I have both visited and worked in many parts of Malaysia since the late 80's. Penang was the first place i went to and it's a nice cruisy island with great food and friendly people.
The thing about Malaysia is that it's a boring country and there is the muslim factor too they don't seem too welcoming to us foreigners. The Chinese are more welcoming.
I was just in Langkawi and there is a large expat community living on yachts, but i found it to be the most dull and boring place that I have ever been. The best thing about Langkawi was getting the ferry to the neighboring Thai island Koh Lipe. Such a refreshing place with a high energy good vibe after Malaysia. Langkawi is really set up for Arab Islamic tourists.
Besides Penang the city of Kota Kinabalu (Borneo) is not bad and has nice nature and beach resorts, but once again very dull. Labuan nearby is good fun if you're single but pretty seedy and gets boring quickly.
As you say the visa's are good and it;s the only country that we can actually own land, but the boredom will kill you.