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The best places to live in Bangkok
Over the years, Bangkok has experienced something of a facelift. Where there were once humble wooden homes, there are now luxury high-rise apartment buildings, promoting themselves as must-haves for those who want a cosmopolitan life with all the mod cons.
For many expats moving to Bangkok, these luxury residences come at a far more affordable price than similar accommodation in their home country.
City living in Bangkok
Many expats favour living right in the heart of Bangkok. The centre of the city is in proximity to the sleek and stylish Bangkok Sky Train as well as shopping malls, hospitals, museums, good schools, nightclubs, bars and international restaurants, not to mention plenty of green areas. The middle of town is also the primary place of business – for many expats, being near work and having access to the area's amenities is an attractive option.
Nevertheless, while the pros are obvious, so are the cons. The quality of air in the city centre is poor, playgrounds and parks are fairly rare, and red-light areas are abundant. These aspects are more obvious in some neighbourhoods, and while the adventurous singleton can easily brush the risqué elements aside, expat families may prefer not to have to constantly dodge curious questions from their children.
Located in the Sukhumvit area, Ekkamai is one of the best neighbourhoods in Bangkok, with excellent public transport links and easy access to wonderful leisure options and restaurants. Phrom Pong is another popular area among young professionals and single expats looking to be within Bangkok's centre. People from all walks of life – expat retirees, engineers, journalists, teachers and UN workers – are found living in these areas, either with family or by themselves.
Expats who have a few bucks to spare will feel right at home in Sathorn. This area has plenty of luxury accommodation options with Western modern conveniences such as gyms and swimming pools. Moreover, Sathorn is centrally located, and its residents will have access to nightlife, public transport and gorgeous green spaces.
However, being able to enjoy the privileges of city living will add to an expat’s monthly rent. For those with the time and energy, it is recommended to go on foot and see first-hand what kind of value there is in each area because many places that offer great value for money do not advertise.
Dubbed the 'Wall Street' of Bangkok, Silom is the city's business hub and is the perfect base for professionals who want to be close to work without sacrificing amenities. While Silom may be home to a sea of skyscrapers, it is also chock-full of nightlife and dining establishments to keep its residents entertained. The main form of accommodation here are pricey condominiums and some apartments. Silom also boasts proximity to other major hubs such as Charoen Kung and Siam.
Suburban living in Bangkok
The heavy urban sprawl of Bangkok unfurls from the central downtown areas into many exclusive private housing estates. The Bangkok Sky Train extending towards the east and south of the city has presented an opportunity for expats to escape the city centre, set up base in the fresh air of suburbs, and still commute using public transport.
Naturally, these estates favour families moving to Bangkok rather than single expats. They are generally quiet and safe to live in, and some of these areas also play host to some excellent international schools. The downside is having to contend with a daily commute to and from work.
There are, however, some areas which offer freestanding houses that are closer to the city. Demand for real estate in these areas is high, though, meaning that properties are pricier and are a bit closer together than houses in areas further from the city centre. These places often have easy access to public transport as well as amenities such as shopping centres, schools, hospitals, parks and tourist attractions.
Built on two sides of the Chao Phraya River, Nonthaburi is home to a range of gated neighbourhoods and shopping malls, making it the perfect home for expat families. The suburb is also home to many government offices as well as floating and traditional markets. Well-to expat families who can afford living here can access the area's green spaces and the exceptional international schools.
With plenty of green spaces and a distinctly residential feel, Chatuchak is an excellent base for families. The area is located just outside Bangkok, but is located close to a BTS station. Chatuchak is well-known for the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market and is also home to a renowned hospital as well as public and international schools.
While not the most popular among expats, Samut Prakan is home to a fair few international schools and child-friendly attractions such as the Crocodile Farm. There are also plenty of malls, bars and restaurants to suit the entire family. Parents working in Bangkok's centre must brace themselves for a long commute as Samut Prakan is located southeast of the city.