medical emergency arises. Plus, obtaining expat health insur...

Moving to Malaysia

Expats are attracted to Malaysia's lower cost of living, bustling cities, multicultural vibe, climate and proximity to Singapore. Many expat retirees take advantage of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program. For others who don't qualify, visa runs become a inconvenient part of expat life that often dissuade them from staying in Malaysia long-term.

Expats are attracted to Malaysia's lower cost of living, bustling cities, multicultural vibe, climate and proximity to Singapore. Many expat retirees take advantage of the Malaysia My Second Home (M...

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