INSIDER’S GUIDE TO RENTING IN THAILAND

 

INTRODUCTION

Is there anything more exciting than moving to Thailand and renting your first place? It’s the moment your dreams become a reality and the vision you had of staying long term in Thailand is confirmed by the start and end dates on your lease. But navigating the rental market in Thailand can be challenging if you don’t know how to look, negotiate leases, or hire help.

In this ebook, you’ll find out the ins and outs of renting in Thailand. You’ll discover underrated neighborhoods that are often ignored by expats. You’ll find out where to look for rental properties, both online and off. You’ll learn how to cut your rent by 40% when negotiating with owners. And you’ll become familiar with hidden fees, common renting mistakes, and how to find short-term leases.

But before we go any further, we’d like to clarify one point. In America you might rent an apartment. In the UK you might rent a flat. But in Thailand, you rent a condo. In Thailand, many people invest in condos and rent them out to tenants. So to stay

consistent, we’ll avoid the words “apartment” and “flat” and stick with the term “condo” from here on out, unless specifically stated.

After reading this book, you’ll be well on your way to signing your first lease in Thailand.

 

I. UNDERRATED NEIGHBORHOODS

When looking for a place to rent in Thailand, you’ll want a condo that provides you with the conveniences you’re looking for. These conveniences will be different for everyone, depending on your needs.

Maybe you want to be in the heart of the city. Maybe you want to be close to public transportation. Maybe you want both. Or maybe you want neither. There’s nothing wrong with finishing off your day in a nice quiet road on the outskirts of Thailand.

In Bangkok, the most often mentioned neighborhoods for expats are lower Sukhumvit, near the BTS stations Chidlom, Phrom Phong, Ekkamai, Thong Lor, Silom, and Sathorn.

If you want to live in Bangkok and have access to your home country’s food and people, you’ll want to rent in one of these areas. These areas are also centrally located in the city, making it easy to get to work and other popular areas of Bangkok. But condos in these areas also come with a hefty price tag.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something with local flair, or you want to get a great deal without sacrificing convenience or comfort, you’ll have to look past most popular areas and explore some of the underrated neighborhoods of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

 

Bangkok

Rachadaphisek

This underrated neighborhood is on the westside of Rachadaphisek Road, between MRT Huay Khwang and the Thailand Cultural Center. Aside from studio apartments, you can find some economy apartment choices at Oriental Suite and Klang Krung Resort. For a more modern place, check out the condos on the main road around Huay Khwang MRT station.

If you’re really on a budget, walk inside Rachadaphisek Soi 3, Rachadaphisek Soi 7, and Rachadaphisek Soi 13. You’ll find budget apartments that cost around 5,000 baht a month.

The next MRT station from Huay Kwang, Sutthisan, is another great area. You’ll find fully furnished condos starting at 6,000 baht a month in places like Regent Ratchada Tower, Boutique Ratchada, and Ratchada Orchid.

The residential area is host to a number of twenty-four-hour places, including a gym, a supermarket, several restaurants, and a coffee shop. Also in the area is plenty of local food, the Mustache Bar, which is open till late and serves trendy craft beers, and the famous indie food and drinking Rot Fai Market Ratchada.

The third biggest mall in Thailand, Central Plaza Grand Rama 9, and the IT, music, and photography mall Fortune Town, are just a motorcycle taxi ride away. There is also The Street, which offers several twenty-four-hour shops, as well as a Starbucks that boasts two meeting rooms.

 

Phra Khanong

Phra Khanong is the first BTS stop on Sukhumvit when coming out of the city center, where rent tends to decrease. Its main draw is the availability of affordable and decent condos that are close to the Sukhumvit BTS line.

The local residential area around Phra Khanong is inside Sukhumvit 71 Road (Pridi Banomyong), where you’ll find many local markets. Budget apartments can be found along many roads, such Pridi Banomyong Soi 13, Pridi Banomyong Soi 15, and Pridi Banomyong Soi 25.

Phra Khanong is developing rapidly. In addition to the local market in front of Sukhumvit 71 you’ll find new markets nearby, including W District and Gateway Ekamai.

 

On Nut

On Nut is an attractive neighborhood where studios go for as little as 6,500 baht in Lumpini Ville, something you’ll be hard pressed to find closer to the city center. But if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, check out Rhythm On Nut and Rhythm Phra Khanong.

One of the prime attractions of the area, the On Nut Market, has closed. But some of the vendors have stuck around and can now be found at the Sawaddee Garden Bar. Night owls can grab something to eat at Khao Tom Yaowarat opposite The Base or sip a late night coffee at Tom’n Toms. Co-working space E88 is soon going to be joined by Hubba‘s new branch in the soon-to-open Habito Mall.

 

Udom Suk/Bang Na

Udom Suk and Bang Na are the next two BTS stops from On Nut. They’re becoming popular areas for expats too. Condos in the area are newer and listed at affordable prices.

For instance, you can get a fully furnished condo at Ideo Mobi Sukhumvit Eastgate for 10,000 baht a month. And the condo is only a few minutes walk from BTS Bang Na. If you’re on a budget, there are apartments available for 5,000 baht a month.

There’s also Ideo Mix Sukhumvit 103, Regent Orchid Condo Sukhumvit 101, and much more.

Three shoppings mall are in this area too, such as CentralPlaza Bangna, Mega Bangna, and Ikea. However, getting there will take a trip on the bus or taxi. For Mega Bangna and Ikea, though, you can take their free shuttle bus from BTS Udom Suk

 

Saphan Kwai

BTS Saphan Kwai is another key area often ignored by expats. Saphan Kwai is closer to Siam Square and Silom than On Nut is, but condos in the area have similar price ranges. You can find condos in the 10,000 baht to 15,000 baht range that are a few minutes walk to the BTS. For these deals, check out Onyx Phaholyothin, Lumpini Ville Sutthisan, and The Seed Phaholyothin.

Saphan Kwai is also one BTS station away from the biggest open market in Thailand, Chatuchak Market. Saphan Kwai is close to Chatuchak Park, which is a great place for a morning jog. There’s also Rod Fai Park which is a popular place to ride bikes.

There’s a Big C nearby too, which will make picking up goods for daily life easy. La Villa, a new hangout community with many cool restaurants and a Villa Market, is also only one BTS stop away.

 

Charoenkrung Road

Charoenkrung is the former Sukhumvit of Bangkok and had the first tram in the city. Not too far from China town and connected to the MRT network, Charoenkrung Road boasts some serious retro charm. Newer accommodations are being built. But its main draws are the older, larger apartments that come with a lot of local flair and that are near attractions like the riverside, bars, and retro malls. One of our Siam Relocation readers got a good deal at Thai Sathit, where apartments run from 10,000 baht to 25,000 baht a month.

Although not found on most nightlife listings, the neighborhood does have live music at the Soulbar. For the hungry, there are several vegetarian restaurants like Su Ki Jeh Ru Yi that offer an affordable and delicious take on local and foreign vegetarian dishes. For date night, you’ll want to check out Samsara right by the river.

 

Other Locations

Ramkhamhaeng, Victory Monument, and Bang Sue are also conveniently located and offer great deals on condos in Bangkok. So whether you’re working, studying, or raising a family, you’ll find these spots beneficial as well.

In this chapter we’ve listed only a handful of the more underrated neighborhoods in Bangkok. If you didn’t gravitate toward any of these areas, feel free to explore more options or ask around once you settle on your needs and a monthly budget.

 

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the second biggest province in Thailand and covers many different geological areas. Whether you’d like to be in the heart of the city or on the outskirts in the suburbs, you’ll have no problem renting an apartment in an area that suits your lifestyle. In Chiang Mai, you have three areas to choose from.

Your first choice is around the city center, which is surrounded by the Old City Moat. It’s the busiest part of the city and has many tourist attractions, department stores, night markets, and clubs.

Because the area is so convenient, you won’t need your own car of motorcycle to get around. In Nimmanhaemin in the Mueang Chiang Mai District, for example, you’ll find hundreds of condos and apartments for rent.

Your second choice is renting an apartment just outside the city limits in Hang Dong, Mae Hia, San Kumphaeng, or San Sai. It’s a lot quieter in these areas, making it a great place to live, especially if you have a family.

You can rent a house in these areas for around 10,000 baht a month.

Your third choice is further away from the city and the surrounding area, way out in the rural areas of Chiang Mai. Usually, only Thais rent in these areas.

You won’t find many of the conveniences of living in the city. And unless you speak Thai, you’ll have a hard time adjusting. So it’s best to skip these rural areas.

 

Nimmanhaemin

You’ll find a lot of restaurants, cozy cafes, and malls in Nimmanhaemin, one of the more popular areas in Chiang Mai. You’ll also find a lot of co-working spaces here.

So if you’re a digital nomad or moving to Chiang Mai for the first time, Nimmanhaemin is a great place to start. You can find condos for rent starting at 8,000 baht. Look at places like 103 Condominium, Hillside Condo 3, OnePlus Condo, and Promt Condo to get started.

 

Hang Dong and Mae Hia

Around nineteen kilometers from Chiang Mai’s city center is Hang Dong and Mae Hia. Since both of these districts are surrounded by nature, you’ll find they’re popular with expats, are quieter than other places in Chiang Mai, and have locals that are quite friendly.

And for those who travel a lot, Hang Dong and Mae Hia are only between seven and twelve kilometers from Chiang Mai International Airport. You can find two-bedroom houses in these areas for less than 8,000 baht a month.

 

San Kamphaeng

You can check out San Kamphaeng if you’re looking for the next hot spot in Chiang Mai. Lots of new developments are going up each year.

Although San Kamphaeng is thirty kilometers from the center of Chiang Mai, it’s only seventeen kilometers to Promenada Mall, which is where the immigration office is. You can find three-bedroom houses for as low as 7,000 baht a month.

 

San Sai

If you’re looking for a three-bedroom house for under 5,000 baht, check out San Sai, just South of the city center of Chiang Mai. The area is less developed than San Kamphaeng but it’s only twenty-three kilometers from the city center.

 

Phuket

Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations and the second smallest province in Thailand, you can still find a decently priced place to rent in Phuket. Take a look on the Southeastern side of Phuket, around the Amper Muang District in places like Phuket Villa Suanluang, Rock Garden Bypass Housing project, Phanason Villas, and Mu Ban Si Suchat Grand View.

You’ll find two- to three-bedroom houses for less than 10,000 baht a month. The downside to these areas are the nighttime traffic and the distance from the beach–if you live inland.

If you’re willing to spend more to be closer to the beach, Rawai and Surin Beach (Soi Cherngtalay) are interesting areas. You’ll find condos in these areas for around 10,000 baht to 12,000 baht a month in places like Rawai Seaview Condominium, The Tree Condominium, and Zcape Condominium,

One thing you should consider when living in Phuket is the travel expenses. Taxis and motorbikes are more expensive than in other provinces. You might end up paying a few hundred baht for a short, round trip around town. So you should look into renting a motorbike or car while you’re living in Phuket.

 

II. WHERE TO LOOK

Once you find an area where you’d like to live, you have a few options to search for condos in those places. You can go to Thailand real estate rental websites. You can walk around your desired neighborhood and look for “For Rent” signs. Or you could work with an agent. The following sections will help you decide which method will work best for you.

 

Real Estate Rental Sites

There are many real estate rental sites available in Thailand. These websites should be the first place you look while searching for a place to rent. At the very least, rental websites give you an idea of the average rental cost of the area you’re interested in.

Keep in mind that prices listed on websites are often negotiable. This means getting a discount of 20% from the list price is not unusual. But it may take a while to find a place suitable to your needs.

You’ll learn how to negotiate rental contracts in the Negotiating Your Contract section of this ebook.

 

Hipflat

The easiest way to find a decent place online is to go to Hipflat and check for places in your desired area. At the time of writing, Hipflat is one of the best real estate sites in Thailand. It offers an intuitive, map-style interface with one of the largest inventories of condos in Thailand.

Based on the included offers, it looks like they pull part of their inventory from other websites and forums. When selecting a specific part of the city on the map, you can see the exact locations of places and prices.

At the moment, this is the third biggest real estate site in Thailand by number of visitors. But don’t be surprised if it surpasses DDproperty in the near future. 

 

9apartment

9apartment focuses on the lower end of the market and is great if you’re looking for the cheapest apartment possible. You can, for example, specify that you want an apartment for less than 4,000 baht a month and get pages of results for a single neighborhood. The cheapest place you’ll find is for 1,600 baht a month. The limited info often available is in both Thai and English. It’s also the best online site if you’re looking for small buildings that are often not listed on any of the other real estate sites.

 

Craigslist

Really not the most aesthetic site out there, Craigslist is good for finding places offering wheelchair access and pet-friendly condos. So it’s worth checking out if you have special requirements.

 

DDproperty

DDproperty is by far the most visited real estate website in Thailand. You can search for condos in proximity to a specific type of transportation, such as the MRT, BTS, or Airlink, or even a specific station. You can also search by price per square meter.

But DDproperty provides a limited number of details, so you’ll find yourself having to call up the agent who listed the property to get the remaining details.

 

DotProperty

DotProperty is owned by the same company as thailand-property.com. But keep in mind, their website features a lot more vacation homes outside of Bangkok.

 

Prakard

Prakard is a real estate forum website that has a sub-forum for each major condo building in Bangkok and the provinces. What makes this site so valuable is that a lot of owners post their apartments here.

You might face a language barrier with owners, but the website is a good way to find deals online. So the communication barrier is worth the hassle. Prices posted on Prakard tend to be more realistic than what you’ll find on agent dominated real estate sites.

The downside is that the website is in Thai, though Google translate can help with the essentials. But building names are in English. Another big benefit of using Prakard is that you can see the original posting date, giving you an idea of how long the unit has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for a while, that’ll benefit you when negotiating.

 

RentHub

Not far behind Hipflat, RentHub is a good choice if you’re looking for something temporary that comes a bit cheaper than your average Airbnb place. A nice feature is that it allows you to search for places with daily rates. Other filters unique to RentHub include places that allow smoking, have in-house laundry service, and are okay with pets.

 

ThinkofLiving

As a Thai language website, ThinkofLiving is the second most visited website at the time of writing. It features a lot of editorial content, including condominium reviews. Compared to other sites, it has a stronger focus on buying rather than renting condos.

 

Other Sites

While the above sites feature the most offers, you can also check out some of the smaller rental websites, including MrRoomFinder and Thaiapartment.com. A relative newcomer in the market is FindYourSpace, which launched in 2015 and is like Hipflat, focusing on a map-style interface. They also offer an Android app.

 

Agents

It’s not a bad idea to use an agent. Many condo owners don’t want to deal with renting out their condo on their own. So they use an agency instead. But if you decide to rent through an agency you need to be careful.

As of 2018, real estate agents in Thailand don’t need to be licensed. This has made it easier for people to take on that role, and has therefore increased the number of real estate agents in the country. Some agents may work individually as freelancers. Some work for agencies. And others work with condo developers.

Although you won’t have much negotiation power when dealing with agents, they make your life easier by doing all the hard work for you. They’ll make finding a room easier because they know the areas so well. They’ll work with your budget and needs too. If you’re in Thailand, they take you to the condo you’re interested in. And if you’re not yet in Thailand, they’ll show you listings online.

And once you’ve found a place to rent and move into, they can also help you with unexpected problems, suggest reliable maids and handypersons, and even recommend local restaurants.

Signing a one-year contract is a common requirement when using an agent. It’s their way of getting a one-month commission (their salary) from a condo owner.

Here are some important rules to follow when using an agent:

Freelancing agents tend to be more active than those working for agencies. Work with them and you’ll have more negotiation power. But be sure to do a detailed background check.

Agents who work with agencies are more credible since they need to maintain their brand’s reputation. But since the majority of their income is fixed, their services might be lacking. And you’ll have less negotiation power since they have strict rules and regulations to follow.

Real estate agents in Thailand should never ask for your money. They work for commission that is paid from room owners.

Once you tell an agent your requirements and budget, a good agent should provide you with a long list of available properties.

Never pay rent to an agent unless they are the official agents of the real estate developer who owns the condo you’re renting.

Due to liability issues, we are unable to recommend any real estate agents. However, you’ll have no problem finding them on your own. In popular expat Facebook groups like Bangkok Expats, a number of agents will usually contact you once you post your requirements. There are also specific property groups like Property Thailand, Thailand Property Listings, and Thailand Real Estate and Rentals that may have real estate agents in the groups.

 

III. HOW TO FIND AMAZING DEALS

Although real estate searches have moved online, the best deals might be not be found on a website, especially when searching in English.

The strategies below are recommended for newcomers, as well as people living in Bangkok but looking for a new place in the city.

Dealing Directly with the Condo Owner

A lot of offers on the real estate websites listed in this book are dominated by agents. Sometimes this is clear from the get go, other times you find out when you show up at the place. Especially with condos. And agents might not want to disclose the exact building or unit until you meet them.

If you don’t want to deal with an agent because you’re looking for a contract with a less than twelve-month commitment, you can still use this to your advantage by searching for a place that is in your price range. Meet the agent, take a look at the place, and if it doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, walk around the building and neighborhood without the agent and see what you can find.

That’s where your real search for a deal starts. During your walk, keep an eye open for “For Rent” signs in front of condos, on doors of individual units, and on streets nearby. If you can’t read Thai, take pictures of any signs and phone numbers and ask someone for help later on.

Also, talk to the office staff at condos. Their first reaction will often be to refer you to agents or to show you a list of vacant units. Some condo owners refuse to pay commission to agents and will get omitted from those listings. If you are persistent in asking to see more units, they might pass you the details of one such owner.

The people who know about all the empty spaces in a building are the maids and sometimes the security guards. Having a Thai person talk to them while office staff isn’t around often reveals those units that are not mentioned elsewhere. And sometimes the owners actively involve the maids or guards in their promotional efforts.

Some owners advertise their vacant apartments on the notice boards found in the lobby or outside the corridors of some condo buildings. These units are always missing from the vacant unit lists that get shown to prospective tenants. For you, that’s a recipe for a great deal. Your advantage? Lower rent or shorter contract durations.

But this strategy doesn’t work if all the units are owned by the same company and everyone pays the same price.

 

Hiring Helpers

Another strategy is to hire a motorcycle taxi for half day and ask them to take you around an area with places that have vacancies. Motorcycle taxi drivers tend to know the locations of good apartments around that area. And these apartments may not advertise online.

Since this is not something motorcycle taxi drivers do on a regular basis, you might need a Thai friend to help explain what you want.

On the plus side, it means they don’t have commission deals with the apartments. If you can find someone who can help you, it’s pretty much a steal for the few hundred baht you’ll pay the driver for a few hours of help.

 

Finding Apartments

Apartments are a popular option for Thais who live on a budget. The rental cost is significantly lower than staying in a condo. But you get less accommodation in return. Apartments may be small, and only have the essentials, like a toilet and some furniture. There are no swimming pools, extra rooms, or gyms.

Single apartment buildings in Thailand are usually run by one owner. So all the apartments in the building are the same price. Bargaining for cheaper rent is not an option.

For example, apartments in key locations, such as BTS Victory Monument, cost only 5,000 baht a month on Ratchawithi Road. But for a condo on the same road you’ll pay over 15,000 per month. Since the price is competitive, you might have to pay a deposit a month in advance in order to get a room.

Apartments in Thailand tend to be located near certain locations, such as schools, universities, and community areas. If you can find one apartment, it means that there’s a big chance there are a few more. And these apartments rarely advertise online.

Hiring a helper is a good way to find apartments. But one final method for finding an apartment to rent is to use an apartment renting website like Thai Apartment. If there’s an apartment listing in your prefered location, there should be a few more nearby.

 

Selecting Older Buildings

Go with a building that’s eight to fourteen years old. Condos in Bangkok often lose value, and like second hand cars, can be yours for a discount. Part of this is a certain cultural aversion to second hand condos, the other part is the lack of maintenance.

At condo meetings, you might hear management saying they have no money left, and the mandatory seven year cable replacement date for the elevator is coming up.

So if you go with an old building, you can save quite a bit. But you might want to take the stairs.

 

Looking for a Place That Has Been Empty for a Long Time

Owners of these properties are desperately in need of tenants since they haven’t generated any income from the property for quite a while. They’ll probably be willing to offer you a good discount.

If any condo you pass at night has only a few rooms lit up, there’s a chance the building is quite empty. Walk inside the office and ask for available rooms for rent. You might get a good deal there.

Another strategy is to use a website like Prakard.com. Flip through a few pages to find the listings that have been posted for a few months or longer. These are your primary targets. Contact them.

 

Commuting by Motorcycle Taxi

There’s a significant “convenience” surcharge for condos located within two hundred meters of a BTS or MRT station. If you move over four hundred meters away, prices drop. If you don’t mind a short hike or a motorcycle taxi ride, this can save you a lot of money.

These condos might not be on the safest of roads, but for back alleys that lead to BTS or MRT stations where traffic proceeds at a reasonable pace, they’re sufficient. If you want to play things safe, just get your own motorcycle helmet. Whizzing through traffic on a scooter every day is one of those things in Bangkok you want to do with protection.

 

Avoiding Unnecessary Parking and Facilities

The run-of-the-mill nice condos come with a pool, sauna, gym, and parking spot. If you can make do without those, your choices expand a lot. In fact, you might want to seek out places that don’t offer the above. They’ll come at a significant discount.

 

IV. FINDING SHORT TERM LEASES

Rental contracts in Thailand usually last a year. However, it’s possible to find a short-term lease. In addition to one-year contracts, some places offer one-, three-, and six-month contracts.

If renting by the month, a good way to find a condo is through Airbnb. Many of the owners are happy to welcome guests who want stay for a few weeks instead of a few days. In addition, Airbnb has many condos and serviced apartments listed.

Because of the competitiveness of this industry, the number of investors who invest in properties and sublet to Airbnb is increasing. There are many good places available, with perks like free wifi, for around 10,000 baht to 15,000 baht a month.

More options are available for three- and six-month renters, but you’ll need to negotiate with the owner. (Refer to our previous strategies on how to get in touch with condo owners.)

In addition, many condos, especially those that are located in community areas, offer three- and six-month contracts.

Also, freelancing agents might be able to help you find a place that offers a six-month contract or longer.

Another option is to find an apartment that’s privately owned. Private owners, as opposed to management companies, are more likely to provide a two to three month contracts.

You can find these apartments by going to the underrated neighborhoods mentioned in the previous section and ask some locals. Motorcycle taxis and street vendors are good sources of information.

You can also look for short-term leases on thaiapartment.com or renthub.com. You’ll find apartments with three-month leases or less on these websites.

 

V. RELATED FEES

Price isn’t the only expense you should consider when it comes to renting a condo in Bangkok. There are many other fees that can add up. Here are some common costs.

 

Security Deposits

The common deposit in Thailand is a two-month deposit. This means that when you are about to move in, you’ll need to pay for three months: two months for security deposit and one month for the first month of your contract.

The security deposit will be returned to you at the end of the contract after the owner or management company makes sure you didn’t break anything inside the room.

Usually, on short-term contracts you should get your full deposit back once the contract is over. But on longer contracts, where wear and tear is common, you might not get your full deposit back. To increase your chances of getting your money back, you should:

Carefully inspect the room before signing the contract. If you see any damage, tell the owner immediately. If there are any exceptions, write them down and have both parties sign off on the agreement.

Take pictures of everything inside the room, including furniture. It will come in handy if there’s any dispute later on.

Always keep the owner informed of what’s going on inside the room. If there’s a water leakage, tell them.

Decorate the rooms conservatively. Many places do not allow you to paint or put holes in walls.

If you are not sure about something, ask the owner.

Give the owner a thirty-day notice before moving out. This is commonly required in the contract.

Always keep evidence of your rental payment every month. It can be in the form of a bank transfer receipt or receipt from the condo. Mistakes may happen. Sometimes the condo claims that you haven’t paid your rent even though you did.

 

Internet

Sometimes the internet is included in your rent. But most of the time you need to get it yourself. There are mainly three situations you would find yourself in if this is the case.

You need to use an internet card from your apartment. Inside there will be a username and password. The price is similar to what a normal internet package costs. But it’s shared internet, which has poor connection. If you need internet for work it’s better to avoid this card.

The property already has a contract with an internet provider. And you have to buy a package from this internet provider. There is no problem with this situation. But most of the time, unless you can use the internet from an ADSL system, the internet will be slower and unstable.

You are free to choose whatever internet package you want. This is the best option out of the three.

 

Electricity

The most ideal situation would be to pay your electric bill directly to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand or through convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Family Mart. The average rate per unit for household use is three baht to four baht per unit. And you are billed monthly.

However, a number of properties charge you a fixed rate for electricity. Some may charge you five baht per unit, which is slightly higher than the usual rate. But some may charge you two times the amount, at eight baht per unit.

And look over you bill closely. There are dishonest owners that overcharge for the amount electric you use. If you use three hundred units one month, for example, the owner may charge you four hundred units instead.

If you suspect you’re being tricked, take a photo of the electric meter for your room every month. You could see how many electric units you use each month and then calculate the cost you need to pay.

 

Water

Similar to electricity, the best option is to pay the Metropolitan Waterwork Authority directly. Some condos also set their own water rates. And some may have a fixed amount you must pay every month, no matter how much water you use.

However, you don’t need to be too concerned about water. Water here is cheap.

Most of the time you’ll  pay less than 200 baht a month for water.

 

Management and Parking Fees

In addition to the cost of renting, you may need to pay management and parking fees. The amount can be a few hundred baht to over thousands per month. This is especially true when you rent the condo.

Management fees are charged on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes you need to pay the fees yourself. And sometimes the owner will pay them for you. Normally, you need to pay management fees yourself.

If the condo wants to charge you a parking fee and you don’t have a car. Negotiate with them. You may not need to pay for it. If they still insist that you need to pay, ask around. Maybe one of your neighbors is looking for a parking space and is willing to pay for it.

 

VI. HIDDEN FEES

The hidden fees that follow add up, so be sure to talk to your owner about them ahead of time. The total cost can easily eat up the majority of your security deposit.

 

Cleaning

The owner of the condo will expect you to leave the room in similar condition to when you went in. And even if you clean the room before moving out, the owner may still want to charge you a cleaning fee.

Fortunately, the amount for the cleaning fee isn’t a lot. It should be less than 500 baht. However, some strict owners may charge you more for spots on the floor, tape on the wall, and so on.

To avoid excess cleaning fees, thoroughly clean the condo. If the owner is happy with you, these costs will be lowered or maybe even waived.

 

Renovating

The owner may come up with additional excuses related to renovating the room, such as having to paint, change doors, make new keys, and so on. The total costs can easily be more than 5,000 baht.

Staying on good terms with the maintenance staff in the building you rent in can also decrease this fee. If you treat them kindly, like giving them a 100 baht tip around the holidays, they’ll have no problem giving you a free gallon of paint so you could touch up the walls before moving out.

 

Fixing Furniture

At the end of your lease, if the kitchen cabinets under the sink get warped from water, you will pay for them. It doesn’t matter that they used composite wood and it’s considered regular wear and tear. You’re responsible. Same with wooden bathroom doors. You’ll pay for those as well.

To lower the cost of renovating expenses, always inform the owner whenever any problem or damage happens in the room. Sometimes the owner will fix it for you and you won’t have to pay.

 

VII. NEGOTIATING YOUR CONTRACT

Negotiating can get you a discount of 8% to 40% from the quoted rental price or a free first month. Agents might not be thrilled about giving in on that, given that also means their commission might be 20% lower.

It’s best to negotiate when the owner is present, rather than trying to negotiate with the agent. This is also another reason why you want to seek out a place that is offered by the owner.

If there’s something missing that you’d like, like a flat-screen TV or a washing machine, this is also a good time to negotiate for that.

These negotiation strategies work well with these conditions:

The condo is located outside of popular expat areas. (Please refer to our neighborhoods section.)

The higher the rental price, the more you can bargain. You may get a 1,000 to 2,000 baht discount on a room cheaper than 10,000 baht. But the discount can be greater than 5,000 baht a month with rent that’s higher than 30,000 baht a month.

You need to know the average price of the property in that area. And this requires research. You tend to find the same exact listings on many websites but with a great difference in price. And it’s your job to find out the minimum price of that listing.

One way you can find the standard price of a property is by using Google. Search in this format: “site:website” “property name” “p rice amount.” For example, if you want to know how much you can get for a 20,000 baht budget at Ideo Q condo in Praya Thai, you can search “site:hipflat.co.th” “ideo Q phayathai” “20000”.

 

A Case Study on Negotiating Rent

Our editor, John Joseph, an American expat who lives in Thailand with his family, was able to get a 40% discount when negotiating his rent. Here’s the full story of how he and his wife did it.

John and his wife lived with his wife’s mom when they first got to Thailand. The setup was okay, but not great. They only had one room that they had to share with their daughter, who was six months old at the time. They needed more space. And on top of that, their lifestyle was conflicting with his wife’s family’s lifestyle. After three months, they decided the best thing to do was rent their own place. But they had no idea where to start.

John’s wife got in touch with her friend, who lived at The Parkland Srinakarin, and she had nothing but good things to say about the condo. So John’s wife searched Prakard.com for available condos.

But everything they found was either out of their budget, too small, or already taken. Then they found a two-bedroom unit in Building D of The Parkland. They went to look at the condo. It was perfect.

The owners wanted 16,000 baht per month for the condo. It was within their budget, but they wanted to see if they could get the price down. So they began to negotiate. And after about an hour or so of them talking with the owners, the owners offered John and his wife the condo for 15,000 baht per month.

1,000 baht doesn’t seem like much but it was a small victory in negotiating rent. And the lessons they learned about that negotiation (which we’ll get into in a bit) helped them negotiate rent on two other occasions, each time giving them greater discounts.

After one year of living in the condo, they realized that section of the complex was too noisy. There was a football field right next door and games would go on sometimes until well past midnight. But they loved The Parkland and wanted to stay there.

They found a two-bedroom condo in another building away from the football field. The owner was asking 13,000 baht. They wanted to negotiate the rent down, hopefully to 11,000 baht this time.

John’s wife explained to the owner that they had (now) two kids. They both worked from home and were responsible and respectful and would look after the place like it was their own. In the end, they got the unit for 11,000 baht a month. But the owner told them that they’d have to pay to have the area rugs cleaned at the end of their lease— another 800 baht for each rug. John rolled them up and handed them over to the owner, opting to pocket the 800 baht instead.

They were feeling pretty confident with their negotiating skills by now. But they’d have to use them one more time before they knew for sure that what they’d done was working. And when they decided to move from a condo to a townhouse, it was the perfect chance to test their skills again.

They found a brand new development just outside of Bangkok. All the owners were asking at least 25,000 baht a month. Then they came across a townhouse for 23,000 baht a month. That was still way out of their budget of 15,000 baht. And considering the neighborhood, no one in their right mind would lower the price down 8,000 baht for what was included: a park, saltwater swimming pool, front and back yard, driveway, three bathrooms, two floors, and peace and quiet.

When they met the owner of the townhouse, they had no intention on actually renting the place. They just wanted to peak inside to see what 25,000 baht a month would get them. But the owner, wanting to get his townhouses rented (he had a row of seven homes), kept offering them the house at 23,000 baht.

They explained to him that their budget was 15,000 baht a month and that they were just looking. In the end, right before they left, John and his wife told the owner they liked the place but they could only afford 15,000. They walked out, jumped in the car, and headed back to the condo. A few hours later John’s wife got a call. The owner offered them the townhouse for 16,000 baht a month. But only under the condition— that they didn’t tell anyone in the neighborhood, because everyone else was paying at least 23,000 baht.

So, what exactly did John and his wife do to negotiate their rent and save more and more money each time? As simple as it sounds, here it is:

 

Dress Respectfully

In Thailand, appearance plays a big role in determining how people are going to treat you. You’ll be treated based on your looks before your character. So dress casual smart when going to negotiate rent with an owner of a house or condo. Although you can get away with showing up in shorts and a t-shirt in the West, it’s better to put your best foot forward in Thailand.

 

Find Common Ground

When John and his wife negotiated rent on the first condo they rented, the deciding factor for getting 1,000 baht off the rent was a common interest in Muay Thai. When John walked into the condo the day they went to look at it, the owner was watching Muay Thai on TV. And when John commented about the Muay Thai fights, the owner’s ears perked up and John and him were off to a good start. From there on out their conversation was laid back and negotiating with the owner became easy.

When they rented the townhouse, they sat with the owner and talked about kids and education. They found common ground about the direction that education in today’s world is taking. By the time they offered their price, they had already broken the ice. And having some connection with John and his wife, the owner warmed up to the idea of giving them a 7,000 baht discount.

 

Be Patient

Don’t be quick to jump on an offer right away— even if you think you’ve found the place of your dreams. John and his wife saved the most money by walking away and leaving the ball in the owner’s court. They gave off an air that they didn’t need the condo or townhouse. They walked out without a worry, even if they felt excited on the inside.

 

Stay Out of Management Offices

You will not, under any circumstances, negotiate rent if you go through a management office. If you want to have the upper hand, go to a website like Prakard.com and meet the owner directly. This way you’ll be able to negotiate more than rent, but also length of contract, terms, deposit amount, and even furniture. Siam Relocation readers, for example, have said they’ve had owners who told them to go to Index Living Mall and pick out any furniture they’d like.

 

Have Kids? Bring ‘em

Back in the states, owners are weary about renting out to families. They’re afraid the kids will destroy everything. But in Thailand, having kids, especially for a Westerner, is beneficial in many areas of life. Thais look at you as a serious member of society when you have kids. They’ll feel you’re more responsible and stable with a family. And they won’t mind knocking off a few thousand baht in exchange for the peace of mind of having a long-term, responsible tenant.

 

Single? Bring a Thai Friend

It’s an unfortunate reality, but some Thais think foreigners have unlimited money to burn. So don’t be surprised if you show up to look at a privately listed condo or house, only to be told by the owner a much higher price because you’re a foreigner. To avoid this, have a Thai friend or spouse negotiate on your behalf.

 

Bargain a Longer Contract

The real estate market in Thailand has more supply than demand. There are new condos in every part of Bangkok. So, it’s not about a tenant looking for a condo anymore. The condo owner also wants to find a good tenant who can stay there long-term.

Many times the owner is happy offering you a discount if you want to stay longer than a year. It’s a win-win situation. From an owner’s perspective, they are guaranteed the income during your stay. And you can decrease your rent.

 

VIII. COMMON MISTAKES

This section is going to talk about mistakes expats like us tend to make while renting a place in Thailand.

You Pay Yearly Instead of Monthly

Some people may want to pay the rent for a whole year instead of paying by month.

For whatever reasons, it’s not recommended.

The room owner may not have enough money to return to you if you need to move out before the end of the contract. And the amount of money can easily be more than 100,000 baht.

If this happens, it’llbe quite difficult to get your money back, especially when you need to move to a new country. Even if you are still in Thailand, the court process would take a lot of time. And think about the costs of hiring a lawyer, preparing documents, going to court, and so on.

 

You Do Not Keep Payment Evidence

You should keep all payment slips everytime you pay the rent. It can be the receipt issued by the apartment or condo, a bank transaction, or even an ATM receipt. It will be very useful if you paid the rent but the owner claims that you haven’t.

This happens regularly when you rent an apartment lacking good management.

 

You Do Not Discuss What You Need to Pay

The rental contract should clearly state what you need to pay, and what the owner needs to pay. Normally, you need to pay for extra furniture that’s not in the room. And the owner needs to pay for the room maintenance, including cleaning, repairing, or replacing of existing future and appliances.

For example, if the air conditioner is broken, the owner needs to pay for it. If the room doesn’t provide a water heater but you want one, you need to pay for it. If you are not sure what you need to pay for, ask the owner first.

An expense that’s often ignored is the cost of damage caused by accidents. For example, if you go on vacation and the water line suddenly leaks, causing damage to the condo or other condos, who’s going to pay for it? Settle that ahead of time.

 

You Added Too Many Decorations to the Room

The rental contract usually mentions what you can and cannot do when in comes to decorating the room or adding new furniture. It’s often said that you are not allowed to make any holes in the condo walls. However, we like to think it’s okay to make small holes for a shelf inside a bathroom. The owner can use this against you and not return your deposit.

Some tenants may feel the need to redo the floors or paint the walls. This may make the room look nicer, but the room owner may keep your security deposit or charge you extra.

Therefore, it’s always best to ask for the owner’s permission every time you want to decorate your room. Make it a written agreement if possible. It might not need to be a written contract signed by both parties. An email exchange could be sufficient.

 

You Do Not Communicate with the Owner or Management

Everytime an accident happens, inform the owner immediately. It can be a small case of water leaking, a broken water heater, or so on. Lack of communication with the condo owner in this situation can make the damage worse.

There are some reports that tenants do not inform owners after the roof leaks in heavy rain. After a period of time, the damage from the water leak intensifies. And you, the tenant, will pay the price.

 

You Neglect the Contract

Rental contracts in Thailand vary. Some may only be available in Thai. If it’s available in English, many times it’s in broken English, making it difficult to understand the meaning.

However, you should always read the contract carefully before signing. Bring a Thai with you to prevent miscommunication. Sometimes the room owner includes certain clauses, such as unannounced inspections by the owner, or the prohibition of having friends stay with you.

 

You Do Not Keep the Condo Clean

As mentioned previously in the related fees section, you usually need to pay for the cleaning fee after you move out. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to clean the room during your stay. Quite the opposite is true. It’s recommended to keep your condo clean. Stains and damage can easily happen when the room goes unkempt for a long time. And some stains may be impossible to remove. The owner can fine you for this.

 

You Did Not Proof the Room’s Ownership

Many people in Thailand invest in condos for subletting purposes. Sometimes, they may have sold the condo to a new owner, but they still rent it out to you. And the new room owner does not have a clue about what’s going on.

When the new room owner finds out that you are living in his room without notice, you can be sued. And when that time comes, you may not be able to contact the previous owner.

It may sound unbelievable but it is true. So, when you are looking for a place to live, check that the owner is really the owner. You can ask to see their house registration. If they’re unwilling to corporate, check with the office. You can also ask maids or security guards about the condo. They are your information hub.

 

You Ignore Maids

Maids are your best source of information. They know a lot more than you can imagine and should be the first person you should approach when you need to find any information. This includes where to find handypersons, the rental cost of your neighbors, available rooms with cheaper prices, and much more.

Always keep a good relationship with maids.

 

You Are Careless When Going on Vacation

Floods happen inside condos from people not turning water valves off when leaving for a few days. Everytime you leave for more than a day or two, turn off the water valves under the sinks, behind the toilets, on balconies, or any other place that has an accessible water valve.

It’s also important to unplug any unused electronics, especially an electric stove. If not, this can cause an electrical fault.

Open a curtain and let the sunlight come in. This is to prevent the room from getting too dark and humid, which causes mold.

If you need to leave the room more than a month, it’s recommended to ask the condo maid to clean it once in a while. This is to make sure the room is kept in good order. You definitely do not want to come back only to find dust and mold all over the place.

 

FINAL WORDS

This is the end of our guide to renting in Bangkok. If you would like to know more about Thailand, visit our website. It is a one-stop resource for Thailand, providing free guides to current and future expats who are looking to live, work, retire, or start a business in Thailand. We provide also relocation service if you have to move from a country to another.

 

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