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​Living the Condo Lifestyle in Asia

Condominium-style living is catching on fast in Asia

What do a communal boxing ring, a jamming room, a hammock garden and free violin lessons all have in common? The same address, actually.

High Park Residences, a condominium project on Fernvale Road in northeast Singapore, is planning to offer all of the above to entice potential owners and their increasingly eclectic tastes.

Today’s resort-style living, with its lap pools and barbecues, no longer seems enough for residents who aspire to luxury private housing.

In Asia, where wealth is rising, condominium-style living is catching on fast and even Donald Trump and Versace are keen to get their hands on a piece of the pie.

The rapid gentrification of Singapore, the region’s richest country, has spawned a generation who don’t need to live in the ubiquitous public housing estates and want to satisfy their expanding lifestyle interests without having to travel too far.

The activity-rich condominiums also appeal to foreign buyers who want more than a perpetual, tropical holiday-style home.

“In Singapore, the appearance of these large condominium landmarks is a recent phenomenon. With facilities becoming increasingly exceptional with each project, developers, investors and residents in the current market are finding value in projects that offer a lifestyle, rather than their past focus on ‘exclusivity’,” says JLL research analyst, Angela Shin.

In Singapore, the average condominium estate has a modest 500 units, and in some ways, this restricts what some of the older projects can offer in terms of free facilities.

Shin says she sees a trend towards increasing the number of dwellings in future condo projects in order to make offering a variety of leisure and entertainment options more cost-effective.

Bigger is better

The d’Leedon building has 1715 units and is “by far the biggest condominium complex so far in Singapore,” says Shin.

Located in the upper middle class precinct of Bukit Timah, d’Leedon’s units cost from US$740,000 to US$2.2 million each; has multiple gardens, a gymnasium, several swimming pools, tennis courts, karaoke rooms and even a mini racing track.

“These large estates can offer so much because they are big. Their facilities mean people wouldn’t just go home and stay inside their units. But you also don’t have to leave your house to socialize. The convenience lures the buyers,” she says.

Other than public or government-funded housing projects, such large scale private housing development remains quite rare in Singapore. Based on JLL Research, nearly 30 percent of the public housing estates contain over 1,000 housing units, compared to only 0.8 percent of private housing estates.

A popular lifestyle choice

Condominium-style living has long been popular in Asian capitals outside of Singapore, too, thanks to the rising middle classes and doors opening wider to foreign property investors.

Among the more prominent is Trump World in South Korea, owned by American tycoon Donald Trump. It comprises six, opulent skyscrapers in Seoul, Busan and Daegu. Buying a condo unit in Seoul can cost anywhere from US$880,000 to US$2.5 million.

It isn’t just Donald Trump lending his gold-plated name to condos going up around Asia. In Manila, his newish 56-storey Trump Tower luxury apartment building shares the market with the Azure Urban Resort Residences project, which is endorsed by hotel heiress, Paris Hilton.

The complex may not have the sky-high tower feel that Trump structures are famous for, but it does have its own man-made beach. A two-bedroom unit at the Azure complex can set you back US$145,000.

Even fashion design house Versace is getting in on the action by doing the interior design for Manila’s Milano Residences. You need about US$1 million to snap up a four-bedroom penthouse here.

Thailand, China and Hong Kong also have well-developed condominium markets. In fact, demand is so great in Hong Kong that last year more than 600 units in the new City Point complex sold in one day. The cheapest apartment collected US$700,000.

As in most places, condos in Bangkok can vary in quality and price. A one-bedroom unit at Ideo BluCove Sukhumvit can sell for US$100,000, while a penthouse in the centrally located Hyde Sukhumvit 13 complex was recently valued at US$4.6 million.

However, the constraints of high-density living, including the perceived lack of privacy, are not to everyone’s taste.

But more and more people are adopting the philosophy of d’Leedon’s creator, Zaha Hadid, who once said: “I don’t think that architecture is only about shelter, is only about a very simple enclosure. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think.”

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