- Download our Moving to Thailand Guide (PDF)
The 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. Although there are plenty of excellent deals to be found, the price and quality of rental accommodation will vary enormously.
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. Serviced apartments are often converted hotel rooms and can, therefore, cost more as they often include utilities and cleaning services.
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 larger cities, standalone houses typically offer a lot of space and will have a garden. The privacy and luxury associated with detached houses come 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.
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.
Short lets are a great option for getting a feel of an area before fully committing to a long-term rental. These let expats experience everyday life as a resident in a particular neighbourhood and can also be fantastic for newcomers who will only be in Thailand for the short term. The best part about short lets such as AirBnB is that they are typically more affordable than hotels and the cost usually includes utilities and sometimes, cleaning services.
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 can assist in negotiations and the rental process. They are also usually free for tenants since they receive a commission from landlords.
- DDProperty and DotProperty are some of the most popular property portals in Thailand
- Expats in Thailand is a social media group where expats can find rental properties.
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.
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. House hunters who sign a rental contract for three years or longer must note that the agreement must be registered with a local Thai land office. This will attract a lease registration fee at a cost of 1 percent of the total rental fee throughout the agreement.
Expats will need to produce a valid passport and proof of income to legally sign a lease in Thailand. It's imperative for tenants to note that lease renewal is not automatic in Thailand, so expats and their landlords must sign a new agreement should an expat wish to continue renting a property at the end of the lease.
Tenants moving to Thailand with their furry friends are encouraged to get written permission from their landlord. Some landlords may charge a higher security deposit or a pet deposit to cover any damages the pet may cause.
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. Some landlords may require expats to pay several months of rent as a security deposit, but this is rare. If expats search hard enough, they can find a rental property that only requires one month of rent as a security deposit.
Termination of the lease
Those who would like to terminate a lease agreement before its expiration date must notify their landlord at least 30 days before their intended departure date. It's recommended that tenants take inventory of the property before and after moving out to ensure they leave the property in a suitable condition and that they are not charged for normal wear and tear. If everything is in order when expats vacate a property, the landlord must return the security deposit in full.
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.
Expats who are renting a standalone home or villa can transfer the electricity accounts into their names. Those who will be renting apartments, condos or townhouses will simply have a meter in their home that measures their consumption and this will be added to their monthly rental fee. 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.
The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is the main electricity provider in Bangkok while the Provincial Electricity Authority supplies the rest of Thailand. Tenants who need to transfer an account into their name must contact a local government office at least a week before moving.
Most apartments and homes in Thailand do not have mains gas, so gas cylinders are the most common way to use gas. If expats have a gas stove in their home, they can buy a gas cylinder and have it delivered to their homes.
Water connections in Thailand are usually arranged by landlords but if expats have to do it themselves they must contact or visit the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) if outside Bangkok and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority if living in Bangkok. Similar to electricity, expats will need at least a week's notice before moving in.
Bins and recycling
Waste management in Thailand is overseen by individual municipalities, which then contract private companies to collect waste. While there is no formal recycling programme in Thailand, the country encourages residents to sort household waste into recyclable, household and hazardous waste. Expats who want to play their part and recycle can donate their recyclables to local waste collectors, known as 'Khuad ma Khay'.
►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
What do expats say about housing standards in Thailand?
"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.
"Much like a night out, it all depends on what you want to spend. You can spend $1,000 a month on a nice-but-small condo in the city centre, or spend half that and get a whole townhouse in the suburbs instead." See our interview with Canadian expat Greg to learn more about living in Thailand.
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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