An ideal home

Some thoughts about renting in Thailand


You know that old saying "You get what you pay for!"? I'd agree with that in most cases... but renting somewhere to bed down in Thailand is not bound by that proverbial sentiment.

There are few things more subjective than choosing a place to live. Where you eventually decide to set up base camp in Thailand won't be the same as where your colleagues would choose. There are a lot of aspects to consider... the location, landlord, utilities, neighbors... the smell! If you do NOT shop around for a place to live in Thailand you are going to miss out on a great deal that's just right for you.

It doesn't matter where you are on the pay scale, you should always devote a good portion of your energy on finding a place where you'll be comfortable sleeping in. This article isn't about specifics on renting in Thailand - there's lots of good advice available online. These are just a few thoughts that reflect my own experiences renting in Thailand over the last few years before I broke down and bought a place.

What to pay?

For teachers in Thailand, I'm guessing that most of us are paying less than 10,000 baht a month for rent, especially those of us outside Bangkok. The rest of us are paying less than 20,000 baht. Rents in Bangkok can be astronomical but anything over 20,000 baht offers little in return by way of extra services and comforts. In other words... anything more than 20,000 baht is really a waste of money if you have done your homework and made an effort to find somewhere that's right for you.

If you're budget conscious then about 8,000 a month can get you a clean, quiet room in Bangkok. It will also get you a crappy room with unreliable services, a sticky elevator floor, and nasty, annoying neighbors! Then again, I've seen plenty of my friends staying at more expensive places that wouldn't be right for me.

Choosing a 'home' is a balance of positives (what you want) versus negatives (what you are prepared to put up with.) You may want an apartment close to the BTS. But is the noise of the traffic outside worth it? You may want a quiet house tucked away in one of the back streets but that sweaty, twenty-minute walk to the bus stop is just too much to tolerate day in and day out. You've found a place that seems like a great location but the stink of food in the hallways makes you want to throw up. You've discovered a place with a great indoor gym but the rooms are tiny, roach-infested shitholes!

Be patient and KEEP LOOKING!

Do you know the difference between a "condo", an "apartment", and a "serviced" apartment? You should, so find out. Do you know what 'mansion' means in Thailand? It's certainly not what I thought it was! You're gonna laugh your ass off when you find out what passes for a 'mansion' here!

Consider how long you'll be living in your chosen abode. If it's a year or more than you really should make the effort to get it right first time. Ask questions before you sign the lease. Is the WiFi any good? How about the water pressure in the shower? Does the security guard sleep more than the average cat?

Are the air-con units old or new looking? The old ones will chew you up in electric bills. And what is the apartment charging for electricity? If you rent an actual house it will be the lowest domestic rate directly from the electric company. Apartments have more creative (and expensive) ways of calculating your electricity bill.

Can you afford to lose your deposit? Be prepared to. You will probably lose at least some of it with the mysterious 'wear and tear' deductions at the end of your stay. Before you move in, take lots of photos of the inside of the apartment... especially damaged and stained areas. Upload them all on somewhere like Facebook where the date they were posted can easily be seen. Some landlords (especially the women) are worse than the Pattaya jet ski Mafia!

How are the neighbors?

Who are your neighbors going to be? Hang around and find out before you move in. Is there a family of noisy Thais cooking up a batch of stink-flavoured curry in the room next to yours? Is there a drunk Dutchman on his way to making headlines by being a splat on the pavement as he says 'goodbye' to the world and jumps off the roof? Do you have a flirtatious ladyboy down the hall who has more night visitors than Nana Plaza?

Twenty years ago I did my rental research online. I was living in Mexico and working out my budget for the move to Thailand. I was very upbeat... the rents were looking cheap as chips. There were cool looking apartments with pools, gyms, shops and other expats I could talk to... but once I actually arrived in Thailand and started looking at these places, I quickly became disillusioned and abandoned all that research and those pipe dreams of living in luxury on a budget.

I tried settling in a couple of places that were cheap and cheerful. I was a younger man back then so my tolerance for inconvenience and discomfort was a lot higher than it is now. But as my salary increased and my stay in Thailand got longer and longer, I went through a series of upgrades to make my life better. You will probably go through the same steps as I did - learning along the way.

Through it all, the biggest lesson I learned was that the more effort you put into finding a place that's ideal for you, the happier your stay in Thailand will be. There really are brilliant bargains to be had in Bangkok (and the rest of Thailand) when it comes to living quarters. A little work and a little patience will pay off.

Good luck and happy living!


You might also be interested in....

The ajarn.com guide to renting an apartment - Everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Thailand

The ajarn.com guide to renting a house - When you've had quite enough of apartment living.

The perfect neighborhood - What ten things are most important to you?


Comments

I got lucky. A 35m2 apartment off Srinakarin near Seacon Square in East Bangkok... Furnished, only 4000 Baht a month. Deals are out there!

By Joko, Yangon (6 months ago)

At last Jeremy, a voice of sanity.

By Steve, Bangkok (6 months ago)

I can't believe all the positive comments above, seems too good to be true. At least complain about the 8 baht a unit most apartment landlords charge for electricity, even though they pay only 3 or 4 baht. Isn't that criminal? On noise, it is really about the price you pay. Up North, 4000 plus should find you in a quiet place as the other occupants will be professionals, nurses, teachers etc. Less than 3000, expect 5 students, or night workers all sharing a room. All shouting at the top of their voices when they come in at 3am. When you look at a building, if you spot 4 or 5 pairs of flip flops sitting in a heap outside every door, the place is not for you. Walk away.

By Jeremy, Udon (6 months ago)

I've lived in 3 buildings with 3 different landlords in Bangkok and always got my deposit back.

The most that has ever been deducted is 500 THB as a room cleaning fee.

By Jen, Bangkok (6 months ago)

I've neve had issues with deposits... but... I think the OP has a good point.. I think part of the reason I haven't had issues is that I take the time to document, document and document everything... that way, when it is move out time, there really is no question as to what was before compared to now.

I'm 100% sure there are landlords who, intentionally so, do things purposely to avoid or minimize what would otherwise be the legit return of the deposit... I am also sure that there are renters who don't respect the property of the landlord or purposely conceal damage that they'd otherwise be liable for..

So, I think this part can go either way.

By Michael, Bangkok (6 months ago)

I agree with Mark. I've lived in 6-7 condos in Bangkok over the last 7 years and always had my full deposit back. Once a landlord gave it back to me a week before I left because he was going to be away when I left. I just left the keys with the juristic person.

Also in my 7 years I've never had any bad smells from neighbors cooking food, never had dodgy people living in the building, never had any noise, etc.

All my landlords have been Thai - some male and some female.

Not sure why so many farangs seem to have so many problems with renting.

By Mike, Bangkok (6 months ago)

@Mark

Even the one time I did not give the correct amount of notice that I was moving, I still got my deposit back. When I ventured to Vietnam for a few months, I still got my deposit back. As I said, I personally think it is more to do with the renter than the landlord.

By lloyd, bangkok (6 months ago)

@Lloyd...

Most issues about deposits revolve around timing... Usually, people move out because they are going back to their native countries. Landlords know this and play the waiting game!

I must say - you have had a spectacular run of luck so far... almost unbelieveable! ;)

By Mark Newman, A. MUANG (6 months ago)

Everyone always harps on about losing deposits. I have lived in 10 different places, including basic rooms, apartments, serviced apartments, condos and houses, and EVERY single time I have had every Satang of my deposit returned. Maybe it is about the renter, not the landlord ?

By Lloyd , Bangkok (6 months ago)

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