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What to Look for When Renting a House or Condo

Renting apartment in Penang

Without a doubt, finding the ideal physical home to live in is perhaps one of the most daunting of all the things an expat has to face when moving to a new country. There are so many things to consider and the decision to find the most suitable place is definitely not easy, especially when you consider yourself how little time you have.

Firstly, one must decide whether to go with landed property vs condominium or apartment as this decision will influence some of the things that you should look for when renting. Landed property here are considered as houses, duplexes, bungalows or townhouses and condominium as apartment, super-condo or flat. Both of these type of properties have their pros and cons. Some of the items will be discussed below. Assuming that you have done all the necessary homework, then the list below will help you to think about what to look for when renting a house, condominium or apartment.

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Choosing the right location can be a tough decision. There are a few questions that you can ask in order to get an understanding of the area and location. Do I need to live in or near an expat community? How convenient is transportation? Are there any public transportation nearby if I don’t have a car to move around? Is there a school nearby? What are the nearby amenities?


Generally, the crime rate in Penang is considered low to moderate comparing to other neighbouring states in Malaysia. Security level for condos are relatively much tighter compare to staying in landed property. They also vary differently, with some condos requiring card access for every single floor or some requiring card access to the lift only. Some condos also required visitors to sign-in at the guardhouse before being allowed into the compound of the condo.

As for landed property, you may want to check out whether the house you are renting has a gated or guarded community. A gated or guarded community usually has only one to two points of exit within the housing area with a guard station there 24×7. Landed property is usually a much more easier target for break-ins. That is why you will see that all landed properties in Malaysia have their compound fenced up. For a tighter security, some houses may installed security alarm or surveillance camera.

You should be able to judge the security level when you do a house viewing with your real estate agent.


Condos usually come with a few amenities such as swimming pool, gym, aerobic rooms, barbeque pit and so forth. Some condos may have multiple swimming pools available to the resident such as safe children’s play pool for parents with young little kids. The benefit of condos is that you can have all these amenities all in one place.

Parking is part and parcel of a condo deal. If you are staying on a landed property, then this would not be an issue. Usually condos will provide 1 to 2 parking spots for the resident of 1 unit. So take note of the number of cars that you may have. Also take note of the distance of the parking spot to your condo unit, especially if you need to carry groceries pretty often.


This is one consideration that is not so easy to find out. But it pays to do your homework if you plan to rent the place.  There are some areas in Penang where most of the expats are congregated. Here are some suggestions to investigate the neighborhood where you want to live. The easiest approach would be to talk to the neighbors. It would be best to go a separate time without your real estate agent around to find out more about the neighborhood. Ask them about any recent break-ins, ask their opinions about the area or anyone planning to do any renovation to do their home. Secondly, if you have the time, try to visit day and night, weekday and weekend to get a sense of the neighborhood after hours. Is it noisy or quiet? Thirdly, the easiest approach would be to google the street address. You may at least get an idea how is the surrounding neighborhood looks like.

Internet Connection

If you are a person that needs to be on the internet most of the time, then this next consideration should be of importance to you. The internet speed in Penang varies with different location and condominium block. There are some areas where it does not support the fibre optic infrastructure and the highest internet speed that you can get is only ~4Mbps. Likewise, there are some places can support internet connection speed up to 100Mbps. The two major dominating internet service provider in Malaysia today are TIME and UNIFI. TIME currently only support for condo and not landed property. I have also written a lengthy article regarding this topic. So choose your location wisely if this is one of your important criteria.

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Phone Reception

Check to see whether your phone service provider has a strong phone reception around the area. Forgetting to do this could cause some inconvenience to you at a later stage as others may not be able to get to you through a cell phone.


Is privacy one of your concern? Landed property will have better privacy compare to condos. However, if you are staying in a super-condo, then privacy should not be an issue as usually one floor is dedicated to one or two units. Some super-condos may even have their own private lift.

Pet Policy

How pet friendly is this property? Usually it is not a concern to have pets in a landed property but if you are planning to rent a condo, then please make sure what is the policy of the condo for keeping pets.


It all depends whether you are renting a place that is fully, partially or not-furnished at all. If you are renting a furnished place, then please take note of all the appliances that are provided. It is best to come prepare with a list of items that is needed by you. And also make sure all the appliances are working.

  • Air-conditioner. Are all the room installed with one? How about the living room?
  • Ceiling fans
  • Water-heater. Check whether it is a localized water heater or using a switch at the outside. Does all the bathroom have one?
  • Shower. How is the water pressure?
  • Oven. This is usually base on preference. Is it a microwave, electric, built-in or gas oven?
  • Microwave
  • Stove/burners. Are they using gas, electric or a hybrid?
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer. If there is no dryer, check to see if there is a place for drying clothes.
  • Faucets and toilets. Try to turn on the tap or flush the toilet to see if it is clogged.
  • Light switches – Do all the light works?
  • Electric or power outlets. It’s always a good idea to bring a phone charger to see all the outlet works.
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11 thoughts on “What to Look for When Renting a House or Condo

  • I am based in the UK but coming over to investigate Penang as a retirement base. Arriving early 2018 and being there the 3 months of january to march and yet to find accommodation or region – but no hurry for that.
    I just wanted to say……. what a FANTASTICALLY useful site PenangForExpats is. Thus far in my researches it is the ONLY website really worth consulting. A lot more reading to do but thank you so much for making all this information available.

  • Rachalle

    Hi Tony,
    Presently staying in my townhouse in Pearl hill, But will be going back to uk in November. LOvely townhouse for rent if you are interested.A 3 beds, 2 bathrooms, townhouse in a very green surrounding situated in the tourist resort of Tanjung Bungah.,near to Dalit international school, and walkers,locals and expats walking up and down the hill in the early morning. Near to the biggest wet market in the region with food stalls in the morning and weekly night market everytuesday.
    Property comes furnished with 3 air cons in all the bedrooms, washing machine, fans fridge etc.If any queries, email me at , or alternatively you can phone 01904341350 uk after 1/12/2017.

  • Jen

    I’m an Australian retiree and I’m looking for a one bedroom fully furnished condo in a gated community with a swimming pool. How much would that cost per month?

  • Kad

    just came across your site … a very interesting and useful one. thanks for all these very helpful articles. I visited Georgetown a few weeks ago and intend to come back for a second visit in May 2018. Hopefully, I intend to retire via MM2H the following year. Your exhaustive articles give a clear idea of what to expect or look for.
    Thanks again.

  • hi eric,

    we are relocating to penang, & i had been there for a week to look for rented houses. however i am unable to find any that fits my budget; & is what i want.
    what i want:
    sea facing
    3-4 bedrooms
    high floor
    new condos – not old furnished.
    monthly rent: rm 2.8k to 3k

    we are a family of four from india. a couple & two sons.

    i liked landmark, fettes & jazz suites
    however; the houses i saw; in that jazz & fettes did not have a balcony.
    do you have any there with balcony? or high floor?

    or do you have any in landmark that is on high floors?


  • Lana

    Hello Eric,
    I am planning to visit Penang for a month. What rental agency would you suggest to look for a short term stay? Thank you!
    Best regards, Lana

  • Clifford CK Waaka

    Hello Eric
    First time viewer on this site.I am coming over 24-25 February to live in Penang. I have had a good look around the various suburbs.Please send me a reliable agent that can help me to select the right location. My plan was to go directly to the condo to live for up to 12 months. Ex Army Vet and coming from New Zealand


  • Hicham


    We are couples from Norway, we are looking for a 2 bedroom apartment in penang full furnished with swimming pool from 4 January 2020 to 30 April 2020. What will it cost if someone knows about someone who wants to rent this period so get in touch.

    Kadi and Hicham.

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