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Post-Covid: Investing Where and in What?

Editor Richard Bowser talks with investment banker and landlord Kwasi Affum

Five years ago I stood outside a small ramshackle ‘hotel’, which comprised of a small bar/reception building and six detached wooden lodges on a stunning crescent shaped, white sand beach, located on a small island off the south coast of Cambodia. Surrounded by coconut palm trees, I was speaking to the founding-owner, a lady in her mid-30’s, originally from the Netherlands, who told me she had built and created the ‘hotel’ some five years prior with her previous partner who had been a builder.

Behind her sat her three-year old child and we talked about her life on the island and what made her stay and run the hotel there, which for many people would be an existence to envy. Our conversation came to an abrupt and somewhat awkward ending when I asked about the locally available schools for the child.

“That is the reason I am going to leave and sell the business next year,” she said, “because the nearest school is 25 kilometres by ferry on the mainland and notwithstanding the weather conditions, it takes 90 minutes each way.”

I have no idea whether that lady’s dilemna was resolved or how any subsequent owner-operator of the hotel would have been impacted by the Covid pandemic in the last 16 months but it’s
very likely that many fewer international tourists would have been enjoying a sundowner cocktail of late in that idyllic Cambodian beach.

Location, location is an oft-quoted term in property investing and since March 2020 we have not been alone in reporting how many individuals and families have also been re-assessing the location of their living space, relative to the demands of their work, family circumstances and personal aspirations. The pandemic’s impact has without question resulted in many people looking towards greener pastures, from an inner city flat to more spacious suburbs or even further outwards to more rural locations.

We have also seen a fast forwarding of a likely five year period of technology led change occur in less than five months via the Zoomification of how we interact and communicate. This has resulted in a veritable avalanche of media-led debate as to whether ‘working from home’ will become the norm for office workers.

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