Back to Bangkok Property Search
Back to the Blog Home Page!
Thai time
Subscribe to out RSS Feed!
top decorationspacer
Roomfinder Articles article article
thai apartment
  The Guide to Renting in Thailand - Apartment

1) What are you looking for in a Thai Apartment?

Obviously your choice of Thai apartment will depend on the amount of money you have at your disposal, but in the long run, it pays to spend as much as you can afford on accommodation - especially with a Bangkok apartment. Not only will you get something better, but you're far less likely to wander the streets in search of entertainment if you have your own Thai apartment, a place where you can relax and enjoy a few creature comforts. For me, my Bangkok property is my little haven - a place where I can be surrounded by books and music, perhaps watch a little TV or a video, or maybe spend time at the computer. Any Bangkok property rental should have a sizeable balcony where I can sit out and hopefully enjoy some kind of a view or rustle up bacon and eggs on Sunday mornings. Most importantly, I want to know that when I close that apartment door I have total privacy - away from the crowds and the noise and the hustle and bustle of Bangkok life. I've known many teachers who view Thailand rentals purely as a crash -pads - a place to sleep, shower and get changed. Everyone has their own opinion of what a 'perfect' Thai apartment is.

Click here to search for Thai Apartments line2) Location, Location and Location!

NeighboursOne of my great friends has a saying - "anything over an hour spent travelling to and from work is unacceptable". While cutting travel-time from home to work to less than an hour is not always possible, your life will be infinitely more pleasurable the less time you spend hanging from the sides of buses or trying to flag down taxis during the monsoon season. It makes great sense to find employment first and THEN find somewhere to live. For new arrivals, the first instinct is that the downtown Silom/Sukhumwit areas are the only places to begin their Bangkok apartment search. This is not always a wise move. These areas might have an abundance of entertainment venues, access to the sky-train line, and all the familiar fast-food outlets, but in the work stakes, Silom and Sukhumwit are the territory of the 300 baht an hour sweatshop. This dawned on me the other day as I was walking down Silom and thought who on earth would want to live near here?

Many teachers have moved into the Bangkok suburbs to places such as Rangsit and Samut Prakarn. The downside is that you are a long way from the bright lights (if the Hard Rock Cafe is your idea of a good time), but on the plus side - there's stacks of work in the suburbs for any teacher with an ounce of business acumen. And from a Thai apartment perspective you get far more for your money. I know several teachers who ply their trade in the Rangsit area of Bangkok (about 20 kms from downtown) and not one of them earns less than 60K a month doing freelance teaching. They all have decent places to live in as well. line3) What are the Price Ranges?

You can find a Bangkok studio apartment for as low as 2,000 - 3,000 baht a month. I certainly don't recommend you live in such a place but it's possible. Like everything else in life you get what you pay for. A cheap Bangkok property rental (and by 'cheap' I mean less than 4,000 baht) is mostly found in poorly constructed buildings complete with substandard plumbing and lights that go out every time there's the threat of a storm. A typical Thai apartment in this low-end category tends to attract working-class Thais - sometimes sharing three or four to a room. This means you can have all sorts of problems with noise. Take it from me - when you have a room full of Thai twentysomethings living next door to you, your problems are going to be never-ending.

A lot of the budget accommodation Thailand has to offer, falls into the 5,000 baht to 8,000 baht price range - some are surprisingly good; others can be very poor value for money. Alas for a teacher earning 25,000 baht a month (and plenty still do) this is really all they can afford. If you're going to end up in an apartment in this price range, you'll need to do some serious shopping around. The very popular Hi-Tech Tower on Soi Ekkami (off the Sukhumwit Road) typifies the 5,000 baht a month apartment building. Constructed in about 1998, it was one of the first 'deluxe' Bangkok studio apartment blocks to target long-stay farang residents 'on a budget' It has (or had) all the amenities - swimming pool, security, elevators, mini-mart, etc etc but on my last visit in 2005, the whole place looked as though it had been 'let go' and in dire need of attention. The reception area resembled Grand Central Station at rush hour with constant comings and goings, There were Thais shouting, kids running about bare-arsed and soi dogs ferreting around for scraps outside. I don't want to pick on Hi-Tech Tower especially because many of the farangs seem happy living there. Hi-Tech is just so typical of a Thai apartment building in its genre. It's never ever going to be a place I would want to call home.

If you can afford to move into the 8-15,000 baht bracket, you'll be amazed at the difference. You might be lucky enough to find a place that has a living room area with a separate bedroom. All of the aforementioned Thailand rentals (those at 8,000 and below) are what a Bangkok real estate agency class as 'studio apartments' and what I call 'bedsits' - you sleep in your bed, you sit on your bed to watch TV, you even eat meals on your bed. That's really no way to live. Imagine the joy, the sheer pleasure, of saying to a guest, "why don't you flick through the TV channels while I go and get changed in the bedroom?" Now that's living!

Budget Accommodation Thailand: This picture (left) is typical of a Thai apartment you'd find in the 5,000 baht a month region (although don't expect it to come with a TV and fridge) You can see the cheap, poor-quality wardrobe and dressing table and also the large queen-sized bed. However, there's enough room to walk around and the apartment lets plenty of light in. A lot of teachers live in these kind of digs and are very happy. If you've got imagination and a bit of money to spend, it's amazing what a few pictures and nic-nacs can do to brighten up a place. The lime-green curtain would certainly have to go though and uuuuurgh - don't talk to me about that awful vase of plastic flowers on top of the fridge. We can't see the bathroom in this picture but I'm betting it's something clean and modern albeit a tad small.
This next picture (left) is your typical Thai apartment building corridor (in the 5,000 baht a month range). Although I quite like the unusual touch of adding the wall-plaques to show the room numbers, the corridor has that cold, characterless, almost 'borstal school' feel to it. It's a bit like I'd imagine an inner city hostel for battered wives to look like. And of course this photo has been taken when the corridor is mercifully free of accumulated shoes, dirty plates, garbage bags and general detritus. You'll only find apartment building corridors in this condition if the cleaning staff are truly on top of their game.
Moving Up! This is what 12,000 a month would get you. Although there's still the same crappy chipboard furniture, you've got the feeling of space. It feels more like a home. It might not yet fall into the category of Bangkok luxury apartments, but it ain't half bad! There's a nice well-polished parquet floor going on, a tasteful roller blind, and the furnishings are generally of a much higher standard. The receptionists will be more attractive and more professional, the security guards will be awake more often than they're asleep, the cleaning staff will wear uniforms, and the restaurant on the ground floor will look like a restaurant and serve food that's almost edible.
4) Can I use the Services of a Bangkok Real Estate Agency?

I've never used the services of a real estate agent. Thailand has plenty of them but personally I don't know any teacher who has had success with them. Generally speaking the Thai real estate agents are only interested in ex-pats on fat relocation salaries. They aren't interested in teachers looking for the world for less than 10,000 baht. There are one or two realtors who'll show sympathy towards a teacher in need of a roof over their head, but don't expect them to put too much effort into finding a place. They might dutifully show you a couple of Thai apartments, but as soon as they realize you fall into the category of 'cheap but demanding' they'll be off faster than a ferret on a firework. And let's be honest - why would you want to line their pockets anyway?

If you're currently looking for a Thai apartment then a few good sources are this website, MrRoomfinder dot com, the Bangkok Post newspaper (I always say if they are willing to spend money on advertising then it's worth looking at) and your fellow teachers and colleagues. These guys will have already lived in good and bad Thai apartments and will be in a good position to make recommendations. I might take a bit of flak for this but I never trust Thais who want to show me 'great apartments'. I've found from painful experience that their definition of 'nice' and my definition of 'nice' are not always the same. They mean well but Thais (generally) don't attach as much importance to their home environment as a foreigner does.

Still one of the best methods however to finding a Thai apartment is simply decide on the area you want to live in, strap on your sports shoes, and hot-foot it down all those little sois and sub-sois. It's amazing what you can unearth. You might want to take a Thai friend with you (if you haven't got one then hire one) to ask the numerous questions you'll need to ask (coming up later in this ajarn guide).line
5) Utility Bills

Unfortunately there's no way to avoid paying the dreaded electricity, water and telephone bills. If there's any bill that's going to get 'padded', or any way that you're going to get 'cheated' (apart from deposit money) then it's with the utility bill. A friend of mine lucked out and got an excellent job that came with one of those 60,000 Baht/Mo. Bangkok luxury apartments. The company would pay the rent on the understanding that he was responsible for just the utility bills. After his first month's tenure, he presented himself at the office to settle up the utility account. The office staff asked him for 1000 baht to cover the water bill alone - a 'standing charge' they told him. Being something of an old Bangkok hand - he'd already lived in four different apartments and never paid more than 150 baht for water - he refused to pay it. He also told them that he was checking out immediately. Thankfully the Thai apartment owner relented and from then on he got his water for free. I'm not promising that things will always end that favourably but stand your ground when it comes to utility bills. Make sure that you have access to the respective water and electricity meters and make a note of the totals each month - that's not being miserly; it's called being careful.

Water and electricity are charged by the unit (the number of units used and the price per unit should be clearly displayed on your Thai apartment bill) and phone calls are charged per call. I'm a little out of touch with current prices, but I'm making a guess that water is around 15 baht per unit. The average person (two showers a day and some washing of clothes) would use about 7-10 units per month. Electricity is much more of a grey area. If you blast out air-conditioning all day long, you could be facing a bill of about 3-4,000 at the end of the month. Apart from the air-con, very little else uses much in the way of juice. If you have the air-con unit on for about 4 hours a day, you can expect a bill somewhere in the region of 1,000 to 1,500 baht a month. There's no avoiding the fact though; utility services are huge money-makers for Thai apartment owners.

Five baht a call seems to be the going rate for telephone calls (and has been for some time). Some Thailand apartment buildings actually disconnect the call after a period of time, say 15 minutes, then you have to redial (a practice I hate), some Thai apartments even charge you if you pick up the receiver and the receiver is busy (a practice I won't and don't accept) These matters all need to be taken up with the Thai apartment staff before you check-in. Don't even entertain the idea of calling abroad from an Thai apartment phone. There are so many cheaper alternatives these days.line
For Rent6) Thai Apartment Facilities - What to Expect?

Being a non-swimmer and hardly God's gift to keep-fit, the availability of swimming pools, gyms and saunas never really bothers me in a Bangkok property rental (they're often neglected anyway) but I do like to have an accessible mini-mart (that's open when I need it), a laundry shop (that doesn't take forever to iron two shirts and a pair of pants) and some kind of a restaurant/cafe area. Some Thai apartments provide a small restaurant service for residents and non-residents alike but I've noticed over the years that only foreigners tend to sit down and eat in such places (possibly to escape the confines of the bed-sit) whereas Thais prefer to have food delivered to their rooms. I'm yet to see anyone make a real success of running a Thai apartment-building restaurant, and many seem close down after a year or two.

Apartment laundries are a law unto themselves. Anyone who's lived in a Thailand apartment building has their own laundry horror story, whether it's a white shirt that suddenly became pink or a pair of shorts that were handed in and never seen again. Thai Apartment laundry services have a captive market and don't they know it. They know you're hardly going to walk to some laundry in the next street and carry back ten shirts on ten coat-hangers. So they can take as much time as they want washing your clothes and hell, who's bothered if they lose an item or two along the way. I don't want to give the impression that all Thai apartment laundries are crap but the negative experiences do seem to far outnumber the positive ones.

Security / Security Guards: Security is obviously a major concern for anyone living in BKK property. Thailand is one of the safest countries to live in I'm sure - but petty theft has always been a problem. I had someone come in to my Bangkok studio apartment at three in the morning - while I was asleep! - and steal my wallet from the dressing table. Totally my fault for leaving the door unlocked but it's not what you expect - someone lifting your valuables while you're snoozing literally six feet away.

What about the different security methods? Hi-Tech Tower, the Bangkok property I mentioned earlier, has an automatic key card 'swiping' system, which is a system deployed in many Thai apartment buildings. Every bona fide resident has a plastic entry card that they swipe through a card-reader every time they want access. I have my reservations about the keycard system. It works in establishments where you don't have too much residential traffic and there are security staff to keep a vigilant eye on things. But in the busiest of Thailand apartment buildings, where there is no security guard, a non-resident can easily 'slip in' behind a resident. How many residents would stop you? Hell, I've slipped in many times and in most cases the resident will even hold the door for you.

The traditional method of employing a full-time security guard/guards is also still quite common. I've heard several horrific stories of teachers having things stolen from their Thai apartment and the security guard being the actual perpetrator. Who is in a better position to know about the times you keep? Don't be scared off though - for the most part, security guards do their job reasonably well. That said. here's a little tip for you - get the security guard on your side. Make friends with him, engage in small-talk about football and illegal betting, perhaps slip him twenty cigarettes now and again. It'll make all the difference.

Click here to search for Thai Apartments line
7) Deposits

I've checked out of four different bangkok properties and had a problem with getting back the deposit money every single time. I'm certainly not the only one, because I've overheard many foreigners complaining about the same. I'll put two instances down to simple misunderstandings, but on two occasions the Thai apartment owner was clearly trying to cheat me. In none of these places was I ever a problem tenant. I paid my bills on time, rarely/never complained unless I had to, and came and went with a minimum of fuss (I tend not to mix with fellow residents). With deposits usually being two, or sometimes three months rent in advance, you're looking at a substantial amount of money. There's no way I would give up 30-40,000 baht without a fight, but clearly some residents do.

One Bangkok property owner refused to return my key money because I'd lost the tenant's agreement. I was left with no option but to go to the police. The police, it must be said, were helpful to the extreme. They wrote out a piece of paper (heaven knows what it said) and told me to present it to the Thai apartment owner. The key money was given back to me without as much as a shrug of the shoulders. Checking out of another Thai apartment, the owner claimed (and this is a little embarrassing) that I'd stained the bed-sheets that were provided by the BKK property. The stains were just general everyday 'grubbiness' - nothing else, but she deducted a thousand baht for a sheet I could have picked up in a local market for less than a hundred. Quite a slanging match developed in the reception area, and when pushed I'm not proud to say that I can shout louder than most. Fortunately, with crowds gathering to witness the brouhaha, it all became too much for the Thai apartment owner and she gave me the one thousand baht (actually she threw it at me, but you get the gist)

The saddest part of all was that I'd always enjoyed an excellent relationship with this particular apartment owner, and it all got soured for a thousand measly baht. Here's some more advice - let the reception staff know well in advance that you are checking out. Don't leave it to the final day and run the risk of last-minute misunderstandings.line
8) The Initial Inspection and What to Look For?

Khoo duu hong noy khrap? (May I see a room?) When you present yourself in the reception as a potential tenant, what typically happens is that a bored-looking member of staff appears jangling an obscenely large bunch of keys. Yes, it's room inspection time. Ask to see several rooms on different floors - not just one. Ask if there are any corner rooms (they are often larger for the same price).

From the moment in reception when the girl with the key appears, my antennae are twitching. I'm taking everything in and missing nothing. The elevator itself can tell you a million things. Is it looked after? Or are there buttons missing and graffiti on the walls. If they can't be bothered to take care of the elevator, then the rooms in this Thai apartment going to be like crap. As you walk down the corridor take it all in. Look in any open doors and get a feel for the kind of residents that live there. If I see three Thais all asleep on one bed or piles of shoes and cooking utensils outside a door, then it's thanks but no thanks and time to forget this as potential rental accommodation. Thailand has a plethora of places to chose from, so there's no need to rush into the first thing that comes along.

Is anyone playing the radio loudly? Can I hear screaming babies? What are the corridors themselves like? Do they look clean? Is there the unmistakable whiff of disinfectant? Any sign of a garbage chute or do residents just put a black garbage bag outside the door and hope for the best? I've formed an opinion on the place even before my host has got her key in the door.

First impressions are everything. When the door to the Thai apartment swings open, if your first reaction is anything less than Wow! - walk out there and then. "Well it's OK I suppose" just doesn't cut it. Go to town. Step out onto the balcony. Are you going to enjoy sitting out there? (presuming you want to) Turn on the water in the shower - how's the water pressure? Do the lights work? One of the first things I do is check for electrical sockets. How many are there? If I've got a computer, a fan, a fridge, a Hi-fi and other oddments, the last thing I want is trails of spaghetti all plugged into those naff multi-sockets. If you're really going to inspect the room of these Thailand rentals, then do the job properly.

Tip: Get MrRoomfinder's Home Hunter's Check List hereline
9) Go there Twice!

If you've been to look at a Thailand apartment during daylight hours, now go back again at night and check things out after dark.. Places have a habit of undergoing change when darkness falls. Perhaps the group of friendly-looking motorbike taxi drivers, who were snoozing and playing checkers when you first came in the middle of a hot afternoon have now turned into booze-fuelled sex animals, wolf-whistling at everything that passes in a skirt? And funny how you didn't notice the snooker hall/karoake lounge/hostess joint next door when its neon facade was not apparent. Try to catch one or two of the foreign residents as they leave and enter the building - Farangs love to talk and share information; "I'm thinking of moving in. How do you enjoy living in this Sukhumvit apartment?" line
10) If you're a 'Long-termer' - Accumulate!

If you're thinking of staying in Thailand for longer than a couple of years, start investing in things like fridges, TVs and nice basic furniture. You can always take it with you when you move. Thai apartments will usually rent you fridges and TVs, etc but you don't have to be a genius to work out that it's a completely false economy. Most Bangkok apartment owners will charge in the region of 500 baht a month for a TV and about the same or slightly less for a fridge. You can pick up great TVs and fridges for about 7,000 baht in any department store AND get free delivery. Do the maths! Within 14 months you've made your money back - the TV and Fridge are still almost brand new AND what's more - they belong to you.line
11) Stand your Ground - Get Mad. Or Maddish!

Numerous annoying little things can go wrong when living in rental accommodation. Thailand rentals can and do attract some odd characters that's for sure! This is especially true with budget accommodation. Bangkok in particular is notorious for the noisy neighbour. You know, the one who constantly plays his radio at two in the morning! Then there's the family whose kids use the corridor as a playground. Let's not forget other common issues such as the weak water pressure that you reported six days ago and still it comes out in a pathetic dribble. Yes, there's the helpful smiling operator who is constantly failing to record your important messages while you're at work.

I refer to the above as 'little things' but they can definitely get you down depending on your personality and level of tolerance. I think it's imperative that you stay on good terms with the Thai staff even if sometimes you want to boil them alive. Whenever I had a problem, I developed a technique which brought me a lot of success. I didn't actually shout and lose my rag but used to stand there with arms outstretched (a bit like the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio) and adopt a look of total exasperation. I would say nothing but just turn on my heels and go back to my room. It worked every time.

There are other times when you don't give a toss about your relationship with the staff - on the day you check out for starters. Once you've left your little Bangkok studio apartment, it's unlikely you'll ever drop in and chew the fat over tea and biscuits. I've never felt that way inclined anyway.line
12) Cable TV

Now that you've got all settled into one of the Bangkok luxury apartments ;-), what about Television? Cable TV deserves its own section because Bangkok apartments with cable TV go together like salt and pepper. And although you might not be an avid TV watcher, its nice to crack open a can of lager and sit down for the big match, or kick off your shoes after a hard day in the classroom and let Ally McBeal or Sex in the City wash over you.

If the TV is important to you - get EXACT details of what package the Thai apartment building has installed. For me the premier league football (ESPN channel) is a must, and possibly BBC news. If your BKK property owner has subscribed to the cheapest possible cable TV package then you'll have a choice of the Discovery channel, HBO, and an obscure sports channel featuring cliff-diving from Acapulco and shove ha'penny from the hill-tribes of Northern Laos. That and fifty channels of Bollywood superstars.

I lived for three years at an Thai apartment on Petchburi Road (I won't mention the name because Petchsiam Mansion won't like it). When I moved in everything was fine and dandy in the TV department. I could flick from one channel to another as happy as a lark. Then UBC announced a substantial increase in annual fees and the service in the apartment went rapidly downhill.

In one of my very rare elevator conversations with a fellow farang, he told me that this Thai apartment was now using an illegal satellite dish (rumours that it was a dustbin lid were never confirmed) and it was only possible to pipe one channel into one particular room at any given time. I laugh it at now but you had this ridiculous situation where I'd watch the English football on Saturday night, and literally the moment the final whistle blew, one of the staff downstairs would have to twiddle with the main unit because the bloke in room 237 wanted to watch Forrest Gump on HBO. I checked out very shortly after so it never became a major issue. As I say, be absolutely sure what UBC package the building has. And if they lie about it, at least you'll become fluent in Hindi.line
13) The Neighborhood

My time at Petchsiam Mansion really brought it home to me the importance of neighbourhood. Although the Bangkok property rental itself was fine, the surrounding area was the pits. Those who know the stretch of road between the Klongtan Prakanong intersection and Foodland opposite Charn Issara Tower 2 will sympathize. Ugly is not the word. I literally hated setting foot outside the door. I would have loved to have strolled out to some nice street-food restaurants or hopped on a bus to a nearby shopping mall but there was nothing for miles around in any direction. Sometimes there were overwhelming feelings of isolation. It's nice to have that peace and quiet in your Thai apartment, but sometimes you do get the urge to go out and connect with other people. Not often but sometimes!

Tip: If you're looking for an apartment, Sukhumvit road and it's side sois have some of the best choices in Bangkok.

Good luck in finding your next up-country or Bangkok rentals!
| Click here to search for Thai Apartments

Also Read The Ajarn Guide to Renting a House

Thailand's Number One TEFL Site  
Bangkok Phil: Ajarn dot com: Teaching English in Thailand
Thailand's most popular teaching website
Thanks Phil, i'm sure a lot of folks will find that a great help.

* Bankok Rentals Home Page

(comments are now closed for this page) line

Subject: How Safe & Secure is your Thai Home?
Thai Condos and Apartments tend to be somewhat more secure than town houses and detached houses for obvious reasons of security and people presence. Even so, it's never a good idea to become complacent. Here's a useful piece on Home Security Reviews for 2010 which is educational on securing property with twenty first century technology.
Dennis Designs – Brisbane Australia
September 02, 2009 - 22:54
Subject: RoomFinder
Thank you Aitch for a very clean, readable and informative web site.

I am sure anyone who is looking for Thailand information with a view to staying for a holiday etc. would find your site a pleasure to read.

I found your site whilst checking out this TalkBack script, which I intend to include in both my motel web site designs as a GuestBook.

Good luck Aitch with this very nice adventure web site.

Jonathan Jinx Middle-aged man - Ipswich UK
Feb - 10:07
Subject: Old Guys Living in Bangkok Studios

It would be about 20 years ago now when I was living in Bkk teaching English to Thai students. Back then, an apartment cost about 5000 B a month back then for just a small studio, but it was okay for a youngish guy out on an adventure.

One thing that struck me as odd though was the number of middle-aged men living in these tiny little studios. I mean, you expect to see young men and women living like this as part of their exploit, but it just looked desperate to see so many men over 50 living this way, some of them for many years ~ Jonathan J

bullet grey_spacer
Contact EasyHomes - Popular Bangkok Real Estate Agents.
Have something to say?
bullet grey_spacer
Contact Mr Roomfinder - For Suggestion or Complaints!
Property Quick Search!
bullet grey_spacer
Bangkok Property Search
It's Faster than a Speeding!
Join the Site. It's Easy!.
bullet grey_spacer
Register here - Becoming a Member is Quick & Easy!
bottom border
spacer Copyright © 2014

Back to Home Page! Follow us on twitter! Subcribe to out RSS Feed!