Julia Knight

Never a happy medium

Bangkok strikes again when it comes to cutting down on commuting time

I started a new job in August, I absolutely love it - but I'm in a dilemma.

We live in the suburbs in a three-bedroom house in a quiet village but packed with lots of busy restaurants, bars and places to go. The house is detached with a garden full of fruit trees that backs on to a rice field. The most noise you will ever hear comes from the birds or the occasional over-zealous gardener.

The daily commute into central Bangkok is over an hour and that means leaving at 6:10am. Five or ten minutes later and it's game over, I won't see work much before 7:45am. So we trek in, witnessing some interesting driving techniques as we go.

If I can leave before 4pm then the journey home is less than 40 minutes but if I'm late because of school business then it could take up to three hours. We have to drive because there is no BTS out this way and taking a taxi to the nearest airport link means by the time you've done that, you may as well of driven the extra 5ks anyway.

So we looked at some condos. Actually we looked at a lot. With agents, without agents. This search began in July 2014. We knew we would have to up the budget but that's ok because you get what you pay for, right? Um, nope. I have become the Bangkok real estate version of Goldilocks.

Everything I have seen, is too old, too damp, too small, too cramped, too expensive.

One place that was described as 'two bedrooms' didn't even have a window in the second bedroom (and I thought London's rental market was bad!) The list goes on and when we did finally find somewhere we could potentially call home, the apartment owner casually dropped in the water bill was fixed, shockingly at 1000B per month and that wasn't all, the electricity price was three times the government rate. Even considering it caused alarm - what if he decided to increase the rate mid way through contract? There would be no recourse. So the search came to an abrupt end.

There are other factors such as having a three year old who finds the travelling time and long day at school hard going, mid week, we often find ourselves asking why we are putting ourselves through this everyday when we can just move. But moving to something much smaller and higher in rent doesn't appeal especially at the weekend or in a school holiday.

Bangkok strikes again. There is never a happy medium is there? It is always from one extreme to another. What do we sacrifice? A beautiful, affordable home for some extra sleep and less travel time? I'm just not sure how to square this circle.

About me



We had this problem too. We have a house in deepest, darkest Samut Prakan and the journey to work got worse and worse, sometimes taking 3 hours. It took us 8 months from making the decision to finding and moving into the right place. Now we have a spacious 3 bedroom house in Bangna with nice garden and fruit trees. We've kept the old house but rent the new one at 16K a month. Quiet but nearby restaurants etc, very nice neighbourhood. And the drive to our Ekkemai office is about 30 minutes, 30 to 40 minutes back home.

By Keith, Bangna (24th December 2014)

Everyone has priorities in life. Everyone has money. You have to decide what your priorities are and make the most of what you have, not worry about what you dont or cant have.

By Rob, Bkk (28th November 2014)

Hi Mike, I guess it depends where you want to stay. I'd like to be nearer to Thong Lo / Eckamai so a two bedroom in a decent block could go from 40,000B upwards. But it is the size of the places. We'd like something over 100sqm and you would be surprised how little square feet you get for your bhat.

The search goes on....

By Julia , BKK (26th November 2014)

I apologize in advance for asking but since you have been seriously looking at two bedroom apartment/condos in Bangkok could I please ask what the realistic price range is? I'm thinking about relocating there to teach at some point and I've seen many conflicting viewpoints. Thanks,


By Mike, United States (25th November 2014)

I used to live in Ramkhamhaeng so you have my sympathy, it is a bloody nightmare round there.
In the end the traffic killed me and I wouldn't bother going out because of this as a trip into the 'centre' of Bangkok was too stressful.
I have moved back to London now!

By Robert Davies, Sri Lanka (25th November 2014)

The nearest BTS is On Nut or Eckamai. Then I would be two or three stops from work. The journey to either of those stations would still be over an hour. Same for Lad Prao MRT.

Tried the river boat but not practical with three year old in tow and still have to get to pier and from the pier to Thong Lo BTS. It also doesn't run after dark.

So public transport is out. The village is on Ramkanheng and trust me, it has everything you could want except a BTS station and a roast dinner but that's another story.

By Julia, BKK (25th November 2014)

A quiet area filled with bars and restaurants??? Where is that???

By Jan, Samut Prakarn (25th November 2014)

On nights when you know or strongly suspect you'll work late, getting to the nearest BTS station via taxi in the morning would seem the thing to do. It doesn't get stuck in traffic for 3 hours in the evening. This assumes (possibly wrongly) that traffic nearer your home is not the problem. Ultimately a different job seems in order.

By urbanman, near an aircon (24th November 2014)

Why don't you change your job and find some teaching position in the village you live or at least a bit closer to it?

By André, Hat Yai (24th November 2014)

Where was the village? The quiet area filled with bars and restaurants is really tempting. Hate living in the city. Obviously I'll heed your advice :) Just curious.

By Chris, Bangkok (24th November 2014)

I'll never forget what a friend once said to me on the topic of commuting to and from work.
"Anything over an hour is unacceptable"
20 years later and they are still some of the wisest words I ever heard.

By Philip, Samut Prakarn (24th November 2014)

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