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Expat accommodation in Bangkok is highly varied. No matter how big an expat’s family is or what type of home they prefer, price and proximity will be the most important considerations when finding housing in the Thai capital.
In spite of the political situation, the demand for housing in Bangkok is still high and showing no signs of slowing down. The price of a property in Bangkok is often half the price of its equivalent in Hong Kong or Singapore, and there is a range of options for expats with a variety of budgets.
Frustrating commutes are common, and the city’s regular traffic jams inspire many expats working in the city centre to live close to their workplace. The same line of reasoning applies to families who have children attending international schools.
The efficient BTS Skytrain, which runs across the city, has helped to reduce commute times and relieve traffic congestion. However, the Skytrain does not reach all areas of Bangkok and commuting to a BTS station can be as woeful as commuting to work.
Types of accommodation in Bangkok
Housing in Bangkok is as varied as the city itself. Most expats in Bangkok live in condominiums and, given government restrictions on foreigners buying property, the majority rent in the city.
Many expats prefer fully serviced apartments that resemble hotels. These usually come furnished and offer services such as cleaning staff and a lobby area as well as amenities such as small gyms or swimming pools.
Non-serviced apartments are usually a less expensive option, but often require a longer-term commitment. These tend to resemble Western apartments but come in a variety of styles.
The quality of accommodation in Bangkok varies and expats generally get what they pay for. In higher-end serviced apartments, most expats report that the standard of housing is similar to what they would find in their home country.
On the outer edges of the city, expat families can find Western-style houses in gated communities similar to suburban housing communities in the USA. These get progressively more expensive closer to downtown areas, peaking in the city centre. Housing villages usually have facilities like swimming pools, but the houses tend to look the same as one another.
It is important to find quality accommodation that is well-run as renters have less recourse against property owners in Bangkok than they do in the West.
Finding accommodation in Bangkok
The most popular options for finding accommodation in Bangkok are online property portals, the property sections of newspapers and rental agencies.
Another way of finding a place to live in Bangkok is for a house-hunter to identify an area that appeals to them and explore the area looking for properties available to rent.
Apartment buildings in Bangkok often have an information office or a building manager who can let prospective tenants know about any available rentals. Many of these will not speak English, especially outside of major tourist areas. It would be worthwhile for expats who decide on this approach to bring a Thai friend with them.
Renting property in Bangkok
After settling on an apartment, expats usually have to sign a fixed-term contract. It often happens that the longer a person commits to staying in an apartment, the better the monthly rental rate will be.
Tenants are usually expected to pay a deposit of about two months’ rent along with their initial payment of the first month's rent in advance. Assuming that the property is in good condition, the deposit will be returned at the end of the lease period.
As is the case anywhere, expats occasionally do have landlord issues in Thailand. A few basic precautions can be taken to avoid this, such as doing a thorough inspection of the property, taking photos of any existing damage, keeping any correspondence with the landlord and keeping rental receipts.
It is usually the responsibility of the tenant to pay the cost of utilities in Bangkok, although this may not always be the case with some apartment rentals.