Accommodation in Bangkok
Expat accommodation in Bangkok is highly varied. No matter how big an expat’s family is or the type of home they prefer, price and proximity will be their most important considerations when finding housing in the Thai capital.
In spite of the political situation, the demand for housing is still at high levels, and is expected to improve in the coming years. Thailand has a long history of military coups and, where other countries often suffer long-term negative effects, property prices in Bangkok have continued to rise.
At the same time, the price of a property in Bangkok is often half the price of an equivalent place in Hong Kong or Singapore, and there is a range of options for expats with a variety of budgets.
Frustrating commutes are common, and the city’s regular traffic jams inspire many expats working in the city centre to live close to their workplace. The same line of reasoning applies to families that have children attending international schools.
The efficient BTS Skytrain, which runs across the city, has helped to reduce commute times and relieved congestion for many expats. However, the Skytrain doesn’t reach all areas of Bangkok and commuting to a BTS station can be as woeful as commuting to work.
Chao Phraya River, Thonglor and Rachatewi have been popular expat areas in Bangkok for some time.
Types of accommodation in Bangkok
Housing in Bangkok is as varied as the city itself. Most expats in Bangkok live in condominiums and, given government restrictions on foreigners buying property, the majority rent in the city.
Many expats prefer fully serviced apartments that resemble hotels. These usually come furnished and often offer services such as cleaning staff, a staffed lobby area, and amenities such as small gyms or swimming pools.
Non-serviced apartments are usually a less expensive option but often require a longer term commitment. These tend to resemble Western apartments but come in a variety of styles.
The quality of accommodation in Bangkok varies and expats generally get what they pay for. Especially in higher-end serviced apartments, most expats report that the standard of housing is similar to what they would find in their home country.
On the edges of the city, expat families can find Western-style houses in gated communities similar to suburban housing communities in the USA. These get progressively more expensive closer to downtown areas - peaking in the city centre. These housing villages often have facilities such as swimming pools, but the houses do tend to look the same.
It is important to find quality accommodation in a well-run building, as renters have less recourse against property owners than they do in the West.
Finding accommodation in Bangkok
The most popular options for finding accommodation in Bangkok include online property portals, the property sections of newspapers and working through a rental agency.
Another way of finding a place to live in Bangkok is for a house-hunter to identify an area that appeals to them, and explore the area looking for properties available to rent.
Apartment buildings in Bangkok often have an information office or a building manager who can let prospective tenants know about any available rentals. Many of these will not speak English, especially outside of major tourist areas. It would be worthwhile for expats who decide on this approach to bring a Thai friend with them.
Factors to consider when house-hunting in Bangkok
An expat’s budget will determine the type of accommodation available to them, as well as the kinds of areas they should be searching in.
Property further away from the city centre tends to be cheaper, while houses are generally more expensive than other forms of accommodation.
Housing that is close to public transport terminals tends to be more expensive. At the same time, the traffic in Bangkok is notoriously congested, which makes living close to SkyTrain or metro system stations convenient, if a bit more pricey.
Expats with families may want to consider areas close to schooling options, such as the International School of Bangkok.
Real estate scams in Bangkok
Unfortunately a number of expats have fallen victim to rogue traders in Bangkok, who pass themselves off as legitimate real estate agents. Many of these are expats themselves, looking to take advantage of new arrivals. To avoid this, expats should only use a registered real estate broker, if they decide to use one.
Renting property in Bangkok
After settling on an apartment, expats usually have to sign a fixed-term contract. It often happens that the longer a person commits to staying in an apartment, the better their rent will be.
Tenants are usually expected to pay a deposit of about two months’ rent along with their initial pay check. Assuming that the property is in good condition, the deposit will be returned at the end of the lease period.
As is the case anywhere, expats occasionally do have landlord issues in Thailand. A few basic precautions can be taken to avoid this, such as doing a thorough inspection of the property, taking photos of any existing damage, keeping any correspondence with the landlord and keeping rental receipts.
It is usually the responsibility of the tenant to pay the cost of utilities in Bangkok, although this may not always be the case with some apartment rentals.