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Josh and Kendal and their eleven-year-old daughter live in Tanjung Bungah, a suburb of Penang, Malaysia. They are escapees from the Aussie rat-race—having just ‘up and left’ Australia three years ago.

Kendal said, ‘We were nearly 50 and we hadn’t really been anywhere.  We had been in Australia most of our lives.’  ‘We were a bit restless, a bit jaded,’ Josh added.  ‘We were thinking, “Is this all there is?  There has got to be more to life.”  We wanted to travel.  We wanted to see the world.’  And then, of course, there’s always that bottle of red that can be a great life-changer.

Penang Bay

‘Some friends who were living in Coffs Harbour were having dinner at our place one night,’ said Kendal.  ‘They were about to move to KL to explore options for their own personal development.  He was in his 60s and his wife a few years younger.  They wanted to expand their horizons.  We talked about it over a few bottles of red, they told us of their plans and we told them how stale we felt, and they said, “Why don’t you think about doing the same thing?” 

Josh and Kendal’s only concern at the time was the education of their daughter, Pip.  But they looked into the options—and found that excellent schooling was available.  ‘We decided our daughter was young enough to move, before she started high school,’ Kendal said.  ‘And so we just thought, “It’s now or never—Let’s give it a go.”’

And they did.

The family sold most of their stuff before leaving Australia. They didn’t know where they were going to live and had just one visit to Malaysia—‘a super-fast reccy’—before choosing Penang.

Now they live in a huge two-storey house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a big kitchen and a garden. (And they have a dog and two cats.)  All this for A$200 a week in rent. To buy the house would cost about A$600,000, though Josh and Kendal have neither the funds nor the interest to buy.

The MM2H visa, aimed at retirees, doesn’t suit Josh and Kendal as they still need to work. So instead they have a visa for guardians, renewable annually, as their daughter is a student at a school in Penang, which according to Josh and Kendal is an excellent private school.

After two years, however, Josh and Kendal are running thin on funds and need to get jobs fast—and it has to be said that this isn’t easy for expatriates in a relatively highly skilled, but low paid, environment like Malaysia.

Josh and Kendal are hoping to set up a public relations business, and Penang certainly has plenty to promote with jazz festivals, Tropfest, booming tourism, cruise ships constantly in and out of the port, and the annual Georgetown Arts and Entertainment Festival.