Vertical Living

The Changing Dynamics of Brunei’s lifestyle with Irene Hii

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Photography by Riley Khoo

In this issue, we explore the possibilities of high-rise living as the future of urban lifestyle for Bruneians. We spoke to the Managing Director of Valor Property, Ms Irene Hii to get a better insight into the changing lifestyle of Bruneians and to learn about the various factors which must be considered when purchasing an apartment.

Incidentally, Valor Property has recently completed a four storey 12 unit luxury apartment complex right next to the I-Lotus restaurant in Rimba called Fern. All of the units were rented out in no time, despite the present trying economic climate.

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What was Valor Property’s formula for success?

As a veteran agent and developer, Irene understands the Bruneian market well. Tapping into the culture and communal lifestyle which Bruneians enjoy, Valor paid special attention to the common space, in this case, that is the rooftop garden in Fern. “Just because you are living in an apartment, it shouldn’t mean that you need to give up on the idea of inviting your friends over,” said Irene. “The rooftop garden in this building not only boasts a spectacular view, it is also planted with a number of herbs, which the dwellers have easy access to when they are doing their barbeque.”

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Fern apartments were designed with a very specific target market in mind. Young executives and retirees. What are the common denominators shared by these two groups?

Both of these groups value convenience. “Think about the amount of maintenance involved when you live in a big house. You have to do the gardening, you have to hire a maid or sometimes, more than one maid to help you take care of the property. Financially and physically, all of these are an added liability when you live in a house.”

If you are a retiree, living in an apartment provides you with peace of mind especially when you go on holidays. Today’s apartments are highly secured, not only that – living in such close proximity you’ll  have a better chance of developing a relationship with your neighbours – “This can be an added advantage, especially when you know that in the event of an emergency you can access your neighbour’s help just a door away” explained Irene.

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When it comes to busy young executives, especially those who have lived overseas, they often do not think twice about choosing apartment living, as this is often their preferred type of accommodation. In many cases they understand that they are unlikely to be able to afford a landed house with their own money, if they were to choose to live in the heart of the city. In this situation an apartment provides the perfect solution. “Starting from BND300,000 you should be able to find a decent three bedroom apartment in the Kiulap area. What’s more, young people are looking for a place where they can play, live and sleep – and apartment living provides this. Fern apartments not only gives residents the option of a cleaning service three times a week (providing more privacy than having a live-in maid), it also includes a swimming pool and a gym to cater to the lifestyle that young executives want.

2016 looks like the beginning of an era of contemporary styled apartments on the market. As the density per square metre rises, when building high-rise apartments, developers need to be mindful of the unique lifestyle and culture of Bruneians in their design process. As for those who may not have considered high-rise living as a serious option, it may be time you start planning for the future.

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This article was published in the May 2016 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here! 

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