Moving to Malaysia from California has been an incredibly fun experience, and at times, perplexing. Since it was hard for me to find information about expat living in Malaysia prior to our move, and there aren’t a lot of online resources to help people figure things out when you’re here, I figured I’d help others by sharing what I’ve learned and continue to discover during this amazing expat adventure. As a professional magazine writer, I’m obsessed with diving into the details and finding answers to lots of important expat living questions, like: why does the dentist want to sand-blast my teeth?; how to drive several blocks without dying?; which way to face on a squat toilet and where in the hell is the toilet paper?; where you can buy both an eel and a bra in one glorious shopping experience? and where are some insanely awesome and cheap places to explore in SE Asia? Since I tend to stumble/bungle upon helpful, strange, fun and unique new finds each day, I’m happy to share them to make life a little easier for other expats and people considering moving here or retiring in Malaysia.

And yes, the photo below is how I envisioned expat life in Penang would be. Much to my disappointment, I do not have a monkey on my head 24/7, but I can tell you where to find friendly ones who are more than happy to rest their testicles on your shoulder. Let’s face it, if you’re going to relocate or retire in Malaysia, it’s best to do it with style and panache by wear wearing a monkey as a hat. Right?



11 thoughts on “About

  1. Hey there
    My wife, who never reads blogs, stumbled on your blog. Long story short; we moved from Walnut Creek one year ago to live in Penang and have MM2H. What we don’t have is a lot of expat friends that understand and relate to us and our lifestyle as North Americans (Diane is Canadian). Anyway, love the blog and was hoping to get in touch with you and meet. Our blog is http://www.experimentalexpats.com and we live in Batu Ferrenghi. Give us a look and please send us an email on the blog. We’d love to exchange contact info off line and spend some time together. PS. We love monkeys as much as you and have also been to Borneo. There’s a lots of monkey pics on my blog from here and Thailand
    We’re retired because I got laid off earlier than expected and we didn’t want to work or commute anymore and thankfully at age 51 and 45 we had enough money after selling the overpriced house to give this a shot
    Hope to hear from you soon
    Rob and Diane


    • Hi Howard! Welcome to Penang! My husband and I moved here for an expat work assignment. We love it so much that once we’re ready to retire, this is where we’ll probably do it.


  2. Pingback: Penang Neighborhood Guide for Expats | Penang Personal and Medical Concierge

  3. Hi. Just stumbled on the blog and am loving it. Considering a move to Penang and your information is exactly what I was looking for. One question: Is there any surfing on Penang? I thought I saw you mention a board bag once but wasn’t sure. Thanks again.



    • Hi Alan! So happy to hear that the blog is helping give you a taste of Penang so you can see if it’s right for you. To answer your question, no, there’s absolutely no surfing at all in Penang. The ocean swells are blocked by Sumatra, so there can never be any surf here. The ocean is as flat as a pancake, although locals often talk about “big waves” which gets us excited, and then when we see the microscopic ripples they’re referring to, we realize that not even a squirrel could ride those “waves.” But there are sometimes direct flights to Pedang, so you can hop over the Mentawais (some of the best surfing on earth) pretty easily, and Bali is also a cheap flight, and sometimes you can get good fares to Mauritius and the Maldives. We kitesurf and foilboard, and Penang is an okay place for both – not fantastic since the wind is pretty variable and light, but when you’re desperate for a kite fix, you make it work. 🙂 When we want to ride waves, we head to Indo. Does that help?


    • Hi there! We’re from the SF Bay Area. As we don’t have children and don’t have friends with little ones, I don’t do any posts about kids stuff. Sorry! But do join some of the Penang expat groups on Facebook and I’m sure you’ll learn lots of stuff to do with kids here.


  4. Hi Cimeron! My husband and I are planning to retire early and move to Penang in about 4yrs and have been researching everything we can find on the subject. We plan on visiting next year just to see and experience that area just to make sure it is everything we are reading/learning says it is. My husband came across your blog in his relentless quest for information about Malaysia and it has really helped answer some of our questions and has been a pleasure to read/learn as well as belly gut laugh, sometimes cry (due to laughing so hard) when reading your articles. You are an amazing writer and have an even better sense of humor! I noticed you pretty much stopped adding articles in 2018? Did you move out of Malaysia? If you are currently still in that area is there any information you could give us on the MM2H program? What we have found has left us with uncertainty and even more questions.


    • Hi Candice! Nice to meet you. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve gotten some helpful information and entertainment out of my stories. We still live in Penang and are very grateful to be here – the government has done a fantastic job of stopping the spread of Covid in Malaysia, so everyone here is able to live normally again. I just haven’t written any new stories for my site in a while because I got very busy with work (I’m a magazine writer) and travel, and then…well, Covid hit the world and I’ve been busy doom-scrolling the news ever since.

      As for the the MM2H program, it’s current on hold. The government decided to move the program from the Ministry of Tourism to the Ministry of Immigration. They’ve said they’re undergoing a review of the program while also making the departmental transfer, and they hope to restart MM2H by December 2020. They haven’t provided more info, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the new MM2H program looks like once they unveil it.

      I hope you’re staying safe, wherever you are in the world!


      • Cimeron,

        Nice to meet you as well 🙂 I can see why your busy, you are a very good writer. I hear you on the doom scrolling, I had to just stop because it was making me crazy! We live in the United States in the state of Oregon (originally from California) and we are still dealing with the politics of Covid. We still have a lot of restrictions and many of our small businesses our suffering/closing because of it 😦 and now we have violent non peaceful rioting going on as well, it’s a mess. We really can’t wait to move to a more peaceful place where people are kind.

        I am glad to hear they are making changes to the MM2H program, hopefully they will make it a little easier for retiring expats who want to live there full time 🙂 I am excited to see what they come up with.

        I am happy to hear you are still in Penang. We are hoping to visit next year at some point after all the Covid restrictions/quarantine are over on our side of the world and we get back to normal. If you have time when we visit we would love to meet you in person and pick your Penang brain :)’ Until then we will keep nerding out on all things Penang!

        Thank you for responding! Happy writing! 🙂


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