September 3-9, 2007 Myanmar's first international weekly © Volume 20, No. 382

Suburbs for the status conscious

By Zaw Win Than
Large blocks with leafy gardens and high fences are the norm in streets like Than Lwin in Golden Valley.

YANGON is home to a number of townships favoured by the wealthy, who adorn these suburbs with large houses and generous gardens.

Kamaryut, Hlaing, Bahan, Mayangone and Yankin townships are well-known for housing members of the country’s upper crust and many of the foreigners who come to Myanmar to work. Real estate agents say that demand for housing within these areas is high and available properties cannot always be found.

“Inya Myaing and Thanlwin are the most expensive residential areas in Yangon. These areas are mostly occupied by wealthy people who see their houses as status symbols,” says U Than Shwe, assistant general manager of Koe Kant Hwar Kway Real Estate Co.U Phyo Zaw Nyunt is a spokesperson for Olympic Real Estate and explains that the areas around Thanlwin, Kanbawza, Inya Myaing and University Avenue in Bahan township are prime residential areas.

“These residential areas are popular with buyers because they offer private living and can sometimes be quite affordable,” U Phyo Zaw Nyunt says, adding that living in such areas is seen as a boost to a person’s social status. “Lowland areas surrounded by trees – like Golden Valley – tend to be in demand among buyers. These areas are typically occupied by people who want a private residence that is not too far from downtown and have good water and electricity services,” says U Phyo Zaw Nyunt.

U Maung Maung Lay has lived on Inya Myaing Road for the past year and says many people – including him – feel uncomfortable living so closely to their neighbours because of the increased noise.

“I wanted to live in a high-class area and communicate with high-class society. So, I bought my home last year and it’s really peaceful. There is a saying ‘East or West, Home is best’ – for me this is the best.”

But securing a property in these areas is not always easy and matching a good location with a desired design can be difficult.

“Properties in these areas are mostly owned by families that hold onto them from generation to generation and rarely sell them on,” he says.

Land usually only becomes available when someone decides to sell their property or divide and turnover is not high.

Many foreigners working and living in Yangon also choose to rent a house in prime areas around University Avenue, Inya Myaing or Kanbawza for the same reason as locals, although status is less of a concern.

Property broker Daw Aye Maw says: “The demand in prime areas among foreigners is high; mostly they rent houses from three months to one year at least. At the moment I’m trying to find a house in Golden Valley for a German family.”

“The area around University Avenue is popular with foreigners because it is convenient and known for its many high-quality restaurants and shopping centres,” she adds.

With such strong demand for these areas it is no surprise that many people also try to buy houses within them as investment properties. Typically these investors look for a rundown property, renovate it and rent it out.

“Investing in the property business is one the best ways to turn a profit. I rent one of my houses in Parami, Yankin township,” says one investor.

“But different people have different views. Some people prefer to live for convenience, while others prefer status,” he says.

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