Finding a Vacation Rental Apartment in Penang -2

March 04, 2012

Finding a vacation rental apartment in Penang-  beautiful sunrise from ours!

How easy is it to rent, let or lease a cheap budget to luxury rental apartment, flat, codominium or house in Penang by the beach or in town with sea views?


Partly because of Malaysia's My Second Home program, finding a place to live here is extremely easy whether you want it for a week or a few years.( Malaysia is the only place in Asia where you can buy landed property and there are many advantages for expats here. I think it's the best place in the world for a kid to learn Mandarin and Chinese culture in an enriching multiculture environment).

Prices range from $6.00 a month to $6000.00 a month,and 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 sea views and near good mass transit.

looking for rental apartments in Penang, this was our 2nd choice

I wrote part 1 of  How to Find a Rental Apartment in Penang  and the very thorough "How to Rent a Tropical Winter Home in Penang, Malaysia", about our experience last year as well as detailed cost of living information.

This year things are different, so I have more information to add for those who are interested in visting Penang or coming for a long stay in this  World Heritage tropical paradise. In this rental-property-in-Penang series, I will introduce you to some top apartment complex contenders, good property agents that you can trust and a comparison between two or three top places for expats and travelers. This post focuses on what we picked and why.

Our rental condo pool and play area in Penang

Enjoying the peaceful sea views in our new rental apartment in Penang

Sea, cityscape, tile roof and green space views in Penang

Every day has a beautiful sea sunrise and sunset from our new Penang home

View from my bed in Penang

Just like the beautiful rental home in Penang we found last year, I knew this posh property was the one for us as soon as I saw it. The panoramic, spectacular sea, cityscape and nature views sold me in seconds, not to mention the high quality furnishings and the fact that it was brand new and never lived in. Alas, It's a bit hard with my point-and-shoot camera and bright light of the place to capture fully.

This bedrooms views have to be seen to be believed

Love the enticing Penang night time views from our bed

Georgetown, Penang skyline

Hard to capture the magic of this room which is like sitting on top of the world

The new, high-rise condo building had all the services we needed like pool, playground, sauna and exercise room, but it 'twas those two full, long walls of breathtaking views from the king sized bed in the large master suite, ( mirrored by the third wall of well done custom storage closet)  that reminded me of our stays at Four Seasons and Fairmont luxury hotels,  that sold me.

The serenely enchanting views from the very comfortable new bed.. full of sea, cityscape, tile roofs and green nature ...are mezmerizing and ever changing night and day. We love watching the cargo ships, sailboats and white cruise ships slowly glide by, the glorious Adaman Sea sunsets and sunrises, the changing puffy cloud scapes and even thrilling quick tropical lightening storms.

sunset in Penang peek from our bedroom

checking out the large playground on her scooter

Watching boats sail by in  Georgetown, Penang- we plan to learn to sail here

Penang condo with infinity pool with sea views, work out room above, 2 saunas and a large jacuzzi

I love working out here with fab sea views and air conditioning, plus I usually have it to myself!

The problem was it was above our budget, so we did due diligence, seeing tons of apartments all over Penang from one end to the other in two days time and narrowed it down to three places that we would have loved to live in, if we could come to terms with the best price.

My vacation home view in Penang!

Mozart and I preferred this place, but DaVinci voted for another lovely place in this building on a higher floor, but with a different perspective view ( shown above in 2nd photo, my second choice).

Despite having spent last winter in Penang, ( from November to May) this time finding a place to rent was more difficult than we had anticipated. Just like last year or looking for long stay rentals in Spain, we have it down to a science on how to do this quickly, but two days before leaving California, we found out that the van that picks up Mozart to and from her Mandarin school was full. Yikes!

Penang rental condo - our second choice kitchen

Penang furnished rental condo- Our new home

That changed everything as we had planned to just go back to the same building we were in last year, Miami Green in Batu Ferrenghi. Alas, Batu Ferringhi is a 45 minute drive from Georgetown where  Mozart's Mandarin school is and we prefer not to have a car, since we enjoy the exercise of walking and experiencing a place from ground level. Plus, we'd rather put more into our home, than car or cable TV and traffic and parking are horrendous in Penang, so not an inviting prospect, whlle the buses are air conditioned with free wifi and convenient.

Thus, we had a problem without the van because no one else in the school lived out that far. We had a choice of either buying a car this year or finding a place closer to the school in a more central area where more people live ( and rents are a bit higher as it's more convenient and coveted).

Love the killer sunrises here..what a way to start my day!

We looked deeply into both choices and in fact looked into more apartments in Miami Green than anywhere, but it is an old building ( about 10-12 years which is old for this area, but a well maintained building) thus many of the apartments are pretty ugly and over used. If you travel long term like we do, and want to avoid travel burnout, one must live like a king, not a pauper.

Even with great views, ugly furniture turns me off. Ugly view, but good furniture is also a unacceptable. Doable for a month or two maybe, but we will be here a year or more, so wanted something really soothing and special. We got one of the best units there last year, but only found one we liked this year and they didn't allow children. Beautiful homes nurture our souls and a priority for us in a long stay and life outside in Penang is gritty and sensory overloading, so a peaceful home is important here.

mountain views from our new vacation rental

We also know Miami Green well, the pros and cons, so something that might appeal to a newbie, couldn't get past us this time. Things like: we know the low floors get diesel fumes from the garage or the tower where monkeys jump into your apartment or how difficult life is when your building is far from the center of the action which is the main pool where everyone gathers.

The rental apartment we chose, was the largest that we saw at almost 1400 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, brand new washer and dryer, quality beds, with the best views by far ( although all the places we were interested in had great sea views). The owners wanted 3500 ringgits for it, but we negotiated down to 2800, which is about 930 U.S. dollars a month.


Higher than we wanted to go, but so far we are extremely happy here and the rest of our expenses are very low. We like the lovely Chinese Christian owners who built it for them to live in and had the place blessed ( great, pure energy here) and with a son doing University in the U.S.. Also very pleased with the hard working agent who helped us find it and became our friend in the process, Ooh Pei Hoon.

We arrived on Monday night, decided on the place on Wednesday on second viewing our 3 top choices, moved in on Thursday morning and Mozart went back to school on Friday. What a week!


No place is perfect and we have run into a few glitches ( one of our biggest wishes was for a quiet, peaceful place which this place is, but on the second day here a neighbor was using a jack hammer to tear down a wall. Yowser! ). Luckily the management, owners and agent all helped us to find a win/win solution and they have very strict rules here about quiet and construction.

It is funny, but unexpectedly, about a week after we moved in, the van to school got an opening! ( She was going to school with the Dean of Students with a few other classmates). Had we not had that glitch, we may have missed this place.

New flat screen TV and dvd player in our Penang condo

Even Tesco looks cute from our Penang condo

We really prefer this central location of Tanjung Togong, which is just a two block lovely walk in nature to Tesco and a mall or two blocks the other way to another mall and MUCH closer to EVERYTHING than Miami Green which is on the far outskirts. We can walk to a beach here  or easily take a 10 minute bus to see our old friends in Miami Green and the beaches of Batu Ferringhi or to Gurney Mall and movies.

Mozart's bedroom,desk and queen sized bed- ready to be decorated, then sleep overs

Kidlet has equally awesome views of Georgetown and the Andaman Sea

We are still meeting our neighbors, but Mozart has already met three girls her age in the pool and loads of boys her age. I've met interesting folks who live here from Germany, Australia, and Chinese Malaysians. They don't seem to do the weekly rentals like at Miami Green, so it is quieter which we enjoy ( like having the pool and work out room all to oursevles often).

What do you think?

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Sounds terrific for you all, and I can understand why living in town is good if you do not have a car. Also, the ocean view would help the calming feeling, and not to feel to crunched in a city. So I think that's great. But I admit that I do not like living in cities, especially Asian cities with their narrow roads and hectic driving.

Curious why you didn't look into renting a house if you knew you would stay a year. Many neighborhoods here have swimming pools, playgrounds, and gyms -- so nice to have a house and yard.


Wow an apartment like that in Capitola would rent for $6000/mo.
Thanks for the details.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hey Marlana,
We love country living too, but it does not seem real practical here.
There are actually more advantages to living in a high rise here and it is VERY peaceful here due to the spectacular panoramic views.
We are not in the city, but an old fishing village that has been built up a bit with suburban housing. See all that green space in the photos? Still, the area we are in is close to everything, but very countrified as well. Our walks to Tesco are peaceful and in nature. Birds and flowers make that walk lovely and very unlike SE Asia in many ways. We rarely run into or see anyone on our walk there or back, nor are there many or any cars going by and it is a wide road.
Of course when we take the bus on the main road, we run into the more hectic side of Penang ( but not as bad as some areas) but this building is quiet, brand new and isolated from the chaos. VERY much a country feeling to it, despite being sooo convenient.
So we can have exotic Asian hectic or not, depending on our mood. ;) Mostly, we like peace and spend a lot of time at home.
We also like all the ammenities of apartment home, workout room, pool, sauna, security, ease of garbage and people taking care of everything etc. We will garden on our terrace! Some how I don't think I would use a yard much in this tropical heat and don't see others doing that in the homes we pass. High tower living is also MUCH cooler with constant sea breezes and no bugs. We didn't need or use air conditioning all last year and haven't here either and don't expect to ( but we do have if needed). Even the apartments on lower floors are hotter, so I imagine landed homes are hotter and more bugs. We always have windows and doors open so a great cross breeze happens and keeps things always cool ( MUCH different than out on the street).
The homes here are very suburban and hooked together. Most do not have pools or any facilities like health clubs or saunas and more mosquitoes. No great views either. Also harder to get to know folks and more noise at night.I think. Pools are where we meet folks here every day just like last year.
They may have some very countrified places on the other side of Penang, but we have never seen any and they would be waaay too far from Georgetown and kidlet's school. So that is not practical...even if we had a car.
Even in Spain it made a LOT more sense to be in town where we can walk to everything and not be isolated in the countryside..always needing to drive long distances to everything.
We have the spectacular view of the city here, but we are not IN the city. This is not Georgetown ( which isn't a large city any way).
We did look at some places in Georgetown and they were VERY citified and would appeal to many for all their conveniences ( many foreign students at kidlet's school like the Thais live there and it's close to everything in downtown Georgetown), but waaay too busy for us.
It is more like country and seaside living here, but close to everything.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Soo true Rick! It would be a young fortune to rent a similar place in a great area of California, New York etc.

When we rented an old, small 2 bedroom place in Santa Cruz area in 2005 while we prepared to do this travel lifestyle, it costs us $1700 a month. Then there were added costs and we HAD to have a car ( actually 2) and insurance etc.

Water and electricity here is almost nothing ( see last years post for that detail).

Even without paying rent or for a car in California ..our recent stay for 5 months was extremely expensive. Hard to take when one is use to living so cheaply.

Now we will make up for that time as the cost of living here is so low, but the life is highly luxurious with exotic newness added in. ;)

I am not sure why more people don't take advantage of this and choose mobile jobs over the internet that allow them more freedom.


Wow, the panoramic views are absolutely gorgeous! I can’t believe what a great apartment it is for the price. I also wanted to say thanks so much for aspiring me! I’ve always had a passion for traveling and all through grade school I was even know for that, but when I stumbled upon your blog about two years ago I fell in love even more and aspire to someday have a family and travel like yours! I’m hopefully going to be able to spend a year abroad next year (my sophomore year of college) in London and Paris, and I don’t think I would actually have pushed myself to get out there and away from my comfort zone if it wasn't for your blog. You’re such an inspirational family to me, thank you. :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Wow, thanks so much Meredith!

It is so gratifying to know that our little blog has inspired you and others. We never realized that anyone would be interested in reading our blog when we began, so mainly did it as a record for Mozart.

But once we found out how easy it was and doable for anyone, and got many emails and comments like yours, I became passionate to let others know.

It is always thrilling to know my time spent has been worth it as this is a labor of love.

Oh, I wish I could give you a personal tour as the panoramic view is much better than the photos can show. ;)

Sooo happy to hear about your upcoming adventure too. I am sure you will have challenges along the way, going to a new place always brings that, but you will have a ball and learn loads! Good for you!!


oh really? not too busy? that's really cool. Also, that's a really good point about the breeze. I had not even thought of that.


Beautiful apartment Jeanne! And what a view! Makes me want to go back to Penang. You're such an expert now at finding great locations for affordable prices. Thank you for sharing.

You mentioned that you plan to stay there for a year. I'm curious, were you able to get a 1 yr long stay visa there? Or would you have to make visa runs?

Wandering Educators

looks fantastic! i bet mozart is glad to be back in school with her friends!

Italian Holidays

Posh is right! I love it. I agree that beautiful accommodation nurtures the soul and smooths the rough edges of long-term travel.

Travis Ehrenstrom

Ever since I've read "The Piano Tuner," I've wanted to visit Penang. This is the most informative replay I think I've seen in regards to accommodations. Thanks so much for taking the time to right this. As a newbie, I was wondering if you had any recomendations as to what time of year you prefer to travel there? Thanks for your time!

The Cunningham family

Hi guys
It was great reading your comments on living in Penang,as this is were we finished our amazing 10 month round the world trip in April this year.If we could just figure out how to create a business over the internet we may see you in Malaysia one day as we too loved this way of living as a family.P.S if you make it to Ausralia (Brisbane/Gold coast)we would be more than happy to host you all.
Safe travels the Cunninghams.

Novy Tucker


I just found your website and curious if you still in Penang now. My family and I are planning to move to Penang, can you tell me the name of the apartment? Is that normal to negotiate for the rent price?
Thanks a lot for your help.


I've been reading your blog about finding a vacation rental in Penang, Malaysia. I am a Canadian woman who usually spends winters in Thailand. This year I'd like to try Malaysia.

Are you still in Penang? Where is your condo? I read that you're renting a three bedroom condo for approx. $900/month. Do you think it's possible to rent a beautiful, furnished one bedroom for $500 or $600/month? I prefer something very quiet rather than city life. Would it be quieter in Batu Ferrenghi or Tanjung Bogong? Should I ask the property manager you mentioned in your blog what's available in both areas??

I would like to stay three or four months, arriving early to mid-December. I know I can get a 90 day visa on arrival. Do you know if it's possible to extend that by another 30 days?

Thank you very much for any insight/help you can give.

jeanne @soultravelers3

No Novy and Gloria, we are no longer in Penang. We left Dec 2013 & it is hard to keep up with comments on old posts like this.

For more info read this!

This apt complex shown is called The Brezza.

It is quieter in Batu Ferrenghi but far from everything & you can still run into lots of noise there. Best to get a high rise to be above the noise and bugs and near the sea for breeze.

We liked Tangun Tokong best and lived in 2 different apts there, this and another for almost a year.

Most places in Penang area are 3 bedrooms & most want a years lease, but you can find others. Have your agent help or scour the internet or knock on doors while there. Apts run $6.00 a month to $6000.00 a month, so wide range.

Negotiations are common & Travis, I think the best time in the winter months.

Good luck!!


Hey great post very informative for those of us interested in making the leap to live in Penang. Do you recall the name of the condo above with the expansive views in tanjuh togong?

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