As the cost of living shoots up exponentially the world over, the South East Asian nation of Thailand still has a couple of living costs that continue to attract foreigners looking for an inexpensive paradise to retire to. The first of these ‘cost savers’ is rental accommodation, which has barely seen an increase in over 20 years. The second is transportation costs. Even air conditioned taxis still have meters starting at just 35 Baht; yet another cost that hasn’t risen in decades.
First we will take a look at the accommodation costs for the Thai capital Bangkok, and the Northern capital Chiang Mai (the countries second biggest city)
Apartment Costs in Bangkok
Studio apartments in Bangkok central areas have an average cost of between 7-10,000 THB/Mo. Obviously some are nicer than others, but because there so are many choices in all accommodation types, you will definitely be able to find something that suites you and your needs. It’s always a good idea to use one of Bangkok’s online home finders and make a shortlist prior to viewing.
One bedroom condos in and around greater Bangkok can be had for between 15-25,000 THB/Mo. Sizes and quality will vary depending where you look. It’s worth noting that both Bangkok condo complexes and apartment blocks usually include the following amenities as standard:
24 Hour Security
If you want other amenities, things like a fitness center, swimming pool, garden area, Jacuzzi, sauna, and free Wi-Fi, etc., make sure you include places that have these when compiling your short list.
Two bedroom Bangkok condo rentals in the CBD will set you back an average price of 40,000 THB/Mo. Size and quality of two bedroom homes can vary greatly though, with some costing as little as 20,000 THB/Mo going all the way up to 80,000 B and above for the more luxurious dwellings.
A three bedroom condominium in Bangkok has an average price of 76,000 THB/Mo. It’s worth noting here that the size and quality of three bedroom properties can also vary hugely, as can the rental. You will be able to find three bedroom places as cheap as 35,000 THB/Mo and as expensive as 350,000 THB/mo, but the average price is around 76,000 B. The size of a three bedroom condominium can vary as much as the rent, but as a rough guide you can expect to get around 191 SQM for the average price.
The Difference Between a Thai Apartment and Condominium
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between an apartment and condo complex. In most cases this difference is purely one of ownership. An apartment block is owned by an individual or a business (including all the units). Residents can’t buy apartments, they can only rent them, unless, of course they purchase the entire building. A condominium complex, on the other hand, is developed for the sole purpose of selling its units separately, meaning there will usually be many property owners in a single construction.
However, in Thailand, there are some other differences between condos and apartments. In most cases, though not all, Bangkok apartments tend to be studios, and all rooms are of the same dimensions. Condominium buildings will more than likely have studios, along with one, two, and three bed accommodations of various shapes and sizes. Many condos will also have a penthouse or sorts on the top floor. Additionally, a condominium complex in Bangkok is almost always of a better quality, and better maintained, that most apartment buildings, plus they offer more amenities.
Finding Your Bangkok Home
Pounding the streets without really knowing where you’re going, or what you’re looking for, is not recommended. The relentless heat, humidity, and traffic pollution of the Thai capital will wear you right down after just a couple of hours. Unless you happen to come across something to your liking at the start of your search, you will more than likely regret this aimless idea of home hunting on foot.
It’s much better to prepare your shortlist first, and then hire a meter taxi, tuk-tuk, or motorbike taxi, and then go around and view your options in a methodical manner.
Chiang Mai – The Rose of the North
It’s obviously quicker getting around Chiang Mai than it is Bangkok because the area is much smaller and the side roads a lot quieter than the capital. However, there is no great public transportation service in Thailand’s second biggest city, so once you have your short list of potential properties ready, then you will need to get yourself a map and rent a car, motorcycle, or bicycle. Another alternative is to hire a tuk-tuk, or a private taxi service for a few hours, which can actually work out pretty cheap depending on your haggling skills.
Chiang Mai is cheaper than Bangkok in just about every way, including accommodation. You can rent a very basic studio from as little as 2,900 THB/Mo up to about 7,000 THB/Mo. It would be a bit daft to rent a studio apartment in CM for 7,000 B though, when you can in fact find a nice 55 SQM one bedroom condo (with a stunning view of the Doi Suthep) for about the same price. Bigger one bedroom condos can go over 20,000 THB/Mo.
Two bedroom condominiums can be found for as little as 15,000 THB/Mo up to 25-30,000 THB/Mo. Look out for deals in older buildings because some of these places have been renovated beautifully. They can also include many mod cons and have ample space to home a small family.
Three bedroom condos in and around Chiang Mai city go for between 35-45,000 THB/Mo and upwards, depending on size, number of bathrooms, age of building, and location. At the time of writing there are many new developments springing up around the city, and prices for these newer units are climbing steeply. This is due mainly to a property boom and an increasing demand for rental accommodation. That said, there are plenty of hidden gems if you have time to look for them, and even more cost saving spacious abodes can be had if you move out into one of the provinces 25 districts.
With a clam head, a little bit of homework, some time on your hands, and a good short list of potential properties, home hunting in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or anywhere else in the county, needn’t be the arduous task that many others have made it out to be.
Andy Maingam is well travelled around South East Asia, having lived and worked in numerous countries in the region. He writes articles and guides specifically on living as an expat in Thailand and how foreigners new to the Kingdom can cut to the chase finding their next home in the capital, be that a luxurious Bangkok condo, apartment, or house.