Cost of Living in Penang, Malaysia

Penang is an island-state off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and a very popular tourist destination in Malaysia.

Cost of living is generally cheap in Penang but due to an increase in tourists, prices have started growing and now it’s pretty expensive especially when it comes to food.

Depending on the purpose of your stay, whether it’s for a holiday or a long term stay, generally Penang is still considered a cheaper city compared to other cities in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru.



As already mentioned, food can be both expensive and cheap, cheaper still if you want to experience the hawker food stalls, but it all depends on what you want. A very good meal at a high class restaurant could come up to about 20$-25$ per person. But given the quality of the street food, you won’t even have to bother finding a fancy place to eat lunch in.



If you plan on cooking by yourself, you can find plenty of food at Batu Ferringhi night market but remember to bargain. Always pop over to the local markets – if you want some fresh cabbage and fish – this is the best place for it! Fresh and cheap food – the best combo in Penang. Apart from open markets, groceries are best bought at any big supermarket like Tesco, Giant, Aeon or Mydin.



The locals usually don’t even use public transportation since they all have cars – that’s the cheapest way to move through Malaysia. Traffic can be pretty horrendous during rush hour in Penang and public transport requires a bit of brain power to grasp – it’s rather complicated. You can buy a monthly pass for public transport for around 30$



Monthly utilities in Penang are very cheap. Depending on the size of the apartment you want to rent and the place you’ll be located, utilities can move anywhere from 20$ to 50$. For an apartment that has 85m2, all basic utilities will cost less than 30$. Internet, however, is pretty pricey compared to this – monthly high quality internet costs more than all of those utilities together!

Sports and leisure


Prices in Penang for sports and pastime activities are low. If you want a gym or a fitness club membership, the price you’ll pay is only about 30$. If you want to go cinema, the prices of tickets are low, too – they only cost about 3$. This is very cheap compared to the prices around the world.

Clothing and shoes


In Penang, you can find a lot of gorgeous and huge shopping malls where you can shop for clothes. The prices in this city are fairly low compared to some other cities like Kota Kinabalu. For example, quality jeans will cost you around 45$, while a pair of Nike running shoes can cost around 65$. Light pieces of clothing for summer cost around 20$.

Rent per month


As for accommodation and rent, it really depends on where you stay, whether you are renting the whole house or just a room. All in all, rent isn’t as expensive in Penang either. If you want an apartment in the city center, it will cost 230$ but there are plenty of gorgeous little apartments a bit further away from the city, that are charming and cost only about 100$.

Cost of Living Averages Table for Penang

Average Restaurant Prices
Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant) $2.93
Domestic Beer (0.5 Liter) $3.66
Water (0.33 Liter) $0.35
Average Market Prices
Milk (1 Liter) $1.81
Loaf Bread (500g) $0.71
Eggs (12) $1.37
Average Transport Prices
One Way Ticket $0.52
Monthly Pass $18.30
Gasoline $0.55
Average Utilities Prices
Basic (Water, Electricity, Garbage, Heating, Cooling) $28.87
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local $0.06
Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) $38.84
Average Leisure Prices
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult $32.72
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour) $4.39
Cinema, 1 Seat, International Release $3.66
Average Clothing Prices
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Comparable) $45.37
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, etc...) $23.84
1 Pair of Adidas Walking Shoes (Mid-Range) $65.45
Average Rent Prices
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center $231.85
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center $159.85
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center $555.68

How Does the Average Person Spend Their Money in Penang?

A huge percentage of an average person’s salary gets spent on food in Penang – almost 50% of one’s entire salary.

Rent is another pretty big expense for the people of Penang, but here- it’s far behind the expense of transportation which is something that has to be paid everyday since it’s a regular necessity, if you don’t have a car.

Restaurants are fourth on the list of expenses.

What’s interesting is that sports and leisure draw more money than utilities in Penang.

Utilities (Monthly)
Sports & Leisure
Clothing & Shoes
Rent Per Month

Penang: Average Salary, Minimum Wage & Mortgages

People of Penang might find it hard to make ends meet, since their salaries aren’t exactly sky-high compared to the expenses.

Their minimum monthly wage is only about 250$, while the average monthly salary is higher but still – it’s questionable if it’s enough.

With their average monthly net salaries that are around 860$ people can cover most of their expenses, since their prices are low too, but there are many aspects of life here that are huge financial burdens.

If you want to travel to Penang, the optimal amount of money for you is around 700$ – and with this you can splurge away.

Average Salary$858.61
Minimum Wage$255.21
Mortgage Interest Rate4.44%

Cost of Living by City in Malaysia

*Click the name of the city for more information.

City Cost of Living Index
Johor Bahru 42.59
Kota Kinabalu 42.15
Kuala Lumpur 42.44
Kuching 42.15
Penang 43.98
Petaling Jaya 44.31
Selangor 44.53

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