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How to Rent a Tropical Winter Home In Penang, Malaysia

January 05, 2011

 

penang sea view from our winter home

Want to escape the cold and snow? Ready for the ideal location independent lifestyle design, global digital nomad style or technomad neo minimalism in Asia?  Consider a tropical winter rental apartment  in Penang, Malaysia where the weather is perfect and you can swim at the beach or your pool all winter long. See also:

How to Find a Rental Apartment in Penang - Part I

Finding a Vacation Rental Apartment in Penang

Penang Apartment or Condo Rental - Plenty of Choices

Historic Georgetown, the capital, is a unique UNESCO World Heritage site and the food in Penang is said to be the best in Asia ( some say the world). We arrived in November and are loving the ease, super low cost, friendliness and peaceful, quiet, tranquility of tropical resort living in Penang.

BEAUTIFUL, CHEAP, WARM, EASY, FABULOUS FOOD, GREAT INTERNET, HISTORIC, CULTURE, FRIENDLY, SAFE, STABLE, ENGLISH SPEAKING

tropical plants at our Penang resort in Malayisa

relaxing in the Jacuzzi at our Penang resort home in Malaysia

tropical flowers at our Penang home in December

view of our Penang resort pools from our terrace

LOOKING FOR AN IDEAL LOCATION INDEPENDENT PLACE TO WINTER?

As many of our readers know, we have spent the last four winters "Mediterranean style"  in the same small sunny village in Andalusia  and gave our best tips for finding a winter rental apartment or home in Spain and keys to location independent wintering in Spain.

 We really enjoyed our time in Spain, so I was looking for a similar set up ( which was also not too dissimilar to  our warm, sunny winters in a small, family -friendly  town in California). I had found a real estate person online for Penang & talked to her via email about six months before arrival, so knew that we could easily find something nice in our price range which was 400 to 700 dollars a month for a high end, fully furnished,  3 bedroom home or apartment.

tranquil ocean view from our winter home in Penang

Once I knew that, I didn't do any more as I knew it could be easily handled on the ground once we arrived ( and I had 14 stops before that so enough on my plate to look at). You can find an apartment or rental MUCH cheaper ( I've seen ads from 12 dollars to 100 dollars a month for studios or private rooms in a home), but we wanted a three bedroom, 2 bathroom, large, luxurious home for the winter, so we went for the higher price ( about 700 dollars a month rent) when we fell in love with this one with spectacular ocean views from every room.( A FAR inferior, smaller,  unfurnished 2 bedroom rental with no views, cost us $1700.00 a month in California before we left in 2005, after we sold our home).

LUXURY BEACH RENTAL IN PENANG

luxury rental apartment in Penang,Malaysia

partial view of kitchen in Penang

sunrise view from our apartment in Penang

SUPER EASY TO FIND A FURNISHED RENTAL APARTMENT OR HOUSE IN PENANG

We did not have a place to stay when we arrived, nor an apartment lined up, but we found this one immediately, fell in love with it and were in it within two days. Guest houses are cheap in Penang,( 6 to 30 dollars a night)  so I had planned on staying in one for about a week while we did a little house hunting and exploring on the ground after arrival, to find the perfect place. Fate was on our side though and  Twitter friends and fellow bloggers ( Aussies Colin and Tracy & their cute preschool kids)  generously invited us to stay with them, so we had many short cuts, thanks to the knowledge that they had gained while living in Penang for several months. Yes, there are more gorgeous apartments & not so gorgeous, but this one had a zen feel that we liked at a price we could pay. I had wanted to go for cheaper, but with my mom visiting us this winter and Mozart starting a new school, we wanted comfort and this feels like a home, not an apartment.

 WHAT 700 DOLLARS A MONTH BUYS YOU FOR LUXURY RENTAL IN PENANG

Partial view of dining area in Penang

Our child's bedroom and desk in our  Penang home

partial view workout room in penang resort

dining room and distant bedrooms in Penang home

OUR PENANG APARTMENT DETAILS

We chose a large, over 1250 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in a top luxury resort with upscale furniture,spectacular ocean views from every bedroom and the living room. It's incredibly quiet and peaceful as no one else is on the 16th floor with us. A good desk with chair is in two of the bedrooms and tons of closet space. Full good sized kitchen with propane gas burners, washer, dryer, stove, rice cooker, wok, large toaster oven, microwave, water filter, electric kettle and more including all dishes and large closet. There is a balcony with furniture ,FREE wifi, television (with both Mandarin and some English shows from America),DVD player, CD player, sheets, pillows, blankets, juicer, silverware, tupperware, cleaning supplies,vacuum cleaner etc included. We have covered parking for two cars, but we use the bus as we find it extremely cheap and convenient for our lifestyle.

There are two large bathrooms with two showers and one bathtub and both have heated water (an extra in Asia). It's air conditioned in every room, but we have yet to use it as the weather has been a perfect 75 to 85, almost always sunny and we get wonderful, cool cross breezes day and night from being so close to the sea. There are ceiling fans in every room, but we tend to just use the living room one during the day and our bedroom at night, (they're just not needed). Haven't gotten our electric or water bill, but our friends say it is almost nothing and they used the air conditioning every night. I had heard many horror stories about the heat and humidity in Asia so I'm very happy to find it so pleasantly perfect. We've slept with light blankets every night. There is a large vestibule with two doors at the entrance ( which is usually kept open), where one traditionally keeps shoes in a cabinet as people here do not use them inside the home, (a normal custom for us as well).

kids playground in penang resort

our junggle queen playing on water slide in Penang

playing with friends in Penang resort water slide

ADVANTAGES TO LIVING IN A LUXURY RESORT IN PENANG

The gated resort is perfect for families with kids as well as singles, couples or retirees and it's maintained very well, plus with excellent 24 hour security guards. There is a huge pool area which is always almost empty. Also a good playground, jacuzzi, several pools (in several locations) waterslide,  free wifi with large room to plug in (two locations with different wifi),state of the art large exercise room, sauna, meeting rooms, waterfalls, free English books to share and more. Garbage is in a locked container outside the apartment on our floor near the elevator and picked up twice a day and floors mopped then too. It's easy and cheap to hire private housekeepers, but we do not need that.

The beach and bus stop are across the street and there are two large resort hotels nearby that allow you to use their facilities like restaurants, taxi stand or tourism guided tours etc. (It costs about 300 dollars a month to rent a car, but we like the new buses that all have air conditioning and free wifi that cost 45 cents for adults and Mozart is free. it's a small island with basically one road around it and driving is on the British side with tons of traffic, difficult parking and crazy mopeds.)

Adults can sunbathe, swim laps, take water aerobics classes, talk with other parents etc, while kids swim in separate pools, enjoy the  playground or tool around on scooters. There is an interesting eclectic mix of locals and fascinating expats from Australia,Japan, Hungary, Korea, USA, India, UK, Slovakia, Taiwan, Canada and more who are very friendly and helpful. There are an endless variety of classes, sports, volunteer opportunities for adults and kids, great International schools ( American, UK), Mandarin schools, and homeschool opportunities. Good  Health care ( doctors, hospitals, medicine, dentists etc)  is cheap and plentiful. Many come here for medical tourism.  Private Tutors, after school classes and preschools are good, cheap and abundant.

SHOPPING MALLS AND MOVIES IN PENANG

Penang Mall

There are two HUGE modern malls nearby, that are bigger than the malls in Silicon Valley, which is astounding because Penang is a very small island (with a long bridge to the mainland).  There is not much that you can not find here and most of it is exceedingly cheap. English is everywhere since there are 3 cultures in Malaysia and that is the common language, thus much easier than Europe in that way and an endless supply of both English and Chinese books for all ages. Shopping, movies and food seem to be passionate pleasures for Asians. The movie theaters are grand with the latest movies and treats with ridiculously low prices like 2 dollars for the latest hit movie.  Or as DaVinci says, "This is what things should cost". Since we haven't seen any English movies in 5 years, this has become a once a week family treat for us.

PENANG'S IS WORLD FAMOUS FOR IT'S DELICIOUS FOOD

Penang cuisine

visiting the famous night food markets in Penang

world famous food in penang, malaysia

Penang is world famous for it's food and Hawkers Markets ( according to Time Magazine, Lonely Planet and many publications) and I will be writing more about this in detail. They say it is the best food in Asia. Singaporeans drive 9 hours just to eat this food as a special treat. Many people fly into here just for the food. Although the Chinese are a big majority here in Penang, there are 3 dominant cultures in Malaysia, so one finds a huge variety of good food, some of the best Chinese, Indian and Malay food as well as delicious Korean, Japanese, Thailand ( very close border) and even western restaurants.

yummy fresh papaya in Penang

growing organic herbs in our winter garden on our terrace in Penang

PLEASURES OF HOME COOKING AND GARDENING & LEARNING TO COOK CHINESE

It is common in Asia to eat many or most meals out as it is almost as cheap as making it yourself and is just part of the culture. But we much prefer to cook our own food mostly when we are wintering as we enjoy the soul enriching family routines of cooking, eating together intimately and gardening when we are traveling less. As a former year-round-organic- gardener, I prefer to have control over the food that I feed my child and family from start to finish. We enjoy the food markets here that locals use and sometimes the modern, large grocery stores that have everything from organic peanut butter to frozen waffles, organic flax seed and French goat cheese. Mostly we stick with the local things like their awesome fresh-off-the- tree papaya's, mangoes, bananas etc. and I'm loving learning to cook many simple Chinese and Asian dishes.

MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!

Collecting money for rental deposit

 

RANDOM COSTS IN PENANG

FRESH BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS:   $3 for 2.2 lbs or /1 kilo

1 DOZEN EGGS:  $1.20

BASMATI RICE:  $1.80 for 2.2 lbs or/1 kilo

HUGE PAPAYA:  .75 cents each or about 90 cents a kilo/ 2.2 lbs

BROCCOLI:  $3 for 2.2 lbs or /1 kilo

BOK CHOY:   $2 for 2.2 lbs or /1 kilo

6 BANANAS:   .50 cents for a bunch of 6

SUPER DELICIOUS PIZZA DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR HOT:  $6 for a large

20 MINUTE TAXI RIDE:  $8

BAG OF 10 GALA APPLES:  $3

BIG MAC, CHICKEN MCNUGGETS, 2 FRIES, 2 SOFT DRINKS:   $3.70 ( when mom is not looking).

PILLOW:   $1.50

VISIT TO PRIVATE DERMATOLOGIST MD:  $20

CHOCOLATE DIPPED ICE CREAM CONE:  .60 cents

FIRST RATE MOVIE IN GORGEOUS NEW THEATER:   $2

LARGE CARMELED POPCORN AT MOVIES:    $1.60 for a large

SOOTHING CHAIR MASSAGE:    .30 cents

blond american girl in mandarin chinese school in penang

HIGH QUALITY LIFE AT LOW PRICES

We came primarily because it is a fantastic place to immerse deeply in Mandarin through an all Chinese school for our 10 year old child, but we found so many things that we love here, besides the ones we have already mentioned. Like:

* Very easy to explore other parts of diverse Malaysia and Asia from here by cheap flights, boats or trains

* Very close to major hubs like Singapore and Bangkok or even Hong Kong and Taiwan

* Not touristy ( outside of the highlights of Georgetown)

* Very friendly, accepting  and open society, a melting pot (once part of the British Empire)

* Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures to explore, English spoken everywhere, English signage

* Good airport with lots of flights in and out to Asia and around the world

* Rainy season means almost always sun with 15/20 minutes of rain and thunderstorm some evenings

* Unlike most of Asia, foreigners can buy landed property as well as condominiums and homes

* NOT a sex tourism destination country

* No major political turmoil, stable economy and government, religious tolerance  is a tradition

* Safe and very expat friendly (easy to get long stay visa or do visa runs)

Watching cruise ships out my window in Penang

MALAYSIA RANKS AS BEST PLACE TO RETIRE IN ASIA

The first time at a place is always hardest (next year will be a piece of cake) but  Penang is well set up to easily find a rental home very quickly as there are a ton available. One of the attractions here for us and many is Malaysia's My Second Home Programme which makes it very appealing to expats from around the world. We may or may not ever get involved with their program but the advantages are so fantastic, that it seems a wise move to pick this spot as a long stay option to get to know better, should we later want to participate. We like to winter in places that have good future potential, thus learning Mandarin in Penang made lots more sense than China. Penang is a popular spot for visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Korea, Russia, Eastern Europe, UK, Taiwan and more. That said, although there are many Caucasians at our resort, out and about, we are usually the only Caucasians in sight on buses, planes, stores, movies or in the mall etc, but it has never been a problem so we feel very comfortable.

tropical flowers at our resort in Penang

QUESTIONS?

 Is there anything else that you would like to know about renting a place in Penang for a few weeks or a few months or a few years?

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Jill

Hi! Can you let us in on the contact details for the home delivered pizza? Thanks! ( Having a cheese moment)

Jeanne

Ha Jill, if you are in Penang, I am sure you have seen it as it's an Indian place called something like Papa Johns pizza.

hi

hi, im really impressed with ur story. thanks for sharing. do you know by any chance if there is any way to get cheap flights from europe to that paradise? thanks in advance!

Jeanne soultravelers3

Yes, there are some amazing cheap flights from Europe to Asia. Friends of mine got a spectacular deal on one from AirAsia between Paris and Penang. It is a new route so they had some ridiculous price like 32 dollars or something. We like airAsia good planes and great deals. Air China has cheap flights too but not as nice planes.

Also look at flights from London or Paris to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong or Hanoi etc and you will find good deals if you are flexible. Once you get close it is easy to do the rest by cheap flights or train. Try different big cities in Europe or Asia combos to look for cheapest.

If you are up for an adventure check out trains that go from Europe to Asia.

Good luck! Quite a few Europeans ( especially Brits and Russians visit or winter here).

Stephen

Thanks for the great post.

Is the water drinkable? We worry with our 10 month old daughter.

the white family

Thank you for the wonderful tips and insights. We are looking into spending 3-4 weeks in Southeast Asia. After reading your blog, we are very much interested in Penang. We've inquired the rental cost and we've been quoted much higher (1800USD) for three weeks. How do we get more reasonable rate that you mentioned? We have two small children and ideally like to set things up ahead of time. Your blog inspired us to do more travel with the kids! Thanks

Philana

My husband and I have started looking for a new potential home outside of US. I read your blog and love that you are a travelling family that speaks Spanish/English/Mandarin. We speak Spanish and English now and want to learn mandarin as well. I would love to pick your brain about some of the other potential destinations if you are open to that.

Kate

Penang is wonderful. We spent 3 months in Batu Ferringi beach a few years ago and I am hoping to spend next fall there (2013). Currently I am in Europe (based in Den Haag) with my 4 kids for three months. Am pondering next trip doing the RV thing after Penang but would be mom alone with 7 and 10 year olds. Wondering what your thoughts are on that?
BTW great blog. I try a small one on slow travel but it takes a LOT of work.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Glad we inspired you White family! Check out the 3 related posts I did recently about finding a rental condo in Penang.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sounds great Philana! I think I am going to start a consulting/coaching service via email and skype soon, because I just get too many questions to keep up with them all.

Email me via our contact page if you would like to set something up.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sounds cool Kate!

Hard to say about RVing Europe as a single mom. I don't think I would do it, but I know others who have. ( I am an old Mom so need my partners help with our super active kiddo).

I know a single mom who did this for about a year with 5 young adopted kids. I think one was 9 and the rest under 5 and had some developmental problems and were multiracial ( from drug addicted baby backgrounds).

They had a ball, but I think she is a super mom. ;)

The key would be to go slow, but much depends on the mom and the kids.

Steve S Johnson

Will you possibly email me the contact info for the resort that you rented with? It looks just right! Great information and thanks.

jeanne @soultravelers3

Steve,

The name of the place is Miami Green and easy to find online although each unit will vary. Easy also to just go there and ask the management about apartments available...always many.

I wrote more on this topic here:

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/04/penang-apartment-or-condo-rental-plenty-of-choices.html

Kevin

Is Penang, and Malaysia as a whole, dog friendly? I always spend 6 months in Mexico because it is so dog friendly and also easy to fly into with the dog in the cabin. But Penang sounds and looks wonderful.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Well Kevin, I have no direct experience with this but I do see plenty of expats and locals with dogs and cats that live with them, so it must be possible.

There are lots of websites about traveling with pets, and I know people who have done that in many countries, so I'd check out those resources.

Good luck!

Lys

Hi - Pics look great. Can you tell me the name of the apartment complex? Thanks

david

part 1 link at the top is not working

Paul

Hi,I love your blog it is great that You have taken the time & effort to share your experience in Penang, I want to move to Asia with my wife from the UK but need to buy a small business there to survive, do you have any information about the legal side of owning a business in malaysia, any info at all would be great, keep up the blog.

Regards
Paul & Mandy

david

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2011/01/How%20to%20Find%20a%20Rental%20Apartment%20in%20Penang%20-%20Part%20I

part 1 link is not working

are you able to fix it ???

jeanne

Sorry David, I can't find any link that doesn't work, so do not know what you are talking about.

Why don't you email me via our contact page and tell me specifically what you need.

Thanks!

Jeff

Hi
I have a nice condominium in Penang island for rent. Yes you can rent for even 1 months or days. Feel free to contact me via email . I will give more details . Thank you /Jeff

art santos

Thanks for your posting. I'm a forex trader and a writer. I'm looking for a nice, quiet, unexpensive place for one person to spend the months of November thru May 2015. Any recommendations? Appreciated,
Art
PS- I, too, lived in Hawaii. Ten great years. Aloha!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Art there are endless choices and I have written a few articles to help you out. Check this one:

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/04/penang-apartment-or-condo-rental-plenty-of-choices.html

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