High Rise Condon Living
by Belinda Wilson
Historically, many of the world's tallest buildings, such as the Empire State and Chicago's Willis Tower, were built to house offices, at a time when people weren't accustomed to living in high rises. Very-tall residential high rises began growing in popularity as middle-class and upper-class residents moved into the cities' urban cores and developers looked for ways to maximize their returns on prime real estate The vast majority of residences in central Bangkok for example are high rise apartments and condominiums, as houses tend to be older.
Bangkok is an amazing city full of offices, and condominium blocks and when visitors first arrive, they are amazed at the sheer number and density of high rise buildings. What many don't realise is that most of these were built between 1987 and 1997, when Thailand had one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Land prices skyrocketed due to demand vastly exceeding supply, and suddenly the value of property in the Sukhumvit, Sathorn and Silom regions, for both residential and commercial purposes, meant that few people considered building a traditional house with a lawn in these areas.
Bangkok also became notorious for its traffic, among the world's worst, and the economic losses due to inability to move goods and people in a time efficient manner, resulted in a vast network of elevated tollways designed in the early 1990s and built between 1996 and 2002. Also the skytrain was completed in 2000 and during rush hour it is the only way to get anywhere quickly, though it may take you a while to get to/from the skytrain stations and sometimes the trains are too packed to squeeze on to during the rush hour. Soon it became evident that living in the centre of Bangkok not far from your place of work, foregoing the car and travelling by skytrain was a sensible option.
It's good to know the history of Bangkok's property development in order to best understand the current market. Many people and companies got vastly rich in the property market between 1987 and 1996. Investment poured in from Japanese banks and also Hong Kong magnates until Hong Kong switched from British to Chinese rule in July 1997, and suddenly there was a glut of properties in 1997, the landlords couldn't get the prices they needed to just break even or pay their bills, and the subsequent Asian Economic Crash happened in 1997 which started in Thailand and quickly spread to the Japanese banking system and Hong Kong financial center and beyond.
Few people gave up on the Bangkok market but they did get much more sophisticated about turning a profit at it. Building resumed in earnest around 2002-3 in the central business district, with construction on many abandoned buildings being resumed and new ones started.
Apartments and condominiums built after the year 2000 were much smaller than those built in the 1987 to 1997 period. Developers simply calculated that they could make more money that way in the market. Today there are not many very large new apartments and condominiums yet the market still favors newer properties. Only a few canny investors are buying the older and larger units and totally refurbishing the inside according to their custom tastes. Perhaps because it involves more work and a delay to the move-in date this is not for everyone but certainly worth considering.
For tenants whose preferred location is usually determined by the location of their preferred school family sized units are popular. And for those who enjoy socializing with the general expat community of Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn and Pathumwan living in the central business district has great appeal..
Also in terms of security many feel that living in a high rise condominiums affords gave infinitely better protection than houses. The logistics of someone getting into a condominium being such, that it is far more difficult to physically access a high rise apartment rather than say a house or ground floor accommodation. Often tenants require a keycard to get access their particular floor and today many developers are using biometrics technology such as a scan of a thumb print, to allow use of the lift. In addition there is usually 24 hour security on hand with a concierge desk in each high rise lobby.
There is also no "back door" from which the burglar could make his escape and neighbours on the same floor may well hear or see any intruders. Then there's the difficulty of the would-be robber actually getting the loot out. No chance of pulling a car up to a front door but rather taking all the ill gotten gains back down in the lift which again would run the risk of being seen by neighbours and the concierge in the lobby. Plus many condominiums also have cameras in the elevators.
Maintenance of a condominium is generally a far less complicated affair than that of a house. No garden or upkeep of such to consider – just a few plants for the balcony if desired. All important considerations for a busy city worker.