After resting up for a couple of days when we first arrived, we set about looking for an apartment to base ourselves during our time in Bangkok. Our basic hotel was fine, not expensive, and offered monthly rates (like many places do) but we were ready to leave and find something with more living space. A very full week and two pairs of Kristal’s shoes later, we had our own apartment to move into.
There are basically three ways to look for an apartment in Bangkok – walking around an area you’re interested in, looking online or at newspaper classifieds, or through an agent. We started by walking around different neighbourhoods.
Mark’s blog over at migrationology gave us some idea as to which areas to look at. Our main criteria were to be within an easy walk from the BTS (skytrain) so we could quickly get into the city, but also a place that had thai food nearby (not that difficult!), and comfortable with at least a separate lounge area (ie, not a studio). We started at the area surrounding the Victory Monument BTS station, which is a few stops north of the CBD, maybe around 3-5km.
Most buildings have a “juristic person” who is there during the day to help the tenants, and we were able to simply wander in to most of the larger buildings in the area and ask if they had any apartments to rent. To our surprise, most of the management staff spoke at least a little english, and we were able to get a good sense of the options. We spent the next couple of days moving one further BTS stop north at a time, and checking out the neighbourhood . We came very close to renting a largish (50sqm) two-bedroom apartment in the Soi Aree area a bit further north, but in the end decided that the 15-minute walk back to the skytrain was a bit far for us.
We then regrouped, had a look online and called the phone number of an agent whose number was on a building right next to the skytrain station at Soi Aree. There weren’t any rooms there but they suggested another building to look at further east of the CBD, but right next to the On Nut BTS station – about a 15 minute ride out of the centre. After a couple more days looking around the extremities of the BTS network we decided that this actually suited us quite well and we ended up taking it, moving in two days later.
How much is rent in Bangkok?
Rent varies hugely. We found that in the areas we were looking around 6,000-10,000 baht per month ($200-$300) generally gets a studio apartment, although the 10,000 baht studios were very tidy and in buildings with good facilities (eg gym and swimming pool). At the lower end, you can find (very!) basic rooms below the 6,000 baht level, but with some compromise on size, facilities or location – at least, relative to what we were looking for.
The 15,000-20,000 range gets a larger apartment with separate living area and maybe an extra bedroom, while 30k and above is a very comfortable apartment, bigger and/or in a better area. Prices start to skyrocket the closer you get to downtown Bangkok. Apartments are generally rented fully furnished, which is a big plus for us, not having brought any furniture on the plane.
Our apartment – smaller than the one above, but comfortable with gym and pool in the building and right next to the BTS network – 20k/month.
The fine print
Like many things in Bangkok, rental terms are flexible – it’s common for buildings to look for a one-year lease but often this was negotiable. The agent we spoke to negotiated our lease term down to six months with no change in the rental. Some buildings we saw had lease terms for 3 months.
There were two tips we found particularly useful :
- We always asked about the rates for water and electricity (some buildings bump up these charges). Currently we’re paying 17 baht per “unit” of water which seems about standard, and paying electricity costs direct to the government agency (we pay the bill at 7-11) so we get the official rate there too.
- Before committing to our place we went back and visited at different times of the day following the advice of Bangkok Podcast. This was crucial for the place we decided to take – worried initially about the night market next door, we decided after visiting in the evening that: a) the noise wouldn’t be a problem for our side of the building, and b) it would be great to live next door to a night market.
Overall, this made for a very busy week, and it isn’t something we’d want to repeat in a hurry. But, having gone through the process, it’s great to come home and relax comfortably after being out and about in the craziness of Bangkok.