Myanmar City Life

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City centre life: advantages and disadvantages of living in an appartment block

Living quarters are standing at the Yangon skin line like packs of cigarettes of unequal length. With more and more buildings being constructed to conserve valuable floor spaces and increase rental income, more and more individuals are adapting to life in an appartment, whether for money or because they choose certain amenities.

Situated in the eastern centre of Yangon, Stamwe is known for a large number of residential buildings. The inhabitant Htay Naing left six years ago with his wife and daughter to live in an appartment in Tamwe's mostly whitish area of Kyauk Myaung. Said he was enjoying the private sphere of an appartment in the middle of a dense urban area that was relatively peaceful until the 1980s.

However, the major advantage for U Htay Naing is the favourable position of Kyauk Myaung. "We lived in the South Okkalapa township, which is far from the city centre and took a long while. The municipality of Tamiwe consists of 20 municipalities and is bordered by the municipalities of Yankin, Thingangyun, Bahan and Mingalar Taung Nyunt.

Residents can buy a large selection of local produce in less than 5 minutes on foot. "We can buy whatever we want without ever having to leave the township. We' also have a healthcare institution that is really good," said U Htay Naing. The Yangon City Development Committee says there were 30 elementary and four secondary and six high school in Tamwe in 2009.

"The purchase of an appartment costs at least $264,000 (K150 Lakhs). They would have to pay more than that for an upstairs or second storey flat in a good area," said Daw Ni (Elizabeth), founders of the Grace Real Estate Agency in Tamwe Citieship, which was founded in 1995. To the Myanmar Times, she said that leasing and purchasing became increasingly costly after 2000.

Tenant and property manager prefers to stay at groundfloor because many houses do not have lifts. A 24-year-old Kyauk Myaung bookkeeper and tenant Ma Mie Mie said her rents are rising because the property manager has increased the rents - an all too frequent problem for Yangon's renters. "We' re on the 4th storey and paying 90,000 K a months, but the landlord wants us to be paying more in the future," she said.

People looking for a flat often find it difficult to find a flat that is within budgeted limits. Finding unoccupied property that is regarded as cheap requires considerable effort, so Tamwe-based Ma Mie Mie advises you to seek help from a property expert, although the charge is usually one month's rental.

C Htay Naing approves. "Customers want to know how old a property is, and new builds are preferable to older ones. Ten-year-olds and under are the most favoured types of property, while few choose a property that is more than 20 years old," said Ma Mie Mie. "We can' say that Kyauk Myaung is a criminal-free zone.

Inhabitants must make sure that a safety system is in place if none exist at the moment of move-in," said U Htay Naing. A further disadvantage for the inhabitants is the transport of sea via a stair. "The Kyauk Myaung system is not very good, and when it comes to bottlenecks, it has to be bought from the street," said Ma Mie Mie Mie.

As urbanization accelerates, the advantages and disadvantages of housing in an appartment are becoming more and more common to Yangonites.

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