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Opportunities in the Mbarara property market

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View of Mbarara City from the Mahembe gente roundabout. PHOTOs/JULIUS BYAMUKAMA.

Mbarara is one of the fastest-growing cities in Uganda. This western city has been an important food basket for the country, producing a big percentage of matooke, milk and beef that Kampala and other major cities in the country consume.

Mbarara is renowned for hosting Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and serves as a healthcare hub with Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. These institutions attract students, medical professionals, researchers, and patients from across the region, driving demand for rental accommodations and residential properties.

Over the past decade, the city has undergone extensive road network improvements including the installation of street lights, transforming it into a true metropolitan area.

This urbanisation has turned the city into a regional employment hub, attracting young people and driving up demand for both residential and commercial properties. To meet this demand, modern buildings have emerged, rivaling those found in the capital, Kampala, particularly to accommodate the need for commercial and office space. Additionally, new suburbs have been developed to cater to the high demand for housing, offering quieter environments away from the rapid growth and noise of the city centre.

The property market in Mbarara has flourished so much that numerous property traders are abandoning Kampala in large numbers to establish themselves there.

Much as in Kampala, property developers are acquiring substantial parcels of land and subdividing them into standard-sized plots of 50x100 feet or 100x100 feet. These plots are then sold to individuals keen on developing townhouses in Mbarara’s burgeoning suburbs.

What sets Mbarara apart as a prime investment opportunity is its relatively affordable land prices compared to Kampala. This affordability not only attracts seasoned investors but also provides a gateway for newcomers to venture into the property market.

The city’s development boom, combined with its growing reputation as a regional economic hub, further enhances its appeal. ..

As a result, Mbarara is not only witnessing rapid urbanisation and infrastructure improvements but also becoming a magnet for entrepreneurial endeavors in real estate and other sectors. As of now, the upside, of investing in this market is that any area is an ideal location to be. No matter where you buy, your investment is bound to appreciate as the city continues to grow and expand.

Below are some pointers on prices, hot-cake locations, and opportunities for investment in Mbarara.

Plenty of land on sale

According to Albert Tushabe of Amity Realtors Limited, there is a substantial amount of land available for sale in the property market. The market in Mbarara is relatively young, and as a result, many suburbs are not yet saturated.

“We classify the plots based on their distance from the city centre. We have plots available along all the major highways leading out of the city, including Mbarara-Kabale road, Ibanda-Bushenyi road, Masaka road, Isingiro, and other major routes,” says Tushabe.

Zero to five kilometre  radius

As expected, plots closer to the city centre command higher prices due to increased demand, while those further out are more affordable. Plots within 0-5 kilometers from the city are considered prime and carry a premium price range of Shs25-Shs50m for a standard 50x100 feet plot. According to Tushabe, these prices reflect their classification as commercial rather than residential plots.

These sought-after areas include Kubiri, Kakyenkye, and Makenke on Kampala Road, as well as Kihumuro on Bushenyi Road, and Ruti and Nyamitanga on Ntungamo Road, among others. These suburbs offer walkability; you can easily walk from the bustling city to the quiet residential streets in minutes. 

Five to 10kilometre m radius

Plots within a 5-10km radius of the city remain highly sought-after for their commercial potential, suitable not only for residential homes but also for hotels and other ventures.

Prices for these plots typically range from Shs20 million to Shs40 million. They are primarily sought by individuals looking to build residential houses, though investors interested in hotels are also showing keen interest.

Notable areas within this radius include Koranorya and Rwobuyenje along Kampala Road, as well as Mile 7 (Ahari Mushanju) along Isingiro Road, among others. Plots measuring 100x100 feet along the Northern Bypass in areas such as Nyarubanga, known for good accessibility and scenic views, are priced at Shs48 million each. Additionally, plots measuring 50x100 feet in areas such as Rwebishuri and surrounding villages are available for Shs19m each, with freehold land titles provided.

10-15km radius

Plots in areas such as Biharwe are priced between Shs10m and Shs20m. Other locations within this radius include Karama on Ntungamo Road, Rukuba, Masha on Isingiro Road, Nyakisharara on Ibanda Road, and more.

According to Daniel Arinda of Africus Properties, plots in their Nyakisharara estate measuring 100x100 feet are available for as low as Shs25m, while an acre in the same area fetches Shs45m. In the hills of Biharwe and Rwenjeru, plots measuring 50x100 feet are priced as low as Shs6.5m.

15-20 km radius

In the 15-20km radius, plots are available for purchase at prices ranging from Shs5m to Shs10m. For instance, plots measuring 50x100 feet in Rukuba and Masha are priced at Shs7.5m each, including a freehold land title.

Moving further out to the 20-25km radius, plots measuring 50x50 feet are sold for as low as Shs3.5m. Interestingly, this distance is comparable to some areas in Kira Municipality where similar-sized plots fetch more than Shs50m.

Why Mbarara City?

Compared to major cities such as Kampala or Jinja, land and property prices in Mbarara are relatively affordable across various distances from the city centre. This presents an opportunity for investors to enter the market at lower costs.

Location

Positioned in southwestern Uganda, Mbarara serves as a pivotal point for regional trade and commerce. Its strategic location along major transportation routes to neighboring countries like Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania facilitates cross-border business activities, which stimulates economic growth and increases demand for commercial and residential properties.

The city’s rich cultural heritage, including traditional Ankole culture and historical sites, attracts tourists and investors interested in developing hospitality and leisure facilities. The presence of national parks and wildlife reserves in the region further enhances Mbarara’s appeal as a tourist destination, supporting the growth of the hospitality sector and boosting property values.

Infrastructure

Recent improvements in infrastructure, including roads, electricity, and water supply, enhance accessibility and livability, thereby increasing property values and attractiveness.

Opportunities

From residential plots and apartments to commercial spaces and hospitality ventures, Mbarara offers a diverse range of investment opportunities to suit different investor preferences and goals.

Demand

Mbarara is experiencing rapid urbanisation and economic growth, making it a regional hub for commerce, education, and healthcare. This growth fuels demand for residential, commercial, and mixed-use properties.