Finding an apartment in any new country can be tricky, as you are not familiar with the different quirks of the areas. Before starting this search make sure you are sure about what you want in an apartment vs what is not so important. I always have my list of absolute non-negotiable things scaled down to what I can do without. Moving to Thailand I was very fortunate because the condo block I live in far exceeds my list of non-negotiables. For me making the move to Thailand was to enjoy a certain type of lifestyle, and this lifestyle included a swimming pool and a gym at my apartment. Not only did I get those but we have a yoga room, a sauna, 2 swimming pools, a games room and I’m a 200m walk from the beach. If I never leave my apartment I’m happy.
What is it you want though?
Like anything in life, these choices are very personal ones. Depending on the purpose of your trip, your needs and wants will differ as well as your budget. If you are coming to Thailand to live life and be happy then pay a bit more for the perfect place, but if you’re looking to save then you will need to sacrifice a few of the nice add-ons. A few points you need to consider when looking for an apartment in Thailand:
As discussed in a previous article choosing the area you want to live in Thailand is up to personal preference. Have a read of the last article to find out more on the best area for you. The location of your apartment could also depend on where you will be working. Once you know where your job will be and your working hours, decide if the area around work is good for you, and if you prefer to be further away, don’t forget to take into account the cost of travelling to work as well as the time spent travelling. Try to find a good balance between the two.
Get to know the different methods of public transport and or options of renting a car or bike if you feel that would suit you more. Keep in mind that you will not only be going to work and back, but you may need a grocery store and pharmacy close by. In Thailand, almost every block has a pharmacy on it with reasonable prices, or you have Boots and Watsons in the larger shopping malls. Good supermarkets to look out for are Tesco Lotus and Big C. If you have one of those close by you should be sorted. It is also great to have a street food market close by for nights you do not feel like cooking. These are often not marked on google maps, so ask the school you will be at or the estate agent where the best street food markets are.
If you are living in Thailand on your own it is probably easiest to eat out every meal as many of my colleagues do. In this case, you won’t need a kitchen. This may sound strange to you, but having a kitchen in Thailand is a western concept and if the advertisement for the apartment does not say western kitchen, you can expect no kitchen at all. You may pay a bit extra for an apartment with a western kitchen, but it is worth it if you enjoy cooking.
Many of the apartment blocks in Thailand have swimming pools, and if this is a must-have on your list be sure to see the pool before you agree to the apartment, as some buildings will have a pool which is not in the same condition as the image online. If you are into working out and like to stay fit, it is not uncommon for the blocks to have a room with gym equipment in, but check the membership costs of the gyms in the area and weight it up against the extra cost of an on-site gym at the apartment. In my experience, it is cheaper for me to have a gym at the apartment than pay to be a member at an external one.
Make sure you feel comfortable with your estate agent as well as the building management. It is always nice to have them around if something goes wrong. If you’re intimidated by them or feel they are unapproachable then maybe consider another block.
Cost of Living
Starting at a very basic 1 bedroom with no western kitchen and more than likely busy area close to city centre, small gym room and maybe a pool, you will be paying around 7000-8000 baht a month, which is roughly $200-$250 per month. If you are wanting all the bells and whistles – swimming pools, gym, great location, amazing management- then you will be paying 10 000-12 000 baht for a stunning studio or 1 bedroom, roughly $300-$350 per month. I am happy to pay extra for my place as I would never find this anywhere else in the world for the price, so why not enjoy it.
Now there are other costs to take into consideration. Very often utilities are not included in the rent. The cost of utilities for 1 person will range from 700-1000 baht ($20-$30) per month depending on how often you run the air conditioner. Then double check the Wi-Fi situation as the advertisement will often say Wi-Fi included but the Wi-Fi is in the lobby area and not in your apartment. The cost of internet ranges from about 550-800 baht a month ($17-$25). Be aware that some providers ask for a year up front as they fear that as an expat you will leave and they lose out. This is normal, so try and budget it in to pay the full year.
A final thing to remember in Thailand and many other South East Asian countries is that the deposit for a place is 2 months’ rent. So for example, if you are renting for 7000 baht then in the first month you will pay 21 000 baht upfront (2-month deposit 14 000 and the first month of rent 7000). This can sometimes be negotiated if you really cannot afford it, but it’s better to budget for it as they like to cover themselves in case you leave unexpectedly.
The majority of the apartments are furnished so this saves you having to buy any extras, but when looking at the apartment make notes of what they have in order to budget for any extra things you may need to buy. For example, Thai’s only eat with forks and spoons so don’t expect your place to have a single butter knife.
Although it may seem like a lot to think about when moving to a new country, finding your apartment must be exciting and fun. I was fortunate because working at Shane means they assist you with finding an apartment. This means a lot less stress for you as they explain all the factors to you and have inside knowledge on the areas which your estate agent might not share with you. With the help of Shane English School, my apartment in Pattaya has really made Thailand feel like home, and I love it. Once again if you have any further questions about moving to Thailand or need clarity on the above points feel free to get hold of me on Twitter @The_Curious_T
About the Author
Tatum Condon is a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy. if you have any further questions about moving to Thailand or need clarity on the above points feel free to get hold of me on Twitter @The_Curious_T.