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Options for accommodation in Thailand are almost as diverse as the country itself. The robust rental market means that, with a little patience and a bit of work, new arrivals will have no trouble finding a reasonably priced, comfortable place to live in Thailand.
When looking for a home, expats should bear in mind that traffic in Thailand’s urban centres can be extremely congested, so ideally they should aim to live close to their workplace, their children's school or public-transport terminals.
Types of accommodation in Thailand
From high-rise apartment buildings and condominium complexes to seaside shacks and standalone houses on large plots – all types of accommodation are available to rent in Thailand. The price and quality of rental accommodation will vary enormously, although there are plenty of excellent deals to be found.
Apartments chosen by expats are usually either part of a large development or part of a house that has been converted into separate units. Expats in Thailand will find apartments to suit a wide range of budgets. ‘Service apartments’ are often converted hotel rooms and can, therefore, cost more.
Condominiums, also known as condos, are privately owned units within a larger community of similar units. These units are often fully-furnished or contain certain appliances. Condos often have communal facilities such as pools and other social areas.
Usually located in the suburbs outside of larger cities, standalone houses typically offer a lot of space and will have a garden. The privacy and luxury associated with detached houses comes at an added cost though. Villas also fall into this category.
Joined by shared walls, townhouses usually form long rows and expand vertically rather than horizontally. This is intended to utilise the often cramped spaces in larger cities. This is one of the most popular accommodation types in Thailand.
Finding accommodation in Thailand
Whether deciding to find a property themselves or work with a real estate agent in Thailand, expats should have few problems when it comes to finding a suitable home to rent.
Independent house-hunters can use local newspapers, property pages and the internet to look for Thai real estate as there are numerous resources available in English. Another approach would be to identify an area that seems appealing, explore the neighbourhood and look for properties that are up for rent.
Estate agents in Thailand will, however, have a better knowledge of the market and will be able to assist in negotiations and the rental process. They are also usually free for tenants since they receive a commission from landlords.
Renting accommodation in Thailand
It can be difficult for foreigners to own property in Thailand, so most expats rent rather than buy. Luckily, local landlords are usually sensitive to the rental needs of expats and do a good job of advertising available properties. Renting property in Thailand is generally an easy process. The rental market is also varied, with plenty of housing available, and often at good prices.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Most rental properties in Thailand are semi-furnished, including a few basic appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers. That said, fully furnished accommodation is also widely available. Due to the short-term nature of many expat assignments, they generally opt to live in fully furnished accommodation.
The standard rental length in Bangkok is 12 months, but if expats get in touch with the owners directly, they may be willing to accept six-month leases. Depending on the type of accommodation, properties can be leased for much shorter durations.
Expats should be prepared to put down a deposit of two months’ rent. They are also often asked to pay their first month’s rent upfront. The landlord may deduct expenses from the deposit to cover the cost of repairing any damage to the property that may occur.
Expats should note that utilities such as electricity and water are generally not included in the rental price. Before moving in, confirm with the real estate agent or landlord that all utilities are set up, switched on and ready to be used come move-in day.
In Thailand, the most expensive utility by far is electricity. Expats should keep a close watch on their electricity consumption or they may find themselves facing a hefty bill.
►For information on what you can expect to pay for utilities and household goods, see Cost of Living in Thailand
►Accommodation in Bangkok gives an overview of real estate in the capital city
"If you want to live like royalty and spend the money, you can live in upscale luxury for much cheaper than your home country" Read more about expat life in Thailand in James's interview.
Are you an expat living in Thailand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Thailand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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