Since November, I have been living in a Thai university student dormitory near Sripitum University. I've had my own small (maybe 12 square meter) studio with whitewashed walls, a tiny balcony, and a basic bathroom. The place certainly wasn't bad for the price; thumbprint security, laundromat downstairs, cheap street food and a 7/11 downstairs, and a ten minute walk from my school... all for 4,500 baht plus utilities per month. But, after six months in it, I decided it's time for me to grow up and be a real boy... and get a real boy pad.
I looked around for a few weeks prior to finally settling on a spot. I checked out several Thai and foreigner-geared places around Mo Chit BTS and Phohon Yothin MRT stop (near my school). My criteria was thus: a separate bedroom, hot water (yes, hot water), proximity to the MRT or BTS (fifteen minute walk or less), and a pool. That last item booted out a lot of options.
My price range was 10,000 baht per month to 14,000 baht per month, but including utilities I really didn't (and don't) want to exceed 15,000 baht per month. Granted, in Bangkok, that is a small fortune; it's literally half of many teachers' salaries. But, life is what you want out of it, and at this point in my life, I want to have somewhere I actually enjoy coming home to. To each his own, right?
I looked online at sites such as ddproperty.com and easyhomes.tv (formerly mrroomfinder.com) just to get an idea of what I could get for my money, and called and set up appointments to visit several. As with most things in Thailand, it pays to bring a Thai person with you. This helps with the almost always present language barrier, but you also will get a better deal with a Thai present. That's just the way it is here, and since I'm allowed to live in this beautiful country, it's something I can deal with.
I eventually looked (by myself, mostly) at about ten different apartments/condos. I've done my fair share of moving - I counted 7 times in the last two years alone - and I've found that you're best off with any place you go to that you get "a good feeling" about as soon as you open the door. That's what I ended up doing.
I chose one of the Lumpini Place properties that fit all of my criteria (although a bit farther from the MRT/BTS than I wanted, but still walkable), but I mainly chose it because it "felt right." Don't ask.
The rent is 12,000 baht per month plus utilities, but luckily electricity is billed according to the government rate, so it is far cheaper than I was paying before. My first month's bill was 980 baht, which included using a LOT of electricity (a friend stayed for three weeks). I paid more than that for my little jail cell room using almost no electricity! My first two months' water bill was 45 baht. Not too shabby!
I could probably have gotten the same style apartment for about 1,000 baht less per month if I went directly through an owner rather than the little leasing agency in the property management office, but I like that if I need anything (such as losing building entry card keys as I've already done), they are there every day.
My condo is only about 30 square meters, and it's not much... but it's new, furnished, has two air conditioners and hot water, a flat screen TV, has plenty of light, a wonderful pool/gym/sauna that not many people seem to use, laundry (and laundry service) and water dispensers downstairs, full-time security, mailboxes (unlike my last place)... AND, it's right across the street from a cinema and countless restaurants and shopping. For me, especially considering I moved from what I can only call a jail cell, it is amazing.
I love that I have an actual living room now, which allows me to have guests over. And, if friends come to visit, they have a place to stay! Best of all: I can cook again! I haven't had cooking abilities nor a refrigerator for over six months. It's the little things, eh?
I've been there about a month, and I'm still happy. It's nice to have a place that you actually WANT to come home to. Having a pool to jump in directly after school helps too. Granted, where I was staying before was perfect for what I wanted at the time. But I didn't want to live like a college kid forever.