Living in Penang – a Middle Aged Gap Year

Youth smiles without any reason. It is one of its chiefest charms.
– Thomas Gray

After 10 years of working in the bright lights of Hong Kong myself and my wife wanted and needed a break. Hong Kong is a truly wonderful place to both live and work but like any big city it can get to be tiring.

And we were tired.

We have been fortunate to have travelled a lot in these ten years, one of the perks both of being a teacher and being one in Hong Kong means it can give you the time, and if lucky the means to tick some items off the bucket list, and we have certainly done that.

One of the places we visited during that time was Penang. Penang, for those who don’t know is an Island on the west coast of Malaysia famed, and rightly so, for its food, climate and heritage. We loved it, and for that matter the rest of Malaysia as well. 

So when discussions got more serious about taking a break, Malaysia was high on the list, and Penang was top of it.

We visted again, and then again. The first time we had been to the same place twice in over ten years, and then we did it. Handed our notice in, not an easy task to say goodbye to the best pay and conditions a teacher can get possibly on the planet, and started planning our move.

We looked at where to live, transport, local area and with our Hong Kong minds chose something that was as close to where we were leaving as possible, it’s called Quayside here in Penang and it was Park Island back in Hong Kong.


They are both complexes with facilities all over the place, beautiful swimming pools and landscaped gardens and prices to match, but the first year we wanted to give the chance to familiarity to breed contempt before we dived into something more adventerous.

We love it here, despite our rent being a little more than we should be paying (blame over enthusiasm for that!)

We moved over in August 2018 on the Mm2h scheme which allows foreigners a ten year renewable visa to live in Malaysia. You have to prove income of 10000 ringgit a month and put 300000 ringgit into a savings account (@3.4‰ tho so not a hardship) Well these are the figures for us, but if you are over 50 it is only 150000 ringgit. It allows you to buy property, though with so many empty ones that could be a risk, and import a car.

None of these things were high on our list, sitting, studying, making apps, relaxing all by a pool like this was.


There is a good mix of people living here, from all over the world and the local population are really friendly and welcoming. 

Cost of living is cheap and quality is high, we are in easily reach of the mainland and Thailand as well as further afield, and did I mention the food… 20180902_180718

That was our wish for the year, for the next year, well if I can get back into teaching into Hong Kong it’s a strong pull, maybe until I’m 50, but if I can’t I have a feeling the disappointment won’t last too long

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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