Georgetown welcomes British expats as part of its colonial history

Georgetown welcomes British expats as part of its colonial history

Georgetown welcomes British expats as part of its colonial history

If you’re veering towards Asia as your favourite expat destination but want to avoid the obvious such as Thailand or Vietnam, the Malaysian island of Penang and its capital Georgetown are well worth more than one thought.

Asia’s fascination for Westerners began well over a century ago and continues today with expats now located in every country including China. Their reasons are many and include a diversity of cultures with fascinating histories as well as the beauties and natural wonders found in every Asian destination. Unfortunately, language issues and unstable governments often make it difficult to get visas or work permits, and several formerly welcoming states are now closing their doors to all but the comparatively wealthy.

However, there’s one very active destination with a fascinating heritage linked to the West which still welcomes foreigners hoping to work or retire. Penang island lies to the south of the Malaysian archipelago and is conveniently linked by air and sea transport both to the rest of the country and to its neighbouring states. The island’s historic capital, Georgetown, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture and culture, whilst its food scene is one of the best in the entire region.

Formerly a British Crown Colony ceded to the British East India Trading Company, Malaysia’s friendship towards Western expats is a reassuring change from trending attitudes now displayed by other formerly popular Southeast Asian homes from home. As a result, the expat community in Georgetown is expanding and the city itself is a reminder of the days when its heritage buildings were brand new and occupied by British Empire officials. Its Chinatown is another reminder of migration from the mainland and led to the establishment of the island's flourishing Chinese community.

Nowadays, Penang itself is populated by a mix of Eurasian, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western residents and is considered one of Asia’s most liveable cities. It’s also a hub for expat and foreign investors and enjoys a thriving tourism industry. British would-be expats on a reconnaissance trip are often surprised as well as pleased to see the English street names all across the city, celebrating its colonial history and welcoming new arrivals from the UK.

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