Feb. 16, 2017, 12:30 p.m.
Phnom Penh is now home to 2.2 million residents, with an annual growth of 3.9 percent. With this fast growth of population, the central business districts of the capital, namely Chamkarmon, Daun Penh, Tuol Kouk, and Prampir Meakkakra (a.k.a "7 Makara" in uniform name), saw a slight decrease of population due to the fact that many residents relocated to the suburbs or outskirts of the city, even though the suburbs or outskirts saw a steady increase year over year. We are seeing an outward urban expansion of Phnom Penh.
First, this outward urban expansion of Phnom Penh is occurring because central business districts have been surging in land and property prices and as a result owners might have enjoyed this opportunity and sold out for a considerably high price. Then, they use the money to buy property in the outskirts where land and houses are much lower, with leftover profited amount probably used to expand businesses or save for other things.
Second, since property in the central business districts are most sought after, they can rent or lease to tenants who use it for business purposes. Then these property owners relocate to the outskirts and settle down there, enjoying their rents with a good price. According to the Cambodia Economic Census 2011, on average up to 55 percent of business establishments in the four mentioned districts had rented locations there for their business operations, higher than did in Dangkao district, the less-commercial area, only about 27 percent.
Third, this urban expansion of Phnom Penh may be caused by traffic pressure and rat-race in the central business districts pushing some people to relocate to the suburbs, where they can enjoy more peaceful and calm environment.
Even though people have been moving out to the suburbs, central business districts are not quiet. In fact, businesses of all types have been there, patronaged by, for example, expats and working local people during the day. That is the reason we've seen people commute in large numbers from the surburbs and outskirts in the morning and leave for home after work in the evening, causing traffic jams only at the so-called 'rush hours'.
Lastly, landed borey housing developments scattered throughout many of the outskirts of the capital, with a large take-up rate on pre-completion and completion, proves that the city is sprawling and the population gather pace at the suburbs to ease traffic and enjoy new communities out there.
By Mr Hoem Seiha, Director of Research | VTrust Appraisal Co., Ltd