Penang Residential Property Guide


Aerial view of Seri Tanjung Pinang

By Timothy Tye

Penang Residential Property Guide provides you with an overview of the residential property landscape of Penang. For a more in-depth understanding, I am planning a series of location-specific guides covering every Penang neighbourhood, so stay tuned for that. It is to give you a comprehensive picture of every neighbourhood, including the characteristics and attributes of that neighbourhood, a brief description of its history and geography, list of residential properties, the main roads of the neighbourhood, traffic flow and bottlenecks, and details about neighbourhood amenities such as nearest market, school, petrol station, shopping mall and hospital.

Location, location, location

I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the neighbourhood where you intend to invest. Your real estate negotiator should be able to explain to you the characteristics of each neighbourhood. Of course, he also needs to know what you are looking for. Is this property acquisition an investment or are you planning to stay there?

If this transaction is a pure investment, your agent needs to know, what sort of tenant you are looking for – locals, working expatriates, retired expatriates, etc. Similarly, if you are buying for your own use, what sort of lifestyle are you planning for yourself – if you are coming to Penang to work, where is your workplace. If you are retiring in Penang, are you seeking a property in the city centre, where the best food is within walking distance, or is it a requirement that your property comes with a gorgeous seaview? And, without beating around the bush, we need you to tell us clearly, what’s your budget.

One common question many would-be property investors ask of me pertains to distance, in particular to the city centre and to the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. As both these places are quite large, I use Komtar (to be precise, Magazine Circus, the traffic junction in front of Komtar) as the metonym for city centre, and measure all distances of properties from it. As properties on the southern part of Penang Island appeals to those working in the Bayan Lepas FIZ, I advise the nearest distance between the property to where the FIZ begins.

Population distribution and traffic movement in Penang

Penang is a densely populated state. On Penang Island, the majority of the population is crammed into a narrow strip of coastal plain on the east side of the island, making it one of the most densely populated places in the country. In comparison, Penang Mainland (aka Seberang Perai) is much flatter and has more space for development. When you travel from Penang Island to Penang Mainland, you will immediately notice the difference. Although it too is now undergoing development, the mainland is much more spacious.

Construction of the (first) Penang Bridge has facilitated the development of areas in its immediate vicinity on the mainland, leading to the founding of Seberang Jaya and various parts of Bukit Mertajam. The same thing is now happening in Batu Kawan, with the completion of the Second Bridge.

The only actual expressway on Penang Island is the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway which skirts the eastern shore of the island. The rest of the main roads on Penang Island is a legacy from the British colonial era. Although most have been widened into double lane dual carriageways, these non-access-controlled roads can become heavily congested especially during the morning and evening rush hours.


Aerial view of Bukit Mertajam

On Penang Mainland, most of the main roads date back to the colonial era. The North-South Expressway Northern Route is today the main thoroughfare on the mainland, taking traffic off Federal Route 1, which in recent years have also been widened. Both experience high traffic volume, with some of the worst congestions at the interchange between the North-South Expressway and Penang Bridge during the Friday evening rush hour.

The Penang Bridge (aka First Bridge) experiences heavy traffic movement at most time of the day, building up to congestion level during rush hours. In contrast, the Second Bridge aka Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge experiences lower traffic volume. This is because most of the traffic to the Second Bridge has to take the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, which passes the First Bridge.

You get what you pay for

Buying a house is different from buying a pair of shoes. If you don’t like the shoe, you can toss it into the deep corner of your closet. With a house, it’s not that easy to get rid. If you make a bad choice, you will have to live with it for a good while. It is hardly my desire to lead you to a bad buy.

In the last two decades, the population of Penang has drifted away from the city centre towards the suburbs, where there are more greenery and space. At the same time, Penang particular Penang Island experiences an acute land shortage, so you can expect new residential properties to be built ever higher. Where once 20 storeys were considered tall, many of the high-rise condominium launched in late 2018 are over 40 storeys tall.

After the inner city of George Town was recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, there has been surging interest in pre-war townhouse real estate. Being limited in numbers, George Town pre-war townhouses are one of the most desired property acquisitions. As a result, each of these townhouses may be worth ten times a similar one elsewhere in Malaysia.

These townhouses do not come with a parking lot, and you often have to spend a fortune renovating them. Nevertheless, they are being snapped up by local and foreign investors alike. And many of those who bought them told me how delighted they are to be able to own a George Town pre-war townhouse. On top of the prestige in owning one, they spoke of the proximity to eating spots and the abundance of good street food in George Town. The absence of parking lot does not seem to bother these owners, as they do not mind walking – and they in fact question why Penangites have the need to go everywhere on four wheels.

On the other hand, if your idea of a Penang residential property is something more modern, you would be spoilt for choice. Many of the latest condominiums have multi-tier security systems, a plethora of facilities, and fiber-optic cabling buried from sight. And, depending on the depth of your wallet, your requirement might be rooms with views – for that, you would be pleased to know that Penang has some of the most gorgeous cityscapes anywhere in Malaysia. It is one of the few places where there are residential skyscrapers with fantastic views of the azure sea.


What I have provided so far is an overall picture of the residential property landscape in Penang. In my subsequent articles, I will zoom in of specific neighbourhood, so that, if you are unfamiliar with Penang, you will have an improved knowledge of what to expect of each neighbourhood, which will lead you to make an informed decision when you consider purchasing a residential property in Penang.

Penang Residential Property Guide is written specially to help people wishing to invest in residential properties in Penang. If you are not familiar with the neighbourhoods of Penang, this is the guide to give you an overview. My name is Timothy Tye, and I am a professional real estate negotiator with an internationally renowned realty. However, I wrote this guide a long time ago, before I became a property agent, to share my local knowledge about Penang.  Since then, I have updated it several times, and am happy to share the information now with you.

In order to maintain the freshness of the information, I hope to update it at least once a year.

– Timothy Tye

Timothy Tye is a renowned Penang blogger who writes Penang Travel Tips. He serves as the spokesperson for AnakPinang, a Penang-based civil group. He is also a real estate negotiator with IQi Global, and has established property websites Timothy Property and The Property Investor.

  1. gooner
    January 7th, 2019 at 22:28 | #1

    I think you mistakenly stated the developed East coast of Penang Island as West a few times. The west of Penang Island is Balik Pulau!

  2. Wind water
    January 7th, 2019 at 23:28 | #2

    wheres the luckiest place to stay on island?

  3. star
    January 8th, 2019 at 03:40 | #3

    @Wind water
    sg tiram

  4. YKTs
    January 8th, 2019 at 07:25 | #4

    One very obvious thing is Penang state is sidelined by the central administration and “live” like a nobody’s child !

  5. Wind water
    January 8th, 2019 at 20:45 | #5

    Or Balik Pulau

  6. Timothy Tye
    January 10th, 2019 at 16:07 | #6


    Yes sir, you are correct. My apologies. It should say “east”. I have corrected it. Thanks for mentioning it.

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