Buying a Bangkok condo: 10 months later
What are the pros and cons of splashing the cash on your own place?
Well, as I wrote in a previous blog, my Thai fiancé and I finally broke down and bought a condo near Ratchayothin in Bangkok; as an expat with no intention to leave (although that wasn't my original intention when I moved here), it simply doesn't make sense to keep throwing rent money down the drain every month, even if it is pennies compared to living in the US/UK. So, did we make the right decision?
I'd have to say... yes. Keeping in mind that we opted to go for an older condo versus the quite new one we were renting before'
So here are a few pros and cons:
Pros (our purchased older condo)
- THICK WALLS! I'm talking about Thai-style karaoke parties with surround sound speakers and a subwoofer-thick. No noise complaints yet, ever, as opposed to frequently at our rented (newer) condo.
- Freedom to decorate. Ok, this is more my fiancé's department, but we never feel like we're throwing money away if we want to change something. We think of it as "investing." (ha)
- More peaceful environment. Keep in mind this is specific to our condo, as we chose a condo a bit off of the main thoroughfares, but not hearing constant traffic is surprisingly nice.
- The exact same monthly payment for 3x the size. We now have two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 3 balconies to move around on and in. It just feels a bit more like a home.
- The ability to grill! Seriously, my cheap grill/bbq (2,000 baht, or roughly 60USD) has changed my life.
- Condo fees. When renting, I wasn't responsible for the bi-annual condo association fees. Well, at roughly 12,000 baht every six months, I certainly am now.
- Building management. Again, specific to our case, our older condo development just doesn't have motivated management in terms of community upkeep. The pool, while tolerable, is in bad need of repair, as is the gym. This is in sharp contrast to the Lumpini development we used to rent.
- Motorbike = requirement. Specific to our location, granted, but we're not on any major road now; it's either drive a motorbike (or car), or get a taxi, and if it rains... you can forget about a taxi. The good news though, is it's only a 10 minute motorbike ride to the MRT, or slightly longer to the BTS.
- Tied to the spot (for the moment). I recently started working way on the other end of the BTS line, and although our condo's location made sense for me when we bought it, now it simply doesn't (for me; it still does for her). Until we can afford to buy investment property, we're pretty much tied to this spot... thus tied to jobs and whatnot too.
Overall, for us, the pros far outweigh the cons with all things considered.
There's a lot to be said for not having to worry about messing up the landlord's sofa, and it's nice to feel like you have a "home" rather than "a nice place to stay" as I had for years before.
Sure, on a teacher's salary, there are pieces of furniture and some DIY repairs I've been putting off due to budget constraints (hello, anti-pigeon balcony netting), and sure, I only just paid off my credit card from the initial furniture/repair requirements from when we bought the place.
All that said, if you intend on staying in Bangkok for a while, and don't mind the feeling of being tied down, and have the Thai friends and/or financing to do it (...that's a lot of ands), it's hard to overlook the merits of buying a place of your own.
I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.
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@BkkGreg, yes, I feel your pain with the community board or whatever they call themselves. Problem at our complex is that nobody wants to fight with the old woman that manages the association, a paid staff member that apparently has worked there forever. Literally nobody will show up to the meetings they have; my fiance could handle her, but nothing can get done without X% approval from all the owners, and that never happens. haha
We've been there a year now, and they still haven't changed the bill for the bi-yearly condo fees from the last owner. My lady therefore refuses to pay them. haha
And... they've been saying they'll renovate our aging pool for quite some time now; it's always "next year, next year..."
If I could afford a house anywhere remotely close to anything around here, I would. As it is, I guess it's condo time!
By Sam, Chatuchak, Bangkok (12th January 2016)
Spot on, and oh man, those condo fees kill me. We bought a place just across the river in Thonburi, which is a (sort of) quieter area to live in...for now. It was a fantastic 2 bedroom pad for a married couple, but then we had a kid and now...well, it's still great, but my "man cave" has become the "man corner-of-the-living-room". Anyway, one other thing that bothers me about owning is the condo board, who run finances, decide what amenities should come and go, etc. They are mostly okay, but a few members are of the "I'm older and/or richer than you, therefore, you must respect me and agree with whatever I say." Needless to say, they were a huge pain in the ass to deal with. One day...one day, I will own a house, and no one will be able to tell me what to do. Fingers crossed. :)
By BkkGreg, Bangkok (11th January 2016)
@Pigeon Begone, I did try that actually (although I couldn't do away with the treasured Backstreet Boys... haha), didn't help a bit. Seems that the pigeon infestation comes more strongly with older properties. I finally (as of this week) had removable nets installed on the balconies. TAKE THAT, you flying rats.
@Chappy, as with everything in Thailand, it's a grey area. Should you technically be allowed to "buy" certain properties? Yes. Will you be able to, or show that the seller is legitimate? That all depends on who you're dealing with. Personally, I never would have bothered if it weren't for having a Thai partner; far too much hassle and "what if."
By Sam, Chatuchak, Bangkok (15th December 2015)
I would like to more practical side of buying condo. Can farang buy condo alone considering all the complexities or should leave it to Thai professional ? Where I can check that the person selling condo actually owns it ?
By Chappy, BKK (13th December 2015)
Hey Sam, tie a couple of your old Backstreet Boys CDs to strings and let the wind blow while they shimmer in the sunlight. Pigeons will be but a long lost memory in no time! :)
By Pigeon Begone, Beautiful downtown Bangphli (11th December 2015)