4 tips for finding your dream Bangkok apartment
OK, maybe dream apartment is pushing it a bit, depending on your budget and how big you dream some things may just be out of reach, but ultimately with a little know-how and effort you can find a Bangkok apartment you’ll be proud to call home.
Now, despite there being such a huge selection of apartments on the market in Bangkok, good ones can come and go in a matter of hours and finding a hidden gem is less about who you know than what you know. If you want to find something special you just need to show a bit of flexibility, understanding, and patience. Here are 4 tips to help you find your Bangkok apartment.
1. Don’t limit your location
Many foreigners and expats moving to Bangkok instantly think they need to be in a busy downtown area such as Silom or Pratunam, or somewhere along the cosmopolitan sois of Sukhumvit Road in order to feel a part of Bangkok life, but the truth is you’ll get less for your money in these popular locations. What you really need to consider is what kind of apartment you want to live in, and which alternative areas you would be happy in.
You don’t have to be slap bang in the centre of town to be a true Bangkokian, the city has a quick and reliable BTS Sky Train system and an MRT underground which links up many alternative neighbourhoods to the centre of the city. Ratchada, Ari, Chatuchak, Bang Na, are all much cheaper neighbourhoods to live in and now just minutes from Siam, Silom, and Upper Sukhumvit via public transport. Rather than living in a cramped studio in the heart of the city you may well find a spacious one-bedroom apartment for the same price a little further out.
Explore alternative neighbourhoods and get orientated in Bangkok. If you are new in town, get a good map and ride the BTS and MRT line, getting off and walk around selective stops.
2. Know how much to budget
Some people come to Bangkok with unrealistic expectation of what they can get for their money. While property in Bangkok is cheap compared to many western capitals, the closer to the centre you get the more expensive and exclusive apartments become.
If you’re looking to spend under 10,000 THB per month then you’ll need to look away from downtown areas, though it’s still possible to find comfortable studios and even small 1 bed place close to the BTS and MRT lines. Once you start looking at a budget of 12,000 to 18,000 THB per month you can start thinking about a nice studio in a more sought after area, or a more luxurious 1 bedroom apartment just outside downtown. For budgets of 20,000 and above you will find a wealth of 1 bedroom Bangkok apartments all over the city, and even some nice 2-bed places.
3. Explore the neighbourhood
Finding a nice Bangkok apartment is one thing, but being sure this is where you really want to live takes a bit more investigation. No matter how trustworthy your landlord and real estate agent seem, don’t necessarily trust their knowledge of the local area. The only way to be sure this is the neighbourhood for you is to get out there and experience it.
Walk around and explore the surrounding sois, during both the day and night, and if you are feeling brave, talk to the neighbours and see what they have to say about the place. It may seem like a quiet, friendly soi by day, but by night it could be the local karaoke HQ!
4. Learn how to Barter
Bartering is a part of Thai life and it’s normal to question a price and try to bargain before you make a purchase, and the same goes for renting or buying an apartment in Bangkok. If you are happy to sign a rental for anything of a year or more then try your luck and try to get the price down before you sign. A fare discount to aim for is around 5-10% of the advertised price.
If you can’t get much of the price then try to bargain for some new appliances or upgrades on the electronics or furniture already there, especially if the TV looks a little small, or the sofa looks a bit tatty, now is the time to barter for improvements.