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Study: Penang Ranked 4th & KL 6th in List of Best Cities in Asia for Expatriates to Work & Live in


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Source: Penang Property Talk & The Star

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2 Malaysian cities have been named among the top 10 cities for expatriates moving to Asia in 2024, with Penang ranked in 4th place and Kuala Lumpur in 6th.

The listing is part of a study by Preply, an online language-learning marketplace, which considered several metrics, including the monthly cost of living, the cities’ safety and the average length of time to learn the local language fluently.


Penang is the 4th top Asian city for expatriates to live and work in

Penang George Town 2018 Cc By Sasemi Auto210126 060133

For illustration purposes

According to the study, Singapore is the best city for expats moving to Asia this year, with an Expat city score of 7.20.

Coming in 2nd place is the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok with a score of 6.96, with UAE’s Dubai in 3rd place with a 6.81 score.

4th place is Penang (6.72 score), followed by Thailand’s Chiang Mai in 5th (6.25 score) and another Malaysian city, Kuala Lumpur in 6th place (7.23 score).

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For illustration purposes

Elaborating on Penang, the study asserted that the Malaysian city has an average monthly living cost of USD691 or RM3,236.

Check out the top 10 cities for expats moving to Asia in 2024 according to Preply below:

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Kuala Lumpur falls from the top spot to 12th place in the global rankings

Besides the Asia-specific study, Preply also used the same metrics to determine the world’s top 20 cities for expats to work and live in.

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In the global rankings, Kuala Lumpur is in 12th place, falling way off the top spot that the Malaysian capital city achieved in the previous edition of the Preply study in 2022.

Interestingly, Penang wasn’t part of the global rankings, despite finishing 4th in the Asia-specific index.

Check out Preply’s world top 20 cities for expats to work and live in below:

Image 8 1


How long does it take for expatriates to learn Bahasa Melayu?

According to Preply, the metrics used to determine the placement of each city in both studies are:

  • Average monthly cost of living as an expat
  • Average monthly salary (after tax)
  • Estimated tax on USD50,000
  • Internet speed (Mbps)
  • Safety city index (0-100, 100 being the safest)
  • Visitor return rate
  • Average monthly cost of co-working space and percentage of salary spent on a co-working space
  • Cleanliness (dirty and untidy score, Higher = worse)
  • How many hours to learn the dominant language in the city

If you’re curious about the final metric, Preply in its 2022 version of the study said that it would take 900 hours to learn Bahasa Melayu and master it fluently.

So, what do you guys think of the 2 Malaysian cities’ placement in the study? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!


Also read: Study: Malaysia has Overtaken Thailand as the 2nd Biggest Automotive Market in Southeast Asia

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Source: 123RF
Source: Preply
Source: 123RF
Source: Preply

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