Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Districts - Malaysia / Penang

While the blog is still in its early stages I thought that a few words on what I have looked at in terms of areas/districts to consider living in.  Much of this information was gleaned from the very useful sites I have already made reference to and the recently arrived "Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei" and the "Lonely Planet: Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang".  It is worth pointing out that a new version of the latter book is due in June 2011 so it may be worth waiting unless you need it now, which is the position I was in. Another book I have been recommended is the Explorer "Kuala Lumpur Complete Resident's Guide".  I had one of these for Abu Dhabi and it was very good.  It was published in 2008 so I thought I'd contact Explorer (based in Dubai) to see if there was likely to be an update in the near future.  They replied very promptly and at the moment there are no plans to do an update, probably worth getting regardless as they do touch on things that tourists may not be concerned with.

This is not in any way proposed as any kind of cutting edge analysis, merely some scribblings of what I've looked at on the basis of what appeals to me and some of the VERY early opinions I have formed.  It is also not meant to be an advisory on where others should live as our circumstances and needs will all be different.

General Districts
  • Kuala Lumpur: Always an option but I do tend to find big and blustering capitals are places I like to visit, not live.  It clearly suits a great many people but I am not sure it will have the character of some other areas and I'm just not sure I fancy somewhere THAT busy.
  • Langkawi: Absolute paradise from what I can gather and a wonderful place to visit so I'm told.  I really don't think there would be enough to keep me occupied there though from speaking to several people I know who have been there.  If peace and tranquility are your thing - maybe.  Prices for food etc I believe are higher than on the mainland.
  • Penang: Obviously the one that appeals to me more than others at the moment.  It seems to be well placed, popular with expats, has a pleasant enough 'old world' charm (especially in Georgetown), has a heavy Chinese influence, enough going on to keep me occupied and some nice beaches.  Like KL though it can suffer with traffic problems from what I can gather, esp in Georgetown.
  • Melaka: A potential contender still.  Less developed with high-rise from what I gather with 'landed property' a real option, very good property prices and quieter than Penang/KL.  It is a place I do plan to check out before settling for good, but maybe not my April 2011 trip.  Traffic can be a problem here too it seems.
  • Butterworth: An area I have come across on posts and somewhere I may also check out but I have a feeling it will be too quiet for me.  It is perhaps more accessible for mainland Malaysia (being on the West coast, level with central Penang) and prices seem to be cheaper again, for property and about everything else.  Part of me does crave somewhere with a bit of a buzz though and I'm not sure Butterworth, or indeed Melaka, will have it for me.  We are all different afterall.  In any event, yet to check them out.
  • Kota Kinablu: Picturesque and popular with the sailing fraternity I believe.  Again, a place worthy of checking but in my case I think, just for a holiday.
  • Sri Manjung/Sitiawan: Again, worth a look.  Good choice of landed property, very good for shopping and again, quieter than places like Penang etc.
So, having come to e VERY premature decision that Penang will likely fit the bill, a word or two what I have been able to glean about the districts within Penang itself:

Penang Districts:
  • Georgetown: Clearly an option and well placed in terms of being central.  I think the traffic problems might grate after a while and while I fancy somewhere with a bit of a buzz i think this may be pushing it too far.  It will likely be a place I like to visit, but not live.  A bit like London in that respect I think.
  • Gurney Drive:  Now this seems like it might fit the bill.  Far enough out of the hussle and bustle of Georgetown but with enough going on to keep me occupied and contented. This area will be the focus of my trip in April so more to come!!!!
  • Tanjung Tokong: Slightly further out than Gurney (towards Batu Ferringhi) but again a real contender.  Some nice developments here and plenty going on.
  • Tanjung Bungah: Further still but not too far.  I need to check out this area as again it has some appeal.
  • Batu Ferringhi: The furthest out from Gurney (about 15 minutes or so down quite a windy road so I gather) and very popular with expats it seems.  The Miami Green apartments seem to crop up in threads a lot as being quite desirable.  Depending on how things pan out I may end up staying in one while I am there in April.  Some seem to think it's a bit too far out of it and a little quiet but that can be a benefit.  One thing that might bother me is if I had to travel every time I wanted to do anything.  Could become a drag.  Again, an area I plan to hit on the first trip, so watch this space!!!
  • Balik Pulau: More central and some really nice developments here.  I will check this out too but would have to see just what is going on locally.  I'm not looking for a rural idyll at this moment in time.  Quite a lot of landed property in this area and at prices which are much more reasonable than the coastal areas.  Again I suspect it might be a bit of a drag if you need to travel for everything.
  • South of Georgetown: Not a district in it's own right but a general area, in my case, to avoid.  Considerably industrialised by all accounts so a definite non-starter.  there is however mention of some interesting developments springing up at a very reasonable price, if you can stand the area and the 'views'.
So, as it's getting late, that's about it for today.  Much more to come with an update tomorrow on hotels/accommodation I plan to use for my trip and quick update on any jabs needed.  I had a shed full it seems when I went to the UAE 3 years ago so hopefully many will still be 'live'.

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