“Had we known how social this place is, how good the food is, how high the standard of living is, and how alike we are to the other expats who live here, I think I would have been pushing to move earlier.
“Even though I owned my own home and had worked hard all my life, I found going out and doing anything at home was prohibitively expensive,” says Cheryl Fankhauser. “A casual meal with friends, including a bottle of wine, would cost on average $80 per person."
Penang ticked all the boxes for me when I was researching a place to live overseas. This cosmopolitan island in Malaysia provides me with all the things I wanted from my new home, including a lower cost of living and friendly locals and expats.
As a soft breeze gently moves the palms around me, I gaze out across a sea of green, perfectly-kept lawn tennis courts. In the distance, where the grass courts end and the playing field begins, there's an early morning cricket match kicking off—a gentle reminder of Penang’s rich colonial history.
As I meet more and more people who are interested in moving here, I think back to the day in 2009 when I made the decision to move to Malaysia. It wasn’t that I was unhappy—in fact, far from it.
When my wife Lisa and I moved to Penang, Malaysia, we decided to join The Penang Sports Club, a five-star facility boasting more lawn tennis courts than any other club in Malaysia. The tennis players there are all levels and ages—a few weeks ago I had a match with a gentleman who is 82. What I love about the club is that most evenings you can turn up on your own, register for a game, and find yourself playing with strangers who soon become friends. It’s incredibly social and we’ve been greeted warmly as new members.
After living in Penang for over six years you’d think that I might be a little blasé about everything that blew me away when I first arrived. But that’s not the case. Things that pleasantly surprised me then, still manage to make me smile now. And when they happen I remember why I moved here.
One of the truly great things I've discovered about living in Malaysia is that it's the perfect jumping off point for exploring some of the region's most stylish destinations. Whether you're in the mood for a mini-break in a bustling city like Bangkok or a beach retreat in Bali, you can get there quickly, cheaply, and in style.
There’s so much to love about island life in Penang, Malaysia, that it’s hard to know where to start. The cost of living has gone down due to the strength of the U.S. dollar and the falling Malaysian dollar, which is great for expats living here. For example, a 2,000-square-foot apartment with sea views that cost $900 a month to rent two years ago is now just $700.
Sitting on my balcony just off the living room, I’m completely surrounded by 100-foot-tall, 200-year-old trees. Sipping my coffee early in the morning, there is one tree that always holds my attention as it’s surrounded by fireflies. I’d never seen them before moving here and they’re quite magical.