Is Penang the most expensive place in Malaysia?


The Malaysian Insider has suggested that Penang is more expensive to live in than Kuala Lumpur. What do you think?

Of course, mainland Penang is slightly cheaper than Penang Island. A friend told me he could get an ‘economy rice’ meal in Butterworth for just RM3.80, while on average it would cost close to RM5 on the island, depending on what you order.

These are a couple of excerpts from the report in the Insider:

A poll by The Malaysian Insider found that Penang, a popular tourist destination, is more expensive to live in than Kuala Lumpur.

The cost of living survey conducted in December covered Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Klang, Kuching and Alor Star.

The survey compared prices of necessities, such as chicken, vegetables (mustard greens and red chillies), fish, house rental and the minimum wage in a month….

An individual would require an income of RM4,000 to survive on Penang island, given its high rental and expensive daily goods.

Trailing closely behind Penang are industrial cities Bintulu in Sarawak and Paka in Terengganu.

However, prices of goods in Penang are much lower on the mainland in places such as Seberang Prai.

The lower cost of living has made nearby mainland towns a sprawling suburban neighbourhood with heavy traffic flow daily on the connecting Penang Bridge.

The poll conducted in December found that a kilogramme of chicken cost RM9 in George Town, while it was only RM7 in Kuala Lumpur and RM6.50 in Klang, Selangor.

In Kuala Terengganu, prices of daily goods are comparatively higher despite its lower cost of living.

A kilogramme of chicken cost RM7.50 while fish, such as mackerel at the Chabang Tiga market cost between RM10 to RM15 depending on the quality.

The cost of seafood there is also not cheap although it is located near fishing villages.

However, low rental rates and toll-free roads have kept the cost of living relatively low in Kuala Terengganu.

With an income of RM2,500 a month, a family can own a car and rent a home.

Then again, many Klang Valley commuters pay a lot more in highway tolls and petrol (think of the hours stuck in traffic jams).

But perhaps what is driving up the cost of living in Penang (and elsewhere in varying degrees) is the spiralling cost of property, driven by speculators/’investors’ and property-led development. Market and retail traders and hawkers in Penang probably factor in higher property and real estate prices (apart from tariff/utility increases/civil servants pay hikes) when fixing their prices.

In JB, the stronger Singapore dollar and the higher purchasing power of Singaporean visitors and Malaysians working in Singapore but living in JB could also be fuelling price increases.

What do you think? Do you agree that Penang is more expensive than KL, Ipoh and JB? And how does it compare with the East Coast, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu?

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thean cheong

Food is not cheap in Penang especially those hawker food catering to tourists are way too expensive with small serving. In KL you may get cheaper and some substantial serving in most places. This is so with beef noodle.

Kimberley Street Funeral Clothing Shopkeeper
Don Anamalai

The electricity tariff in Singapore will be lowered by 1.7% or 0.43 cents per kWh effective from Jan 2014 due to the decreasing of the price of natural gas. The tariff reduction is due to the lower cost of natural gas used for electricity generation.

Singapore does not have natural gas reserve but Malaysia have plenty of natural gas reserve. So why can’t BN does the same to help to lower the cost of living?


It’s becoming a trend now to advertise ones own monetary difficulties and at the same time offer advice to others.

Free market is still the best way to improve living standards. NEP should have thought us that much.


Home Prices Back at Peaks Again.

The control by the state govt will do wonder in appreciating your house. With the control there will be even less house in the market for sale.. Hold on to your house and don`t sell. House price has already appreciate about 10% since the announcement.


Hi Anil, I have been hearing and seeing some unhealthy trend. Over the last 2 years a number of my professional friends have moved out of Penang – either to KL, JB or overseas (Singapore, Australia,etc). The reasons given are two – (1) lack of professional opportunity due to plummeting FDI or migrating MNCs. (2) Quality and cost of living – high cost of houses / congestion / traffic jam / etc. To me this is quite serious since those who are moving are highly educated professionals, so this is actually of brain drain. Do others here also witnessing the… Read more »


When I shook his soft hand in the Han Chiang School field that fateful day just prior to 308 victory, I though we finally had someone who truly came all the way from Melaka to save Penang from the downward spiral to Ostrich black hole. Now, we knew & still know what true substance we are dealing with – No Money, No Talk; Don’t Simply Talk or I Sue You Arrogance; Cat Pot Calling The BN Kettle Black. Someone love calling for free market in all things. Including the political responsibility of state administration mixed with commercial interests? He seems… Read more »


Tunglang : Kita semua kena tipu. Ini kali lah betul betul ini kali lah kena kita teruk baik baik


‘Itu orang’ cakap kita perlu ikat perut hingga 1 inchi, makan ikan bilis, sekarang dia yang pakai Merc S3000L baru shiok-shiok macam Towkay Melaka. Memang betul-betul sikap “No Money, No Talk or I Sue You”.


Tunglang, I think DAP has evolved from its infancy. There is a clear gap between the principles and philosophy between the LKS, Karpal, Patoo,etc generation and the current one led by the likes of LGE, Hannah Yeoh, Pua, etc. DAP 1.0 was socialist and spartan in their approach to materialism. The success and popularity of DAP was very much due to their grass root oriented approach. But the DAP 2.0 is a very different beast. It has no use of socialism, democracy or masses – its a corporation in the guise of a party. That’s why these folks love the… Read more »


Anil, I am surprised that you edited out my comments about CM’s new limo. This was no mere allegation – it is official. He has a brand new S300L limo. I wonder what kind of message he’s sending us Penangites in the midst of price hike and supporting the Turun rally….It is hypocrisy at its worse.


This is the first time in animal kingdom history we are seeing a CAT shedding its skin + white fur. What scientific name should we give to this new found species in Penang island?
Perhilitan (Dept of Wild,Wildlife & National Park), can you help?


tunglang….may be we can ask Anson to help us since he’s the acknowledged international expert on exotic animal species? LOL.

CAT ==> Fat CAT…..


Sir Anson Wongie of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Malayan chapter) has just suggested a fitting name: feliscactusS300Lmelaka-taxinomia1120114
It’s in Latin.


Quramie : Exactly because we are relying on cheap labour !!!. Do you know why. ? Because we are relying on cheap labour to off set the inefficiency & incompetency of the work force in ALL the INDUSTRIES not just electronics despite the CAT being propagated. Without a master plan for the industries, would our industries and workers be able to move forward, catapult and enhance it to a higher level of innovation, expertise and advance technologies that will provide the hall mark for a competitive and sustainable economy which will provide the impetus and momentum for wealth creation and… Read more »


Tell me something new. If rental go sky rocket, did the local government regulate and allow SME food trucks like many other country to set foot on dense urban office area, and also capable make it clean like how Thailand regulate their street hawker with pride?

In addition, is there any urban planning to “off-load” services to sub-urban? To make office space attractive enough so SME can enjoy low office rental when they moved away from the city? What happens to those abandoned sub-urban speculative “private development” project? There should be enough office space outside Penang Island.


Talking about rising prices, something is not going right in JPJ Penang. There are queues of several hundreds daily at the JPJ in Batu Uban. I’ve been there several times the past fortnight and the situation is not improving. Moreover, the service is unavailable ( temporary they say with a sign) in all post offices although I have a friend who could get his road tax renewed last week at a POS Malaysia office with an extra payment but he had to collect it the next day. Of course you can give money to some touts to renew that for… Read more »


Not heard of myeg? Get it done online + courier charge. Well worth the savings on petrol, parking and time.


Yes, have fun with myeg at your nearby kopitiam …


Thank you for your advice. Just imagine the amount of business that could be pushed to this online company on vehicle insurance if some delays were created by JPJ. No one knows why POS Malaysia offices in Penang previously handling road tax renewals suddenly stopped doing so, through “temporary suspension” lasting years. Is POS Malaysia involved in the courier service of those road tax discs ? Courier services charges certainly bring better income than that RM2 commission POS Malaysia gets from road tax renewal.


Did an online search just now and came across a news article in the STAR 2 days ago. Yes, the slow processing by JPJ was noted by the JPJ Pengarah and he attributed it to the new MySikap computer system which gave on-off hiccups since the upgrade from Sikap in late July. In Malaysia, it is not surprising that a lack of information spins conspiracy theories. If the system is having hiccups, it would be courteous and mandatory of the JPJ director to put up a very visible notice at the queue ticket counter to inform motorists. Looks like he… Read more »


Tunglang, that is why don`t go for the so many easy loan around. Too many easy loan become 1 hard load. hahah

Pg Hill, Tiger hill Hiker Kawan of Mr Tunglang

Mr Tunglang is now happily debtless and will not go for any loan, cheap interest or no interest.
That’s how he enjoy life both in Penang and Belum Hutan.


No need for the minimum sum of RM200K in EPF savings at the point of retirement at Belum?

Orang Asli Ranger Company99

Quaramie, still thinking of StarBucks in Belum?
Brew your own coffee, boil your own eggs and live with nature.
Otherwise, you can’t last more than 1 day with tunglang in Belum rainforest.
Not with all the money in your underpants!!!


Maybe you can let the monkeys eat the coffee bean, collect their droppings, then brew your ‘monkey poo’ coffee for kow kow flavour?

Ha ha, just joking before the high tension Barang Naik 2014!


Well, Penang’s apartment don’t cost RM110m!!!!


bigjoe ; And that is the reason why the rich and famous are coming over here. And when it reach 110 million, you bet many will have to live under the bridges. And wow wow how much would my 700 & 800 sq ft apartment or 1 storey house be worth. Do I have to say thank you to DAP LGE & Jagdeep. No because my concern would be for the thousand who would find it very hard to buy or even rent an apartment then. Imaging imagine those living on RM900 salary per month. Do you know how much… Read more »


Ask yourself why wages in Penang cannot go up?
Simply because it is still relying on cheap foreign workers to keep itself competitive in electronics manufacturing despite it is becoming a sunset industry.
Penang should move towards tourism and service industry eg. F&B to attract foreign money.
MICE is important so the revamped PISA is a step in the right direction.


This statement by Jagdeep is enough to tell you that properties in Penang are for the elite and overseas people who have the money. Penangite, brave for immigration to the mainland soon or to Kedah Kulim or Belum Forest.

“I would like to commend developers who have ensured the production of top quality properties for they have put Penang on top of the list of the most sought-after properties in the country,” he said.

najib manaukau

For those who think that Penang or K.L. are expensive cities, please think again in a few more years from now when all the subsidises and new taxes are being implemented. Especially so when the GST is up and running, with everything you consume, with every bill you pay in fact you have to add in an additional 6% for your cost of living. We all have a responsibility to pay for the country’s infrastructure but not for the Umno warlords to fill their foreign banks’ accounts and that is what you are paying for. Of course the egregious Mahathir… Read more »


In George Town kopitiams, a cuppa of Kopi costs Rm1.60 (fixed). Looks like a ‘cartel’ pricing unlike the old days. In Paya Terubong, it still costs Rm1.20, a great difference of 33.33%. Rentals in the city can range from Rm1.8K upwards, notwithstanding some are run down prewar shophouses. One shop with less than 700sf in Jalan Gottlieb rented out @Rm7K!!! How to do business if one is out of corporate rat slavery to improve his income? Even to maintain at own pricing is calling the death kneel when everyone is selling at pasar-malam prices just to get by. This is… Read more »

Smart GrandDaddy

Even that day when Najib/Rosmah came to Esplanade, there are free local street food organised by Tourism Malaysia.
For free food, Federal gomen events have more budget than Penang Gomen.
Eat Eat Eat FOC

btw, haircut ~RM6 in heritage penang or RM60plus plus plus with free “message” at special locations in Penang 🙂

Orang Asli Ranger Company99@Belum Hutan

Why you get so exicted or is it agitated?
Go for a walk at Straits Quay or sip coffee@Satr Bucks.
Take care of your heart, granddaddy. You are not tunglang.


Why keep blaming the spiral of housing and properties prices on the people and investors when its the developers with the blessing of the LGE DAP govt policy that encourage the rise in prices of property & others goods. Take an example of how the state govt sold and contra state land such as Bayan Bay and Tg Tokong at way above prices of RM500 and RM1200 per sq ft when the current is only about RM250-500 on Penang island. On the surface it look as though the govt is making a good deal but then its lopsided with many… Read more »


Malaysians struggling to cope with the hike in the prices of goods and services vented their frustrations and anger in complaints and New Year wishes posted on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Facebook page.

Netizens appear unconvinced by Putrajaya’s attempt to justify price hikes and subsidy rationalisation with the argument that it was necessary to protect the economy and investor confidence.


Lease 8k a year you say too little. Sell at record price you say too much. Too obvious with your not so hidden agenda.


Disagree on “its high rental and expensive daily goods.” Property in Penang island may be more expensive but rental is still cheaper than KL. Food is still much cheaper in Penang


Illusionary : Try All Season in Farlim. 20K plus depending on the location for the ground floor @ just over 2k sq ft. I bet Gurney Paragon is even more expensive. Rental prices whether in KL or Penang depend on location. KLCC is very much expensive than Lot and Lot is much more expensive than Sungai Wang and Sungai Wang is very much expensive than some low down area or complex. On the whole situation almost the same. All are becoming more and more expensive. If you meet a chiat pau bey pau landlord, he will just say take it… Read more »


Who says Penang is not the most expensive place on Tanah Cinta Ku?
The slippery Penang Road@Komtar Tower of tokongs has now added a daily commuting vehicle of the rich & famous: the Mercedes S300L.
Now, who says Penang For The Bin Chui is not expensive?


What i know is that langkawi is the most expensive. ?..and the vegetables and fruit they offer youmost of the time… you wont feed it to the pigs in other countries

Adrian Lim

Need to compare with East Malaysia. Sabah especially


Sabah is even worst which is why Sabahan & Sarawakian are now one of the poorest in Malaysia.


Exactly Adrian,