2023 Estimated Cost of Living in Georgetown Penang Malaysia

2023 Estimated Cost of Living in Georgetown Penang Malaysia

We have been to Georgetown Penang many times before. So all the cool tourist things to do are shared in my earlier report. In this supplement, we share only where we ate, where we stayed, and an updated cost of living including only rent, food, transportation, and entertainment. Visit our earlier report for all the other information you typically see in our reports.

Here is our estimated cost of living converted into US dollars if the two of us were to Retire Early on $839 USD per month in Georgetown Penang Malaysia on a tight budget. But we are all different, so you will have to put your feet on the ground in Georgetown to determine your cost of living based on where you would live, what you would eat, and how you would entertain yourself. The below exchange rate was about 4.4 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) to $1 USD when we were there but that varies so check the current exchange rate.

Rents: You will see furnished 1 bedroom apartments in the range of about 1000 RM to 2000 RM ($227 to $454 USD) per month if we were willing to sign a lease for a year or more. We asked our Airbnb landlord how much she would rent us the place if we stayed for 6 months or more and she said 1200 RM per month. I asked what her highest electricity bill has been so far in the place and she said 120 RM per month. So we will use her numbers of 1200 RM per month in rent and 120 RM per month in electricity, or $272 USD per month in rent and $27 USD per month in electricity. Scroll down to see “Where we stayed.”

Be sure to read my report on how I find perfect apartments around the world so you will know how I am usually able to get better deals with my feet on the ground.

Utilities: We will estimate electricity at 120 RM ($27 USD monthly). There is no gas used at the property and water would be about $6 per month so about $33 USD per month for our estimated utilities per month.

Groceries: Based on our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $280 USD per month on groceries for the two of us. But that only works if you shop at the open-air public markets for fresh foods like the Chowrasta Market here. If you like going to air-conditioned indoor supermarkets you could easily rack up another $100 more per month or more. If you want to buy imported goods like foreign wines and cheeses, you could easily add another $100 on top of that. We would shop mostly in the public market where the vegetables, fruits, rice, and meats are cheaper, and only go to the more expensive supermarkets to get what we could not find in the public market.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for lunch somewhere, plus some street food, we would spend around $40 per week or $160 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We would eat mostly local-style foods in mom-and-pop-style restaurants rather than expensive expat-style restaurants.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge our prepaid service is 60 RM $14 per month. My android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Laundry: Many apartments here have washing machines but you will see coin-operated laundries around also. We would rent a place with a clothes washing machine so we would only spend another 20 RM ($5 USD) on detergent. People hang dry their clothes here. The apartment we rented has a clothes washing machine but not a dryer.

Water: We would buy a new Joven Water filter about once a year for 265 RM ($60 USD). That works out to be about $5 per month.

Internet: Our home Internet service would be about $30 per month for 60 MBPS WIFI.

Transportation: The fun areas around Georgetown Penang are all tightly packed in the colonial-era city center. Plus they have buses running all over the palace every 20 to 30 minutes which we would ride here. So if we moved here we would just use Grab Taxi to get groceries home and ride buses and walk everywhere or ride bicycles the rest of the time. We estimate around $40 per month for transportation.

Alcohol (Optional): The dive bar and alcohol source where we buy beer in Georgetown has beers in the range of about 7 to 8 RM each. But you could easily double and triple those prices in bars and restaurants. So for the two of us, we estimate about $120 USD per month since we would drink more at home than in expensive bars.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $150 per month for entertainment for the two of us.

Retire Early on $839 USD per month in Georgetown Penang Malaysia


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Alcohol (Optional)


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Entertainment (Optional)


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Not all of your potential expenses are listed in the above table. Visit Numbeo for Penang and add anything you spend money on in your home country each month that is not mentioned in the above table. This is our estimated cost of living if the two of us moved here on a tight budget. To fully understand what it would cost you to live here, you must do an exploratory visit and put your feet on the ground. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live cheaper than we do.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

More typical ex-pat living costs here range from about $1500 to $2500 per month. But people spending that much often have higher incomes or pensions. They often report spending more on entertainment, eating out, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

Many of you will likely be unable to retire on so little here. I give example reasons why in this report: Understanding Why Overseas Living Costs Vary Widely. Several other reports you should read include How to NOT FAIL at Retiring Cheap Overseas and the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explain why you should have emergency funds available for unexpected large expenses.

Restaurants: My favorites on this trip bubbled to the top.

Garden Banana Leaf: My favorite meal of this trip was this Indian meal served on a banana leaf nder a tent from a food cart. It was 10 RM each or $2.22 USD each. OMG!

Restoran Singgah Sebentar: This place was right around the corner from where we stayed. The food is delicious and very reasonably priced. It has meat and vegetarian dishes. I had roti canai for $0.25 USD and Qiang had bird nest eggs roti canai for $0.75 USD. Coffee is about $0.75 USD also. We really loved it so we went back 3 times.

Woodland Vegetarian: 3 RM Masala tea, Bombay Curry 14 RM, Chenna Batura 6 RM. This 25 RM total, was super delicious, we were both full. That is $5.55 USD for both of us to have an amazing dinner in the tourist area of Little India.

Ho Xin Vegetarian Restaurant: We loved this one last time we were in Georgetown so we went back and loved it just as much. Vegetarian lunch is about $1.75 USD.

Vegetarian Delight (near apartment): $1.32 per meal. On home days we would just go for lunch and bring home another for dinner. Hard to justify shopping, cooking, and cleaning at these prices.

Gold Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant: I had a nice lunch here for $21 USD. Right across the street, Qiang has a pork noodle dish (888 Hokkien Mee) for about $2.40 USD. We both loved our meals.

Kannaa’s Bamboo Masala Briyani Penang: You have to try biryani if you never have before. They have vegetarian and meat versions. It is cooked in bamboo. It was $2.75 per person.

Hin Bus Depot: Tourist pricing, but you have to eat and this is a fun place to spend the day. $2.88 Salad and $5.88 Grilled Chicken. This is the one in the above video.

Haidilao Hot Pot: We took Qiang’s brother here for his birthday. This is a well-known Chinese Hot Pot style celebration place so is kind of expensive. But hey, it was his birthday! In the video, this is near the beginning where the server is tossing noodles in the air.

Dive Bar: We did a meet-up with Vagabond Buddha members at our favorite dive bar in Georgetown. Beers are about $1.75 to $2.25 USD which is super cheap for Malaysia. You could easily pay triple that price in bars and restaurants. It looks like a retail store with no seating inside, but you will see a stack of red plastic chairs outside where everyone drinks and chats the night away. You will find characters from all over the world telling stories here, … some tales are taller than others.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at this Airbnb.com for about $25.00 USD per night. Once we had booked and had her WhatsApp number, we asked our Airbnb landlord how much she would rent us the place if we stayed for 6 months or more and she said 1200 RM per month. I asked what her highest electricity bill has been so far in the place and she said 120 RM per month. So we will use her numbers of 1200 RM per month in rent and 120 RM per month in electricity, or $272 USD per month in rent and $27 USD per month in electricity. We used these numbers for our long-term estimates above.

Thanks for reading my report, 2023 Estimated Cost of Living in Georgetown Penang Malaysia. Make sure to read my earlier report to see all of the fun stuff to do while you are here.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?