A little while ago in a previous blog on Ajarn.com I asked the question if Ratchadaphisek was the new Sukhumvit? In that blog I highlighted how the relatively new MRT line had helped transform the area into a much more attractive place to live. With several new condos built next to the new stations that run the length of the road. I think that there is no disputing the fact the area has seen a lot of development in the last 5 years and that the districts that run along length of Ratchadaphisek road had been given a major boost. So keeping on the same theme, I want to ask in this blog if the area just over the river, namely Thonburi, has become the new Silom and Sathorn since the opening in May 2009 of the new Krungthonburi and Wongwian Yai BTS stations?
The junction at Saphan Taksin which is at the edge of the river, near where these two new stations are located, is reputed to be the worst in Bangkok, and that must mean Thailand. Figures suggest that some 80 000 people cross this junction everyday in the rush hour periods. And as most people are driving one person per vehicle that means that some 50 000 cars, buses, trucks, vans and pick-ups are causing major traffic jams here everyday, never mind major pollution! No wonder the city was crying out for the BTS to traverse the Chaophraya river to lower the number of vehicles on the road. And to be fair it seems to be working, I think it is no coincidence that since these two stations have opened that the BTS has become more popular and therefore a lot more crowded. In fact so much so that the BTS started running 4-carriage trains on the Silom line well before the longer Sukhumvit line, which at present still makes do with 3-carriage trains.
Inevitably condominium and apartment developers have seen the opportunity to build new condos and apartments next to the BTS stations at Krungthonburi and Wongwian Yai. For those that know Thonburi, you will know that compared to Sathorn and Silom on the other side of the river it was previously undeveloped, but for a few high-end hotels and the usual shop-houses so familiar to any Bangkok resident.
However, since the completion of the two new BTS stations, there have been a number of mid-end and high-end condos constructed in the area. And some are within literally a stones throw of the BTS - some condominiums only 50m away from the nearest station. Of course all brand new, they offer not only great facilities and brand new fittings and design, but also given the location, they offer great value for money.
My condominium situated in Wong Wian Yai for example offers modern well designed and tastefully fitted brand new condos for excellent prices. In fact you can get a 2-bedroom condo here for the same price that you would struggle to get a 1-bedroom for just three stops up at Chong Nonsi station.
As any long term residents of Bangkok will know, Silom is infamously expensive. Yes it is served by both the BTS and MRT lines with Saladaeng and Silom stations respectively, but it is mainly the lack of land available in the sub-sois that push the prices up as demand outstrips supply. However as we often tell our clients, ‘Why pay more for a condo 10-15mins walk from a station, when you can live 10-15mins train ride further down the line and pay much less?'
And there is so much logical sense in this; it is not just cost, but also quality of living. If you live at a condo for example in Krungthonburi, that is situated less than 100m from the station, you can be riding on the train within 2-3 minutes of leaving the front door of your condo. Not only that, but with a 100m walk, it is unlikely you will get wet if it is raining as long as you have an umbrella with you. Where as a 10-15 minute walk along the pavements of Silom, is not only likely to be awkward, but umbrella or no umbrella you are likely to get wet at one point as people jostle you for position on the pavement.
And there is another added advantage too, and this very much concerns quality and standards of living. The pollution is dreadful in both Silom and Sathorn, the air is filled with the fumes of dirty buses and even dirtier trucks, that would pass no emission tests anywhere in the world. However, move just 5 stops down (or a 15 minute BTS journey) and you could be a in a totally different world with blue skies and birds singing. Metro Park Sathorn offers not only excellent value with very attractive modern clean 2-bedroom condos at the same price as you would pay for a studio apartment on Silom road, but also a resort atmosphere that allows you to truly relax when you return home.
We find that savvy clients looking to rent on this side of the city realize the value of travelling just 15 minutes on an air-conditioned train just to enjoy a higher quality and lower cost of living.
True there are some disadvantages, Meto Park for example requires a short shuttle bus ride to the BTS and there are fewer shops. Also the shopping plazas aren't as swanky, but then with only a 25 minute BTS journey to Siam Square, it is not like you are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
For readers of this blog as well there is the advantage of these properties being located close to Pinklao where many English teachers ply their trade, and also you are close to universities like Mahidol's Saraya campus.
So although the argument for Krungthonburi and Wongwian Yai being the new Sathorn and Silom are perhaps not as compelling as Ratchada being the new Sukhumvit, it is worth remembering that the MRT has been open since 2004, where as the new BTS stations have only been open since 2009 so it has had 5 years longer to develop. What however I think is a compelling argument, is that these stations have opened up a part of Bangkok that offers both better value living and better quality living than many of the alternatives in the city.