Penang is located on the north-west coast of Malaysia and is made up of two parts: Penang Island and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula (formerly known as Province Wellesley), which are connected by the iconic Penang Bridge. Its state capital is George Town, which is on the north-east corner of Penang Island.
It is a highly urbanized, economically advanced and densely populated state with approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. The majority of residents are Chinese and Malays but Penang is home to citizens with various ethnic backgrounds, as well as a growing population of expatriates.
English is a commonly spoken in Penang, especially within the workplace. However, some knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and Malay is also useful.
The first thing any expatriate moving to Penang, especially those from temperate regions, should know is that it is situated virtually on the Equator and has a tropical rainforest climate.
This means that while you can look forward to relatively stable sunshine hours, Penang is extremely hot and humid. The temperature is generally between 26–32°C while the humidity hovers around 80–90% most of the time.
The wet season is from April to November, though heavy rainfall can be expected throughout the year. Locals tend to venture outdoors during the cooler morning or evening hours, but shelter can always be found in the many air-conditioned buildings around the city.
There are several options to explore in terms of work permits for Malaysia, largely depending on the duration of your stay and the nature of your work.
For expatriates considering moderate-to-long-term work in Malaysia, the Employment Pass might be a suitable choice. The applicant should have an offer from a sponsoring company for executive- or professional-level jobs, and the contract should be for a minimum of two years with a minimum salary requirement.
Approval is first needed from an Expatriate Committee, after which an Employment Pass can be obtained, as well as any necessary Dependent Passes.
For shorter lengths of stay, expatriates can consider the Professional Visit Pass which allows experts employed by a foreign company to render services to a Malaysian company between 6 and 12 months. The pass can be extended for a further 12 months, but only after 3 months have passed since the expiration of the first 12 month period.
For more information, please see our article on visas for Malaysia