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Dreamland On The Outskirts


When Giselle Wilson and her husband Darryl, a vice-president at General Electric Co. (), moved to Shanghai in August, she never expected this: a house with 15-meter-high cathedral ceilings, six bathrooms, two Jacuzzis, maid's quarters, and patrols to keep the 600-sq. meter, furnished villa safe. ``I thought we would be in a 20-story high-rise with no grass,'' she says. ``But we moved into a Norman Rockwell lifestyle.''

Welcome to Forest Manor, a gated community on the outskirts of Shanghai. The American, Korean, and British international schools are minutes away. Forest Manor is a veritable architectural theme park, with Antebellum, Neoclassical, Norman, and American Southwest styles on display. ``It makes me think of Disneyland,'' says Shirley Yeung, a Guangzhou-born, ex-JPMorgan Chase & Co. () banker who runs her own investment advisory. She bought her 400-square-meter mock Tudor mansion, with a creek and 40-foot trees, two years ago for about $770,000. Today it's worth twice that.

Despite the recent turmoil in the property market, the value of Forest Manor and other developments of single-family homes should hold strong: The city last year forbade the construction of new single-family homes because of land scarcity. A U.S. lawyer who rents to the Wilsons makes an average 10% return on his four properties. Pretty good for a Norman Rockwell lifestyle.

By Frederik Balfour in Shanghai


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