When looking for a place to retire, cost of living is the first concern for a lot of people. Many are on a fixed budget and want to live in a place that has all the comforts of home without the same high costs. Penang, an island just off Malaysia’s west coast, is that place.
On $2,500 a month, a couple can live extremely well. Rent in a modern highrise with a pool, a gym, and security guards will cost about $750 to $800. That price will get you a modern 2,300-square-foot condo with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a balcony overlooking the ocean. If you don’t care to live with a view or by the beach, you can rent a two- or three-bedroom place for about $550 to $650, which means you could easily live on less than $2,000 a month.
By embracing the local way of living, you can cut your total monthly costs down even more. At the grocery stores and even at the restaurants, Western food is more expensive. If you eat native fruit, like mangos, papayas, and bananas, it’s much more affordable than the imported apples and oranges.
Penang is known for its food. In fact, it was given the title of Best Foodie Destination for 2014 by Lonely Planet. Eat where the locals eat. It is safe for foreigners, delicious, and you will only pay about $1 for a plate of noodles and up to $10 for a whole steamed fish—plenty of food for two people.
The cost of healthcare is so low that few expats have health insurance—most people pay out of pocket. There are seven hospitals on the island of Penang, so there are plenty of doctors and specialists to choose from. Most of them were trained in the UK, U.S. or Australia so their quality of care and standards are the same as they are in the Western world. All of them speak English, and that makes understanding the issues and dealing with foreign patients easy. And from a patient’s point of view, you have peace of mind, knowing that you can communicate with the doctor dealing directly with you.
If you wanted to splurge you could get a cleaning lady for $3.50 per hour, a pedicure for about $13 or even a foot massage for $18. With those prices, why not indulge!
Here’s a sample budget for a couple living in Penang:
|Internet and landline||$38|
|Butane gas (for cooking)||$4|
|Fuel for car||$32|
|Maid (four hours a week)||$19|
|Entertainment (eating out five nights a week, alcohol not included)||$286|