Homes and Living

Updated: 21 Aug 2012

Enamoured? Make Penang your home. Maggie Territt dishes the dirt on Penang’s most sought-after areas to live

There are many attractions to living in Penang. Obviously as an island city, the sea is never far away wherever you are and the sounds of the waves rolling up the beach make a soothing soundtrack to your life.

The heavily forested green hills spilling down right to the city’s edge are the lungs of Penang, providing an array of hiking, walking and biking trails for residents and visitors alike, whilst the city of George Town – old and worn in parts but always vibrant, colourful and engaging – is such a nice place to explore on foot. No matter how many times we walk through the city, we always find something interesting we didn’t see before.

If you have a significant sum to spend, your property mantra would be ‘landed property only’. Penangites themselves have a bias towards a house on its own piece of land and they’ll tell you that this makes the best investment, as there is a limited amount of land particularly on the island, where demand always outstrips supply and prices are exorbitant for the more desirable locations.

Others prefer apartment or condominium living for reasons like cost, security, amenities and location. Properties with views over water are available, but if the property is not by the shore, make sure you research the possibility of developments coming along in the future lest something pops up and obstructs your view.

Be(ach) luxurious
The Gurney Drive area is highly sought after. It’s close to town and schools, the Pulau Tikus wet market, and for shopping, there’s the Gurney Plaza mall. Gurney Drive runs along the seafront and joggers, walkers, lovers and fishermen frequent its paths from early morning to late evening. The eateries on Gurney Drive are justifiably famous for their delicious hawker fare and foodies from all over the country satisfy their hunger here. Hotels sit on the drive and serviced apartments are available just off the main road. Most of the residential accommodation here is in high-rise condominiums, but there are still a few roads of landed property off Gurney Drive.

Close by, Batu Ferringhi is especially popular with the Malaysia My Second Home crowd due to the lower cost of property as it’s further from the business areas and town. Being the tourist centre of Penang and a seaside location, it has hotels aplenty, many places to eat and drink, plus proximity of the deep green hills for those whom like to take long treks through the forests. Uplands International school is also located in Batu Ferringhi.

Tanjung Bungah has both landed property and high-end condominiums available. There are several quality condominiums on the seashore and the beaches here are much quieter than in Batu Ferringhi. Dalat International School is nearby, Tenby International School is also developing its new premises in the area, and the Penang Swimming Club and the Chinese Swimming Club are both located here. Windsurfing and skimboarding are also popular off Tanjung Bungah’s beaches.

Nearby, the Tanjung Tokong area and the reclaimed land of Seri Tanjung Pinang (+604 891 8000/www. seritanjungpinang.com) boasts an extensive development of landed houses, condominiums, serviced apartments and the Straits Quay Marina with shops, bars, restaurants and galleries. Both Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah are popular with working families due to the good living environment, proximity of schools, and the relatively good transport link to town.

For very high-end landed property, Jesselton Heights is the best location. Smack next to the Turf Club, Penang’s horse racing track with its own nine-hole golf course, it’s also close to the Youth Park and the Penang Botanic Garden, making it difficult to beat for those with an interest in outdoor activities. However, there’s talk of the Penang Outer Ring Road and redevelopment of the Turf Club proceeding, so potential purchasers should embark on careful investigation and consideration before committing to anything.

Go east
If your work is in the Penang Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Bayan Lepas or on the mainland, living on the East side of the island will shorten your daily commute significantly. There are apartments and landed houses in the Queens Bay area (close to the large shopping mall) and the seashore facing the mainland. Further south, but still on the east, there’s the new and extensive award-winning Southbay (+604 627 1889/www.southgate.com.my/southbay) development in Batu Maung. Promoted as a billion dollar township project, housing units are available now with condominiums and commercial centres to come. This area is the landing point for the second Penang Bridge (planned for completion in 2013), which will provide a quick exit to the mainland and the North-South Expressway.

Going around the southwest corner of the island and turning north, we come to Balik Pulau, a small town of shops, schools and houses on an agricultural area of the island. Around this town, there are a number of new housing developments to look out for, and presently, a new road is under construction to improve on the rather twisty and narrow old road. Once this is completed, Balik Pulau will be only a few minutes drive from the airport, the FTZ, and the new bridge. Penang’s latest international school, the Prince of Wales International School, has also recently opened in the area.

Overall, Penang offers potential residents a wide variety of dwellings, with something in everyone’s price range, and locations to suit everyone.

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Did you know?

- A glance at how the rich and famous used to live can be seen on Millionaire’s Row (Northam Road), where there are still a few beautiful colonial mansions intact.

- Penang has steadily been climbing the ranks in ECA International’s Best Place to Live in Asia list. Last year, she came in 8th in a fray of 254 Asian cities.

Tags: Features