The Best Neighbourhoods For Living In Penang

Thinking of settling down in the 'Pearl of the Orient'? Check out this list below! We're here to guide you on which are the best areas to stay, depending on whether it's for young people, families, or even expats.
Aerial view Georgetown. Background is reclamation land Gurney Wharf.

Where old meets new, and tradition coexists with modernity. Penang is Malaysia’s pride, putting our local delicacies on the map while continuing to preserve its cultural heritage. 

Outside of its old world charm, Penang is also an emerging global giant in medical tourism.

Thanks to the proliferation of highly-qualified specialists, hospitals and equipment, the state is rated as one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world. 

As a Penangite, not only do you have access to state-of-the-art medical facilities - but you even get to call a UNESCO Heritage Site, home! 

Now, all you have to do is find out which neighbourhood in Penang calls out to you most. Read on to explore 9 different neighbourhoods in Penang.


Best Areas for Youths

1) Jelutong

Jelutong, Penang

Just south of Georgetown, Jelutong is primarily a working-class neighbourhood. A little fun background on the city’s name for you - Jelutong is the name of a local rubber tree which was once abundant in the area.

Just a few kilometres away from Georgetown, the all-rounded neighbourhood is most suitable for young working professionals. Not too distant from the buzz, not too touristy and not too hectic either.

The biggest draw for younger residents here is its proximity to both Georgetown as well as the Free Trade Zone, which houses various multinational firms and has been regarded as the “Silicon Valley of the East.”

We would be remiss to speak of Jelutong without mention of Karpal Singh drive. The seafront promenade pays homage to the late Karpal Singh - a prominent politician and lawyer who hailed from Georgetown.

Upscale residential and commercial property developments surround the promenade in response to its up and coming tourist appeal.

Properties of Interest In This Area:

2) Bayan Baru

Bayan Baru, Penang

A peaceful neighbourhood, rent that’s on the affordable side, and just a stone’s throw away from work. What more could a single working adult ask for?

All these make Bayan Baru a popular option for the working crowd. You see, Bayan Baru was constructed in tandem with the Free Trade Zone as mentioned above, and was mainly created to provide housing adjacent to the hub.

Thus, the neighbourhood is well-linked to the industrial zone which has supplied generations of Penangites with jobs. 

Of course, it’s not just housing that makes up Bayan Baru’s sprawling 3,455 acres. The city has plenty of schools, shopping malls, and various facilities.

Other notable facilities include Pantai Hospital, which is currently the sole private hospital catering to residents here, while the world-class SPICE Arena serves as Penang’s main indoor sports arena.

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3) Sungai Dua 

Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang

Higher education in Penang centres around Georgetown, with the historic Universiti Sains Malaysia’s main campus situated north of Sungai Dua.

To that end, Sungai Dua hosts a healthy population of students. In terms of property types, the generally middle class neighbourhood is home to older landed properties, plus newer high-rise condominiums to cater to the rising influx of university students coming in from around the country and further abroad. 

Property prices are relatively affordable, and good food is plentiful. While it may not offer much in the way of entertainment, it’s a suitable neighbourhood for students in Penang.

Properties of Interest In This Area:


Best Areas for Families

1) Pulau Tikus

Pulau Tikus

Photo Credit:

Literally translated to “Rat Island”, the history behind Pulau Tikus’ name is much more idyllic than it sounds.

The name was derived not from rats, but a rocky islet just off the coast which resembles a family of rats during low tide.

The vibrant city of Pulau Tikus has a whole lot going for it. From a residential viewpoint, the city boasts everything from upmarket high-rises to older establishments to colonial homes.

Thai and Burmese residents make up a fair share of the population, owing to the Thai and Burmese temples which serve as humble tourist attractions.

Location-wise, the bustling little city is situated just behind Gurney drive and very close to Georgetown.

You might have to fight traffic on the narrow roads, but the wealth of amenities and facilities in the city more than makes up for it.

Pulau Tikus is served by numerous schools catering to all levels of education as well as the Penang Adventist Hospital - one of Penang’s most well-established private hospitals. 

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2) Bukit Mertajam

Bukit Mertajam

Moving out from the island, Bukit Mertajam is one of the most popular options for families looking to stay in the heart of mainland Penang. 

Out of the various suburbs in Seberang Perai, Bukit Mertajam is the most well-established and populous. In fact, the city is the second most populous city in Malaysia, only second to Kuala Lumpur!

Here, pleasant neighbourhoods are interspersed amongst the rising urban infrastructure. Bukit Mertajam is also one of the largest government bodies in the world by land area, with historical colonial landmarks all throughout. 

As an ever-expanding city, the area is endowed with plentiful facilities (over 14 primary schools and 7 secondary schools, etc.) and offers the promise of a fulfilling life away from the hustle and bustle of the island. 

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3) Seberang Jaya 

Photo Credit:

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Second to Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai is another major town in mainland Penang. While it may be situated on the mainland, it lies close to the Penang bridge, facilitating travel for those working on the island but who prefer to be based in a less congested neighbourhood.

Seberang Jaya Hospital caters to residents here, and makes for one of the six public hospitals scattered across the entirety of Penang.

It’s also home to Sunway Carnival Mall, Penang Bird Park and the Penang State Library. 

Seberang Jaya’s pace of life doesn’t differ drastically from Bukit Mertajam, with equally well-developed infrastructure to boot. 

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Best Areas for Expats

1) Batu Ferringhi 

Batu Ferringhi  Penang

If residing in a tropical resort town sounds like the stuff of dreams for you, Batu Ferringhi can help you realise such a dream. Provided you don’t mind hordes of holidaymakers sharing that idyllic dream with you, that is.

The seaside town mainly comprises a stretch of sandy beaches, with hotels and eateries galore alongside it. Adventurous water sports and beachside relaxing aside, the famous Batu Ferringhi night market is a popular draw for tourists too.

With that said, Batu Ferringhi is quite a ways from central Georgetown, even more so if you’re working in the Free Trade Zone. 

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2) Tanjung Bungah 

Tanjung Bungah, Penang

Also alongside the Northern coast, Tanjung Bungah is another popular option for expats looking to settle down by the coastside. 

Less hectic compared to neighbouring Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah is a peaceful, quiet neighbourhood with amenities aplenty and international schools such as Tenby Schools Penang and Dalat International School. 

The residential population here is home to a significant population of expatriates and is exceptionally popular among retirees.

Understandably then, properties here are primarily upmarket. Everything from upscale high-rise condominiums to scenic hillside villas, you name it. 

Compared to Batu Ferringhi, travel from Tanjung Bungah to Georgetown is also a slightly shorter drive. 

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3) Balik Pulau

Balik Pulau

Photo credit: Lexis Suites Penang

To live a simple life amongst lush greenery is a luxury - a luxury that can be realised in the charming little town of Balik Pulau. 

If the constant stimulation of Penang’s larger, more hectic cities tends to drive you crazy, Balik Pulau’s durian farms, local fruit and palm plantations, rolling hills and beaches will be like an oasis in the desert. 

Balik Pulau contains a number of schools, even going all the way up to tertiary level, while medical needs of residents here are catered to by the Balik Pulau Public Hospital.

The town may not have the swankiest of bars or malls, but living here provides a tranquil respite from city living without being too off-the-grid. 

Properties of Interest In This Area:

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Want to find a new home in a different state? Why not check out some of the best neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur or even the best neighbourhoods in Selangor!

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