Every year Thailand, and of course Bangkok, become an increasingly popular and attractive place to emigrate to for the first time expat. Attractions include the relaxed way of life, the access to international fare - particularly if you live along the BTS or MRT system in Bangkok and of course the delicious and healthy local food.
Or perhaps you are a 'serial expat' and have already had some memorable adventures living in other Asian countries such as S. Korea or China teaching English, or involved in other businesses and just want to give Thailand a try to see if all the rumors are true :)
For regular readers of Ajarn.com and this blog, it is easy for us to forget that information and lifestyles that we take for granted are alien and indeed strange for some newcomers to Bangkok and Thailand. However we know that each and every day new expats come to Bangkok to start up their lives on a temporary or even permanent basis. For those arriving in Bangkok they have so much to get used to - the language, the alphabet (sorry still can't read it after all this time), the culture, the smells and of course the idiosyncratic ways that are well.....just Thai!
All the above can take great deal of time to absorb, but something that newcomers can learn reasonably quickly is how the Bangkok real estate market works. We know that ii each country and even each city around the world different rules apply, but here is a brief look at how the Bangkok real estate market pans out, and by the time you have finished this article, I hope you are on a much stronger footing.
Rental by the month
Ok, firstly prices you see advertised to lease properties are listed by the month on most websites. I know that some cities like London will state prices by the week (I guess so that they sound cheaper), but as Bangkok is still one of the best value major cities of the world in terms of property the prices are still kept as a monthly amount.
Two months deposit
In Bangkok there are various industry standards and one of them is that the landlord will take 2 months deposit, whether you rent a condo, apartment, townhouse or detached house for residential purposes regardless of the length of the contract. This is basically non-negotiable. If you are offered a property and the landlord is willing to allow you to place down less than a 2-month deposit, alarm bells should start ringing in your head, rather than the sound of champagne corks popping.
The reason I state this is because there is usually one of the following reasons why the landlord is so desperate to take a 1-month deposit:
1. He knows something about the place that you have not yet noticed (but is generally won't be something good)
2. He is unaware of how the professional real estate market works and the standards in Bangkok. Therefore he may also be under the misconception that this deposit does not have to be repaid. At the end of the day if someone is acting unusually it is never a good sign, it can be a case of 'penny wise, pound foolish' to try to take advantage of it.
Over the years we have heard some horror stories, especially of first time expats of any age, gender, experience etc being taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords. To avoid such problems it is always best to use a respectable and professional real estate agency to broker the deal for you. This way you have the secure knowledge the landlord will return your deposit fairly and on time.
A respectable and registered property agent will have not only historical reference to the properties and landlords they recommend, but also can be there for you if any problems arise. At the end of the day landlords are in business and like any wise business people they want to for lasting and beneficial relationships with local businesses such as agencies. It is therefore not in their interests to cheat or upset the client of a respectable well established real estate agent in Bangkok.
There are also some urban myths and misconceptions about renting a property in Bangkok, and I have covered them earlier in another blog. However as mentioned by using a professional reliable real estate agency the pitfalls should all be avoided
One month advance
The second requirement that is also industry standard and required is one month's advance, again regardless of the length of the contract. Again if the landlord tells you something different then it's best to walk away.
This is not usually a subject that new expats arriving in Bangkok or Thailand are that interested in. However if this is your plan then I suggest you read this blog. And once again I strongly urge you to contact a respectable, reliable and registered real estate agent to help you. We have heard too many dreadful stories of expats getting their fingers burned on property purchases in Thailand, and as always most of them could have been avoided with the right advice from the start.
I hope the above article was helpful. Of course it has only just scratched the surface in regards to living in Bangkok and even dealing in the real estate market, but you have hopefully taken your first step now and can make the second step with more confidence.