Newly arrived in Penang, Malaysia– we were travel-worn, wrinkled and so excited to explore a new city. This place has serious potential to be our new home, all we needed to do was check out the various neighborhoods and find a great rental. No biggy! We set out, highly caffeinated and eager to be nosy. We hailed a taxi with the goal of getting to a scooter rental place. Little did we know the most wonderful driver would give us invaluable insight to the rental world of Georgetown– believe you me, it’s rather vast!
We started by asking the generic touristy questions: where are the hidden gem restaurants and what is nightlife like? Soon it became obvious to us he was very knowledgeable about the condos we were driving by. He gave us a general expectation of what rent is in each area and building. He also advised on what buildings he felt would interest us most, being foreigners he advised specific areas. At first this rubbed me the wrong way– I want to have a true Malaysian experience: but honestly the buildings he suggested inspired me most.
We asked him to extend our drive around town– we were so excited to pick his brain and the air conditioned cab was exquisite. He pointed out historical sites and gave us an invaluable insider’s view. He was not trying to sell us anything, but freely sharing his local knowledge. Having this experience on our first full day in town has seriously jump-started our apartment search! We now have a much better feel of Georgetown and it’s surroundings. We also have a ballpark idea of what utilities will cost.
Our wonderful driver shared with us that he had just gone through this same process a month ago with his wife and two kiddos. Fortunately he found a great new space for his family– his wife was happy and we were elated with what we learned. We parted ways in front of a bar with smiles and well-wishes. He gave us his card for future questions and we gave him a well-deserved tip. We celebrated with a beer and started to research our new leads!
Personally I am a new fan of unofficial “tour guides!”