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Penang, Malaysia: The Modern Island City

Sitting right in the middle of Southeast Asia, just off the coast of Malaysia is the island of Penang. Here, you can wake up every morning to the ocean breeze. Instead of your stressful commute, you can walk along the beach and see coconut palms, birds and laid back island dwellers. You’ll have less worries, less stress and less stuff. Sounds good?  

While being on a tropical island feels like a luxury while you’re on vacation, living there doesn’t come with the high-end price tag you would imagine. Island life is actually much cheaper than living in most major cities in the US or Europe, especially if you’re willing to venture into other parts of the world.  

Southeast Asia with its warm weather, colorful culture, and low cost of living is the perfect place to look at for your nomadic journey. Virtually all of Southeast Asia lies between the tropics, giving it rich seas and jungles, diverse plant, and animal life and warm temperatures.  

Sometimes the decision will boil down to location, accessibility and convenience. Penang, Malaysia ticks all the boxes. 

Moving to Penang promises you an excellent quality of life at a price so cheap that you don’t need to work much at all. The elusive island life is not just for the ultra-rich. If you’re willing to venture into Southeast Asia, its actually very affordable and accessible for anyone. Yes, YOU can embrace your spirit of adventure, retire early and live here on as little as $1,200 per month.  

Penang has a strategic location that makes it a perfect jump-off point to explore other destinations such as the white sand beaches of the Philippines or the temples of Myanmar. From anywhere in the world, you can fly to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Penang is about 370 km away and is accessible by a domestic flight, train or bus ride.  

All travelers who visit Malaysia are encouraged to visit Penang, for good reason. The food, culture and natural wonders here are all awesome. There is a wide variety of food to choose from – ranging from international cuisine to local fare.  

There are countless things to do, and no two days here will be the same. You can climb 200 meters up the futuristic KOTMAR, explore Penang Botanic Gardens or go hiking at Penang Hill to see exotic animals if you’re lucky. Penang is rich in culture, with hundreds of iconic street art, trendy cafés and bars and Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist temple Kek Lok Si.  

The capital George Town is a modern city, making it a favorite amongst expats for decades. The colorful, multicultural capital of the island of Penang is filled with British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and mosques. Beyond the old town, skyscrapers and malls tower over – giving a very unique old and new world feel to the city. The best way to appreciate George Town is to visit Verdant Penang Hill with hiking trails and a funicular railway that overlooks it all.  

As a modern city, all the amenities you would need can easily be accessed here. English is widely spoken as Penang was a former outpost of the British Empire. These make it very easy to adapt to life in Penang coming from the US or other countries. 

The best thing about Penang is the price. You can easily live a luxury life here on a budget. A couple can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $1,200 to $2,500. Okay, I’m sold!  

If you are too it’s time to add some adventure to your daily routine. If you’re looking for a good place to start, you can prepare by getting rid of those shoes. You won’t need them on the island. Check out our flip flop recommendations and reviews to buy a new pair to take with you on your island adventures.