New housing on Penang Island aimed at the wealthy


So how can low-income workers afford to buy homes?

There is real shortfall of affordable housing in Penang, especially on the island.

On the other hand, developers have been falling over themselves to build high-end condos and houses for the upper-middle class, the rich and wealthy foreigners, who are also grabbing choice real estate on the island. For example, at Hillside in Tanjung Bunga, wealthy foreigners are snapping up prime property.

House prices are expected to rise further with the rise in the cost of building materials. But when these new houses and condos are completed, who can afford to buy them? Will we end up with a glut in high-end housing?

What happens to all those factory workers, security guards, and small business owners who cannot afford houses on the island? In the past, they would go for cheaper houses on the mainland, even as far as Kulim and Sungai Petani in Kedah. But with higher oil prices and shrinking real incomes, it doesn’t make economic sense to commute such long distances to work. To make matters worse, if workers were to drive to work via the proposed second Penang bridge, their expenditure on toll and petrol charges – for the bridge segment of the commute alone – could come up to RM500-800/month.

What will happen to Penang Island itself? Will it end up the playground of the rich and the well-heeled with its marinas, upscale shopping malls and a possibly gentrified inner city – with no place for the poor, the lower-middle class and even a large segment of the middle-class?

Clearly the market and the developers have failed to provide adequate affordable housing for all sorts of reasons. The main reason is that they will build housing that has the fattest profit margins, and these are the high-end condos and choice bungalows.

And where low-cost housing is provided, is it in the right location (easy access to public transport and near places of work) and at affordable prices? Are we sure that the really deserving and the poor are getting such housing? Or are those with connections jumping ahead in the waiting list?

It is time for the State to intervene by setting up a state-run Penang Housing Development Board. Singapore did it with their HDB. Why not Penang?

This excerpt is from a report in Star Biz:

THE escalating cost of building materials is raising concerns over the widening gap between the income levels and the selling price of properties as well as availability of affordable housing.

“A family with a combined monthly income of RM10,000 is eligible to obtain a mortgage loan of about RM350,000 from a commercial banking institution. But how many fall in this income bracket?,” asked registered and chartered valuer C.A. Lim & Co proprietor Lim Chien Aun.

“From statistics collected, the average employee monthly income is RM2,000 to RM4,000. On a joint basis, this enable the purchasers to obtain a mortgage loan for a property valued at about RM200,000.

“But with the rising cost of building materials and construction, a RM200,000 residential property will be about 30% higher if other factors affecting the market value remain as it is today.”

Steel bars have gone up to RM4,100 per tonne compared with RM3,500 in June while cement is sold at RM13.45 a bag compared with RM10.95.

Across the board, all types of commonly used construction materials have increased by 15% to 30%.

Less than 5% of the families in Malaysia have a combined income of RM10,000 and above

Lim said the Penang state government should seriously encourage the development of more affordable housing schemes on the island…

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marika simon
marika simon
17 Sep 2012 1.37am

im trying to buy a “second hand apt or condo” owner bought at low price but selling at a very high price.I saw an 800sq feet apt ,selling for 280K but the banks valued it at 180K – 200K! these ppl are may b their choice to sell at a price they like but how to get buyers if yr unit is ridiculously priced? n areas near bt feringghi bought up by foreigners. most housing caters to the rich.its disappointing. even a 700 sq ft bird cage like unit going for 300K! i wish there wld b laws tht… Read more »

18 May 2011 12.44pm

1) the household income chart need to be up dated before adopt for pinang case study. 2) from a business owner as developer down to store employee say a general clark, both are searching for HIGH PROFIT group, If u now trade ur 8hr 6days working time with $2000 pay, obviously u wil look for $3000 income for 8hr 5days job, that is how people grow to be effective & efficient, same does with the country. 3) using the well paid BMW expert & fine facilities to produce a basic affordable car cost US $2000 as Tata Motors’ Nano make… Read more »

17 Apr 2011 5.24pm

The price hike is mainly cos of cost push instead of demand push!
But is a market driven factor come into the picture! demand will be high for choice locations whether the price is sky high!! vice-versa for other unfavirable locations!
If the demand for all new types of properties fall lower that the pricing might be cool down!!! Let hope & see!!

25 Jul 2010 5.07pm

The federal government despite its flaws has always step in to ensure low cost housing is provided. Developers are complleed to provide low cost housing near high end residentials. Take Wangsa Maju for example, it’s considered a wealthy suburb but there are enclaves of low cost housing at Wangsa Maju and Setapak nearby. These low cosy residential areas are nt slums but share the same facilties,shops,parks and schools as the residents of the terrace houses.My schoolmates also include those who live in the pangsa houses in W.Maju. What the DAP has done since usurping power is (allegedly) telling the developers… Read more »

22 Aug 2009 5.48am

Anil, no point we talk talk, look who are the developers, this has been going on since 1970s.
BN then now PR…

7 Jun 2009 12.57pm

yea, now Penang housing price are high because our government allow foreigner to invest in malaysia, rich people… will come not just to invest but to manipulate Malaysia land & pricing. Just like Hong Kong now… where each person have to work 3 jobs for a living. And one 500 sf apartment will cost you RM 1mil.

10 Aug 2008 9.23pm

dear anil the basic needs of housing, potable water, affordable power and engery,good public transport sytem, progressive education system, and affordable food is all a citizen ask for when putting a govt in power. If the rakyat is productive, the nation prosper with a better standard of living. The yardstick to the common man is the purchasing power of the money he earns. If any basic needs goes beyond his disposal income, somethig is wrong with the system. With the “opposition” gomen in power now, there is hope. But to undo 51 years of misplaced priorities in one term of… Read more »

10 Aug 2008 11.05am

It all depends on the planning and if not properly plan, there will be imbalance. Imagine if everyone wants to live on the island, then the Government and private sectors have to build pigeon hole housing and no sooner, Penang will be like Sillypore, housing flats everyone. The goverment must plan for new towns and centre of growth with conveniences and work nearby. Always a question – rice bowl or life style? But once the rice bowl is certain, one wants a honeymoon house.

9 Aug 2008 11.18pm

the table is average monthly household income for the whole of Malaysia. I’m pretty sure it’s not a very good indicator for major cities such as KL, Selangor and Penang.

I’m early 30’s, most of my classmate’s (my guess) household income is at the top 5% based on the National average. In fact, many fresh grads get around RM3k. That would mean a combined household income of about RM6k if both husband and wife are working.

Does anybody has the average household income for each individual states?

9 Aug 2008 10.21pm

I don’t think there’s a lack of affordable housing on the island. Look at all those low cost blocks around Jelutong Expressway. However, these high density houses give many of us the impression of being built with poor quality and having poor security. What baffles mid-incomers like us (2.5k-3.5k) is that there’s a whole lot super cheap houses (below 100k) and very expensive ones (>250k), but none in the middle. A well-planned system like in Singapore is welcome, although there’s a total lack of good road system/public transport here. I skeptical that the local gov can undo those years of… Read more »

9 Aug 2008 9.55pm

When it comes to high end condos, wealthy owners do not translate to highly educated people. With their kind of attitude, you’ll end up with the same conditions as low cost housing. Just give it a bit of time. You’ll see.

9 Aug 2008 3.58pm

I am a Penangite living in California now. Every year I return to Penang to visit my parents, I see higher house prices than the previous year. This worries me as how many low or middle income family can afford to own house in Penang. Million riggit homes seem to be growing like mushrooms after rain. If this is not controlled properly, soon Penang can only be enjoyed by foreigners. This is sad.

9 Aug 2008 10.14am

The rich will live in luxuries Grabbing the choicest properties and positions Areas will be gated to condone unwanted pests Division of housing caste system mushrooming The high end rise buildings Selling millions each…………. The locals can’t afford to buy So foreigners make the killing In the end the whole caste system Of properties division…………. My take for Penang Island No more buildings to spoil the image The government should shift it to mainland The Chief Minister should make it a ruling Otherwise don’t expect Penang Island to shine She will be choked with fumes and traffic jams The people… Read more »

9 Aug 2008 9.41am

Q8. All poor people need to be helped by Government. (True or False)
Semua orang miskin perlu dibantu oleh kerajaan. (Betul atau Salah)

Q11. Free education is a right for all Malaysian children. (True or False)
Pendidikan percuma adalah hak semua anak-anak rakyat Malaysia. (Betul atau Salah)

Q12. Free healthcare is a right of all Malaysians. (True or False)
Perubatan percuma adalah hak semua rakyat Malaysia. (Betul atau Salah)

Answers at
Jawapan di

9 Aug 2008 8.52am

Not Government but the private sector. If they want workers then they must provide transport to pick them up. See if Penang workers do not need brain but determination. Look at Johoreans. Very early morning they have to get the factory bus to “work overseas” in Sillypore and come back late. Further they have to go through immigration check point unlike Penang with no borders. They commute via factory buses.

9 Aug 2008 5.19am

Singapore got BRAIN – our country brain DRAIN.

rajraman.Will wait abit longer to observe whether PAKATAN GOT BRAIN OR NOT.