Admittedly, upon arriving at PP condo for the first time, it’s easy to be instantly blindsided by the rather shabby exterior and jaded condition of the two decade old constructions set amid unrefined surroundings. Delve a little deeper, though, and what you’ll discover is a condominium offering scores of newly modernised, thoughtfully designed, tastefully presented and completely move-in ready residential units to satisfy those on even the very tightest of budgets. Together with a genuinely personable manner among the local Thai folk, a palpable sense of community and a conscientious juristic office whose primary concern is the wellbeing of its residents, it’s little wonder that foreigners who call PP condo home are quick to proselytise about the property.
Set back at a distance of approximately 600m from the main road so blissfully free of traffic noise and pollution, PP condo is in fact a complex of six separate buildings designated A, B, -and slightly further along the soi [lane]- C, D, E and F. In spite of its relative seclusion, residents have ready access to a host of mom and pop stores, eateries and communal amenities. On the corner of building B is a small coffee stand while on the west-facing side of the first floor of building A are a number of commercial units housing a print/photocopy shop, Thai restaurant in addition to a self-service laundry featuring coin-operated washing machines and a water-vending dispenser; straight in front of building C lie a clothing repairer, Thai massage parlour, a family-run convenience store and a serviced wash shop while building E accommodates the amply stocked ‘NP’ minimart open every day of the week. Wandering around the neighbouring side streets affords a wealth of yet more foraging and retail opportunities. Reaching the intersection with Charoen Muang Road takes barely more than five minutes on foot; situated there is a cluster of Thai restaurants, a 24 hour 7-Eleven convenience store and, come nightfall, several street food vendors. For an significantly greater choice of groceries (domestic and imported) as well as a wide variety of household goods and electrical appliances, the Chiang Mai branch of the wholesale giant Makro can be walked in around five minutes more. A short 20 minute stroll from the condo is Chiang Mai railway station with the city’s main (‘Provincial Arcade’) bus terminals a half hour or so away (or 10 minute drive) optionally by way of StarWork co-working space. Less than 500m due east of PP condo is the multi-lane Super Highway with fast, direct connections to Bangkok Hospital (generally regarded by Thais and expats alike as the leading private medical centre in the whole of Chiang Mai), Big C Extra hypermarket within the popular Chiang Mai Business Park (CBP), CentralFestival shopping plaza (reputedly the biggest of its kind in Northern Thailand) and onward, ultimately, to Maya mall at the northern end of Nimmanhaemin Road. For those lacking their own transport, the number 14 air-conditioned city bus (marked as route B1) operates a daily service with frequent departures from along Charoen Muang Road to Chiang Mai zoo by way of the fantastic San Pa Khoi day market, iconic Tha Phae Gate and through the ‘Old City’ to Suthep Road continuing to the southern edge of Nimmanhaemin Road.
Occupying a first floor spot in building C is the juristic office open from 8:30AM to 6PM Monday to Saturday and staffed, somewhat uncharacteristically for an older condo, by exceptionally obliging, professional and knowledgeable personnel. Although security guards patrol the hallways and grounds only in 12 hour shifts from 7PM and electronic keycard-controlled access is limited to building F alone, CCTV cameras are mounted throughout common areas of every one of the half-dozen buildings and also in strategic positions on some of the outer walls. A single lift (elevator) is present in each of buildings C, D, E and F but entirely absent from both buildings A and B. Shared WiFi is provided in each building by ‘IT Zone’ with a 30 day package costing a very reasonable 250 baht or otherwise residents can organise their own installation of private home broadband through the likes of AIS or Sinet Internet Service Providers (though supplementary charges will apply). Plenty of car parking bays and separate spaces for motorbikes skirt each building, are clearly marked and free to use. Although there are no longer on-site leisure facilities of any description at PP condo, sports enthusiasts can enjoy the indoor ‘FYC’ badminton courts directly opposite building C while those with a passion for Muay Thai can avail of the ‘Sit-Daab Waad’ boxing gym poised between buildings A and C.
Of the 540 units that collectively make up PP condo, 134 exist in each of the 4 storey buildings A and B, 89 in each of the 6-storey buildings C, D and E, and 139 in the 7 storey building F. Almost exclusively, units are residential in nature and predominantly studio condos of 30 sq m with the odd 1 bedroom duplex unit and 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom of double the standard size. With parallels to the recent resurgence of interest in SR Complex, PP condo has itself benefitted from a similar renaissance during the last few years resulting in many of the original bare-bones units transformed into surprisingly bright, fully –and smartly- furnished, air-conditioned, contemporarily styled and homely condos often enclosing cleverly partitioned sleeping quarters, a well-equipped kitchenette with mid-rise fridge/freezer and microwave as well as the provision of household linens and, in building F, a usable if fairly undersized private balcony. Although unit prices have risen twofold in the last couple of years, newly refurbished studios can still be had for an implausibly low 4000 to 6000 baht per month on a yearly lease and from under 600,000 baht to purchase outright yielding a healthy 4 to 5% Return On Investment. Whether as an entry level buy-to-let opportunity or as a long-term rental prospect, foreigners account for only a third of the total complement of condo residents with most inhabiting buildings C, D, E and F.
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