In terms of modern facilities, languages used in daily communication, social interaction between locals and foreigners, mentality of locals towards foreigners (hostile? friendly?), Malaysia sits way up high with Singapore in South and South East Asia. English is widely used (spoken and written) in all levels from dealing with hawkers by the street to government officers and banks. Locals welcome foreigners as it contributes to cultural diversity and economic growth. Penang, specifically has been home to many multinational companies like Intel, AMD, Seagate, Hitachi, B Braun and many others since 1970s.
Malaysia has good modern facilities and Penang is one of the most urbanised and well developed places in Malaysia. It still has its small colonial town charm yet has one of the best and affordable healthcare centers in the world.
Registering your child in a local government school may not be a good idea as they need to study Malay language. If your child is registered from Primary One, then probably he/she can follow through until she graduates 12 years later but if she joins the classes halfway, it is not possible for them to follow as most of the subjects are in Malay language.
There are at least 9 international schools in Penang and you can click here on this search result.
For private secondary schools where students can either take up IGSCE or UEC Curriculum, we have a total of 5 private Chinese independent high schools – Han Chiang Private, Chung Ling Private, Kit Sin Private, Penang Chinese Girls Private and Phor Tay Private.
Penang has only one airport. It is a medium-sized airport. Small but cozy and not intimidating. It is one of the first few airports in Malaysia when it started up in 1935. It has gone though a renovation and upgrading process in order to cater for an increase of passengers flying to Penang. You can click here to read more about the airport.
Penang has 6 large and 4 small private hospitals. There are 2 large government hospitals in Penang island. Unless you have medical emergencies like auto accidents, MM2H participants will go to private medical centers. Penang is well known for its medical tourism and has excellent healthcare services and medical facilities. Medical costs are reasonably cheap and medical insurance is available for MM2H participants but they are not available for tourists. There is no need to wait in the queue to get specialist consultation. Make an appointment and you can see one almost immediately. If you need to have a medical procedure or operations, you may be able to do it immediately or the worst case, wait for 1-2 days. Many hospitals have global accreditation, so you have no worries on the quality of care.
Penang has a good system of roads but due to the limitation imposed by UNESCO, Georgetown will be congested during rush hours, weekends or a long stretch of local public holidays. There are laws (which are more than 50 years old) that prevented heritage buildings being torn down or trees being chopped down. So, there are no overpasses or flyovers in Georgetown. You have only one-way streets. The skyline of Georgetown does not change much over the last 50 years. Rapid Bus Penang (Rapid Penang) provides bus services around Penang Island and it has a fleet of modern air-conditioned Scania busses. Many will take a cab although it is expensive. Uber is available in Penang as well. There are no subways or trains on Penang island.
Road system in Malaysia is excellent and there are highways linking major cities in Peninsular Malaysia. Travelling at speed limit of 110km/h, you will take 3-4 hours to go from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. The roads can handle speeds up to 200 km/h but there may be speed traps (speed cameras) along the way. Electric train services to Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru is also available. Its speed will be around 120-140km/h. Flying to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore is easy too as it is classified as commuter service with more than 10 flights per day.
Telephone (land line), mobile services and high speed broadband are available in Penang. For mobile services, we have 4G for most of the places in Penang. Wireless data can be as fast as 20Mbps for some areas. Most areas in Penang have fibre optic broadband. Copper lines will have speeds up to 8Mbps and fibre optics up to 100Mpbs.