Kuala Lumpur Vs Penang - Which is Your Preferred City to Work and Live?

Kuala Lumpur Vs Penang – Which is Your Preferred City to Work and Live?

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We have always known that Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest cost of living among other states within our country. Well, it has always been so for major cities around the world due to the obvious superiority these states hold in terms of salary, job opportunities, business ventures, property investments and population.

But will Kuala Lumpur be your ideal destination to live? Or could other prominent state like Penang offer a more pleasant option under your radar? Penang is steadily gaining traction as one of the top livable cities in Malaysia with huge step taken in various departments such as government policies, infrastructure development, tourism and road accessibility. It is a small state brimming with lively population and rich cultural heritage nonetheless. All these aspects are expected to boost the stature of Penang to a greater degree and thus presenting a perfect opportunity for people to live in.

Whether you are a fresh graduate seeking for job opportunities, business person looking to expand your operation, or working adult aiming to make it big in your career, both Kuala Lumpur and Penang could be great choices for you to pick.

As a simple guide for you to simplify your decision making moment, Prolution is here to share our own analysis into the cost of living in both cities holistically so that you would have a better insight into every component that will sum up the living quality, setting your next life journey in these cities.

Cost of Living Comparison between Kuala Lumpur & Penang

As you can see in the restaurants comparison table above, food and beverages served in Penang is still relatively cheaper than Kuala Lumpur. This is however, without factoring in meals from hawker stalls and eateries, where locals frequent in a daily basis.

Therefore, Prolution has been conducting local checks on the meals served in several hawker centres within the two states and find relatively small gap in the prices of the dishes served. One of the shocking discoveries is the rapid price inflation of certain prominent dishes in Penang such as the famous “char koay teow” which has seen a price spike of around 25% compared to 2 years ago. Furthermore, the serving size of street food in Penang has been relatively small as well compared to Kuala Lumpur.

While prices in Penang restaurants are lower compared to Kuala Lumpur, the locals have experienced rapid food price inflation in the street food categories.

Property & Rental prices comparison between Kuala Lumpur & Penang

Now what have we here? None other than property and rental prices facts and figures!

It’s not a surprise to see the huge difference when property is involved. More people are seeking for job opportunities in Kuala Lumpur that contributes to the need for more accommodation, and with the spike in the needs brings forth higher rentals and property prices.

One important factor to consider before deciding to make your move is the amount of rent you would have to pay as you might have to fork out possibly a quarter of an entry-level executive’s disposable income just to stay in the city.

On the other hand, it is common sense that purchasing a property in Kuala Lumpur costs more than owning one in Penang with the number of population and increasing demand for accommodations. Bear in mind though Penang has been steadily climbing up the pecking order with influx of foreign investments and became one of the “prized asset” for property developers.

According to Brickz.my, the sub-sale price of residential properties in the industrial district of Penang Island hovers at around RM450 per sq ft (psf) to RM 550 psf, which is the area most people would be choosing to stay due to the close proximity between workplace and home. Depending on the location and type of apartments, the price could easily fluctuate between RM 300,000 to RM 700,000.

That being said, residential property prices in both states has reached a relatively quiet trend as people could not afford the rising prices of houses down the years. Nonetheless, one good aspect to note is the quantum of appreciation has gone down to between 0% and 2% due to oversupply of properties in the market, flooding the market with too many choices as well. So it is imperative that you do your due diligence before planning to purchase any property within the two states, or consult us to get a better understanding on the property market and how you could earn rentals with literally zero installment

Sports, Leisure and Childcare

Just as usual, sports and leisure activities cost more in Kuala Lumpur too. You may need to fork out more when taking a day off for entertainment. This is not surprising either seeing that property prices are much higher compared to those in Penang. Besides, these entertainment outlets are of commercial nature, which would in turn cost more to operate.

Same goes to child care where higher budget are needed for those who have spouses or families. If you are just starting a family, it would be wise to think twice before pulling the trigger as childcare could be quite a burden for you and your spouse with the increasing child care expenses looming on the horizon.


Last but not least, salary plays a very important role in your decision making on whether you should give up your current job or lifestyle and seek for a so-called better opportunity. If you have already landed a superb offer, congratulations. Otherwise, you would better give it a second thought as securing a job that pays handsomely and fits all your requirement does not come easy.

The salaries listed above are not conclusive and so will differ across different sectors and industries as well as your job positions and rankings. Do not forget to take into consideration the various factors like your interest, expectations, job requirements and workplace locations when doing your own fact-finding and analysis. As a matter of fact, it is wise to consider taking up part-time jobs or having multiple income streams even before you consider changing your job as that would help to offload your financial burden and give you more room to breathe when you weigh your chances in these two states.

Learn to diversify your income stream through property ownership and rental service by consulting us here.


Deciding your next phase of journey would need to take into factor of comprehensive risk management and sufficient fact-finding. We could now see the difference between the two states and give yourself food for thought on whether it is viable for you to move on to another city. As you now have a better insight into the lifestyle and cost of living between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, you would be more cautious on your choice and decision.

Just bear in mind that the average cost of living in Penang has increased significantly due to rapid development and influx of foreign investors. We could expect the gap between the two cities to narrow considerably over the next two to three years and that might play a significant role on your next destination.

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