Time to Enjoy Life in the Jewel of Malaysia

A few years ago, I was what most people would consider successful. I was working as a consultant and making a good living. But I was restless and unhappy… Deep down I knew there was more to life than just money.

I needed to make a change.

Then, in 2008, I went on vacation to Penang, Malaysia. I knew within two days of being here that this was the place for me—and I’m not the first expat who has moved here to say exactly that.

My wife and I returned home from that vacation, put our affairs in order…and three months later moved to Penang to live. Sometimes moving is just that simple.

It was the best thing that we’ve ever done. In fact, the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it earlier—10 years earlier.

I now live in George Town, a city of 600,000 people, Malaysia’s bohemian food capital.

Penang is one of the architectural jewels of Malaysia. I’ve been living here four years and I love how you can choose your lifestyle.

You can choose to indulge all your interests here. And, if you prefer the simple life, you can have it easily—at a very affordable cost. Groceries are exceptionally cheap and you can eat out without breaking the bank. For breakfast nasi lemak (a hearty combination of fragrant rice soaked in milk, anchovies, cucumber, beef, and prawns) will set you back $1.80. A 13-course Chinese dinner for 10 people costs just $10 a head.

Compared to my stressful, money-focused situation back home, where we never seemed to get ahead no matter how much money I earned, in Malaysia I have plenty of time to live my life and to enjoy the things that I want to do. I work out four days a week, I kayak twice a week and I mountain bike at weekends. I do some freelance writing work when I want to, choose the hours that I want to work, and am currently working on my third book.

It also gives me time to experience and explore the rich culture of Malaysia. There are numerous colorful festivals throughout the year here—at least one a month—but my favorite is The George Town Festival that runs from mid-June to mid-July. It’s an international festival that brings in dance groups from New York, opera singers from Italy, theater groups from China and of course Malaysian artists from all over the country. There’s an event every single night of the week. It’s a month-long party and a fun way to appreciate Malaysian life.

Penang is also a great hub for traveling to other parts of South East Asia with its own first-class international airport. The pristine beaches of Langkawi Island are just 22 minutes away, or, if you fancy somewhere more exotic, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is just an hour away.

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