Blackouts and Apartment Hunting

It’s one thing to read about it, but last night — the night of my first full day in Yangon — I experienced my first electricity blackout here. It’s weird when everything just shuts off and is consumed with darkness even though there isn’t a storm. The grid just simply can’t handle the demand.

It wasn’t long until the diesel generators were fired up — their whir seeping in through the windows of my room.

This morning came the second blackout (fortunately the shower still worked). When I went into the Proximity office after that, I experienced the third blackout, and then the fourth. The backup power is usually quick to respond, but no one seems to flinch at the sudden cut in power, the beeping of the backup batteries, and then the return of lights.

Today also marked the beginning of the apartment search. I saw probably 7-8 places today, mostly around the Proximity office in the northern part of the city, but also one place in the southern part near downtown. What an experience.

FIRST, and important to note, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that studio and one-bedroom apartments essentially do not exist in Yangon. Given the market, developers can make more money by turning a building with smaller units into a hotel. So when I walked into the palatial first place, I was immediately taken aback.

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I will spare you the pictures of the kitchen and bathroom, but clearly this seemed like I was paying for the space (2 bedrooms) and not the quality.

SECOND, the pricing here seems astronomical given that this is a third world city. Granted you get more space, but most of the apartments I looked at hovered around the $1,200 per month mark.

From there we moved to a recently renovated unit in this type of building:

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Gated and set back from the main road, it wasn’t a bad step up. The first place we saw used to be an office (check out the funky living room decorations), but it was being newly renovated, which gave me hope!

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Later on, we looked at a huge wooden house set right beside the 90-year-old grandmother who is trying to rent it out. Here is just one of the rooms (there wasn’t actually a shower here but rather a huge tiled vat for taking bucket showers):

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We saw a fifth floor unit (also huge) with a pretty sweet view (apparently the pipe in the second picture is the main water supply for the city):

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Finally, we went towards downtown to what I’ll call a more “rustic” place. Living there would be a truly authentic experience (the second picture is the view from the balcony):

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I’m hoping to make a decision tomorrow!

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