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Cost of Living in Penang – Things to Know Before the Big Move

Penang-Bridge, cost-of-living-in-penang

Moving to Penang, Malaysia is a big decision which should be done with careful planning and preparation. Knowing the average cost of living in Penang is an important part of your financial preparation.

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Penang has definitely a lot to offer in terms of good standard living condition, plenty of job opportunities – also known as the Silicon Valley of the East, interesting culture and great food. Food in Penang is relatively cheap. A plate of noodle at a hawker stall would probably cost you less than USD2. But if you are considering of purchasing a property, then that might be a costly due to the scarcity of land in this small island.

For your reference, here are some of the costs associated with living in Penang for a typical family of four. (All costs are in Ringgit Malaysia – RM)

Note: USD1 =RM3.1 (Bank Negara Foreign Exchange Rates)

Accommodation and Utilities

The cost of renting a place in Penang depends very much on a few factors such as landed vs apartments or condos, location of place, size, furnished vs unfurnished, quality of furnishing, facilities provided by the apartment and rental agreement. The site has quite a good resource for you to gauge what is the rental cost like in Penang.

  • Electricity = RM200 monthly
  • Gas Cylinder = RM28 – RM30 every 2 months for a 14 kg gas cylinder. Cooking everyday for 1 meal can last ~2 months.
  • Water = RM5 every 2 months. Cook for at least a meal and perform laundry everyday.
  • Broadband/Internet & Phone Line = RM149 monthly. 5Mbps plus phone line. Check out this link for Internet Service Provider comparison.
  • Cable TV = RM88 monthly. Basic Astro package
  • Mobile phone bills for 1 person = RM70 monthly. With 1GB data package plan.
  • House Cleaner = RM50 weekly. Minimum of 4 hrs.

Household – Food and Groceries

Your grocery budget will depend on the type of food you are getting such as organic, branded or imported goods. You can shop for your food in local wet markets, supermarket or a hypermarket. Local markets are usually much cheaper compare to supermarkets. But if you intend to get Western or international goods, then you would need to head to a supermarket. You can read more about where to shop for food and groceries here.

Breakdown of food and groceries for a family of 4

Note: 1kg = 1000g = 2.2lbs = 35.3 ounce

  • Vegetables = RM25 weekly
  • Chicken = RM15-RM20 weekly. RM7-RM9 per kg
  • Local Beef =  RM15 – RM20 weekly. RM7-RM8/kg
  • Pork = RM15-RM20 weekly. RM7-RM8/kg. In supermarkets they are sold in the same area as other non-halal stuff such as sausage, bacon and alcohol.
  • Fruit = RM25 – RM35 Weekly
    • Apple: RM0.7 to RM1.2 each
    • Mango: RM0.8/100g
  • Other Groceries = RM50 – RM100 weekly. This include cereals, milk, formula milk, bread, juice, yogurt, coffee, butter, cheese, beer, cooking oil, dry condiments, pasta, sauces and dressings and rice
  • Household = RM100 – RM200 monthly. This include detergents, hand or body soaps, toilet cleaner, kitchen cleaner, tissues, toilet paper

Eating Out

Meal for family of 2 adults

At a local Restaurant

  • Dinner ($$$) = RM70 – RM150. This will be fine dining restaurants such as Suffolk House, Feringgi Grill and etc.
  • Dinner ($$) = RM40 – RM70. Restaurants such as Macalistermansion, Miam Miam and etc.
  • Dinner ($) = RM20 – RM40. Restaurants in this range do not pay much attention to ambience and customer service.
  • Lunch ($$$) = RM65 – RM120
  • Lunch ($$) = RM40 – RM65
  • Lunch ($) = RM15 – RM40

At a local Hawker stall

  • Lunch/Dinner = RM10. Assuming each of you call a dish like Char Koay Teow, Assam Laksa, etc..

Schooling and Daycare

  • Daycare full day = RM700 – RM900. No studies involved. Includes lunch and afternoon tea break.
  • Daycare half day = RM250 – RM350
  • Kindergarten half day = RM250 – RM350
  • Kindergarten full day = RM700 – RM800. Includes lunch and afternoon tea break.
  • International School: Varies according to age and school. 1 term for the early years can be in the range of RM3k and gradually increase by the years. Normally there are 3 terms to a year.


Penang provides high quality healthcare and facilities at an affordable rate. This is not something surprising since there is a sudden boom in the medical tourism industry here. In 2011, Penang received more than 300,000 medical tourists and the state accounted for 60 per cent of the total medical tourists to Malaysia in the same year.

Just like any other countries, there are 2 types of medical facilities – the government and private hospital. Government hospitals are heavily subsidy and you only pay a fraction of it. However, the standard of service may not be that good. In Malaysia, if you are sick with the common flu or cough, one would just go to a general practitioner in a normal clinic for consultation rather than a hospital. Unless you need to consult a specialist, then a private hospital would be a better choice.

  • Clinic consultation = RM15-RM20. Not inclusive of medicine
  • Private Hospital Consultation = RM35 – RM70. Not inclusive of medicine
  • Paediatric Consultation = RM35 – RM70. Not inclusive of medicine or immunization.
  • Immunization for kids in a private hospital = RM70 – RM120. Depending on what type of immunizations given. Some immunization like pneumococcal vaccine cost ~RM200 for 1 jab which is only available in private hospital.
  • Immunization for kids in government clinic or hospital = Free
  • Government clinic = RM1


Public transportation is still a little inconvenient in the island. Having a car to move around is going to make your life a lot easier if you need to go out a few times in a day for grocery shopping or dropping and picking up your kids from school.

  • Gas/Petrol = RM100 – RM200 monthly. Driving around Penang island in a sedan car. Price per litre for Ron95 is RM2.10
  • Parking = RM25 – RM 30 monthly. Most of the roadside parking in town cost around 30 to 40 cents for half an hour. But a private car park in town can be quite costly.
  • Car Maintenance = RM500 – RM1000 per quarter. Assuming a 5 years old sedan car performing basic maintenance. New cars normally have free services for the 1st 2 years.
  • Car Wash = RM10 monthly. Wash and vacuum.
  • Public Transportation (Rapid Penang) = RM1.40 for 1st 7 KM and RM2.00 for next 7KM.


  • Hair cut (Male) = RM8 – RM20
  • Cinema = RM10 per person
  • Penang Bridge Toll = RM5.60. You will need to buy the Touch ‘n Go Card from Penang Bridge to get this special discount. Else, toll charges will be at RM7.00.
  • Clothings
    • 1 Pair of Levi’s Jeans (501): RM299 – RM359
    • 1 Pair of Adidas Men’s Trainer Shoe: RM200 – RM359
    • 1 Summer dress (Zara, H&M, etc): RM98 – RM150
    • 1 Kid Shirt/blouse (8-14yrs): RM48 – RM70
    • 1 Baby Shirt/blouse (4m – 2yrs): RM38 – RM60

This may not be the most exhaustive list of the cost of living in Penang, so please feel free to let me know if there is anything I might have missed out.

Please tweet this page or share it with your friends if you know of anyone contemplating of moving to Penang Malaysia and wants to know what is the cost of living here.

Photo by photoholic2009

4 thoughts on “Cost of Living in Penang – Things to Know Before the Big Move

  • Lovely


    Any info on the tax deduction styles there in Penang. If any certificate from employer can get you to have the tax deduction to a minimum of 5-6%?

    • Eric Chow


      I’m not a tax expert here. Are you looking for some advice on income tax rules for foreign sourced income or are you getting income from a employer here in Penang?

  • Maureen Moore

    You do not mention how much you have to have in the bank before you can live inPenang…plus assets at home….This figure has just gone up. Friends are leaving….

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