This two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Street 370 and Pasteur (Street 51) is available for US$550 per month from December 18. It has a balcony and moto parking. 016 699 996
What's going for it
If ever there was a hip, trendy area in Phnom Penh, Boeung Keng Kang I (BKKI) is it. Extending from Sihanouk to Mao Tse Tung boulevards and running between Monivong and Norodom boulevards, BKKI is sometimes referred to as NGO-ville because, well, there are so many NGOs in this area of town. Along with NGOs come NGO workers and businesses catering to them. Boutique shopping, spas, cosy bars and cafes make this part of town especially desirable to live in. There is also a big Lucky Supermarket, an International Book Center and an ANZ Royal bank. A number of apartment buildings have recently popped up and there are plans in the works for more to be built.
What's the catch?
There are few catches to living in BKKI, but one of the most common gripes is the noise from all of that new construction going on. Traffic speeding up and down side streets is also becoming a concern to people in this neighbourhood. The biggest drawback, however, is finding a flat or an apartment. Unless you have a substantial amount of money to spend (and even then there are waiting lists), it can be difficult finding a good space at a reasonable price. There is also a feeling for some that the area is a little bit too cosmopolitan or international and is divided or separated from the "real" Cambodia.
Getting there, and away?
BKKI is one of those really nice areas in that many people live close to where they work. Bicycles and pedestrians make up a good portion of the morning and afternoon commute, although traffic is still a mess during peak hours. Because this community is bordered by major streets on all sides, coming and going from BKKI is easy.
Some of the best schools in town are in and around BKKI, including the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP), the British International School and Home of English. Zaman International School and ICan British International School are also nearby.
Out of the house.
There is plenty to do in BKKI. Some of the best shopping, spas, bars and restaurants are found in this neighbourhood, and it is a common meeting place especially for lunch and happy hour. Although there are no designated parks, walking in the area is commonly done as everything is close together. Boeung Keng Kang market is a great place to wander and is known for having some great secondhand clothes at bargain prices.
On the market
A number of apartment buildings have recently gone up in the neighbourhood and most are full or nearly full, with waiting lists. Apartment prices vary greatly, ranging from between US$375 to around $3,000 per month. A wide variety of flats and villas are also available but these are not always easy to find. For those wanting to move into a villa or flat in BKKI, consulting a real estate agent is a good place to start, but word-of-mouth seems to be the most effective way of finding the best deals.
The Hamptons apartment building is sophisticated, upscale and luxurious. Parking is plentiful and it boasts a gym and a swimming pool. Rents range between US$1,500 for a ground-floor, single 120-square-metre apartment to $3,000 for a three-bedroom, 190-square-metre apartment on the ninth.
Word on the street
Phnom Penh photographer Thomas Angus has been living in BKKI off and on for three years. "BKK is safe," he says. "It's convenient to walk everywhere but motos are more expensive than they are in the rest of the city."
Ashraf Rushdy likes the wide variety of restaurants and bars to be found in BKK I. "It's pretty amazing," he says. "Everything is close to here." He reckons the serviced apartment he shares with his family is awesome.
Lorian Roberts has split her time between Victoria, Canada, and BKKI since 1993. There have been major changes but it is still good for walking to nearby places. The drawback? "There is constant construction and rents are high."