If you’re planning to spend an extended period of time of 3 months or more in Thailand, then you may want to get out of the hotel and rent an apartment or condo. Whether it’s in Bangkok, Changmai, Pattaya or Phuket, or any Thai city, there’s a method to renting a condo, and it’s not the same as we’re used to in the US. Here’s a guide to finding and getting a good place to stay.
We’re used to the ironclad 1-year lease in the US, but they’re a lot more flexible in Thailand. Especially in Bangkok and Phuket, which have 1000s of condo buildings, a 3 or 6 month lease is easy to obtain. Usually there is a 10% surcharge for this. The rate quoted is for a 1 year lease, and there is a small charge added for short-term 3 and 6 month leases. This is a great way to try a place for 3 months just to make sure it’s right for you. As a foreigner, you’ll need to put down 3 months deposit; expats from the US and Europe have a reputation for cut and run (skipping out) without notice.
Show up in person.
Don’t expect to send an email or even call to make an appointment. You will need to show up in person at the condo building you want to see. Check the listings online at Konbaan or other sources, and visit the buildings you want to see. Just pop into the office and they’ll have an agent show you some available units. Too often they get calls from Americans or Europeans who don’t really show up, and more often they get long distance emails from people who never actually move to Asia. You won’t make any headway until you show up in person. When they see you in front the them, the agents know you’re serious about a rental.
Most condos are set-up for purchase, but they do rent out extra unsold units. Thai laws prohibit foreigners from buying land, but allow you to buy 1 condo to live in. However, visa restrictions are a nightmare. Just consider renting; it’s more cost-effective than buying.
Cost of Rent
You will find a good 1 bedroom condo with pool and fitness center for about 15,000 baht (about $510 per month). They actually range from $450 to $3,000 per month, depending on your needs. I’ve seen some great condos in the $500 range, and just a few buildings over, a condo for $1,700 per month which didn’t seem to offer much more, except an extra bedroom! You really need to shop around. Some so-called upscale, exclusive condo’s don’t offer more than a brand name and some extra space, but you’ll pay 1000’s more. It’s like comparing a $400 Gucci bag to an unbranded bag for $50 that does the same thing. It all depends on what you like.
No condo will allow you any pet, except fish and birds… and everyone has those! Gold fish and tropical aquariums are considered good luck, and everyone seems to have pet birds in the tropics – parrots and such. They get along well in the warm climate. Many people keep birds in large cages on the balcony, so expect to hear chirping in the morning. Dogs and cats are almost never allowed, but you can rent a house for such. However, I really hope you didn’t bring your dog on your trip with you!
Loud parties and loud music after midnight are not allowed. Quiet hours from Midnight to 6 am are enforced at most condo complexes. Decorate the way you like, especially on a 1 year lease; they are very tolerant of this. They’ll just paint the walls again after you leave.
Almost no apartment will come with carpet, as it’s a hot climate here. However, you can have your rooms carpeted very cheaply, or just buy a large rug for about $50. I used to think I needed carpet, but 5 years in the tropics has gotten me used to cooler hard-wood floors (something I didn’t like in the cold Northeastern US).
Every room has a balcony. Enjoy it! That’s what makes the tropics great. Try to find a room with a good view, looking over the water or looking onto the twinkle of the city. My view makes me smile every morning and every evening. You’ll find a swimming pool in almost every condo complex, as it’s very hot all year long in Thailand. The exception might be Pattaya, as it’s right on the beach.
High speed internet is standard in Thailand, and every building has it pre-installed in all the rooms. Some buildings opt for wi-fi, so you can use one password for all your computers, and your guests can use it too. Several cable and satellite TV options are available. You can get English language channels beamed from Hong Kong or Singapore. All local channels are in Thai, even Hollywood movies are dubbed over in Thai language. Monsoons do kick up without warning, so expect occasional interruptions on both cable and internet.
You can handle most short-term leases yourself. American Real Estate agents are notorious for cheating their tenants, but the Thais treat you more like a valuable customer. Cheating you would only embarrass them. However, get help from a bilingual real estate agent or lawyer, if it makes you more comfortable.