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Penang Apartment or Condo Rental - Plenty of Choices

April 27, 2012

finding a luxury apartment in Penang on low budget is easy!

Planning a vacation, holiday or long stay in Georgetown, Penang area? Looking for a cheap, budget rental apartment, condo or home in tropical South East Asia for the winter months? Have you let or rented a home in a foreign land before? Here are some great tips, a helpful guide and delicious candid photos.

Most rental apartments have lovely pools and all amenities


WHERE TO START

We are not property managers, home owners or agents, just folks who have rented long term in Penang for two  winters now, so can tell you what we have learned to make your search for an apartment easier. This is a series, so make sure you read the other posts in this series:

How to Rent a Tropical Winter Home in Penang, Malaysia

How to Find a Rental Apartment in Penang - Part I

Finding a Vacation Rental Apartment in Penang

finding an apartment in Penang- looking at rental in Brezza

TONS OF FURNISHED RENTAL APARTMENT CHOICES

First it depends on where you want to stay and if you are renting a car or will be taking the convenient and air conditioned buses for transportation. If you are only staying for a few days or a week or two, you might consider staying at a Penang area guest house. Almost all of the luxury apartment and condo complexes are mostly empty as locals tend to buy them as investments, then furnish them and try to rent them out.

There are always plenty of furnished rental apartment choices all year round, so you don't have to book anything in advance and it is easier to do it all once you arrive ( both winters it only took us a couple of days). You could stay at a guest house or a hotel like the Hydro Hotel as we did this year while looking.

Many kitchens in Penang upscale rentals include washer and dryer

REAL ESTATE AND RENTAL AGENTS IN PENANG

You can find things on your own as we did the first year, but it is easier with an agent and we can recommend two good ones (both Chinese Malaysian women who speak good English and several languages):

Ooh Pei Hoon

Michelle Lai

We mostly worked with Ooh Pei who was exceptional, but Michelle also came highly recommended through friends who have lived here and own a condo here through the Malaysia's My Second Home program, so we saw a little through her as well.

This rental is from an retired English couple who are doing My Second Home program and live here half a year, rent for the other half.


WHERE TO RENT IN PENANG

First you have to understand that Penang is an island near the Thailand border and almost all of the apartments are along the coast from UNESCO World Heritage  Georgetown to Batu Ferringhi which is an outlaying beach area. It's about a 45 minute drive between these two with regularlar running buses and Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong  lie between them.

Rental condo in Times Square - checking out the city and sea views in Georgetown, Penang

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

This is always a tricky question because it depends on where and what kind of views and ammenities are available, but there is a huge range of prices for rental apartments in Penang  ranging from $6.00 a month to $6000.00 a month ( USD).

Our budget is in the 500 to 1000 U.S. dollars a month range for a deluxe, quality furnished, large 3 bedroom with first class amenities like health club, pool, security, sauna, jacuzzi, playground, free wifi, etc with luscious sea views and near good mass transit.

We've gotten two exceptional apartments in that range ( which I have written about in the links above including photos and living costs), but could have gotten a much cheaper apartment and probably would have if we were doing a short stay. During a short stay one is out touring or at the pool mostly, but a longer stay means more time at home, so we wanted a very high end choice.

GOOD APARTMENTS IN CHEAPER RANGE

Penang budget rental apartment


There are way to many apartment complexes in Penang to name them all, but I will give the info on a few of the key places to make your job easier in finding a place.

Marina Bay Condminium

( Plenty always available in the $325. to $488. USD range or $1000 to $1500 MYR  local currency )

Tanjung Park Condominium

( Plenty always available in the $325. to $488. USD range or $1000 to $1500 MYR  local currency )

We have had friends that have lived in the above two examples, they are decent, in good locations with nice pools,  but not thrilling. If budget is your priority, try them or even something cheaper.

2 bedroom rental apartment in Georgetown, Penang's Time square with killer views

MY FAVORITE APARTMENT COMPLEXES IN PENANG

Times Square ( 1600 tp 2300 MYR) If you want to be in the center of everything in Georgetown and with luxury, this is the place for you. ( Sea and city views)

Miami Green ( 1600 to 2300 MYR) If you want to be at the beach in Batu Ferrenghi, this is the place for you. ( Sea views, older but maintained well, a bit isolated & far from things)

The Brezza ( 2000 to 3500 MYR) If you want best killer views, brand new and be a close walk to Tesco and Island Plaza mall, this is the place for you. ( Sea, greenery and city views)

Alila ( 2100 MYR to 2900 MYR) If you have a car and want a mountain, jungle feel, this is the place for you. ( Mountain views)

Strait Quay apartment rentals in Penang

HIGH END LUXURY

Strait Quay  (3000 MYR up) From my perspective not worth the price at all. Nice, but small and way over priced. Car needed.

The Cove  (7500 t0 15,000 MYR) Over priced and too big IMHO What is the point of paying high prices in SE Asia?

Rental Condo in Straits Quay Penang


Like most places, you get what you pay for, but there is quite a range and at most places it is easy to bargain as the prices can be flexible to an extent ( partly because there are so many available, so better to have a bird in hand, for the smart investor).

 Penang rental vacatiion condo kitchen


Malaysia is one of the most developed and growing areas in South East Asia and the higher-end apartments, malls and movie theaters seem like the first world, but this is very much the developing third world, so Americans need to expect some culture shock upon arrival, especially if they have not explored Asia before.

Typical bathroom in upper end Penang rental apartment



Penang was once part of the English Empire and there are three distinct, warm and welcoming cultures here ( Indian, Chinese and Malay) so English is widely spoken (which is unusual in most of Asia) as well as in most signage, in store products, lots of English book stores etc which adds to the ease and excitement of living here.

Checking out a kid's bedroom in Penang rental condo


Most condominiums are near beaches and have sea views since Penang is an island and that is part of the tropical lifestyle here. The apartment complex pools and playgrounds become like the "village center" every day after school and easy to meet other families and couples.

typical beach in Penang



What else would you lke to know about finding a place to live in Penang?

 

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Joy

I am wondering two things which I guess I could google but I am too lazy ;) Besides, I have been meaning to comment on your blog for a long time. So many of your posts speak right to me and who I am or what I want for my daughter but (bi/trilingualism, world/unschooling, eating local/organic/WAPF foods, etc.) LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

But ok, on to the questions:

1. Are there good international schools there? You have written about Mozart's school and that she has friends at the int'l school but are there several and are they good quality?

2. How far are you from Thailand? I need a map!

Thanks!
Joy

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much for your kind words Joy..& for commenting so now I know about you! Glad to hear we are on the same page! ;)

Yes, there are several high quality international schools in Penang. I will list them in a post one of these days..but you can Google them. ;)

The parents who send there kids there seem pleased, but they are a lot more expensive than the Mandarin school that my daughter goes to ( and they have the exact same curric from the UK..so they can pass all the tests for the Uni's in UK, Oz etc).

There are several UK ones and even one American one.

We are VERY close to the Thailand border. It took us less than 2 hours by cab when we did a visa run last year. I have to get that post up! ;)

We are also close to some of the islands just across the bay. One can take a ferry to Langkawi ( Malaysia)from here ..takes about 1 hour, then another one to Thailand.

Lots of cheap buses, planes, trains to Thailand etc from here.

Hope that helps!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Oh, but even though they are more expensive...they are still MUCH cheaper than international schools elsewhere. Many from Europe and Korea, Japan etc bring their kids here just for this educational value...so much cheaper than at home for the same quality international school.

Many of the Koreans at my daughter's school do the English international schools first when the kids are young, then send them to the Mandarin school.

Anne

Jeanne are there key deposits? we've seen mention of these in Korea and Hong Kong or Singapore, I can't remember. Kind of a deposit that is like $10k or more. Just curious... :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

I've never heard of key deposits here Anne...it is just the usual first and last months held for a deposit. Nothing unusual. More paperwork with an agent than not and a small fee for the agent paid by both renter and landlord.

Also as I mentioned on my first post on this topic that lists the cost of living items...the electricity and water costs are VERY cheap.

One of the reasons we are in Penang is it is MUCH cheaper than Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea...that is why they come here so much I think. ;) ( Also for the food).

dana valles

thanks for this! very good suggestions!

dana valles

thanks for this! very good suggestion!

Ryan Hoody

If you're going to take an extended vacation somewhere, apartment rentals are the answer. It's amazing how much you pay for a few nights in a hotel, when you can have a fully furnished apartment for a month for nearly the same price. Those pictures look gorgeous!

Cheers,

Ryan

Erin

Which complex was the one with the waterslide? This blog has been so helpful, we have decided to go to Penang for 2 months after being in KL for one month. Thanks so much!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Glad to hear our blog was helpful @Erin! LOTS of pools at places here have water slides. My daughter enjoyed the one our last place, but I think it might be too big for your little ones.

Penang tends to be much more mellow than KL. Have fun!

rob

I am going to study in USM

I wonder if you have any unit in bukit jambul to rent for a year???

I hv seen parkview towers 2 rooms ,,price is between 1000 to 1200 RM for fully furnished

If you have any..let me know please
THANKS

Linda

With the Breeza link are the prices quoted per month?
Thanks and regards
Linda

Scott Walker

First off, what a wonderful site! My wife, son & I are thinking about living on the Island in Penang for 3 months-January-March next year.

Something like The Marina Condos look fine for us regarding location & price. Thanks for including those links!

My primary concern relates to the internet. I teach English online for an American company. It's essential that I have reliable internet. The speed just needs to be 1Mbps, but I can't afford service interruptions!

Here in Thailand, our service rarely goes down and when it does, I use 3G as a backup. So what's your experience with the internet in Penang and how does the internet work at these condos?

Thanks again...Scott

Matt

What a terrific blog. Some incredibly useful information. Well done !

My family including my wife and 3 young children (aged 1, 5 and 9) will be moving to Penang in January/Feb next year. I will be working in the Tanjung Togong area.

From the Internet I have a good idea of what schooling is available but I'd really like your opinion on the best area(s) for a large family like ours to live ? I like the idea of a high rise but I am very concerned about windows/balconies for our kids. So a landed house might need to be the way to go. I don't absolutely have to live near work but obviously it would be helpful. We love a beachy lifestyle with access to good shopping and services. We will probably buy a car as well. We are prepared to spend up to 5,000 per month in rent but would prefer to spend in the 3,000 range if possible. Ideally a place that is 2,000 sq.ft or larger. Any suggestions on areas/buildings that we should look at would be greatly appreciated.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hi Scott,

Sorry it has taken me a bit to get back to you, but we are about to head out to China for a while, so that my health issues, kids finals etc, have kept me busy.

I think internet is similar to Thailand, although I am sure it can vary from place to place. I had a problem for a couple weeks with my Mac, but my husband had none with his and the pc seems to always work pretty good. We always work online as our whole life is online.

Should you run into the rare problem, you can always find somewhere to get good internet...so you would never be without. I have not had to resort to that, but if I did, I am glad to know...as there are places on this planet where it is hard to find a back up if one must be online.

Good luck!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

BTW, since I have not lived there, I have no idea what the internet is like in Marina Bay Scott, but we had friends that lived there ( Americans who lived in Thailand for 11 years) and they didn't have a problem and work online.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yes, Linda, all the prices are monthly rates in Malaysia money.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Matt thanks for your kind words! You shouldn't have any trouble finding a place to meet your needs, but I suggest you talk to one of the agents I have listed.

Good points about the towers, but there are advantages to them over a landed house. I haven't lived in one...and we might try it next, but what I see as the draw backs is...they are hotter, more bugs and change for dengue fever, noisier usually, no pools or facilities and most scary..I've heard of several friends who have been broken into by gangs in the middle of the night, tied up the whole family and robbed in VERY nice neighborhoods. The police seem pretty non-existent here.

I've never heard of a luxury tower being robbed probably because the thieving gangs avoid them because the new ones have guards 24/7 and cameras every where 24/7.

Of course I know people in landed houses who have not been broken into, but those are the down sides and risks.

Most use AC in landed houses due to more heat, but we have not used AC once in 16 months here as it keeps cool by ocean breeze and high floor.

You most likely will have open doors and windows no matter where you are, so will have to watch that with young ones. On the positive side, most expats here with young kids use the cheap nannies...many have a live in one, so that can help that issue. I imagine there must be some kind of guard rails available but I have an older child,so not sure.

The water is not clean here, so I wouldn't let my kids swim in it, but there are lots of things for kids to do and most places have sea views and pools. The beaches are pretty to walk on.

Good luck!

Scott Walker

Thanks, Jeanne!

How does one go about finding a reliable nanny?

Sometime in early January I'll head to Penang island alone to get everything set up for the family. Khon Kaen, Thailand, is getting a bit dull! I'm looking forward to a new scene and some cultural diversity, not to mention more cuisine options.

In January, my son will be 2 years & 9 months old. Can you recommend a good Kindergarten? We'd like him to start interacting socially with other kids his age, even if it's just a 1/2 day during the week at a "day care".

Thanks again for this amazing website and have a great time in China!

Scott

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Scott! Nanny's are very popular here with the expat crowd, but with a 12 year old, this is out of my realm and experience.

Check out Penang Momma, she has two little ones and has info on that topic and everything babies, toddlers, preschoolers in Penang for expats.

If I were you, I'd put him in an all Mandarin environment! So easy to gain a language when young and Mandarin is an important one.

Good luck!

Nara & Mo

We enjoyed reading your blog very much & thank you for your valuable comments & information. My wife & I (66 yo US Architect) want to live in Malaysia this January. We want to get involved in some business activity to stay busy. Can you recommend a city or town to live in? We have visited KL in 2010 but never explored other regions. Is Penang a good place to start? Is there a noticeable difference in living costs between cities?

Jeanne @soultravelers3

I don't really know KL, so can't really compare them, sorry Nara and Mo.

My guess is Penang might be cheaper because it is smaller, but I could be wrong.

There are even cheaper areas as well,( like small cities between the two) but I know little about them.

Ming

Hi Jeanne,

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It’s very inspirational for us. Our family is just starting to do an extended vacation and are exploring options for the future. While it's great to be out of the rat race, it is a bit scary to do something 'different' so it's really great to know others who are doing the same, and have gone even further down the path. We've done things a little different to you in that our son is only 2 years old, so he's less independent and this certainly makes some things more challenging. But on the other hand this means formal schooling is still many years away.

We've been moving around a bit lately and completely agree with you that it's less tiring to stay for a longer period in one place, especially with a child. We also prefer slow travel so that we can make friends, learn about the place and culture better, as well as explore the markets and foods. We were in Hualien, Taiwan for a few months and had a great time and made some amazing friends. The people are wonderful.

We are currently in China but are thinking of moving to Penang soon for a few months as we are looking for a place that is warmer, has low living costs, good food, is suitable for a young child and has some possibilities for us all to study or practice Mandarin. Initially we'd stay for 2-3 months and I'm guessing our biggest challenge might be to find a place on a short term basis, as landlords seem to want 6-12 month contracts, eg. Xiamen and Taiwan. From reading your "How to Find a Rental Apartment in Penang" I think our preferences for a self-contained flat are very similar to yours, e.g. prefer walking/bicycling/local bus, away from traffic noise and fumes although we only need a 2 bedroom flat. Do you have any recommendations?

Btw. (You can edit this part out of the post before making public if you want). There may be an incorrect link in your website on this page:
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/04/penang-apartment-or-condo-rental-plenty-of-choices.html
This has a link to
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/04/How%20to%20Find%20a%20Rental%20Apartment%20in%20Penang%20-%20Part%20I
but this doesn't go anywhere. Perhaps you meant this page?
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/03/how-to-find-a-rental-apartment-in-penang-part-1.html

Take care and thanks again for sharing so much!

Ming
p.s. We are normally based in Finland, it's cool to hear that you enjoyed the libraries and the "uunipannukakku" (that thick pancake), if we see you in Penang we can make it for you!!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Ming for the sweet words! I'd try Miami Green for a short stay rental...it's great with kids and they always have places.

I'll be writing more on this topic as we are looking for another rental ourselves, so learning more. ;)

Good luck!

Jenny Tan

Hi Jeanne,
I'm looking for an apartment to rent in Penang for 6 months from May 2013. Could you please tell me which condo did you rented that includes wifi?

Also how much should I be expecting to pay agent fee for finding an apartment for me?

Much appreciate any advise you can give.

Thank you.

Jenny

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