Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Renting an Apartment in Bangkok: Advice for Expats

Bangkok is probably one of the easiest places for expats to find apartments to rent. From concrete boxes in the 5000 baht per month range, all the way up to 25, 000 baht and above for serviced, luxury apartments, there is something for every budget and requirement.

This is not a comprehensive guide on how to rent an apartment in Bangkok, nor does it include everything to look out for. Rather, it discusses only one aspect of renting an apartment in Bangkok: the available internet options at an apartment that you may be interested in renting.

Find Out About Available Internet Options

When talking to a potential landlord in Bangkok you can ask one question that will tell you a great deal about the place: If I move in here, can I arrange an internet connection directly with one of the internet service providers in Bangkok (namely True, TOT or 3bb)?

If the answer is no, I strongly advise you not to rent there. Here's why.

If you are unable to arrange an internet connection directly with a service provider, the only probable option is for you to buy a monthly internet card from the apartment building. They will have set up an arrangement through a third party organization. And while that third party no doubt has a deal with one of the major internet providers for the actual internet service, the quality of the wireless connection (and it will only be wireless) will be poor. Sure, you may get some periods where the connection is OK. But at peak periods when everyone in the building is online, the connection will slow to a crawl.

In addition, when the down times occur, you will receive no help from the apartment building. You will be told to phone the third party provider. And guess what they will say? "Try again later."

Not only that, but in all likelihood, you will not be able to access many sites that may be of interest to you, such as torrent sites. The torrent sites as well as the software needed to download the files from the torrents, will be blocked because they are a drag on bandwidth. If you spend a great deal of time online, this could become a very frustrating experience for you.

Finally, when only the in-house internet option is available, it is often an indication of the kind of building in which you could be living. Some apartments in Bangkok are poorly designed and/or attract a certain kind of resident for whatever reason.

Avoid Apartments that Double as Hotels

This could result in low occupancy rates and as a way to make up for this, the building may almost operate as a hotel, with people being able to rent for a few nights, weeks, or months at a time. In this case, the in-house internet option serves those people well. But it also means that the feel of the place will not be as pleasant as it could be for those who want to sign year-long leases. It will also probably mean more noise, because short-timers just don't care nor do they have any sense of the apartment being their home.

It is important to note that some buildings will allow you to set up a connection directly with one of the internet providers as well as having the option of buying an internet card to use with the in-house connection. Fair enough. The monthly card may suit some people. But if that is the only option, steer clear!

I urge you to ask numerous times about this so there is no possibility for the landlord or building owner to later say that he misunderstood. A shameless crook may simply say that, in fact, the connection is with one of the major service providers. The key is that you are able to set-up the connection with them directly, and then pay them directly, and interact with them directly regarding any service issues.

Good luck in your hunt for an apartment in Bangkok!