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Malaysia was the only country that qualified into the list called: The best countries to retire in as a foreigner, made by Forbes.
Here, you can enjoy a great quality of life, especially in places like Penang, which is more relaxed compared to Kuala Lumpur.
Property prices are also incomparably low to places like Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mainland China.
In this article, I explain the basics you need to know if you’re interested in buying a property in Penang.
Minimum property investment for foreigners in Penang
The Malaysian Government has introduced protective measures to avoid that foreigners buy up a large number of properties in the country.
As I’ve described in my buyers guide about Malaysia, foreigners need to pay a minimum amount for property, these differ depending in which state you buy.
Penang has a somewhat higher limit compared to other parts of Malaysia.
The Island has been a popular place for foreign buyers, but nowadays, you can only buy landed properties (houses) for RM 3 million or more (around USD 700,000).
If you want to buy a unit in a condo on the Island, the minimum price limit is set to RM1 million (around 200,000 – 250,000 depending on the exchange rate).
However, the Mainland (Seberang Perai) is becoming increasingly more popular and you’ll also be able to put up a lower amount of cash.
You need to pay at least RM 1 million for a landed house and RM 500,000 for a unit in a condo.
If you look for “cheaper” property, the Mainland might be your place to go.
Where should I buy property in Penang?
Penang Island is one of the most beautiful places in the world, most foreigners and expats tend to buy property located in the Northern parts of the island.
The capital, George Town, is located here and many other areas that can offer a great quality of life if you decide to reside in Penang.
Let’s have a look at some popular areas to buy property as a foreigner in Penang.
Batu Ferringhi is a popular destination for foreign travelers or people who want to retire in Penang.
You’ll be able to find everything from high-end to low-cost dinners, outside activities, and other foreigners who want to grab a pint or two with you.
George Town is considered by some people to be a bit congested and noisy.
If you look for a more relaxed place, you don’t necessarily see it as a drawback that Batu Ferringhi is often described as more relaxed and laid back.
Penang is small, if you ever feel that you want to visit George Town, it won’t take you more than a 20-minute drive from Batu Ferringhi.
With a minimum investment of RM 1 million, you’ll have no problems finding a decent unit in a condo that suits your needs.
In fact, many 3 bedroom condos start with a price tag of RM 400,000.
It’s not strange why George Town has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage.
With an old colonial history, diverse local culture, and many attractions, you’ll have difficulties to not like this place.
A big chunk of local and foreign medical tourists also goes here to receive great medical care for a fraction of the price back home (yes, you can get a tooth filling for around USD 25).
George Town is the place where things “happen” and many foreign exchange students end up party through the nights.
A reason why George Town has become a UNESCO world heritage is that it has managed to keep many old shophouses and townhouses.
It’s not rare that foreigners decide to buy a shophouse or townhouse, instead of a unit in a condo.
Prices are comparably cheap with many other places in Asia, like Hong Kong or Singapore.
You can easily find a 3 bedroom unit in a condo for RM 1.5 million in George Town.
Butterworth (the Mainland)
Often overlooked, Butterworth is the principal city of Seberang Perai (the name of the Mainland part of Penang).
The population of Butterworth is rather small and around 70,000, though, as prices increase on The Island, people look for investment opportunities here.
A great majority of the population is Chinese, in Kuala Lumpur the amount of Bumiputera is slightly more than Chinese, although almost equal.
One of the main benefits is that property is substantially cheaper compared to the Island.
In addition, the minimum investments required are lower, for condos and apartments ½ compared to those on the Island, for landed houses, 1/3.
You’ll have no problems finding a 3 bedroom unit in a condo with 2 bathrooms starting at RM 500,000.
Penang Real estate agents
It might be a daunting task trying to find a real estate agent hundreds, if not thousands, kilometers away.
It’s important that you do some decent research online before you go to Penang to search for property.
Some of the biggest real estate agents in Penang are:
a. Penang Properties
b. Khoo & Associates Realty
c. IQI Realty Sdn Bhd
d. OSK Property (mainland)
For property listings you can also visit:
Make sure that the company has the experience of helping foreigners, like yourself, and don’t be afraid of asking for previous case studies or testimonials.
Penang is one of the best places to reside according to many newspapers and reports.
It’s not strange, as you’ll experience a great quality of life with cheap high-class medical care, tasty local food, great weather.
The locals speak English (and often Mandarin) so you’ll have no issues communicating, which can make your life generally easier.
Foreigners are required to bring a minimum investment of RM 1 million for condos on the Island, while on the mainland, the limit starts at RM 500,000.
You should not overlook the Mainland and cities like Butterworth, buyers tend to invest more here when property prices increase on the Island.