Five years in Malaysia

Five years ago today we arrived in Malaysia to live.  It went fast.

We already had our MM2H visa from a previous visit. We brought everything we thought we needed at first on the plane, but not so much that we incurred excess luggage charges.  At first we stayed in the Gurney Hotel, and went out with estate agents viewing apartments to rent, looking for a one year contract in a condo with facilities.   The plan was that during this one year we could decide if we actually wanted to live in Penang, and travel elsewhere in Malaysia to see if somewhere else would be better. And if we decided to stay, then we could start considering where, and what kind of property to buy.

We found an apartment in Batu Ferringhi, and stayed for one year.  Then we moved down to a condo near Queensbay Mall, and lived for a little over a year there.  Having a friend in Balik Pulau we often visited there, too.  Thus we experienced living really in three areas of Penang, the stay in Gurney Hotel giving us an idea of Pulau Tikus, and we had a view on Balik Pulau, too.  Some travel in Malaysia convinced us that for our purposes Penang is the best place for us to live.  We thought that by now we could judge a suitable property for us, and we found a house in Pulau Tikus.

Once we moved into the house we talked to and got estimates from several builders, then had a small area of the house boarded up – the kitchen, and we lived there while the house was worked on.  Then we changed living quarters to upstairs so the kitchen could be worked on. This may have been uncomfortable, but as we were living there we could more easily and accurately decide how best to renovate. Then, at last, it was all done.

Since then we have been living comfortably. Meanwhile, Penang has generally been improving, with the exception of traffic worsening. It is difficult for the state government to improve public transport as the responsibility is in the hands of the federal government. Some road improvement has been completed, and several bigger projects are in the pipeline, so eventually it will be better.  Drivers’ manners seem to be improving, too. The island has become cleaner, many heritage buildings have been cleaned or renovated, bicycle paths are planned, and partly already implemented, etc. Anyway, I have written about this before.

As it is, Penang is small, and everywhere is only a few minutes drive away, so I visit the petrol station for a top up perhaps once a month. I would like to walk, and sometimes do, but the footpaths, while also improving, are still either non-existent, poor, or are parked across by inconsiderate drivers, forcing you onto the busy roads. I’d also like to cycle, but near home there are no facilities, and the roads are far too dangerous.  But another major reason for doing neither is the heat.  If out walking in the middle of the day, it is prudent to take it slowly, drink liquids, and wear a hat. I have ignored this a couple of times, and been repaid with heat exhaustion.  And you don’t exactly arrive anywhere looking spiffy.

Another point is that after a few years here, I am noticing I am feeling the effects of constant 12 months a year heat.  I really need to go somewhere cool for at least a week, perhaps longer, at least once a year. Even the Cameron Highlands or Chang Mai would probably be OK.

Living in a house, and liking to be surrounded by plants, means being annoyed by mosquitoes, despite having electronic devices to discourage them, and screens on all windows.

After the election there has seemly been a lot of unrest, but that hasn’t affected us at all.  The only precaution we took was not going out on election night – but even that caution may have been unnecessary.

I could ramble on, and have covered many things in previous blogs, but we still consider Malaysia to be a good retirement choice.

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