If you haven't read the first article, make sure to click here now. Now let's move on to the meat of the story which is of course trying to live in Thailand for PENNIES on the dollar.
So you went to Thailand (Bangkok) and you had a blast. You experienced a new type of culture that includes great food, warm people and great day time activities. The hotel that you stayed was nice and comfy in a great location. You are preparing to stay in Thailand for a longer term, maybe a few months or really trying to live there, so now what?
Let's Find an Affordable Place To Stay in Thailand
I am going to assume that you are going to stay at Bangkok.(For reference, if you live in the North or Northeast part of Thailand, the cost of living is 10-25% cheaper than the big city). The first thing you need in Thailand is a safe place that is clean and hospitable. Most apartments in Bangkok are usually studios that come furnished which includes a bed, bathroom, closet and a table.
For a little bit more money, you can upgrade to a studio that will also include an Air Conditioner, a TV, a small fridge and internet access. This is the type of furnished studio that I highly recommend since it makes your transition from your home country (UK, US, Aus, Canada, etc) to Thailand much easier. You could save a bit more money by not getting these extra options but trust me on this, having access to cold drinks, cool air and internet is a must.
Studio apartments range in all different prices. On the low cheap end, you can find studio apartments for as low as 1800 THB (yes, thats the Thai currency, $1 gets you roughly 30 THB) which is roughly $60 to studios in the range of 60,000 THB (and even higher of course) which is roughly $2000. We are going to focus in two ranges in this article. Also will focus mainly on furnished apartments.
- Cheap, Basic Yet Hospitable (Stage 1)
In this range you can find studio apartments anywhere from 1800 THB to around 5000THB ($60 to $160). In the low end range you will find a basic room that comes with a bed, closet and a tabl e. They tend to be farther away from the action (or the heart of Bangkok) and away from main forms of transportation (such as sky trains and subways which really helps you get around Bangkok very cheaply). You could find studio apartments towards the heart of Bangkok in this price range but it really takes lots of walking around and research to get these prices. Also having a local or a Thai friend can help you find prices in these ranges.
If you decide to pay around $60 of rent a month, living standards may not be an easy transition for you. You will have no air conditioner or a refrigerator to get by with. The weather in Bangkok gets around 90 degrees as a high to around a low of high 70s at night that's humid. If you are comfortable to sleep with a fan at night, then it may not be a concern. Don't associate paying this low of a price with being in the 'ghetto' or being unsafe. Believe me, the cheap studious in Bangkok I can say feels safer than lots of middle class places in America.
As you move up to the higher end in this range, this is where I think might suit you the best. Check out the pic below :
What do you see in that pic? A basic room with a closet, small fridge, a desk, tv on top of a table, mostly likely internet access included and most important (at least for me), an Air Conditioner. This is what to expect around the 4500 to 5000 THB range. At these prices you can expect to be somewhat close to the heart of Bangkok and a bit close to the subways and skytrains. The locations are suitable for most and is a great way to start your living in Bangkok. Nothing fancy here but suits the purpose.
Upgrade in Comfort and Style Yet Not So Pricey (Stage 2)
In this level we are going to talk about an upgrade in style, comfort, and a better location as far as how close you are the central part of Bangkok along with skytrains and subways. Do realize that many apartments price their studios depending on how close they are to the subways and skytrains aside from just location. Bangkok is very heavy in traffic and is a big city thus using these high tech forms of transportation makes getting to work, shopping malls, pubs, etc that much easier. This would be the 5000 THB to 10,000 THB price range ($160 to $320)
Take that same pic you see above and put it in a closer location to the heart of Bangkok with great access to transportation and you are paying say around 6000-8000 THB instead of 4-5000 THB.
For the upper end of this range, say around 9000 to 10,000 THB range, in an area that is somewhat close to the subway/skytrain and somewhat close to the heart of Bangkok....here is what a typical apartment may look like...
I got this pic from the classified section of the bangkokpost (Thai newspaper that caters to English speakers).
As you can see the floors have more style than the other level. The walls are designed lavishly as well as the bed settings. There are other cool upgrades like having a built in dresser along with your bed that makes your room that much tidier instead of stuffing all of your clothes in one small closet. The rooms tend to bigger as well as the bathrooms looking a bit nicer.
Once again, this same apartment in the heart of Bangkok would go for a bit more than the 9-10,000 THB. Though with good research and due diligence on your hand, you can get these apartments for a good price even at a great location.
Due realize that the prices Im giving you is a ballpark average figure. Im sure there are people who are going to email me by saying that they have a really nice studio apartment for $100/m and vice versa. Again, this is just basic general figures just to get a simple mindset of what to expect.
The contract in terms of renting an apartment are pretty basic. Apartments tend lease out their studios in a 3 month, 6 month, and yearly agreements. Obviously the longer you rent, the cheaper the prices are. The last time I went to Thailand for a few months I stayed at a Stage 1 studio that had a MONTHLY contract! While it wasn't to close to the heart of Bangkok, it was still reasonable enough if that I wanted to get to central Bangkok all it took was a bit of extra transportation time and a few more cents in paying bus fees (Transportation, food and fun costs will come in a future article in this series).
I was paying 4000 THB which is about $125 a month. All they required was my passport copy, a signature, and a one month deposit upfront which was returned at the end. Do realize that monthly contracts are VERY hard to find and if you do find them they will certainly inflate the prices a lot.
Deposits for a typical apartment usually go by one to two months on top of your regular monthly payments. The last place I stayed, I paid 8000 THB that included one month rent and deposit.
There are a bunch of sites to search for an apartment (I have a Thai friend that searches at a Thai website that usually shows prices a bit cheaper than to us foreigners) but the best advice I can give you is to actually go there in person yourself. Go walk around and look around yourself. Here is a popular website for foreigners (and for some Thai people) to get a better look at some places. This site is called MrRoomfinder so click here.
That wraps it up for now but the info I gave to you here is the bare bones guide to help you get an eye of what to expect. I will go over stuff like utilities (which in general is pretty cheap, just don't go to hog wild with the Air Conditioner for 24 hours a day, use common sense) and other types of expenses associated with renting an apartment. Though the info I gave you in this article pretty much wraps that up.
As you can see, you can find a reasonable clean apartment in the $150 range in the big city of Bangkok. For the same kind of apartment in the Northern part of Thailand, you can expect to pay around the $100-$120 range!
Stay tuned for other cost of living items like food, transportation, activities, odds and ends, etc. Also will discuss more on actually how to make some money in Thailand (yes, this is the harder part but possible)
I do want to put one last disclaimer here for a certain group. If you happen to have a good job where you live that you worked hard to get at, if you have a family to take care of and comfortable with how you live and your social group, then coming to Thailand is not for you. I have friends that go out drinking on weekend nights, watch Sunday football with their buddies and have a BBQ, that are involved in activities in their community....Thailand is not for them.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!