• Buying Property in Penang: The Definitive Guide

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    Malaysia was the only country that qualified into the list “the best countries to retire in as a foreigner”, made by Forbes.

    When foreign property buyers look for real estate in Malaysia, Penang is one of the prime options. Here, you have access to newly built condominiums, as well as villas.

    Property prices are significantly lower than the major cities in Australia, Mainland China, but also in Singapore and Hong Kong.

    Before you buy property in Penang, it’s important that you get your feet wet and learn about local buying regulations, where to buy property, and more.

    Topics covered in this article:

    • Minimum Property Investment Requirements in Penang
    • Where should I buy property in Penang?
    • Penang Real Estate Agents

    Minimum Property Investment Requirements in Penang

    The Malaysian Government has introduced minimum investment requirements as protective measures to protect local property buyers.

    As described in my separate article about buying property in Malaysia, foreigners need to pay a minimum amount that differs between states.

    Penang has a remarkably higher limit compared to other parts of Malaysia.

    The Island has been a popular option for foreign buyers. But nowadays, you can only buy landed properties and villas starting from RM 3 million (around USD 700,000).

    If you want to buy a condo unit on Penang Island, the minimum price limit is set to RM1 million (around 200,000 – 250,000 depending on the exchange rate).

    As prices increase on the island, the Mainland (Seberang Perai) becomes increasingly popular.

    Looking at the minimum investment requirements on the mainland, you need to pay at least RM1 million for a landed house and RM500,000 for condo units.


    Where should I buy property in Penang?

    Penang Island is considered one of the most beautiful and historical places in Malaysia. Most foreigners tend to buy property located in the Northern parts of the island.

    The capital, George Town, is located here. Besides, there are many other areas that can offer a great quality of life, if you decide to reside relocating to Penang.

    Let’s have a look at some popular areas to buy property.

    Batu Ferringhi

    Batu Ferringhi is a popular destination for foreign travelers or people who want to retire in Penang.

    Here, you can find everything from high-end to low-cost diners and plenty of outside activities. There’s a fair amount of other foreigners who reside here.

    George Town is considered a bit congested and noisy by some people. If you look for a more relaxed place, Batu Ferringhi might be your choice.

    Besides, Penang is small. If you feel that you want to visit George Town, it won’t take you more than 20 minutes by taxi 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 most of your needs.

    In fact, many 3 bedroom condos start with a price tag of only RM 400,000.

    George Town

    It’s not strange why the whole of George Town has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage.

    With an old colonial history, diverse local culture, and many eateries, I’ve never met a person that dislikes George Town.

    Plenty of local and foreign medical tourists also visit George Town to receive great medical care for a fraction of the price back home. For example, a tooth filling can cost as little as around USD 25.

    George Town is the place where things “happen” and many foreign exchange students end up party through the nights.

    It’s not rare that foreigners decide to buy a shophouse or townhouse, instead of a unit in a condo. The buying process is comparatively complex though.

    You can easily find a 3 bedroom unit in a condo for RM 1.5 million in George Town.


    Often overlooked, Butterworth is the principal city of Seberang Perai, the name of the mainland in Penang.

    The population of Butterworth is rather small and around 70,000. Yet, as prices increase on Penang Island, people look for investment opportunities elsewhere.

    A great majority of the people living in Butterworth are Chinese. In Kuala Lumpur, there’s a greater mix of Indian, Chinese, and Malay (Bumiputera).

    As mentioned, one of the main benefits of buying property here is that prices are significantly lower.

    The minimum investments required are lower as well. For condos and apartments around half of that on Penang Island, and a third for villas.

    You’ll have no problems finding a 3-bedroom condo unit with 2 bathrooms starting at as little as RM 500,000.

    Penang Real estate agents

    For some property buyers, it can be a daunting task to find a credible real estate agent hundreds, if not thousands, kilometers away.

    It’s important that you do thorough research before visiting Penang to search for property.

    Some of the biggest real estate agents in Penang are:

    • Penang Properties
    • Khoo & Associates Realty
    • IQI Realty Sdn Bhd
    • OSK Property (mainland)

    For property listings you can also visit:

    • PropertyGuru
    • iProperty

    Check the agents’ track record and confirm that they have experience in helping foreigners. This shouldn’t be a problem with the great number of foreigners buying property here though.


    Penang is one of the best places to reside according to many newspapers and reports. Forbes is one example of media channels that have named Penang as one of the best places to live for retirees.

    It’s not strange, as you can enjoy a great quality of life with low-priced but great medical care, tasty local food, and great weather.

    The locals speak English and often Mandarin, you’ll have no issues communicating, which can make your life generally easier. This is not the place in places like Thailand or Vietnam, for instance.

    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.

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