Tag Archives: overseas banking

Island Hospitalty and more

Considering the past week relatively successful, Diane and I are spending the last weekend in temporary housing, this time at the beautiful Holiday Inn Resort in Batu Ferringhi, just down the street from our new condo. Wanting to give a huge endorsement to the staff at the Four Points Sheraton Penang for going above and beyond and rescuing us from the depths of the horribly dilapidated and sadly pathetic Copthorne Orchid Hotel, we can’t say enough good things about them. Our new friend Afi is one of the front desk staff and happens to live a stones throw from our new house and she made everything perfect from start to finish. Already texting Diane daily, she’s going to show us around the area where the tourists don’t go once we get settled in on her day off. (Malaysians work six days a week for the most part which is too bad because it doesn’t leave a lot of time to enjoy the beautiful country). Unfortunately nobody cancelled their weekend stay so we packed our bags and went up the road. While waiting for the van to shuttle our 10 bags of stuff over to the other place,  I partook in a great conversation with the general manager about everything from Malaysian politics to American films. Amazingly candid, expats should never engage in this kind of talk unless engaged by the other party but let’s just say I gained some valuable insights on how average citizens feel about the prime minister, at least in this state. Kudos to the hotel for a job well done.

imageInitial reaction to expat life in Malaysia so far is nothing but positive. Briefly touching on our first week’s agenda, getting around the island is easy. Modern, clean and very well air-conditioned buses traverse the entire main road of the island from the downtown core of Georgetown all the way to the end of the road at Penang National Park. Figuring we needed a pass, Diane and I navigated our way down to the “jetty” where the buses end and bought a seven-day unlimited pass by showing our passports and paying MYR 30. Needing a form for monthly pass that includes a the passport picture, we settled for the weekly one and used public transit all week while starting to investigate the ins and outs of where to shop and what to do. An even better option is Uber and although we haven’t used it yet, we downloaded the app and there’s no shortage of cheap available cars willing to come get you any time of day or night. People complain about taxis but maybe those people have no experience with real crappy taxis as we’ve only met friendly drivers willing to call another one should they be waiting for another passenger. Recently passed legislation removes haggling by using a metered system but we’re told some drivers refuse to use it, citing difficult economic times. Considered one of the cheapest countries in the world for taxis, we don’t have any issues with pricing.

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Pre-Penang Progress Report

With a million thanks to our incredible relationship manager in Kuala Lumpur, I’m happy to report our Malaysian bank account is open ahead of our arrival. Defying conventional wisdom by accomplishing this from overseas, we’ve eliminated one major concern and can now concentrate on finding a place to live without worrying about financial issues. Flying directly to Kuala Lumpur on June 30th, we meet with our banker the next day where he’ll present us with checks, an ATM card and a credit card application form. Staying one extra day to catch up on sleep, we’re then off to Penang two days later where we’ll stay at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel for 11 nights while looking for a condo rental. Proving my research paid off, we opened a premier account in the USA a few months ago, giving us the go ahead to open overseas accounts before arriving. Granted you need the right relationship manager and ours was a referral from an old contact on the now defunct MM2H forum. Oh, and the KL to Penang flight on Air Asia was $19.50 USD.

imageConcentrating on getting a place to live, we wrote another one of our old contacts and she referred us to a local property agent who has a stellar reputation. Contacting her by email, she wrote back less than 10 minutes later and agreed to show us properties and drive us around the area as soon as we arrive next weekend. Reading up on the process, it seems a bit lengthy and costly by our standards with property agents wanting one month’s rent as a fee and landlords demanding upwards of two to three months rent up front as security deposits. Wishing to cover all the bases, we decided to look at third-party owners looking to rent properties directly which could potentially save money.  Finding no shortage of availability, we used the forum on InterNations and found a few possibilities. Setting up meetings the following week, we hope to wade through the process relatively quickly without getting ripped off. Of course, our ethnic advantage should help and we even booked a meeting with a European business owner dedicated to helping expats. Continue reading