By WINNIE YEOH
GEORGE TOWN: “Don’t try to cheat us into paying higher price for a property simply because we are foreigners,” says Australian Pat Jones.
Pat and her husband, Alan, who are currently living in Penang under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, said real estate agents tended to sell more expensively to foreigners.
“We’re not stupid and we did our research for market price before deciding on buying a property.
“There are several occasions where I’ve asked my local friends to check out property prices for us but once the owner found out that we are the actual buyer, they immediately try to raise the price. So we just walked away,” Pat, 65, said.
The couple, currently living in a restored pre-war house in Muntri Street, said many people tried to “sell” apartments or condominiums to them but it was not what they wanted.
“We are here for what we don’t have in our country, such as the culture, heritage and these beautifully structured houses,” she said.
The couple had visited other places in the country but had decided to settle down on the island as they found it to be different from other states.
“There are never-ending cultural activities in Penang. Now that the Hungry Ghost Festival is over, the Nine Emperor Gods festival is next and then the many new years, Thaipusam and so on. We just love them all!” she said.
During their free time, they would provide advice regarding MM2H to interested party as well as help property owners restore their pre-war houses by giving advice.
Another Australian, Andrew Faron, 62, who is currently living in Penang under the MM2H programme, said he preferred Penang because of its people and its heritage listing.
“When I first moved here, George Town was not listed yet but I’ve always been intrigued by its historical sites.
“Now I’ve lived in Penang for a year under the programme and I just feel so privileged to be here. I didn’t know anyone when I first got here but I’ve made so many local friends,” he said.
Faron would read and visit his friends during his free time.
“And I eat out quite a lot too. I cook half of the time but other times I’m tempted to try out new restaurants,” he said, adding that his favourite was nyonya food.
He related his experience of obtaining a house when he was first in Penang. He said he was shocked to find out that he had to assemble the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom himself.
“This is very different from Australia as everything is made ready for you to move in and live while over here it’s either you buy an old house and renovate it or a new one that you have to put everything in yourself,” he said.
Barbara Janssen, 63, from Germany, who had been living in Penang for three years under the MM2H programme, found that the locals were very helpful, one thing that she never expected.
“I’ve never seen so many smiles and it’s the people that has made me chose this place as my retirement home,” she said.
Janssen said she fell in love with the island more than 10 years ago during her first visit.
“I really enjoy the lifestyle here. People are friendly and the food is delicious too. What better place to be other than here in Penang?” she said, adding that she was able to visit her mother who currently lived in Indonesia.
She sold her apartment and is living in a rented house in Tanjung Bungah, as the former did not allow her to keep pets.
She also said it took a longer time to buy a property here than in Germany.
“I remember I had to wait seven months for all the paper work to clear while it only took a week back home (Germany),” she said.
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